Friday August 09, 2013 | 08:00 AM
Posted by Rob Gould

Joy is a writer, communications specialist and Internet enthusiast living in Portland, Maine and working for VOX Global.

Flashing rainbows, GeoCities and the Conscious Consumer

As with most of my interviews, what you'll read here is a greatly condensed version of our conversation.

Tell me a little bit about what you do in your current position.

"I'm the head of VOX Global's social media practice group. It's really interesting and I really love the company I work for. There's a great team who work on all of our social media work so it's really fun and engaging and we're doing some cool things. I'm also a part of the citizenship and sustainability practice group. So, what I'm really interested in now right now, and something I really get to play around with a lot, is this concept of the Conscious Consumer, people who are willing to maybe pay a little extra or at least get really informed about what brands are doing and how they're communicating around sustainability initiatives. Then they take to social media to talk about it. So, it's a great intersection for me with some of the work that I do."

What was your first experience with social media?

"When I was in junior high I had a GeoCities site. I really liked to write so I would do a lot of writing there. I think it was pre-Xenga even. I don't even know what happened to GeoCities but it had flashing rainbows and stuff like that on it. Then I was super into Friendster, and then my university was one of the first to get Facebook. This was like 2003. I thought it was really cool and I was really into the photo-sharing capability. I've since smartened up and taken down some of the photos of me that were up there during college. I had friends, who I knew in real-life,who were on Friendster and I was like, 'Facebook is the new Friendster! It's so much better!' I remember having people doubt me a little bit."

"I think I was on MySpace for a hot-second. It baffled me. It seemed very odd. I don't like going to places online where you go to a page and suddenly there's music playing. It seemed like that was the thing to do on MySpace."

"I was on Twitter in 2006-2007, so pretty early. I saw it at South by Southwest and thought it was pretty cool. I got into Tumblr pretty early on as well."

What do you like about social media?

"Personally, I've made friends through it. Through Tumblr and through Twitter, I've been able to be connected to people that I wouldn't have been able to have met otherwise. Those people are a huge part of my life now. Or, it could be that I've lived somewhere and this is how I keep in touch with those friends now. So, on the personal side of things it's been really, really interesting."

"On the professional side, I think that we're seeing a shift in activism. It used to be that if you disagreed with something or liked what a company was doing, I think you sort of associated people writing letters in order to change something. And, that didn't happen very often. And, now social activism has been reinvented. It's almost expected at this point that a company is going to hear from people about what they're doing or not doing. I like that a lot. I think it makes companies more approachable."

What do you dislike about social media?

"I dislike that it sometimes opens the door for some people to just spew at a company. As opposed to offering them the opportunity to offer constructive criticism."

"I think that some people take the license with it to be mean. I think the old adage, 'it's nice to be important but important to be nice' is really true. I feel like we've lost that a little bit and manners have gone by the wayside. I think if you disagree with someone, social can offer a great way to do that. But, have a respectful dialogue. I think we've lost some of that. There are a lot of things people will say to you online, or comment on a piece that you wrote, that they wouldn't say to you if you were sitting right in front of them."

"I miss manners. And, I also think that grammar is really important. You'll never catch me writing great with an '8' and if I have a typo in a tweet, I'm mortified about it."

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

"Fun. Accessible. Permanent."

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

"I really love John Schulz's twitter account as I think he does a great job of balancing the personal while crafting a thought-leadership space for himself on some really technical issues. John works with AT&T sustainability." @johnfschulz.

"I'm also really enjoying watching @zady take off. ZADY is a shopping platform and lifestyle destination for people who care about the origins of the items they purchase. This concept aligns well with my professional passion, the Concious Consumer, as it's combining social with the sustainble business practices."

"This is a tool more than a site. I've been using it since VOX specializes in advocacy. I think Thunderclap is an outstanding tool for digital advocacy and I'm really enjoying using it with my clients. Thunderclap is the first crowd-speaking platform that helps people be heard by saying something together."

Do you have an words of advice for people/companies starting out on social media?

"Especially as it pertains to brands and companies, if you're just starting out it's important to stick with 'the big three,' LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Create strategies that work within how these networks were designed. It may not be right for a company to have a Pintrest page and a Vine account, and that's okay! Start off with Facebook and Twitter and you can always grow from there. Better to do two or three things really well than be okay at six things."

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

You can find Joy on Twitter at @joyengel


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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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