Jay Baer: Hype free with a golden key – The Age of Social Media Rock Stars

golden keyPartway through an interview with Jay Baer, he handed me a shiny gold object that looked as if it could be a fancy room key; after all, we were in a hotel. Did he just hand me his room key? I quickly realized it was a slick medal business card and bottle opener.  I knew we were off to a good start.

We have officially entered into a new wave of rock star. The “social media rock star.” But while Jay Baer does enjoy a good tequila, and his business card could be interpreted as flashy bar trick, he is the type of “rock star” with longevity: completely hype-free, passionate about what he does, overly humble, and perfectly genuine.

Jay Baer is the author of extremely popular blog and social media strategy agency “Convince and Convert.  I have been following his blog for the past year – if you don’t read it, you should start.  His blog focuses on new trends in social media, the real strategy behind successful social campaigns, and emerging online technology advancements. He uses a lot of his own personal case studies – his favorite being the work he did for Sweet Leaf Tea.

He is also co-author of “The Now revolution,” currently being pre-sold on his website.  Besides a guaranteed amazing read,  “The Now Revolution” also embraces engagement and interactivity in true Jay Baer style. There is a reason we call him a rock star. The book utilizes Microsoft tag technology where codes are placed throughout the pages that can be unlocked for access to exclusive bonus content including videos, tips, discussions and resources. You can also download a free chapter of his book on Facebook.

book coverNicole: I want to know about the real Jay Baer and how he got his start- how did you end up becoming a social media rock star?

Jay Baer: I started working for the government as a spokesperson for the Juvenile corrections facility. I was in a position where l would do anything to not have that job.  Two friends started the very first internet company in Arizona, circa 1993. I had never been on the internet, I didn’t even know what it was, but I didn’t care, it could have been a Mango farm.. I was in. I was instantly the VP of Marketing for an internet company having never been on the internet. This was the start of my digital online marketing career.  In a year the company grew like 6000%.  I then worked for a local media site, working for a family, that covered news, sports and weather. It was soon acquired by a big company.  Working under a large corporation was pretty much “death by excel” so I knew that it was not my scene and I was out of there.  When I was 29 I started my own agency, “Mighty Interactive” out of my house and did digital marketing strategy for about 5 years, won a lot of awards and then I sold it to another agency.  It was clear that I liked to do my own thing and not work for someone else so as soon as my contract term was up, I went off on my own again and started Convince and Convert. Social media side was a natural progression.

Nicole: Was there one or two clients while working as “Mighty Interactive” that helped to launch your career? 

Jay Baer: No. Not at all. It was the exact same thing I do now. Be the hype-free guy who gives companies real advice and actually answers the phone.  There is no magic formula. A lot of the people in professional services have no business being professional services providers. They are not responsible, they are not fast, and they sell a people a big bill of goods.  I just became over time, the guy that corporations came to who needed no non-sense advice. 

Walking around the Copeland Communications sponsored tweet-up, arranged for Mr. Baer and fans, you could pin point the people in the room who had just spent the afternoon in one of Jay Baer’s intense training sessions. Like the physical exhaustion and spiritual enlightenment after a Birkams session, participants walked the floor a little weary and somewhat dazed albeit with their heads held high; a tell-tale sign of glimmer and enlightenment brought on by Jay’s real energy, genuine strategy and passion for the medium. Unlike most social media conferences, bathed in hype and irreplaceable examples of fortune-500 success stories, Jay Baer offers the humble reality that it takes a solid strategy and a lot of time to become successful with social media. 

Nicole: Most of the companies that seem successful with Facebook are the fortune 500 companies.  As a small, unknown brand, how do you make social media work for you?

Jay Baer: Set a clear path and expectations for what you will be using social media for: is it to engage customers, is it a form of customer service, or is it for customer acquisition? If you are looking to acquire new users, instead of focusing on giving away coupons or relying on giveaways as many strategists might recommend, use existing loyal customers as a conduit and give them the tools to become a volunteer army to promote your brand. 

Nicole: Many people assume that social media is a “quick win” solution. Is this true?

Jay Baer: The truth is that social media is the slowest media that we have ever invented because we are literally winning the hearts and minds of each person every day. Social media is like re-creating the telephone and its something we will be doing for years.

Nicole: There has been a lot of news recently about the Facebook Edge Score*. Do you think that people will start to “game” this algorithm similar to how people attempt to “game” Google search? 

(*The Facebook edge score is a social ranking algorithm that organizes the content you see in your “Top News” stream based on what you as a user interact with most frequently.)

Jay Baer: I think it is more difficult to game edge rank because it is not as if Facebook makes a judgment that says your first, your tenth and your 100th, like Google does.  Its basically, here is what facebook thinks is the collection of edges that merits your attention and that’s based on comments and likes. I don’t think it is possible unless you can somehow manufacture fake comments and likes. 

Nicole: Do you think the algorithm will become smarter or change over time? 

Jay Baer Absolutely.  But it’s not about them re-writing the algorithm. Facebook will start to take more data points into account. Right now its primarily likes and comments, and status interactions – but they could add tab interaction (when fans come to your page and interact with a tab), they could add the amount you interact with blog posts/ websites off –domain that have a “like” button attached to it. The Facebook open graph is so big- and what they want to do is essentially become the plumbing for the web.  They can use interactions that don’t happen in Facebook as part of the formula- that is what I believe is going to impact the future of the Facebook edge score. The sum total of you interacting with the brand – anywhere you go on the web. 

The future of online technology is improving on the things we do in our day-to-day lives.  Marketing will become more personal and hyper-targeted. Jay used an example by pointing to the new Starbucks digital network with Yahoo where you will soon be able to get free access to subscription content such as newspapers, music and movies whenever you are in a Starbucks store.  The ability for Starbucks to serve hyper-targeted ads and special offers to you through this new digital network is a real possibility for the future according to Jay.  Walmart could also have a similar impact by utilizing their loyal fan base and offering daily Groupon-like discounts to their customers. 

It is clear that we are shifting towards a time where we finally have the technical ability for true one-to-one communication with our customers. 

Victoria has been lucky – thanks to our surprisingly large number of social participants (go #yyj!) and trend-setting agencies such as Copeland Communications who brought Jay Baer to town. We are seemingly a go-to city on the social media rock star tour.  Scott Stratten, “UnMarketing” and Julien Smith, “Trust Agents,” joined us just a month ago for Social Media Camp.  Who will follow Jay Baer’s act and grace us with their physical social presence?