Video interview with Dave Peck – social media strategist & top bloke!
Dave Peck (or Britney!)
During my time in San Francisco I was lucky enough to meet and interview Dave Peck – the social media strategist for Meshin.
He’s based out of Palo Alto Research Centre (home of the ethernet) in Silicon Valley.
Dave’s career is pretty remarkable – it was kick-started while he was playing Second Life (as a young blonde named Britney no less) and has grown in even more remarkable ways.
To name but a few of his achievements:
- Dave has built online communities for Sergio Rossi, Stella McCartney, Coca Cola and Wells Fargo,
- He has also worked as a social media strategist for The Grammys, The Ozzy Osbourne Auction, and NPR; and
- He’s been profiled by CNBC and CurrentTV for his work in social media and community building.
OK – you get it. He knows what he’s talking about!
I’ve continually considered how it is that we can use social media to help businesses that are – how shall I say it – less ‘social’, to achieve their business goals. Because the fact is not every social medium suits every type of business. While I may do my banking through a certain bank or may rent through a certain real estate agent it doesn’t mean I am willing to connect with them on Facebook. So I put it to Dave.
Everybody loves pizza – it’s intuitive to market lifestyle products or services on social media. But what about other companies? Is there a place on social media sites for industries that are less ‘social’ – like banking, real estate and insurance?
Dave’s answer really reaffirmed some of the strategies we’ve implemented at Bluewire and it was a pleasure to hear some brand new ideas on the matter.
You’ll also learn:
- How to attract a huge Twitter following,
- How to use social media in different ways to spread news; and
- How to generate story ideas for your blog.
Here is the transcript:
I am Dave Peck. I am the social media strategist for Meshin, which is a committed Palo Alto research center. So, I handle all the online marketing, customer acquisition, responding to people via Twitter. Twitter, Facebook, you come up with a social networking site, YouTube or whatever and I will find you and respond and get the word out, that’s the biggest thing.
What are some of the techniques you’ve used to get the word through social media?
Well first, reaching out to online news organizations like Mashable or ReadWriteWeb, C-Net and getting reviews, TechCrunch, things like that. Getting them to talk about us, networking with all those people. Twitter, Twitter’s huge for Meshin. We’ve gotten over 50% of our downloads via Twitter. Just by people retweeting and talking about it, passing it on. As well as Facebook is huge for us as well, too.
How did you develop such a high level of influence on Twitter?
Interacting with people, responding to comments so when someone says something to me I want to make sure I acknowledge it in some way. If someone takes the time to retweet something for me, sure it’s just a click but hey, you clicked on me. Yeah, that sounds dirty. I really appreciate it so I always say, like this morning to Freekim, I said thanks for the retweets to people. Good content, it’s so cliché, content is king. Everybody says it. Yeah, you know what? It really is, so I try to talk about a certain theme. So I usually talk about Facebook, Twitter, social networking, things that are – how do I say this nicely? Not stupid, you don’t really care about pictures of my kid and/or what I’m having for lunch. Again, more clichés but it’s passing stuff like that and they get a high level of retweets for that and it helps build up my personal brand.
How did you get involved in social media?
So about five years ago, we had a set of twins which was kids number four and five. And up in the middle of the night, I started reading and thinking about second life so I thought, OK, I’ll check it out. So, I created an avatar named Brittany Mason, I pretended to be a woman on the Internet. At the same time I was listening to podcasts, there’s a gentleman by the name – he’s still around actually, Adam Curry with a company called Podshow which is now called Mevio News Podcasts and he said, “Hey, I just discovered this great place called Second Life, come meet me. OK, so all I did was Brittany Mason and Adam Curry. He used to be an MTV deejay, by the way, for those who remember the name, headbanger from YouTube, way too young, and we hit it off, he thinks I’m a woman the whole time.
So, I say, “Hey, why don’t you help me develop these online communities in a virtual world?” We did that, it went really well, but at the same time he had a deal with Sirius Satellite Radio’s for his company, so all these podcasts are getting played on Sirius Satellite Radio. Well, they were all talking about Brittany like she was a real person and just started building this cult following, and everybody thinks I’m real and they want to meet me and oh… Even though we didn’t have Twitter and Facebook just rolled out, but it was for colleges so I’m using instant messaging and emails to communicate with all these people and it worked really well. One thing leads to another and a company called, a marketing company called Crayon] were looking for some in world help, so I helped work on a project for Coke. Because all these brands were rushing to be in virtual, this was the hot thing right? First it was podcasts and then it was virtual worlds and that led to consulting for Wells Fargo, that led to a project for Harvard, The Grammys, all these things. I could see the writing on the wall that virtual worlds weren’t going to be around for awhile or as popular, I’ve been there. Don’t email me. I know they’re still there.
So, I moved onto this thing called Twitter. I was one of the early adopters of Twitter, I used it back in beta. And those who get there first usually they get the following and that worked really well. And here I am today trying to stay ahead of the curve constantly. It’s a short story, believe it or not. I didn’t even get into the CNBC profile of Brittany Mason. They did a whole thing on the Today Show and CNBC and they came to the house, wanted to meet me, did a whole thing about virtual worlds or pretending to be a woman on the Internet.
What were you doing before you became involved in social media?
