Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Experts in the Industry: Jim Storer (29 of 45)

Ahhhh, Jim Storer. So many things I could say -- all are good but some are not fit for print. The reason I know this is that Jim -- someone I worked with for three years at Shared Insights/Mzinga -- is one of my closest friends in the socialsphere, and in life in general. While at Mzinga, Jim (Twitter handle) was the sr. director of social media. He is now one of the most valuable free agents on the street (think Manny Ramirez but without the attitude or the $25 million/year salary). Did you hear that potential employers?
There are three things I will tell you about Jim (he'll appreciate the irony of my making it "three"):
  • He is one of the most savvy community people out there having spent several years managing numerous communities both big and small.
  • Jim is every bit the sports nut that I am -- and in fact is one of the most regular commenters and contributors on our group sports blog, Big Papelbon.
  • Up until four months ago, Jim was the guy that I turned to to vett most of my big ideas. Oh yeah, he also was a GREAT partner in our podcasting efforts. Two particular instances stand out -- one at SXSW last year where we did 15 or 16 podcasts in one night (part 1, part 2, part 3) AND a tour de force at last years Community 2.0 event where we interviewed the likes of Charlene Li (in a limo), Tony Hsieh of Zappos and David Weinberger, co-author of Clue Train Manifesto.
I could go on forever but I won't. Here's how Jim answered the five questions from the Experts in the Industry series:

In one sentence, please describe what you do and why you're good at it.
I help companies build better relationships with their customer and employees, often through the use of social technologies. I've been at it for a while (see below), have tried almost everything and have a pretty good sense of what does and doesn't work. 
How did you get into the world of online community, social media or social marketing?
In the 1990's I worked for a trade show company and we found some of best customer relationships were started/developed by participating in newsgroups. Around the turn of the century (I just love saying that), we decided to launch a series of communities to support the technology topics we covered with our events. We didn't always know what we were doing, but we learned a lot and developed some very strong 
customer relationships that helped the company weather the tough times in the early 2000's. 
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?
I thought about this for a while and really can't justify giving it to anyone but Zappos. There are a lot of companies that talk social media and some walk social media in certain segments of their business, but very few companies live it to the core. Zappos is one of them. Tony Hsieh is both a 
very smart businessman and social leader rolled into one. He and the Zappos team are building something special and I'd love to support their vision. 
Which business leader, politician or public figure do you most respect?
Ok, I'll spread the wealth and won't pick Tony again. I'll go with Jack Welch. He may be seen as an old school businessman, but he always been pushing the envelope of business practices. Just the other night I caught a video of him discussing how businesses need re-invent how they think about human resources. He's simply an amazing man... and it doesn't hurt that he's a UMass/Amherst alum. ;-)

Community? Probably not, but it really depends on what the sponsoring company decides to do with it. I'm not sure there's enough in it for me to join a toothpaste community. If they wrote a blog with tips on getting kids to brush and floss every night and gave me coupons to save money on brushes and toothpaste I *might* subscribe. If they started following me on Twitter, I *might* follow them back. I'd love to see them humanize the company, but I probably won't engage around a product. Check out Rachel Happe's excellent post on the difference between community and social media for more on this topic. 
Freeform – here's where you can riff on anyone or anything – good or bad. Or just share a pearl of wisdom.
I get the sense that companies spend a lot of time thinking about getting into social media, often over-evaluate the options (and there are a LOT of them). It's not expensive (often free) to dip your toe in the water and start listening to what's being said about you and your brands. Most social media "gurus" would advocate this approach. My advice? Just get started.


  1. That is a very seductive photo of Jim at the top.

  2. Meg - I was going to use Jim's Twitter profile pic which is much more happy go lucky but this was the pic Jimbo wanted. I'm just the messenger... ;)


  3. I can't believe there was not a single mention of bacon in this interview, and as such I'm questioning how well you really know Jim. Aside from being an all around great guy, willing to share knowledge with folks learning about social media, speaking at conferences, and one of the most knowledgeable folks I know about building communities...he is also the person who shared with me the most amazing bacon recipe ever invented: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/28/dining/28bacon.html

  4. @adamcohen I only had so much space for personal stories before my readers fell asleep. ;)

  5. Congrats James on the recognition and Aaron for recognizing Jim. Jim has built some of the most challenging communities imagineable and was an adopter of community when 99.9% of the world did not know what one was. Plus, Jim is a Red Sox fan, and votes for Red Sox fans are given more weight - lol.

  6. Aaron- great interview, even if you, Adam and Jim are Red Sox fans... You hit the nail right on the head. I wish I had HALF the experience Jim does..

  7. Jim is definitely on my all*star list - can't wait to see what he does next. While the rest of us just talk and talk (myself included - don't be offended!), Jim quietly goes about walking/running/blogging/podcasting/listening/commenting. Not that I'm comparing him to a turtle, mind you :)

    Great profile - and Jim, thanks for the shout out - you know that better than I

  8. Just wondering why Jim got more comments then I did on my #45in45. Is it because I don't eat bacon? Just asking....

  9. umm... Aaron, but I AM looking for $25M a year. I guess it's time to find a new agent. Seriously, thanks for including me in the #45in45 series. I'm humbled by your intro and the company I keep on this list.

    @meg - yep, no one will mistake the photo in the middle as the seductive one.
    @adam - somehow it always comes back to bacon. perhaps we should be pitching something to the folks at Hormel?
    @mark - thanks for the kind words. i distinctly remember conversations we had in 2001/02 about community - you got it then and you really get it now.
    @tyson - you know social media can't be half bad when it brings together Red Sox and Yankees fans. Thanks.
    @rachel - turtle wrapped in bacon? hmm... we might be on to something. :-)
    @melanie - bacon definitely has something to do with it... it can't be the photos!

    Thanks again Aaron!

  10. @melanie - Jim secretly DM-ed all 2,300 of his followers on Twitter and asked them to comment. ;)

    @Tyson - heh heh

    @Mark - thanks and so true!

  11. Have I mentioned lately how much I miss you guys? I'm still loving Mzinga, don't get me wrong, but I really miss your insights and perspectives on stuff. I suppose it would be stating the obvious to say that Jim knows his shit? Yeah, I thought so. And for the record, I really like Jim's sexy new photo. It's setting him up for a run at GQ in case this social media stuff doesn't pan out... ; )

  12. @davewilkinsnh missing you too brother. ready our post this morning regarding the new social learning suite. heading over to comment shortly.

    BTW, Jim's photo is very sultry. I think he's actually setting himself up for a run at the GOP ticket in 2012. He's looked at Jindal and Palin and laughed. ;)