Monday, February 23, 2009

Experts in the Industry: Adam Cohen (27 of 45)

It's hard to say enough good things about my friend, Adam Cohen, partner at Rosetta and fellow Big Papelbon contributor. In my mind, Adam not only opitimizes how the business world and world of social should interact, he's also a perfect example of someone that "pays it forward." One other fun note about Adam is that he's one of the first people I started following on Twitter. While that's only been for a year and a half, that feels like dog years in the world of social.

Before I give him too much of a big head though, let's see how Adam answered the five questions (as well as the questions submitted in the comments) in the Experts in the Industry series.

In one sentence, please describe what you do and why you’re good at it.
I am a partner at interactive marketing agency Rosetta, and I’m good at it because I hold myself and my team accountable to deliver value.  That sounds lame, but I’ve seen lots of consultants that don’t.  I’m passionate about building high performing teams and finding ways to exceed expectations.

How did you get into the world of online community, social media or social marketing?
A couple years ago a former client, Len Devanna, invited me to a social media cocktail hour sponsored by EMC in Boston.  It happened to Jeremiah Owyang’s orientation week at Forrester, and I had the opportunity to meet many folks in the social media industry.  Len told me that I would be hooked on this space and he was right.  I immersed myself in Twitter and started attending social media related events even though it was not directly related to my day to day work responsibilities.  I’m probably one of the few that started on Twitter first and added a blog later, in order to capture observations and conversations that need more than 140 characters.  I’ll always be learning, and most recently have been able to build social media into our agency starting with helping our clients listen to what their brands mean to the marketplace.  I continue to be amazed by and grateful for folks I have met through social media – they are willing to share and collaborate on ideas.  Aaron is one of them.

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?
Facebook has something going on that is different from other platforms.  Don’t roll your eyes.  While many folks in the social media business have embraced Twitter, Friendfeed and other services, Facebook has the most universal appeal to connect people.  My wife went from skeptic to addict in days.  Facebook has a low barrier to entry and is the ‘gateway drug’ of lifestreaming technologies.  If it is leveraged properly – mind you, people don’t go to Facebook to shop – it has the potential as an amazing marketing tool with the amount of data (demographic, behavioral, and preferences) available on each user. Privacy concerns aside, people are really using it to share experiences day to day.  

Which business leader, politician or public figure do you most respect?
Warren Buffet has been an inspiration because of his emphasis on value and people.  Berkshire Hathaway acquired a family friend’s successful business, and the transaction was about keeping the best people in place and letting them “do their thing” more confidently.  He doesn’t come in looking to tear up, break up, re-invent – he looks for a value proposition and solid management to execute.  Seems simple, doesn’t it?

I might.  A good angle I’d be interested in is a toothpaste community targeted at kids, adding advice, tips, etc to make it fun for them.  There has to be value outside of the product, otherwise it’s not a product I’m passionate about.  

Freeform – here’s where you can riff on anyone or anything – good or bad. Or just share a pearl of wisdom.
I have to share one of my favorite quotes, from Calvin Coolidge:

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

How many successful people do you know who weren’t persistent?  

Do you have a favorite Social Networking/Social Media medium, application or site? If so, why that one?
No doubt Twitter.  There is an “always on” conversation happening with smart people contributing.  More so than Google Reader, it’s been a constant learning source.  

Which non-social media industry person do you follow and why?
There are many, many folks on Twitter who don’t work in the social media industry but have something interesting to say and a compelling view point to add.    

How many folks do you think will read other's answers before answering themselves?
Honestly, I tried not to but couldn’t resist.    

What does 'Social Media' or 'Social Marketing' encompass?
In your contest post of describing Social Marketing in 100 words or less, I defined it like adding “in bed” at the end of a fortune cookie.  Take any standard definition of marketing and add “leveraging personalized interactions” at the end.  Technology is a vehicle that enables those interactions but they are offline too.  

It would be interesting to ask these folks which of their peers who are being interviewed most inspires their work.
Leveraging social media is a natural extension of the ways my agency, Rosetta, helps our clients.  I’m working to build out a social media practice the right way, and so many folks in the #45in45 list have been resources to learn from.  Folks like Amber Naslund (@ambercadabra), Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang), Peter Kim (@peterkim), David Armano (@armano) and yourself Aaron have provided phenomenal insight through their day to day contributions.  Ken Burbary (@kenburbary) and I are in very similar boats in our respective agencies and talking with him on a regular basis has provided a healthy sanity check.  This #45in45 series has shed light on many more folks to learn from that I didn’t know of previously.

From a business and marketing strategy standpoint, how do you track, converse, communicate and otherwise curate your various social media activities?
I’ve still got much to learn – I have not yet established a formal pattern or method for how I engage in activities, but I do spend time daily catching up on Google Reader, Twitter and other feeds.  There is a virtual fire hose of good content and it’s impossible to “drink” it all, but the more I drink the thirstier I get.  What I do know is that every day and hour I spend connecting and interacting with people has a direct correlation to the value provided in both directions.  I feel a blog post brewing about “Return on Engagement” applying both to personal involvement and company involvement in this space.

Thanks again for including me Aaron – and I think you should take all of these posts and make it into an eBook.  - Adam [Aaron: Thanks Adam!]

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