Oh yes, I was in a very related field, absolutely, called insurance. I was an insurance broker, yes – got nothing to do with it whatsoever, scary huh? And from that I went to Brittany, to consulting to companies and here I am today in Meshin.
How do you generate ideas for your blog, and how do you encourage commenting and participation?
So, my blog’s thedavepeck.com, nice plug. That’s a good one; I’m going to digress for a second. In a way Twitter hurts my blogging because I have all these ideas and things to talk about, well you know what? I can have an instant conversation on Twitter. Well, there goes the blog post, right? So I have to kind of keep the stuff to the side so tips and tricks work really well. People like that kind of stuff; short, concise. Again, more Twitter-like than writing out long drawn out blog posts, works really well. Using Twitter to retweet the stream, the posts I write, that works really well. Facebooking it and then using things like discuss and instant debate really helps with your comments at the end. So, if somebody leaves a comment I always comment back and I keep that again, more Twitter-like and people really dig it. And that keeps conversations going on the blog and gets to hopefully go out there into streams for people to talk about it. And then, I’ve been doing more interviews lately about social media, kind of taking a different angle. It seems to be doing really well, been doing a lot of celebrity and CEO interviews and people seem to dig it. So, audio, I’m using audio more, get tired of typing all day, so. But staying fresh, and then when I don’t have a lot for a blog post, I tweet. What should I write about? People give me ideas so now they help me think about it, I write about it and they go that was my idea. Then they come read it, works really well.
How do you build a strong online presence
Like follow everybody back, there’s Twitter snobs. I’ve got to follow less people than follow me, there’s a great blog post out there, different types of people. I am currently a Twitter snob, I don’t follow as many people. I don’t know why, I guess I should, now that Twitter’s rolled out lists, it really doesn’t matter anymore but it’s this appearance that people have. How do I get more? I tweet back, I acknowledge everyone. I thank people for putting me on lists, I guess passing the content on and engaging with people. You’re not too good to talk to anybody, you know what I mean? And I think that helps. Sounds weird but I think that’s one of the keys to success. The key to give to everybody, try to… It’s getting harder and harder to take the time to acknowledge everybody. Like I know you tweeted on me last night, I saw it. I emailed you back though. But it’s like OK, I got like 20 of them so just takes time. I know, poor me.
For companies, it should be pretty clear, you’re absolutely right. A better way to look at it is… I can’t tell you the number of companies that’s called me on a Monday and said, “Hey, I’ve got a project rolling out on Wednesday. We need about 20,000 people to engage. What can you do?” Well, you got a Twitter account? No. You got a Facebook account? No. Damn, Myspace account? Anything? No. People think you can start in on Monday and launch on a Wednesday, that’s a big problem for companies. You have to build up the community starting weeks, if not, months like we did here at Meshin. We didn’t even go out of beta until September. I started back in July, just building up the audience. We’ve got about 8,000 followers on Twitter, we haven’t even launched the product yet. Which is great, companies need to do that and then the companies need to know that even again, more cliches, even if you’re not part of the conversation it’s happening with or without you. You need to be part of the conversation, so companies need to have somebody that’s dedicated to responding online.
I keep talking about Meshin, that’s where I’m working right now. I got a thank you via tweet for the great customer service and they’re not even using our product. That was a great meet and they want to blog post about how great it is, the service at Meshin. And they were asking questions that had nothing to do with our product but we were willing to help them. Companies need to be like, that kind of attitude, to go a lot farther. So maybe you’re Coke, people are asking questions about Pepsi, kind of weird but you know what, the follow through works real well. I was talking to the Domino’s guy last night, who’s a friend. I’ve only met him once but we talk via Twitter. I was talking about Pizza Hut and he was commenting in about what he thinks, and he’s being really transparent about it. It’s that transparency that really works.
Real estate’s tough. I call it hyper local which I think is someone else’s term so a guy I know, Ed Gurrie, he writes the Emerald Hills blog. Emerald Hills is a territory area within Redwood City. That’s how local, it’s not going to be the Redwood City real estate agent. He’s just going to release four or five blocks, it all works really well. I think that could work for not insurance but real estate, that works really well. There’s the White Oaks blogs, all these other guys that got Mount Carmel area they’ve all got on it. The hyper local angle works really well. Insurance absolutely, I would think they’re licensed in the state; they could do it to you. Anybody could be the expert or a thought leader or anything. I could set up a blog tomorrow and make myself the number one accountant in the United States. I don’t know the first thing about accounting. But you set up the website, you put everything up there, you can be the expert. I hate that word or the thought leader that works really well so, yeah. Real estate, insurance, doctors, I see plastic surgeons doing it. I mean it’s whatever you want to do. You just write a blog within your website, give content, push the content out, and you’ve got it going on.
So Meshin is a Symantec Outlook add-on. It helps organize email using the Symantec technologies which means it could really support downloaded Meshin.com. We rolled it out in beta in September, and it’s open to everybody now, open beta. And hopefully, we’ll get bigger and brighter.
It’s growing every day, downloads are off the hook and it organizes your email using national language processing. Fancy, huh? This is technology here at park is what we’re using. So, it knows the difference between you say, I’m going to use the one I used earlier, you going to the Cal-Berkeley game? And six months later, you come back and say Golden Bears and notices the two are related and recognizes your organization. It’s good. Check it out.