“Influencers Who Inspire” Interview with Ari Herzog, Digital AH

As we continue to connect with influencers within the industry, we’re delighted to share an interview with Ari Herzog, Digital Media Strategist and Principal of Digital AH. As a digital media strategist, Ari Herzog provides services in auditing, marketing, and training (http://digitalah.com). A former columnist for Mashable and the Huffington Post, Ari explores new and emerging media on his 5-year-old blog at AriHerzog.com. He is also President of Social Media Club Boston and a 2-term elected city councilor in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Tweet him at @AriHerzog.

You are an elected city councilor.  What role do you feel social media played in the election process?

“I want to be the first Jewish President of the United States,” I told Mrs. Stockus in third grade when she asked the class about our future aspirations.

While I no longer have desires to run the country, I do enjoy local government and ran for elected office as a city councilor in 2009.

Integrated with neighborhood mixers, candidate debates, newspaper interviews, and yard signs, social media played a big part. I blogged, Facebooked, Tweeted, started an email newsletter, and uploaded a few videos. They were all a hit — and residents were excited to meet me in person after reading my blog or receiving my emails.

I continued to use the web during my first two years as a councilor — and people began to appreciate my prompt response times when they emailed me. They told their friends about me, and their friends subscribed to my civic blog (http://councilorariherzog.com) or liaised with me through other media.

My passion for the web and my sincerity to connect with residents helped me win re-election to the council last fall. I’m currently serving my second term. You can listen to me elaborate on some of my campaign tactics in a government radio podcast  recorded in the days after my first election.

You have a diverse background and wear many hats. Which role do you find most rewarding and why?

My favorite hat is the political one, being a city councilor. While I’d worked in both state and local government previously (and earned much more money than the $5000 I receive every year as a councilor), my 2009 election was proof — to me, more than anyone else — that I could do anything I wanted to do, including reaching for that political gold ring I fantasized about in third grade.

I choose to do business as myself and not work full-time in Corporate America. I’ve been there, done that, and, while I may return to a full-time job someday working for someone else, I like being my own boss as a digital media auditor and digital marketing instructor. I like awaking on my schedule and deciding when and if I want to go the gym or take a walk. I enjoy networking with other people and I’ve discovered how to perfect my elevator pitch so the other person instantly understands what I do and how to help me.

As a college instructor, what is your overall goal in terms of teaching your students? As they complete their coursework, what is the one major element you hope they have learned/gained from having you as a teacher?

Among the ongoing courses I teach (http://ariherzog.com/teaching) is a 4-week interactive course on social media marketing. My syllabi include the following course objectives:

1. Introduce core concepts of social media including interactivity and relationship building.

2. Increase awareness of how social media can help organizations enhance their objectives.

3. Learn the importance of listening and the best ways of doing it online.

If a student walks away with one new fact or tidbit that was unknown when sitting down, I did my job. If the student walks away with three or more facts to help improve Internet knowledge or online productivity, there is nothing more to make a teacher proud.

Where do you find inspiration for your blog posts?

I used to write at AriHerzog.com every day — inspired by social bloggers in my RSS reader such as Danny Brown, Kristi Hines, Phil Gerbyshak, John Haydon, Louis Gray, Mark Schaefer, Shelly Kramer, and others.

While I still read their blogs and am inspired to comment or socially share, I lack the desire to take something they wrote and either echo it or re-slant it on my own blog. I am also trying to write less about the “what” or the “how” and more about the “why” of new and emerging media. For instance, I recently opined why sole proprietors and freelancers should consider deleting their Facebook pages, and as you can gauge by clicking the link, people are engaged to respond.

I am reading Gip Plaster and Farnoosh Brock more frequently these days, enjoying their blog posts on smart living and improving your life.

What is your “ideal client” (if you could hand pick one) for Digital AH?

Cookie Monster’s spoof of Carly Rae Jepsen’s song “Call Me Maybe” is a great example of the social content being created by Sesame Workshop — and that is the ideology of company I’d enjoy working with in the coming months. Much of my development as a toddler, adolescent, college student, and beyond is based upon the social interactions between Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Mr. Hooper (remember him?), and Ernie and Bert.

While I have zero experience in childhood development or social work, I do possess a bachelor’s degree in sociology — and societal issues such as race, ethnicity, and power – which I wrote about in college papers – are coming to life every day on the social web. Kudos to Sesame Workshop for their strong usage and evangelism of social networking channels. I’m sure there are countless TV shows or producers wanting to use the web to promote their versions of Big Bird and Oscar. I’d really like to help them.

What is next for you in 2012?

I will teach my first digital marketing course to MBA students at Endicott College this fall.

I’m reaching out to government technology vendors to partner with them in digital marketing areas.

I am stepping up my schedule of submitting proposals to speak at conferences in New England (and around the country) and am hopeful their organizers like my ideas.

And, there are some other surprises I can’t talk about yet!

