My Social Media Club Story (Part 1)
I had already written my Social Media Club retrospective in November, looking back at five year of social media. So when requests came in to write a #MySMCStory, I struggled — what could I add to what was already said?
Then I realized that there is plenty more to say on the subject — I didn’t really speak at all about the impact the Social Media Club has had on me both personally and professionally.
Let’s start with my professional life, just to get it out of the way — as if it can truly be separated from my personal life in today’s digital world. I have occasionally complained that founding and running the Social Media Club Boston has never landed me a client. But I need to qualify that statement. What I mean is that nobody has come up to me and said “Todd, I want you to help me with my PR/social media needs because you run the Social Media Club Boston.” In truth, however, I’m pretty sure my leadership was at least a factor in some decisions to work with me and my companies.
When I look long-term, however, I’m absolutely certain that I will get business from the connections I’ve made through social media. In fact, I’ll say it here: I know that my future success will come from the connections that I have made over the past five years thanks to social media — and the Social Media Club. Let me talk about just a few of those connections.
I’ll start with some of the incredibly smart folks that Tony Sapienza and Paula Slotkin hired at Topaz Partners (now part of Emanate) — folks who shared the journey down the twisting and turning path of social media with me.
- Doug Haslam has been my larger companion star in this voyage around the social media galaxy. I might’ve beat him to blogging, but he was the one who turned me onto Twitter, where he’s always had a significant lead on me. If there’s one person I can turn to for trends, insights, sanity checks, snarky comments and movie trivia, it’s Doug. Thanks, man — and thanks for lending a helping hand with the Social Media Club Boston over the years.
- Adam Zand taught me a lot about PR, advertising, friendship, Premier League Football, the joys of social media boondoggles and Utterli. We’ve shared car rides, plane trips, cubicle pods and a passion for good BBQ. One of the sharpest media relations guys I know, Adam was also there for our first Social Media Club Boston event. Thanks, Adam!
- Tim Allik was also there to present some of the award-winning work his team was doing for the Scuderi blog — work that John Cass (who was an outspoken attendee of our second event) challenged all of us on, as John is wont. Tim’s special blend of enthusiasm and healthy skepticism has kept me on my toes ever since! Thanks, Tim!
- Susan Koutalakis staffed the signup desk for that first event, and has lent a helping hand ever since, including having her company Mzinga sponsor a few of our better events over the years. Susan is another excellent media relations professional who taught me many lessons about how to work with journalists and how to use social media to keep both personal and professional relationships strong. Thank you, Susan!
- Alison Raymond sat right next to Susan at that first Social Media Club Boston event and eventually took over the social media practice when I moved on from Topaz before she herself finally moved on to Matter Communications. She — along with Adam and Doug and even occasionally Susan — were also co-hosts with me of PRobecast, the Topaz Partners podcast — which celebrated its 150th episode in March and which I hope Emanate keeps going. Thanks, Alison!
There were many other folks at Topaz who explored social media with me and helped with blogging and the Social Media Club, but this group formed my core. There were other folks who helped expand my knowledge in those early days…
- David Meerman Scott came to the Topaz Partners offices way back in 2004 with this crazy idea that he could make money writing, speaking and consulting on how PR and marketing are being changed by technology. By the end of that year he was already making it happen, and he hasn’t stopped. Now he’s a regular keynoter on the speaking circuit, and a regular resource for me and my Boston University students. He was an attendee at that first event — where he met Todd Defren for the first time! Thank you, David! (Maybe we can get you in to speak with my class in the fall, assuming BU invited me back?)
- Paul Gillin was another Topaz visitor in those early years, who came by to bounce a similar idea — how he planned to translate his deep, first-hand understanding of the media world into a consulting practice. Paul has been a guest speaker and active participant at many a Social Media Club Boston event. Paul is yet another required author for my BU students, who very much enjoyed his visit this year. While I don’t think Paul was at that first event (correct me if I’m wrong), he’s been with us for many more since then. I’m fortunate to be able to count him (and his family) among my friends. Thank you, sir!
- Scott Monty was another occasional visitor to Topaz, although I don’t remember us talking about social media during that visit — I think we chatted more about Sherlock Holmes at the time. Back before he moved to Detroit and assumed his role as a social media rockstar, he was trying to figure this social media stuff out like the rest of us, and was among the 120 attendees of that first event. Thanks for being a friend and companion on this part of my journey, and for keeping in touch with all your Boston friends even though you’re living in the 3-1-3 now!
- Todd Defren exemplifies modesty and transparency — he’s never been one to brag about himself and has been as honest as anyone could about the highs and lows of PR and social media. Todd, along with Steve Rubel, were the two guys who made me realize that Topaz Partners needed to be blogging. Todd was there for our inaugural event, and again as the guest of honor for our second event, just after he had released the Social Media Press Release. Todd, I know in my heart that I’ll always be Boston’s “other” social media Todd, but thanks for playing along anyway!
- John Wall‘s voice is second only to Shel Holtz‘s in terms of airtime in my earbuds, between Marketing Over Coffee and his regular appearances on the Beancast. He was there for that first event, and the man behind Scott Monty’s legendary roast. I learn something new from him and Christopher S. Penn every week. Thanks, John!
- I’m not Steve Garfield, but sometimes I wish I was. Yet another attendee at that first event, Steve made me realize that video wasn’t just a pipe dream, and I’ve learned a lot from him ever since. Thank you, Steve!
There are many other folks at that first event, more people from Scott’s roast I have yet to mention (including someone with the best rope skills I know), and a ton more people who have been big influences in my life, including, it goes without saying, SMC founders Chris Heuer and Kristie Wells. But more on all of them later…