Thursday January 23, 2014 | 08:57 AM
Posted by Rob Gould

Katie is a market researcher who currently works in B2B research with tradeshows, print media and online sites. During her research career she’s worked with business and consumer products and services in industries such as consumer packaged goods, specialty foods, live events, insurance, entertainment, and technology. Her special research interests include trends adoption and generational research (how different generations interact with products and services). Katie was an early adopter of social media and has appeared on various 'researchers to follow’ lists including "10 Great #MRX Tweeters Every Market Researcher Should Follow" and "Most Influential Client-Side Tweeters" and she also blogs about the market research industry and technology at Leveraging her social media expertise, Katie consults with small businesses looking to start on social media or enhance their social media presence. True to her early adopter ethos, Katie was thrilled to be selected as a Google Glass Explorer in 2013. Katie is also active with the Junior League of Portland, ME. She currently serves as vice president of public relations for the League.

Second Life, Andrew Shue, and Google Glass (in a very big way)

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

What was your first experience with social media?

"I would go as far back as college. In high school it didn't exist for me. Although back then there were computer programming classes. And, I've always been a total uber-geek, so of course I took them. I would be the only girl in these classes. I've always been inclined towards technology. It was in college that tel-net started. So, I went to Smith College and we could tel-net into the University of Iowa and the University of Minnesota and some other schools. That was kind of the beginning of the Internet for me. Being able to connect with other folks at other universities, without getting on the phone, was fascinating to me. I loved it. We could play games and do everything you could do on instant-messenger."

"I also had a really good friend who went to Dartmouth college and they had an intranet. This is when instant-messenging became really big. So, my really bad nineties example of that is ... do you remember 'Melrose Place?' Well, Andrew Shue was on campus during Dartmouth Winter Carnival weekend and you could track his movements around campus via instant messenger. With his every move, the IM network would just light up!"

"This is more Internet than social media, but I was an Amazon customer year one. I remember they sent everyone mugs their first year to thank them for being a customer. I can't believe I didn't keep it. It would definitely be a collector's item now. I probably sold it in a yard sale or something."

"I was also one of the first e-bay customers. So, I didn't really know what I was getting myself into at the time, but I was like, 'let me get on for this ride.' And, I've never wanted to get off."

"I got on Twitter in 2006. I was using it for work at that point. I was working at Communispace down in Boston at that time. Because our clients were asking about social media at that time, I felt like I needed to be familiar with it. For some reason, it usually fell to me, on my team, to investigate whatever the new thing was. One hilarious thing that I did was — we had this client who built this whole outpost in Second Life — so this client ended up having us give them a walk-through of their own build. It was crazy. So, here I was with this avatar, that basically looked like me, showing this client around Second Life. It seems like I've always been in on the front end of things. Of course, Second Life didn't really amount to anything. They didn't really have the infrastructure in place and people didn't really get that there wasn't a gaming component to it. I don't think people really understood what they were supposed to do with virtual worlds. I mean, when you went in, what were you supposed to do? Do you go shopping? Do you interact with people? The point of them wasn't clear. I think there should have been a gaming component. That would have given them more of a purpose. For example, look how World of Warcraft has caught on. There is a goal there. You can fulfill that purpose."

"I still always try to keep up with what's going on. I learn a lot from the younger women who are on the public relations committee with me at the Junior League. I just listen to what they're doing. That's how I learned about Snapchat and Flipagram. And now, of course, there's Google Glass which I've been really into."

What do you like about social media?

"My personal favorite social network is probably Twitter. It's less because of the technology and more because of the communities which I'm involved in. The market research community is really strong on Twitter. I've made a lot of connections there. Having that group of peers that you can talk with on a daily basis is invaluable. I've met business partners that way. I mean, if I'm going to be working in a new area that maybe I don't have expertise in, of course I'm going to look at their web site. But, I'm also going to talk with some of my peers on Twitter. Probably through a private message. The amazing amount of connections that I've been able to make on Twitter has been great."

"I do use equally now Twitter, Facebook and Google+. There's a whole joke with Google Glass users that this is their way of getting people on Google+. I mean, you have to be on Google+ if you're using Google Glass. You really don't have a choice. The early adopters also really love Google+. Just like with Twitter in the beginning, there are far fewer people using it, so it doesn't seem as crowded and there's really a nice sense of community. Especially among Google Glass users. There just aren't enough people on it right now to really use it professionally."