 

From Mashable To Uptown Uncorked, Leslie Poston is Definitely Lost in Technology

As we introduced last month, we continue our “Journalists Are People Too” series with a Q&A from Leslie Poston. This girl is one busy writer!

PPR: What is Uptown Uncorked?

LP: Uptown Uncorked is a business development and social marketing consultancy I started here in Boston. We focus on helping people and businesses learn to navigate the waters of social media tools to build their business, promote their brand, engage the customer, and build lasting social leverage that we then help turn into real world, off line successes and sales. We work with several SMBs but our specialty is in the industries of restaurants, bars, wineries, distilleries, distributors, sports clubs and trainers, musicians, artists, photographers, actors and others like them. As part of Uptown Uncorked, I also do presentations, classes and speaking engagements (I recently led a discussion called ‘ROI is Not Money’ at Jeff Pulver’s Social Media Jungle 08, for example).


Leslie Poston at Social Media Jungle

I run Uptown Uncorked with help from my partner, Triston. We find that with a Gen X and a Gen Y running the show, each with different specialties, more of our clients’ potential issues and markets are covered.

PPR:  You also write for Mashable, yes? What is your focus there?

Mashable is one of the blogs that I write for regularly as a Guest Author. I also helped them with some more regular social media news coverage while they were between permanent staff last month. I write collections of posts such as my Real World Change 2.0 series for them, submitting my ideas only if they seem to fit with Mashable’s audience.

I have also guest posted on Technosailor, Media Bulls Eye, and Louis Gray’s blog.  I have had a permanent position for about two years or so as a senior writer for the Blorge family of blogs and have a new gig as an author for Lost in Technology as well as maintaining my own blogs for my company and on politics, Apple computers, and other pet topics. Before Blorge I wrote for other technology blogs, including Profy.  I got my start in journalism as a reporter, then Managing Editor, for an offline financial weekly newsletter and yearly sourcebook.

PPR: Your Twitter handle is @geechee_girl – where did that name come from?

My Twitter handle was an accident! In fact, my own Twitter handle (which is now my handle on most other social networks for brand consistency) is the inspiration for a talk I give on the importance of choosing your brand wisely, even if you don’t think you’ll take to social media or use it for long. When I first found Twitter I thought it was a bit silly. Since I am from South Carolina originally and had just explained the concept of “geechee girls” to someone on GTalk, I decided to have a little fun with my name and chose geechee_girl as a joke – poking fun at myself in a tongue in cheek manner.  Well, my Twitter experience took off rapidly and I soon found myself “geechee_girl” forever. I don’t mind, I have a healthy sense of humor, especially about myself, but I definitely would have gone with my real name if I’d known how much time I’d spend on Twitter!

PPR:  You’ve been on Twitter for how long? How have you seen it evolve? How do you use it?

I was in the second wave of early adopters of Twitter. I didn’t jump on the band wagon right away when it appeared at SXSW in March 2006, but a few months later I finally tried it, and I’ve been hooked ever since.  I use Twitter to connect with people, and to connect people.  It is both my playground and a resource, and I find both sides appealing. I have found lasting friends on Twitter, people to collaborate with on business, inspiration, a way to help social causes do good in the real world, a social calendar of events, an event planning service that can’t be beat, a research tool, a place to promote not only my writing but the writing of others, a place to discover wine, art and music, a place to discover people who share my interests and people who can teach me about theirs, to connect with people and companies, and so much more. Twitter isn’t for everyone, but it has become a vital part of my day.

PPR: What is your favorite time of day and why?

Night time. If you follow me on Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn or other networks then you already may have noticed that I talk the most and work the best late at night and into the morning. Being a night owl runs in my family – it is not uncommon for my sisters, my mother and I to have phone calls or instant message sessions at 2 AM to catch up with each other.

PPR: What’s the most memorable moment of your life?

I have led an adventurous life. I’ve done so much, and experienced so much, both good and bad, that I don’t think I can pick one moment. Every second has shaped who I am and is shaping who I will become in the future. I believe everyone should live their life with no regrets, as if every minute counted.

PPR:  Do you have pets?

Yes! I have an “antique” dog, a 13 year old Rottweiler named Harley. He is 150 pounds of pure couch potato

PPR:  What do you do when you aren’t working?

I love to do a wide variety of things, though some of them I haven’t had time for in a while.  I love to downhill ski, water ski, play hockey (goalie), watch sports (hockey, UFC, MMA, football, baseball, etc), hike (in the past I went on a two week trek into the Trinity Alps, that was fun), read, write fiction, sing and play piano (both of which I am mediocre at), play at being an amateur gourmet chef, bake, taste wines and whiskeys, dance and so much more.

PPR:  If you could have any other career and money wasn’t an issue, what would it be?

I love what I do, but I’ve always wanted to be a singer-songwriter. I’ll content myself with appalling the neighbors with my stunning shower rendition of tunes from Les Miserablés and keep my day job, however.