Friday, January 30, 2009

Experts in the Industry: Todd Defren (5 of 45)

Full disclosure here, Todd Defren is the principal SHIFT Communications, the or our company's agency of record. With that said, I would have chosen Todd irrespective of our relationship because he's just plain smart. He's also incredibly humble which is one of the things I really like about Todd (not necessarily an easy task when you've been named one of the "top 40 under 40" by PRWeek).

Here's how Todd answered the five questions from the Experts in Industry: 45 Interviews in 45 days post:

In one sentence, please describe what you do and why you’re good at it.
I am a communications specialist: I’m good at it (on good days, at least) because I can combine long experience with a fun, no-B.S. approach that synchs well with the more approachable form of marketing now on the rise. 

How did you get into the world of online community, social media or social marketing?
I started blogging 5 years ago, but didn’t really “get into it” until 12 months later, at which point I was sick of seeing “Comments: 0” after every post.  It wasn’t until I took the initiative to discover what I was doing “wrong” that I realized I was missing out on a movement that re-inspired my passion for PR/Marketing.  I was skating on the surface with no clue as to the oceans underneath.  

With the wife and kids out for a weekend, I sat on the bed with my laptop and read every single Marketing/Tech blog I could find, and tried out every Web 2.0 widget available.  Epiphanies ensued.

If you had $10 million to invest in one company and one company only based on their use of “social,” which company would it be and why?
Too easy.  Twitter.  This microblogging platform has yet to realize its full potential and still promises a lot of upside.  A lot of newly-unemployed folks may find themselves deciding to network on Twitter, as just one example: my point is that Twitter is approaching a tipping point in terms of mass appeal.  

Second choice would be Google – which, if they play their cards right, via tools like Google Reader, Blogspot, Feedburner, etc. could dominate the low-end blogging tech arena forever.  But given their crazy valuation, the upside is just not there anymore.

Which business leader, politician or public figure do you most respect?
I’ve been an Obama partisan since his 2004 convention speech; I created a political blog last year with the sole purpose of defending Obama vs. right-wing smears.  Yeah, gonna have to go with Obama on this one – sorry to be so boring.

I actually never think in terms of “joining a community” in such a specific way.  “Joining” a community implies the acceptance of that community, and that comes via participation and feedback, not the act of “registering.”  I would participate in a community about toothpaste (though I cannot imagine why I’d seek it out), but would only “join” it if I gained personal value from the community members and overall experience. 

Freeform – here’s where you can riff on anyone or anything – good or bad. Or just share a pearl of wisdom.
“Happy wife, happy life” is my go-to pearl of wisdom.  (Might sound kind of lame – unless you’ve met my wife.)

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