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Interview with Social Media Citizen: David Siteman Garland

DavidDavid Siteman Garland is the Founder of The Rise To The Top, the web show for entrepreneurs, forward-thinkers, business owners and marketers, as well as The Rise To The Top TV show on ABC. David contributes as a writer and business/entrepreneurial commentator to CNN, CBS Bnet, Small Biz Trends and Personal Branding Blog.  David is also the author of upcoming book – Smarter, Faster, Cheaper: Non-Boring, Fluff-free Strategies for Marketing and Promoting Your Business. You can follow David on Twitter or Facebook.

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

D: Funny thing is I really didn’t get into social media, social media got into me. I’ve always been a social person and continually crave connection both online and offline. Social media was just a natural extension of hanging out with likeminded people.  When I was an undergraduate at Washington University in St. Louis in late 2004, Facebook launched. Luckily, Washington University was one of the first 20 schools added so I was one of the first 10,000 users on Facebook (not exactly verified but close). Immediately, I loved it. When I was far younger, I was hanging out in chat rooms and forums (early social media) but there was something much more personal and interesting about how it evolved. Fast forward to now and social media is really how I’ve built The Rise To The Top brand. Because of the ability to connect and engage with likeminded people on social media I was able to take RISE from obscurity in 2008 to a growing 100,000+ following in 2010 and nearly 200 interviews with some of the most unique entrepreneurs in the world.

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

D: I love it because I’m a people person and a content creator with my show and upcoming book. I love spending a big part of my day connecting with people. It is just who I am. I don’t really have a typical day, but being a content creator and creating something at least five days a week (videos and interviews) ensures that I’m really active. I make sure every day to respond to @ replies on Twitter, share my interviews and articles, share content from others (super important), offer random insights and also hunt for interesting people to follow and connect with. On Facebook, it is similar. I put a lot of effort in to really get to know people and not just view it as a place to share links. Social media is an incredible relationship building tool if you allow it and that is huge for any hustling entrepreneur. Caring is severely underrated.

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

D: My two favourites are Facebook and Twitter. A disclaimer: I believe you can have lots of success on ANY social media site big or small if you are willing to put in the time and effort as well as understand that those that succeed in social media do so because they passionately give as opposed to just take. Anyway, off the soapbox. Facebook is something I find really personal and interesting. You can really get to know someone on there because personal is often mixed with business. We all do business with people we know, like and trust and hey if I’ve seen the photos of your baby…there is something to be said about that. Twitter is my favourite place online to meet new people and keep up with many relationships at once. It is like a ridiculously large sea of interesting people on there. There are always cool new folks emerging and old, indispensable favourites as well.

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

D: I keep an eye on a few of the big sites and more personal ones when it comes to social media. Some of my favourites include:

G: How would you define a  Social Media Citizen?

D: A social media citizen is someone that goes beyond just understanding the technology and benefits. A social media citizen is someone that really understands how to give value to others and small talk as well as “getting” that social media is not a one night stand but a long term relationship.

G: What are your favourite Social Media Citizens?

D: That is like choosing between children for me as I’ve interviewed literally hundreds of them on my show. Some of my favourites besides the ones listed above include:

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

D: I only use a couple of tools. My favourite one is Hootsuite. Not only is run by great people, but is a useful tool for managing all of your sites, shortening links and mastering the technology even if you aren’t a techie (which I’m not…I’m more of a person who loves using functional tech).

G: What are your favourite social media campaigns?

D: Interesting question. I’m a big fan of not using the word campaign. Because campaign to me screams impersonal big brand and ewwwwwww. I think a better way is to look at success. Who has had success building a brand using the tools? I think one of the best examples is Gary Vaynerchuk. Why? Even though he did have success before social media existing (running a traditional retail wine company with his Dad) he really became a sensation because of social media and his ability to create (Wine Library TV), connect (with wine lovers initially and later on business lovers…that sounds awkward you know what I mean), and small talk (connect one-on-one with people). He really did things smarter, faster, cheaper and now is known around the world as a trusted resource when it comes to wine, building a brand on social media, business and more. And that is really cool.

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

D: My Top 3 is:

  • Give (valuable links to content…yours and others, information, inspiration)
  • Connect (don’t be afraid to reach out and form more relationships)
  • Small Talk (being a human defeats being a logo every time)

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

D: Great question and sometimes it is hard to look into the crystal ball. The language and tools might change, but the ability to connect one-on-one with people online isn’t going anywhere which is awesome. The funny thing is this. I feel like we are going to either see major fragmentation (more niche sites popping up) or one site domination. Time will tell. I will go out on a limb though for better or worse and predict that the term will still be around in five years.

G: What’s your favourite hobby?

D: Hard to say just one. Life along with conversations, hanging out with the three F’s – family, friends, fiancée. Sports, writing, interviewing – I would do what I do now even if I didn’t get paid for it.

G: How did social media change your life?

D: Social media has been something amazing to meet literally thousands of people I might not have ever connected with otherwise. Plus, it has given hustling entrepreneurs (like me) an amazing tool to build a community. The RISE community has gone from 0 to over 100,000 big thinkers in less than two years because of the ability to connect on social media all of the cost of time and effort as opposed to a big budget. And this led to a major book deal with Wiley Publishing of Smarter, Faster, Cheaper: Non-Boring, Fluff-free Strategies for Marketing and Promoting Your Business . I think that is pretty nuts (in a good way) because social media allows you to put yourself on the map as opposed to waiting to be discovered.

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

D: Very little. If I had to pick one thing it would be the real time illusion. Meaning, there is sort of this illusion that you have be present on there 24/7 or you will lose any effort you have put into it. Yes, it takes time and effort to see results, but it can’t take over your life. Don’t let it. Also, the obsession of ROI especially with bigger brands. While they are trying to figure out the ROI of spending time on there, hustling entrepreneurs like us are using that time to build our brands. Joke is on them, haha.

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

D: All kinds of funny stuff has happened. But, anytime I meet someone in real life where we were connected on social media beforehand, it is always awesome. For example, I was with my fiancée on a trip to San Francisco this past year and went to the Cardinals-Giants baseball game. I tweeted that I was there and one of my followers said she was there too. She came over and said hi to both of us. Amazing when connections from the virtual world end up in the real world. Mind-boggling cool when you really think about it. And this isn’t an isolated incident. I get to meet fans of RISE all over the world. I was in Chicago sitting at a pool and three guys were talking business near me. I asked them if they were entrepreneurs and they said yes. After asking about their company, they asked about what I do and I told them. And then one guy said, “Wait a minute! I follow you on Twitter. I’m a fan of the show.” That was a crazy feeling. I mean crazy.


A big Thank You to David for his great insights!! You can find the rest of the interviews with the Social Media Citizens at Social Media interviews category

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 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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One Response to “Interview with Social Media Citizen: David Siteman Garland”

  1. David Siteman Garland says:

    Thanks for having me on! Hope folks will find this helpful.




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