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!