Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Experts in the Industry: Shannon Paul (57 of 45)

What a great day to feature my friend (on Twitter and IRL), Shannon Paul. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Shannon last week at SXSW in the blogger's lounge, at the Social Media Club meeting and at a variety of parties across the event. In addition to Shannon being a super sweetheart (and one of the nicest people I know), she was also the recent winner of our "what is social marketing" challenge. Oh yeah, she is also the social voice and brains behind this little hockey team in Detroit called the Redwings (heard of 'em?).

On that note, here are Shannon's answers to the Experts in the Industry questions:

In one sentence, please describe what you do and why you’re good at it.
I have a lot of tenacity and an ability to help people connect ideas previously thought to be unrelated, which is what makes me good at my current position working in New Media with the NHL Detroit Red Wings.

How did you get into the world of online community, social media or social marketing?
I have always been an information junkie so it was really only a matter of time. I started researching this stuff when I was in college for an independent study project I proposed doing in lieu of attending a capstone course. For the project I launched a blog about literature that absolutely nobody read, but through that project, I learned how blogs work, a bit about HTML, what an RSS feed is, etc. It was during that time that I started reading blogs about blogging and social media. It took awhile for me to ever start commenting, but then when people started talking back to me, I was hooked.

Then I found Twitter and forget about it... people were exchanging information and talking to each other so quickly. Plus, it seemed like everyone I encountered there had something on the go. They weren't just people who were punching a clock, they had passions they were devoted to on the side; they were creating and sharing content. Everyone seemed to have some kind of hustle; some kind of expertise. Right away, everything I was reading about social media clicked in my head and I dove in head first. I wanted to hustle, too.

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?
If I had $10 million I would start my own company. I have ideas... LOTS of ideas.

Which business leader, politician or public figure do you most respect?
Toni Morrison. She is one of the most gifted writers of our time, but she was an editor in the publishing business before she ever published one of her own books and through listening to her speak about her work, I learned to be a lot more accepting of the market and how different people use the market to move ideas. In the past I was one of those people who would look down on a lot of people, especially artists, who embraced the market as having sold out. I love the fact that much of her work can be defined as high art, but she wasn't above going on Oprah and engaging with regular women in a means of making her work more accessible. FYI, I think she qualifies as a public figure because she's a Nobel Prize winner... that should count.

Would you join a toothpaste community? Why?
I never underestimate the power of creativity and incentives. I can't think of a reason to join a toothpaste community, but that doesn't mean I never would. If there was a way to engage in a toothpaste community that offered a means of getting discounts on dental services, THAT would be worth something to a lot of people without coverage... or even to people with coverage if they could supplement it some way. Or, I'm not a parent, but if I were, maybe I would join a toothpaste community that gave me tips and tricks on how to encourage my kids to brush their teeth. I used to smoke (gasp, I know) but while I was quitting, I would brush my teeth ten times a day as a means of powering through the craving -- a tip I learned in an online community -- maybe a toothpaste company could launch a community dedicated to helping smokers and smokeless tobacco users to quit the habit -- that's good for oral hygiene right? The bottom line is that I would join any community that provided something of value to me. If a toothpaste company can figure out a way to do that, then yes.

Freeform – here’s where you can riff on anyone or anything – good or bad. Or just share a pearl of wisdom.
Never be afraid to do something that has never been done before. Somebody has to do it first, why can't it be you? Oh, and listen to smart people.


  1. Shannon Paul rocks. She's incredibly smart and strong-willed. I'm proud to also call her my friend.

    Great comments on providing value. Too many marketers forget this.

    Great job!

  2. Aaron,
    Thanks so much for including me in an amazing group of professionals. I'm still very uncomfortable with the whole expert thing -- the word literally impacts my ability to breathe properly, but I appreciate the sentiment. Thanks also to Shauna for stopping by -- what a treat she is!