Oi logo bigToday I have great pleasure in introducing my firm friend, and Oiconf social media star Mr. Mark Schaefer. Its fair to say that Mark was one of the people that made Oiconf possible last year when he decided to attend and give our key note speech, and I’m proud to say that he is back this year, bigger and better than ever!

I managed to grab a few moments with Mark and ask him about The Oi conference, how his career is progressing and what he thinks are the key things to look out for in social media today.

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Mark Schaefer with the Oiconf team (Photo credit: Sarah-hoss)

Hi Mark, thanks so much for agreeing to come back and do the Oiconf again this year. You were the headliner for us at the first one, and I think the single reason it was as successful as it turned out to be… I guess the obvious question is what did you think of it? Especially, what did you think of the people of South Wales that attended?

 I have been to South Wales many, many times in the past through my past career with Alcoa. The landscape there reminds me very much of Western Pennsylvania where I grew up, and in fact, there are many Welsh descendants there.  So I have always felt very at home in Wales. The conference was such a success and I made many new friends who continute to keep in touch with me.

For those that don’t know, the Oiconf all started with a Twitter conversation between me and you which ended up with you suggesting that we put a social media conference on in Wales, you said you’d come along and speak at it to help us get it going. The rest as they say, is history. But tell me, why did you decide to do it the first place? After all, we had only ever talked on the social web!

I have a good eye for talent and I liked your enthusiasm and drive.  There was no doubt you would pull it off and it would be a success. Sometimes you just have to have faith, and I did!

What have this year’s attendees got to look forward to from your talk this time around? What have you got planned for us?

I have been working on a new concept that is surprising and interesting. I think I have boiled social media marketing down to five essential concepts and it’s not the usual stuff at all!  I have been testing this out at some of my classes and workshops and it seems to be a big hit. Whether you are new to social media marketing or experienced, I think I will help you see things in a new way!

Your blog has really developed over the last 12 months hasn’t it?

I continue to push and change and keep it interesting and fresh. I’m never short on ideas and it’s something I enjoy. The readership has continued to grow so I am very grateful for that.  One person said about my blog, “Mark writes about the things that other people miss.”  I like that and think it is true!

Mark at the Oiconf last year (pic: Sarah Hoss)
Mark at the Oiconf last year (pic: Sarah Hoss)

Maybe it’s fair to say it all started for you with the wonderful ‘Tao of Twitter’ the little book that changed my life! And last year you had the bestselling ‘Return on Influence’ published. It was a big hit at Oiconf, and I know, around the rest of the world too. You’ve yet another new book out at the moment right?

I collaborated with the amazing Stanford Smith on a new book called “Born to Blog.” I have had many requests to do a little book like Tao about blogging and that is the aim with this publication. It’s very accessible and human.  I think that is the contribution with this book — yes, it has lots of tips and tricks for both individuals and businesses, but the biggest wall people hit is human.  How do I find the time to do it?  How do I find the ideas to do it?  And most important, how do I find the  courage to do it?

What do you think are the things those of us working in or with social media need to be looking out for at the moment? Are they any issues or trends coming up on the rails as it were?

Oh, there is so much!  I think that is really the issue most people have to deal with — the rate of change, the scope of change.  But I’ll pluck out three: 1) Platform monetization — Facebook, Twitter and the rest have to make money. How will this affect us as users? 2) Augmented reality — It’s already happening and Google Glass will propel us into an entirely new dimension of connection, consumption, information, and entertainment. 3) The content crunch — How do we stand out in an increasingly noisy world?

What advice would you give someone starting out in social media today?

It’s important to be really clear about your business and marketing strategy. Do that upfront work. After that, identify the sources of rich content for your business and your customers.  It has to be something deeper than a Facebook update I think. Typically, something more substantial, like a blog, videos, or a regular podcast are needed to fuel your social media strategy.

If people want to find out more about your work, where do you think they should go? The books? The blog?

Pretty much everything about me can be found on my website www.businessesGROW.com

Thanks Mark, yours was an inspirational talk last year, and I can’t wait to  meet up again in June.

Always a pleasure. Look forward to seeing all my friends in Wales and meeting new ones in Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow!

Mark Schaefer is among the most acclaimed and accomplished marketing consultants in America, with a special emphasis in social media marketing.  A few of his recent accomplishments include:

  • Forbes magazine “Power 50″ social media influencers of the world
  • AdAge magazine “Power 150″ marketing blogger
  • TweetSmarter 2011 Twitter User of the year
  • Peer-elected 2011 B2B Twitter User of the Year
  • B2B Magazine (UK) social media book of the year: Tao of Twitter
  • Author of two best-selling marketing books
  • Seven patents

You can see Mark in person at this years Oi conference.  Its a social media event like no other! Starring the amazing Mari Smith, Mark Schaefer, Tom Webster, and Tamsen Webster, plus a host of local social media experts, Oiconf offers this unique line up and incredible value to the UK audience.

There are Oiconf venues in Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow this year, and early bird tickets start at at incredible £99. Just follow the links to the Oiconf website and you’ll be directed to the tickets for your choice of venue.

But hurry up, they are selling out fast!

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