Behind the Tweets: Mike Whitmore (President, Fresh Consulting; Social Media 301 Conference Organizer)

Posted by on May 25, 2011 in Behind the Tweets, Follow Friday Profiles, Social Media |

If you’re reading this column, it means you have an interest in Social Media and Marketing. And if you have an interest in Social Media and Marketing then you need to know about the upcoming Social Media 301 Conference here in the Seattle area. Today’s featured profile is Mike Whitmore and he is one of the key organizers of the conference. Check it out – there is a great line up of speakers and the topics are extremely topical and relevant to today’s business owners, marketers and social media managers.

Mike is busy organizing the upcoming Social Media 301 Conference but always has time for new Twitter followers! Check him out - his Twitter name is @MikeWhitmore

Mike and I first met via Twitter – I appreciated his mix of optimism, interesting info but most of all his *engagement* with others online. We met IRL (in real life) a few months ago and hit it off well. Mike has an amazing background in the corporate world and he’s putting it to great use in his (relatively) new role as President of Fresh Consulting. And even though there is some competitive overlap between our firms, he wasn’t shy about sharing some of his social media tips, suggestions and secrets with me. Truly a class act.

As you might expect from someone who is organizing one of the leading Social Media events, Mike has a tremendous amount of knowledge, insights and opinions he’s willing to share – so this week’s interview is chock-full of great info….I hope you enjoy (and thanks again Mike!).

Twitter Name(s):

@mikewhitmore (But I’m also the primary tweet writer for @freshconsulting and @cloudsurfers as well as some others)

Which social media networks do you use consistently?

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, EmpireAve, StumbleUpon, ManageFlitter, ScoutLabs – now Lithium, and a handful of others

What was your “Aha” moment regarding social media (when/why did you decide to become engaged)?

Creating a blog during my first wife’s battle with cancer was one of MANY aha moments as I engaged with people around the world who were following along with Deborah’s battle. I didn’t really get the power of it until several months later when I heard my Fresh Consulting co-founders talking about Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. I thought, “Yeah, ok, I get LinkedIn, but Facebook and Twitter are a waste of time.” Then they mentioned blogging and then it hit me like inspiration. I knew I needed to get involved in social technology at that moment.

When did you first join Twitter? What was your original motivation for doing so?

My Fresh co-founders were on Twitter and I thought I would give it a try just as an experiment. I joined in February 2009 and have been addicted since then!

Has the way you use Twitter (and other social media channels) changed? If so, how?

Like many who first try it I used it as a broadcast channel and still do occasionally, but the REAL strength is engaging and connecting with people. I have an ongoing blog entry that details some of my experiences since I began engaging in this manner. I look for ways to engage across all the different channels I’m on and I’ve had fantastic results from doing so! Carrying the online relationships to the real world is a sublime experience. Meeting real people, new friends, finding business opportunities and new connections is powerfully enriching.

You’re one of the organizers of the upcoming Social Media 301 Conference – what can you tell us about it?

Who is the conference targeted towards?

301 is targeted towards business owners and social practitioners who are established in social media. Our speakers and panelists come from enterprise firms who invest in social media as a practice and from agencies who work with some of the world’s biggest brands. Attendees will come away with actionable ideas, success stories, key learnings (aka – mistakes!), and how firms are measuring their successes in using social as a platform to engage with clients and prospects. We’ll also talk about using social principles within a business and how doing so produces amazing results in helping teams collaborate and share information.

How much does it cost? Are there any ways for people to bribe you with tweets to get in free?

The cost is higher then last year’s Social Media 201, but our lineup is so strong with business practitioners that just hearing ONE of them will be worth the investment. Using a secret discount code – like SEATTLECHAMBER – will get you the $400 Conference Pass at a 50% discount via our group rate agreement with the Chamber.

Lol – yes, promotion has it’s advantages! If someone wants to promote we can create a code just for them and they earn 1 complimentary pass for every 5 they sell.

What is the biggest misperception people have about social media?

