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Interview with Social Media Citizen: J-P De Clerck

28574_384804638914_787223914_3986682_2814191_nJ-P De Clerck  is Managing partner at Conversionation Consulting, a cross-channel interactive marketing consultancy without geographical borders. J-P is basically everywhere interactive media is discussed and you can find his posts and thoughts on over a dozen of blogs, online and offline media and publications about interactive marketing, mainly in Europe and the US. The list is really too long to publish. He is also a founder of Social Marketing Forum and Social Email Marketing blog. You can follow J-P on Twitter or Facebook.

G: How and why did you get into social media business?

J-P: I didn’t really get into it. It was a very natural thing. Social media are a logical evolution in what has been happening in the online world since years. I don’t consider social media as being something new either. It is a term that covers a broad variety of platforms, technologies and changes in our behaviour but these changes have started before the arrival of what we understand as social media now. An example: blogs are often seen as the hubs in the social media hub and spoke model. It seems like ages since I wrote a book on blog marketing but blogging didn’t strike me as a big revolution, just as a natural evolution. The same goes for social networks.

It reminds me of the Internet itself. When channels, platforms and technologies like e-mail, forums and even the WWW became known it seemed like a logical evolution of what we had known before, being messaging systems, BBS, hypertext, wide area networks, all the stuff I was working with back then. Social media has several dimensions, including organizational, cultural and economical but let’s also not forget the technological possibilities brought upon us by Rich Internet Applications for instance.

G: What is it like to be a real Social Media Citizen?

J-P: I’m a consultant. Basically what I do on a daily basis with social media is function of my customers. I’m not a social media consultant, I work cross-channel. But since I’m also working customer-centric and content and community play a huge role in what I do, some people seem to think of me as a social media expert. I’m not. On a more personal level, my social media activities really depend on how I feel, the time I have, whether I have something to say, share or get upset about (I tend to be a bit cynical sometimes) and so on. I try to be consistent with myself, write blog posts on a very regular basis, tweet when the work is done and that’s about it. For the really personal stuff you’ll have to look for me on lesser known social network.

G: What are your favourite social media hang out sites?

J-P: I am most active on Twitter, really. Of course I also use Facebook, LinkedIn and all the others but Twitter seems to be my favourite hangout. I guess I like the speed (fits my personality), the short exchanges with people and so on. But my favourite social media hang-out is really my inbox because everything comes together there and, although it is not a social network, Skype. I like to talk with people. And finally, there is that lesser known social network.

G: How are you keeping up-to-date with social media environment ?

J-P: This might surprise you: I have no RSS reader, no page with bookmarks and even no list of blogs or sites I systematically follow. Again, my inbox keeps me up-to-date. I subscribe to what I find interesting and often this concerns newsletters of sites or blogs that group content I like. They are never about new products but always about analysis. I am less interested in the media and technology than in what’s beneath them and what they can do for you. In other words: I don’t visit Mashable, TechCrunch and all the others.

Twitter is a source but not systematically either. I also am quite active on various blogs so it’s logical I consult those but most of all: businesses know where to find me so press releases find their way to my inbox as well. Too much really. I have a folder in my inbox called “sources” where I put stuff I want to review later. Most of it gets trashed, some of it gets used. Further, I use Google News and Google Blog Search now and then and I’m an addicted white paper and report downloader and buyer. Finally, I try to respond to questions of people in communities but it happens less than I would like to. Often I see the same questions coming back and then that’s food for a post.

G: How would you define a  Social Media Citizen?

J-P: No idea really. I’m a world citizen, I’m social, sometimes I’m not and I use social media.

G: What are your favourite Social Media Citizens?

J-P: Tough one. Assuming a social media citizen is what I would call one of the people that are respected or successful in social media for whatever reason, I can’t really name one. Sometimes I like the things people such as @thebrandbuilder or @briansolis write, sometimes not but I guess those are a few of the people I tend to talk with and “read”now and then. For the rest it really depends. Sometimes people write, say or do things that make me feel like “wow” and the next minute they write, say or do things that make me think “crap”. I hope people that follow me do the same. Life is learning, I sometimes look back at texts I wrote years ago and say to myself “this is crap”. That’s good. One person I would like to mention is @jayderagon. Since some of my blogs are on the Social Media Informer website, I always find myself ending up visiting his Relationship Economy blog and often tweeting his posts.

