A Digtial Handshake With Paul Chaney


Paul chaney book 9_09

Every once in awhile while there are people who enter your life and not only influence your journey but touch your heart. Paul Chaney is one of those people. In his new book The Digital Handbook Paul simply and smartly explains not only why it is now critical that marketers pay attention to social media but suggests ways of how to put the tactics into play.

Paul graciously agreed to an email interview. I asked him to tell us thought process that went into the development of The Digital Handbook. It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to my dear friend and colleague .. author, social media 'rock star' and a true Southern Gentleman .. Paul Chaney.

Toby/Diva Marketing: This is your second book on social media. The first, Realty Blogging, was targeted to the real estate industry while The Digital Handshake seems to be for a more general business audience.  In the few years in between the publishing of both how have you seen this emerging industry that we call “social media change?”

Paul Chaney/The Digital Handshake: From my perspective, we’ve had two iterations. Keep in mind that in 2006-2007 I was a bit of a Rip VanWinkle in that I stepped away from active participation, only to wake up and find the world had changed. There were sites like Facebook and Twitter and I didn’t quite know what to make of it. I did realize that, unless I got with the program I was going to become archaic, a relic of the 2004-2005 blog-centric past. I determined not to allow that to happen.

Again, that was my perspective. In truth, this has been a gradual evolution in which blogs played a leading role. I think there was a lot of experimentation with social networks, starting most memorably with Friendster, then MySpace and now Facebook. We’ve seen a maturation process in terms of the degree of sophistication in the types of functionality that social networks allow, most notably Facebook. At the same time, they’ve gotten very easy to use. I know, my wife is on Facebook and if she can use it, anyone can.

I think of equal note is the movement away from purist ethics. Social media has become the latest victim of spammers and ne’er-do-wells. People who don’t understand the underlying philosophy are trying to use the genre as a direct marketing tool, and it doesn’t work. At least, I hope it doesn’t. I pray that doesn’t become the new model.

  • This medium was built on the chief cornerstones of authenticity and transparency and any attempt to “game” the system should be met with complete disdain.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Your book has been called a “road map” to understanding social media. On a road trip we start at point A to eventually get to point B. What should we take along with us on this journey?

Paul Chaney/The Digital Handshake: The journey begins by knowing the destination. I think you call that strategy. Social media needs to be used strategically, in a way that supports the marketing goals and objectives of the company. It should be treated no different than any other form of marketing and held to a similar standard.

Not only that, you need to know the rules of the road. Social media has evolved to the point where there are some pretty well-defined, if not yet written rules. Those that abide by them will be rewarded, those that don’t, well, read what I said above.

Obviously, to get anywhere, you have to have a means to travel, a vehicle. Social media offers any number of those from blogs, to social networks, to micro-blogs, to video, podcasts and on and on. You have to chose the vehicle that’s right for you in terms of your strategy and business objectives.

I think you also need route by which you travel. For me, where social media is concerned, it consists of three words: Listen, Engage and Measure. Listening is the new marketing and if people are talking (and they are) we had better know what they’re saying, who’s saying it, and where it’s being said.

Listening leads the way to engagement and given that “the CEO wants to know the ROI of SMM” we have to measure the results. Just like you’d measure your gas mileage on a trip, so to we have to assign some metrics to social media when and where it’s appropriate to do so.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Following the idea of a road trip .. some of the most fun trips are those where we go off the beaten path. Can you offer some “side trip” suggestions that would add value to a marketer’s understanding of why or how to engage in social media?

Paul Chaney/The Digital Handshake: I most certainly can and thank you for asking. I think the “side trips” have to do with the people we meet and the relationships we forge along the way. The most attractive thing about social media to me is not that I’ve been able to build a career around or that I can teach businesses how to use it to grow, but that I’ve met a bevy of people who have come to have great meaning to me, and chief among them is you Toby.

If the joy is in the journey, then it has to do with the people we meet along the way who inspire, challenge and enrich us.

Toby/Diva Marketing: The Digital Handbook includes a lot of specific examples that bring to life the ideas and concepts you discuss in the book. In your research did you find any surprises regarding the way companies were using or not using social media tactics?

Paul Chaney/The Digital Handshake: No. (I’m kidding.) Actually, here’s what surprising (or not as the case may be). It’s that people are focused first on tactics and not on strategy. I don’t know that I can apply that statement to the people I interviewed, but it does apply to many I’ve met when doing workshops or giving presentations.

Over and over I hear, how do I use Facebook, or Twitter, etc? I want to tell them, it’s not all about the tools. There’s a mindset to adopt and that the tools are secondary to the marketing objectives.

I’m a tactically-oriented guy, but I’ve learned that, in order for social media to be most effective, it has to tie to strategic goals and objectives. And, it need to support and/or integrate with other forms of marketing.

Toby/Diva Marketing: It can be confusing for people who don’t “live” online to understand that relationships can be built and nurtured in the digital world. Let’s end this mini interview with this question: How you “shake hands” in the digital world?

Paul Chaney/The Digital Handshake: You know, it’s really not all that different than how you do it in the real world. Only, I being an introvert, I find it easier to do it virtually. You break the ice, find some common ground, carry on a conversation and begin the process of relationship-building. Your bio is your business card and a handshake is simply a conversation started by one party or the other.

Don’t be put off by the fact that the tools are unfamiliar. They are easy to use and don’t take long to master.

  • Social media isn’t about technology so much as it is about people. Focus on the people you’re trying to connect with, not the tools being used to do so.

Thank you Paul! Check out The Digital Handshake on Facebook and become a fan.


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Thank you for doing this interview. I appreciate the opportunity. For you, I do not extend a digital handshake, but a digital (and when I see you, real life) hug!


Posted by: Paul Chaney on Sep 22, 2009 11:46:30 PM

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