That social media is a new marketing channel. Eric Weaver says, “Companies look at social media like marketing where they spend money and expect to see results.” Social media is social by nature, so the “call-to-action” is different than the “buy-now” mentality that most companies think will happen when they go social.

How do you find time to do it all? You tweet, blog, post on FB, take care of clients and seemingly have a life outside of work.

Well, I’m in the business, so a large part of what I do is study the science of social so Fresh can apply these principles towards our client’s needs. Most people wouldn’t & shouldn’t spend as much time with it as I do, just as most of us don’t golf as much as Tiger Woods.

And I can certainly say that my life is much, much richer thanks to my work in social media. I’m kind of a walking case-study for it.

Usually I ask guests: How has social media changed your life in general? Personally and professionally? But in your case I think the better question is “How has it NOT changed your life?” It seems like you live, eat and breath social media and it’s been fundamental in all aspects of your life. Or is that just an illusion?

There’s a much longer story here and I share it when asked to speak at conferences and events, but yes, it has fundamentally changed my life similarly, I suppose, to a band or an actor getting their first big break.

What are your favorite social media tools/applications?

Mentioned above, but I also like WordPress, which I failed to mention. I also love sites with sharable content like Popurls, HolyKaw, Alltop, Quora, ReadWriteWeb, Yelp and on my mobile platform I use Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, Pandora, Words With Friends, Skype, and trying out Zaarly!

How do you use Twitter? How about Facebook? Do they serve similar or different roles for you?

Different roles for sure. Similar in some respects, but I use Facebook for more intimate online relationships. Twitter is one way to “keep it professional.” I’ve been quoted as saying (or Tweeting), “Twitter is like a 1st date – just cause I follow you doesn’t mean I want to commit to a Facebook relationship.”

Do you use FourSquare, Quora, Yelp or Linkedin?

Yes to all, but Foursquare. I’ve not tried that one just yet.

What is this Empire Building all about? Is it really the next hot thing?

I’m not sure yet, but I was involved early with the beta. It’s an interesting platform. Not a game and it is adding new social features that may grow it’s relevance in social.

Some people think that its dangerous to share too much personal information online. How do you manage this? Do you keep things fairly private or are you OK sharing personal details?

Great question and it’s a fine-line I walk, but so far I’ve not had an issue. In my role I want to connect and engage with people so I conscientiously share enough online so people have some idea who I am. However, everyone needs a game-face for when you’re on the “field” and off the “field.”

What is your most memorable social media experience so far?

When the revelation hit me that I needed to get involved immediately and that I was missing a huge opportunity if I delayed.

You’re a big BYU fan – what are your predictions for the upcoming football season?

I’m very cautious about setting my expectations to high for teams I really like. This stems from a childhood of being a Denver Broncos fan. I’m sure you understand.

What do you think about BYU’s move going independent and leaving the Mountain West Conference?

I don’t follow sports closely enough to really have an intelligent opinion about it, but I like the principle of trying something different than the norm and thinking outside the box. It creates opportunity for serendipity!

Have you met any fun/famous celebs?

Yes, both online and in person. Kathy Ireland and I are connected on Twitter and then I’ve met one of my heroes, Apollo 13 Command Module Pilot, Jack Swigert. I’ve also met Keith Faerrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone and he’s another hero and mentor.

Place you MOST want to visit (and will Tweet from)?

I’d like to be the first civilian to tweet from Richard Bronson’s Spaceship One. Or tweet from the moon!

Funniest Social Media moment?

There are SOOOO many! Probably when Darren Williger (@williger) and I created a fake account called @bootyspleen. It was fascinating to see how many doctors and bots followed the fake account!

Biggest Social Media pet peeve?

So-called “gurus.” They are rarely (if ever) really “gurus” and the ones that truly are gurus don’t have to tout it themselves.

Any parting shots?

Social media is not new – people have been connecting and engaging since the dawn of time. The medium has changed and allows us to connect, change and influence our world in unique ways. I like to encourage people to share this influence using the GAP method – be Genuine, Accurate and Positive in your social interactions. We can all do a little each day that can have a profound influence for good in the lives of those we connect with.

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