G: What are your favourite Marketing/PR tools on social media?

J-P: No real favourites but I use HubSpot, Spredfast, Raven (which is known in SEO circles but there’s a lot of social media going on there as well), GoToMeeting, Flowtown, Compete, PostRank, SurveyGizmo, Seesmic on Android, HootSuite, Ning, Trackur, Pitchengine, BackType, Topsy, TwitPic, BrainShark, MailChimp (for my blogs) and so much more. I also constantly test new stuff, looking for what suits me and my customers best in specific circumstances. And I have always been a big fan of Wibiya.

G: What are your favourite social media campaigns?

J-P: I like the way how UK retailer eSpares used customer reviews in its newsletter instead of product promotions and thus provided value for its subscribers and at the same time boosted conversion of its email. I know readers probably prefer a “real” social media campaign but the customer is cross-channel and so should a good campaign be. Using customer reviews, a.k.a. peer reviews, as a landing page, is bold, smart and integrated. That’s marketing. Building a Facebook page is not.

G: What are your Top 3 secrets of social media marketing?

J-P: There are no secrets:

  • Social media marketing is marketing and communication.
  • Marketing and communication are relational and two-ways at least..
  • If it isn’t relevant, perceived as valuable and doesn’t improve customer (in the very broad sense, including ‘fans’, ‘employees’ etc.) satisfaction or experience, marketing doesn’t work.

G: What do you see in the future for the social media?

J-P: I hope we will not use the term social media since it is much too vague and broad and since media are not social. I hope people will be more social in 5 years. We probably will still talk about things like social bookmarking and social media as an umbrella might hang around for a while as well but the next evolutions are happening now: mobile, the Internet of things whereby devices get increasingly connected as well, you name it. I know many people think privacy is not of our time anymore but I also know that I for one will continue to warn for what’s really going on in the social media sphere and in all these “next big things”, among others from the privacy viewpoint and the stuff it’s really about: business, the battle for data and users etc.

G: Describe yourself in five tags?

J-P: Watch. Feel. Think. Act. Weird.

G: What’s your favourite hobby?

J-P: Writing blog posts and poetry. Swimming. Travelling. Disconnecting and finding open spaces to breathe. Family.

G: What don’t you like about social media?

J-P: That people that are “experts” in it, often don’t look further than the social media themselves and often seem to have some tunnel vision problems. This is one of the main reasons I blog and constantly talk about “cross-channel”, “holistic”, “relevance” etc. I see the same thing happening as when the Internet became more or less known: everyone talked about the “medium”. It created confusion and hype. I prefer cases, data and simplicity. One bubble was enough.

G: What is the funniest/most unexpected thing that happened due to social media?

J-P: I struggled with that question. I even tweeted about it. Someone advised me to answer “I found back my neighbour girl I knew from 0-6 y, fell in love with her and we’ve been together 17 months now” but I’ll have to disappoint you. I guess the most fun thing is to find back people you haven’t heard from in ages and vice versa. Then you connect and send a DM and they go like “Who are you? Don’t remember you, give context.” The opposite goes as well. I think it means that the people I used to know in the industry became forgetful old farts such as myself.

G: How did social media change your life?

J-P: What has changed my life most was the decision to try to start blogging, writing and working in English after a lifetime of doing it in Dutch. Social media has allowed me to connect with people from literally everywhere instead of sitting in a small and relatively narrow-minded local market. That’s the most important thing for me, being the world citizen I feel like.

***

A big Thank You to my dear friend J-P for his great insights!! You can find the rest of the interviews with the Social Media Citizens at Social Media interviews category

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This post was written by:

- who has written 111 posts on Social Media Citizens – Interviews with social media influencers from around the world.

Giedrius Ivanauskas is the founder/editor of Social Media Citizens and co-founder of Social Marketing Forum. He also blogs on Social Media Today and Socialemailmarketing.eu. Giedrius is a managing partner at Nearby Digital - location focused social media marketing agency and is passionate explorer of Augmented Reality, Startups and anatomy of Inspiration. He curates inspiration database - Inspirisimo.You can follow Giedrius on Facebook or Twitter

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