"I use Twitter, Facebook and Google+ everyday. I probably use Instagram once a week. And, for Twitter, I love Hootsuite. I would wear a Hootsuite t-shirt I love it so much."

"I love that social media is a big connector and that it's been able to bring people of like minds together across the world. I mean, Facebook, for instance, brings people together in a very real way who you probably wouldn't stay in touch with otherwise. You definitely wouldn't see them everyday. My family is in Minneapolis and I grew up out there. So, I still have a huge group of friends out there and Facebook is how I stay in touch with many of them. If I didn't have Facebook, I would probably be in touch with them once a year. Social media is a really easy way to keep up with people who are important to you. I love that."

"Social media, especially Facebook, allows you to pick up with people, when you do see them, in the same place as if you'd been seeing them all along. Facebook is great at facilitating our ability to see what is going on in our friends' day-to-day lives. You don't have to say, 'Well, since the last time I saw you two years ago ... catch me up.' Facebook is doing that for you. Facebook is catching you up. It really makes it easy to stay up-to-date with important people in my life."

"I also think about niche interests. This is me being a total geek, but I'm really into medieval manuscripts. So I have a very niche interest there. In the past, it would be only the people at your university who you might connect with on these types of interests. For some of these interests the communities are so small it might be just like six people. Now, with social media it's so much easier to connect with people with the same niche interests all over the world."

"What I love about social media at a brand level is that it takes them from being a brand behind a wall and gives them a voice. And, if those brands do it well, it's like you're finally talking to a person. I mean, it's fascinating to see how consumers' mind sets shift when they go from thinking that they are dealing with a faceless product or service to dealing with a real person. The benefits are just enormous. It becomes personal."

"How fascinating is it, with everything going on in the world, to see how quickly news comes in through Twitter? Whenever something is happening in the world, I check out Twitter before I check out anything else. I get the feet-on-the-street reporting. As they used to say, 'the revolution will be televised.' Now, the revolution is coming through hashtags. I think that's amazing."

What do you dislike about social media?

"I really love everything about social media. I'm a huge advocate and will talk to random strangers on the street about how much I love social media."

"The things that I don't like are the misconceptions. And, I don't like the fear that I think that some people have. One is the fear that you have to be on social media. You don't. It's a choice. I don't like that people have this angst around having to be on it, especially as they are hearing about all of the new things. Like Google Glass for example. I always counsel people to use social media the way that they want to use it. If you're a big photographer, then maybe Instagram is the thing for you. Or, maybe social media just isn't for you. That's fine too. There just seems to be this feeling that everyone has to be everywhere on social media. That just isn't the case."

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

"So, I've done it for weeks at a time. Every year, right around Christmas, I'll do a week-long digital sabbatical. I'l completely unplug and typically will not even look at email. It always feels really good just to decompress."

"I think there is more to life than social media, of course. So, I think it would be fine for me. I could do it. What I would really miss is that connection that you get from social media. I'd miss keeping up with my friends and keeping up with what's going on in the world. Now, for me, so much of that is done through social media that I would have a fear of missing out."

"I feel like I'd probably get a lot more reading done. I'm a big book person. I'd definitely get more reading done."

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

"Connections. Revolutionary. Fun."

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

Swissmiss: Tina Roth Eisenberg always has fun, interesting content on her blog…she’s one of my go-to resources for fun and creative content to share online. She’s also the NYC-based designer behind the productivity app TeauxDeaux.

Corey Templeton’s Portland Daily Photo: I love Corey’s work and he’s my favorite local photographer for capturing the “look and feel” of Portland. He’s got a fantastic  blog and is also active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more.

Meghan Telpner's Making Love In the Kitchen: Meghan’s a true social media success story. Over time she's gone from blogging about healthy eating to a full-on web platform, branded products, a print cookbook and many ebooks, public speaking, "MeghanTV" and more.

Mashable: Mashable is THE social media news site. I’m able to check their content daily via various feeds: their blog, Twitter, Facebook, and they now integrate with Google Glass.

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

You can find Katie on at: katieclark

You can find Katie on Twitter at: @insightsgal

You can find Katie on LinkedIn at: katieclark

You can find Katie on Google+ at: KatieClarkInsightsGal

Diversified Communications

Junior League of Portland, ME


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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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