Tuesday April 23, 2013 | 09:00 AM
Posted by Rob Gould

Annie Heckenberger, VP, community trailblazer at Philadelphia–based indie advertising agency, Red Tettemer + Partners, leads the agency’s social media & PR divisions. Annie has nearly two decades of advertising, branding, marketing, and PR agency experience. She believes that the best marketing is integrated, viral is not a style but a social phenomenon, and everyone should work in an agency for at least a year.

Annie is my favorite person who I’ve never met. In fact, until we began working on this piece together we had never even talked on the phone. Before that, our friendship had been strictly confined to social media. She also happens to be one of the funniest people I know and I highly recommend following her on Twitter if you like to laugh. I affectionately refer to her as “Twitter Royalty,” because she’s such a good Twitterer. With all of that said, I should give you fair warning that she does not suffer fools gladly. Beware.

Annie has also now promised to pay a visit to Portland in the not-too-distant future. I’m looking forward to laughing with her in person.

This interview marks the first time I have reached outside of Maine for an interview subject. I can promise you it will not be the last time. There will be many more to come. Due to the long distance nature of the interviews it took place over a variety of mediums including phone, email, text message and, of course, Twitter.

Echo NY, old school bulletin boards and on being Twitter Royalty.

As with most of my interviews, what you'll read here is a greatly condensed version of our emails, text messages, phone conversations and Tweets.

What was your first experience with social media?

"If I were to answer this truthfully, I would say bulletin boards at the local supermarket when I was a kid. That was a place where anyone could publish and everyone gathered for information – babysitters, tutors, furniture for sale, you name it. Craig's List and Facebook's Marketplace are just virtual social applications of that same bulletin board from 30 years ago. Most of social media is a virtual representation of things we've done in person for years."

"My first online social media experiences were Echo NY, a forum we used to connect and share information in NYC in the late 90s, and Diaryland, one of the first "blogging" platforms. I think I started writing on Diaryland in 1998 or 1999."

What do you like about social media?

"My favorite thing about social media is the nonstop aggregation of news. I've always been a news junkie. Now, I'm exposed to coverage and stories from all over the world at any time of the day or night. And, because I've spent time finding & following likeminded people with similar interests, they are sharing with me a tremendous amount of content I'm interested in reading."

"Social media has been terrific to me personally. I've met people around the world and forged friendships that geographically, I simply would not have been able to do without it. Complete strangers that have connected with me online, provided comfort and compassion when my father died by sending me flowers, baked goods, and books." Social media has been a real education for me. Beyond teaching me something new each day through news/content, it's taught me about humanity and compassion and empathy. Movements like The Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street and Arab Spring, organized and reported using social media, expanded my world view and are a constant reminder of the power social media can wield for a common cause. Likewise, the outpouring of compassion and anguish during tragedies like Newtown and the Boston Marathon are comforting reminders that the world is not all bad, in fact, it might be more good than bad, and we are not alone. These things are the best of social media. They are the best aspects of the human experience." 

What do you dislike about social media?

"I dislike the 'keeping up with the Jones' aspect of social. The perfect side of life that so many people tend to present on social. All of the wins and none of the losses. I tend to prefer to follow people who show both sides of the coin, without going too deep into woe-is-me territory."

"Much like what I love about social, is what I dislike. I don't care for the airing of petty grievances, of shaming people on it." 

"At times social media can feel overwhelming, the speed and consistency that news is broken and spread on it can be compelling and fatiguing all at once. It can feel hard to keep up."

"For the most part, the things I dislike are also things I have the power to change by speaking out against them. That's a great opportunity for everyone. Don't like it? Change it." 

What would it be like for you to disconnect from social media for six months?

"I'm sorry, what? How? Huh? I can't even imagine disconnecting from social for 6 days, let alone six months. That's just cray."

How does it make you feel when I refer to you as Twitter Royalty?

"It makes me wonder when my Cartier tiara will arrive? When I get it I'll be sure to Instagram it for you."

If you could only use three words to describe social media, what would they be? 

So. Much. Content.

Is there a person or brand that you think uses social media effectively?

"One of the most inspiring and personally rewarding social programs that I've worked on is Under Armour Women's 'What's Beautiful,' a competition to redefine the female athlete. The women who participated just blew us away. Here's a quick look.  'What's Beautiful' is now an ongoing community hosted by Under Armour and our next competition will kick off in a few weeks."

"Newark Mayor Cory Booker @CoryBooker is a great civic example of doing social well – and responding to the good and the bad."

"Comcast has essentially reinvented the customer service model with their @comcastcares initiative."

"The agencies for Oreo have done a great job reinvigorating that brand by leveraging pop culture to make content that surprises and delights – and gets people talking." Oreo's Facebook page.

"And I love how J&J's OB brand flipped a consumer problem by using social creatively."

I want to thank Annie for taking the time to talk with me about her opinions on, and experience with, social media.

You can find Annie on Twitter at: @Anniemal

You can find Red Tettemer on Twitter at: @redtettemer

You can find Red Tettemer on Facebook at: Red Tettemer + Partners

Red Tettemer + Partners


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Social media has changed the way that many of us learn, purchase, interact and explore the world around us. And, things are just getting started. Social, Social is a place to discuss social media with people from all walks of life. No experts allowed.

About the Author

Rob works as a digital marketing & public relations consultant to agencies, brands, and individuals. He has 20 years of marketing experience. He also currently serves in a volunteer capacity as director of pr/communications for TEDxDirigo. From 2005-2011, Rob served as director of social media & agency communications at The VIA Agency (Portland). Prior to VIA, Rob worked with several PR & advertising agencies in London & Boston. He is a graduate of The University of Vermont (UVM) and a Maine transplant (2002).

Follow Rob on Twitter at @bobbbyg

His real-life interests include art, travel, writing, design, psychology, the beach, & exercise (grudgingly at times).

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