Monday, April 20, 2009

Experts in the Industry: Bryan Person (76 of 45)

Let me start by saying that I know I've skipped a couple on entries in the Experts in the Industry series. That's not by mistake. It's so that my good friend, Bryan Person, can have the number that coincides with his birth year. I figure that this is my blog so I can do stuff like that.

Obviously if I'm willing to make such important sacrafices for Bryan -- who is the social media evangelist at LiveWord btw -- he's a fairly important dude. Or at least he is a friend that is worth bending the rules for. Given the fact that he was one of about a dozen reasons as to why I decided to move to Austin, I'd say he's worth it.

By way of history, Bryan and I first met on Twitter via mutual friend, Peter Himler. I was looking for someone to do some podcast production for me and Bryan was the guy that fit that bill. Subsequently, Bryan became a client of my old company, Mzinga (he was at at the time) and we started getting together regularly for morning coffee since we lived in adjacent towns. Since then, we've roomed at Community 2.0 together, podcasted together, hung out for coffee, dinner, lunch, drinks etc. And as I metioned earlier, we both live in Austin. Yup, I'm a big fan.

Before I give Bryan too big a head, let's get on to his questions:

How did you get into the world of online community, social media or social marketing?
In many ways, online community and social media are a natural evolution of what I've been advocating for years -- using online tools to communicate when face-to-face conversation just isn't practical or efficient (I was in BBS chat rooms in the mid-90s and using IM to connect to prospective students for our study abroad program in my first professional job a few years after that). But my true "light bulb moment" with what we now call social media really occurred in the spring of 2005, when I discovered podcasting. Geek News Central with Todd Cochrane and For Immediate Release with Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson were two of my early favorites (I still listen to FIR every Monday and Thursday). The shows offered rich, niche content that was relevant to me, that I could listen to on a portable device whenever I pleased (hello, mp3 player!), and that came right into my podcatcher when a new episode was published (hello, RSS!). Plus, the hosts of both shows were so welcoming and quickly built up a community of like-minded listeners. That's the essence of social media, and I've been hooked ever since.

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?
Not that they necessarily need the money, but I'd invest the $10 million in the Boston Red Sox, the baseball team to which I've pledged my lifetime allegiance. The club and Major League Baseball are already doing some good "social" projects online -- fan communities, connecting on Twitter, etc. -- but I have a few more ideas kicking around in my brain that I'd be happy to tell them about.

Which business leader, politician or public figure do you most respect?
John Wood. His book, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, is an inspiration. Since 2000, John's Room to Read organization has built more than 7,000 libraries for children in developing countries around the globe. He's this century's Andrew Carnegie!

Would you join a toothpaste community? Why?
Not a chance; I can't think of anything less compelling than a community based entirely around a commodity consumer product. But ... what if a toothpaste maker hosted or sponsored an community around raising healthy kids? Now that might be interesting.  

Freeform – here’s where you can riff on anyone or anything – good or bad. Or just share a pearl of wisdom.
For marketers: When a company -- either yours or one you're reaching out to -- is slow to adopt social media, don't become overly criticial. Have patience with that reluctant executive. Consider it a golden opportunity to continue to share best practices and success stories from other organizations. Change will come.

Bryan is @BryanPerson on Twitter.


  1. Aaron, I found you via Dan Green who reads your blog. I enjoyed reading about Bryan Person; he's sounds like a good guy and a smart one. I agreed with his viewpoints.

    You have an impressive list of people you read...but how do you find the time to read all of them and blog while you serve as VP of Marekting?! What's your secret?

  2. Veronica,

    Thanks. Bryan is a good AND smart guy. He really embodies all that is good in the social meets business space.

    Regarding the list, I am fortunate to have met and kept in touch with a lot of really bright people over the last 15 years. As for finding time to blog, read and then act as VP of Marketing, it comes down to two things: 1) I have a VERY smart and talented staff and 2) I work a lot more hours than I should. ;)

    Aaron | @aaronstrout