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A social media deity: an interview with Lon Safko


Social media has changed to the way we live and work, for sure, but has it been for the better? We chat to Lon Safko, who has dedicated the last few years of his life to understanding it and learning how to take full advantage of its powers.


When you think of social media, you probably think of tweens on their smartphones tweeting about One Direction’s whereabouts, but the plethora of available social media platforms offer you a lot more valuable information that that. Twitter streams news tailored especially for you, while Facebook keeps you in contact with your friends and family, but if Lon Safko had to choose one social media platform as his favourite, it would have to be LinkedIn. “It’s a professional network, everybody in there is professional, nobody is exchanging pictures of their kitty cats or their chocolate chip cookie recipes; they’re there for business”, he explains. “I use it at least once a day for connecting with people, for tracking down prospects, for building relationships.” But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t appreciate the other platforms. “Facebook has is over a million members so the opportunity is huge. Twitter, you could send out a Tweet and the customers can actually read it, comprehend it, benefit from it in less than five seconds”, he says.


There’s a reason we associate social media with the younger generations. As a relatively new development, it’s tweens, teenagers and millennials have grown up in the internet generation. It has become part of their lifestyle and it’s impossible for them to imagine what life would be like to not share an Instagrammed image of what they had for breakfast with their thousands of followers. But Safko says shame on anyone who sees social media as a young man’s game. “I’m 58 years old and I wrote the most comprehensive book on social media on the planet,” says Safko. “Younger people are comfortable with technology because they’re immersed in it ever since they were born whereas the older generation, the fifties and sixties, we kind of had to adapt to all the new technologies thrown at us. So it is a little bit more difficult for older generations than it is for the younger. But don’t forget the older generation has the grey hair; we’re the ones that know how to sell. We know how to build relationships. The young kids they know the technology, that’s for sure but they don’t have the experience that the older generation has so it’s really a collaboration of both.”


An article was published on the Forbes website a few months back, and it went viral. It was a list of things that 20-year-olds don’t understand, and one of the points was that social media is not a career on its own, but part of a broader marketing profession. When this came up in the conversation, Lon got quite animated. “That is the entire subject matter of my latest book with millennials. It’s called the Fusion Marketing Bible. The biggest trend in 2013 was that these millennials who had been hired at exorbitant salaries to do social media are now…


getting fired. The reason is social media marketing is not a standalone set of tools; it’s just marketing. Back in the ‘60s, a lot of large corporations and agencies had vice presidents of television advertising. Nobody has a vice president of television advertising today, and the thought of that is ridiculous. But back then that was a new technology. Once we got comfortable with television advertising we simply realised that’s just media like everything else. The companies that are really smart, the ones that are going to be the most successful and have the edge, are the ones that are going to blend social media, traditional marketing and digital marketing, all into one department that’s just called marketing; completely and fully integrated.”


Social media may not be a stand-alone career, but it’s certainly not going anywhere soon. Embrace it and discover all it has to offer. Lon Safko is proof that age is no excuse for not taking advantage of it. “Everything is really, really easy but it’s new so it’s going to require just a little bit of a learning curve. But once you do it and see how powerful and useful it is, really you’ll want to do more and more. So get over it, get into it, try it and when you see how well it works out you’re going to want to do more. It’s not that tough.”


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Los Safko

Lon Safko is a bestselling author, speaker, trainer, consultant, and is the creator oft he “First Computer To Save A Human Life” as coined by Steve Jobs, Apple, Inc. That computer, along with 18 other inventions and more than 30,000 of Lon‘s papers, are in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. This alone is a testimony to Lon’s creativity. Lon is the host of the world’s first PBS Television Special “Social Media&You… Communicating In A Digital World”. Lon has gone on to create numerous hardware and software solutions for the physically challenged, developed the first CAD software for civil engineers, designed the archetypes for the Apple Newton & Microsoft’s Bob Operating Systems, and is also responsible for those handy little Tool-Tips help-balloon pop-ups! Lon has founded over 14 successful companies, including Paper Models, Inc., which developed Three-Dimensional Internet Advertising and Virtual-Electronic-Retailing “V-E-Tailing” for busi­ness, promotions, and education for, which Lon holds three Unit­ed States Patents. Lon has been recognized for his creativity with such prestigious awards as; The Westinghouse Entrepreneur of the Year, Arizona Innovation Network’s Innovator of the Year, The Arizona Soft­ware Association’s Entrepreneur of the Year, twice nominated for the Ernst & Young / Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year, The Public Relations Society of America’s, Edward Bernays, Mark of Excellence Award, and nominated as a Fellow to the nation‘s Computer History Museum. Lon has also been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, PC Novice, INC. Magazine, CFO, Pop­ular Science Magazines and the New York Times just to name a few. Lon was even selected by the Smithsonian Institution to rep­resent “The American Inventor” at their annual conference, and is now part of the Guinness World Records! Lon is an author of remarkable breadth, writing nine innovative bestselling books, which have helped guide corporations in mas­tering social media marketing, integrating traditional, digital, and social media marketing. Lon trains executives to think creatively, uncovering the secrets of increasing customers, sales and reve­nue. Lon’s bestselling book published by John Wiley & Sons “The Social Media Bible,” unlocks the mysteries of the hottest new Internet wave, Social Media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, for business. This book is transforming corporate, government, and non-profit marketing strategies and how they use these new media to reach their desired audienc­es with powerful messages and efficiency. His book hit #1 on Amazon in both Business & Marketing categories, is in it’s Third Edition and five languages. Lon is also a profes­sional blogger for Fast Company, appointed the first Ambassador to SCORE, and is an USAToday CEO Advi­sor. Lon’s newest bestseller, The Fusion Marketing Bible, pub­lished by McGraw Hill will truly change the way we do marketing and sales by looking at marketing in a com­pletely different way; 3D! Along with Lon’s other inventions, The Safko Wheel Marketing Toolkit, concept will leverage your existing marketing to make it significantly more effec­tive, while adding to your company’s bottom line without any additional expense! Lon privately coaches companies on harnessing innova­tive thinking and social media strategies to create higher productivity and profits. Lon’s presentations are personal­ized to help corporate, government, higher ed, and non­profit executives improve their operations and perfor­mance by capturing their innovative potential. As Lon says, “When you see your world with a different perspective, you see new way to do everything… Lon Safko sees the world in a new way, every day!

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