A couple of months ago we reviewed Chris Brogan’s new book, Social Media 101.  Since reading the book we’ve thought about what we would ask Chris if we could. We’re delighted to have had the opportunity to discuss the book with Chris in this Impressions through Media exclusive interview. Welcome, Chris!

DH: You wrote in Social Media 101 that some people advise organizations to go for a blog as a first option in their starter moves for introducing social media, and that you think blogs are possibly not a good first choice. Universally are there any good first choices for organizations? Or do you think it’s more a case-by-case situation? Are there any identifying factors to help organizations decide e.g. by type of business, size of organization?

CB: I think listening is a universal first choice. Without using the new listening tools out there, you’ll miss the opportunity to understand where your people are, what they’re talking about, what types of opportunities might be out there, and then what one might do to make a choice. I think listening is universal as a first step. Beyond that, everything is variable.

DH: You write, “Abandon all thoughts of Twitter being a professional marketing tool– that it’s not meant for that purpose.” In your opinion, are there any companies using it well for marketing? What can we glean from how they’re using it?

CB: There are some companies using Twitter well for marketing. Dell did it by making relationships happen. They spent a long while just answering customer service issues and just being there, and then they rolled out their discounts and bargains twitter streams and pulled in over $6 million in revenue over 2009. That’s pretty successful. My point in saying to abandon those thoughts is that I want mainstream marketers to realize that it’s conversational or relationships-based marketing, and not just a place to stuff coupons.

DH: You said that you personally have mixed feelings about Facebook. What do you think about Facebook  for businesses who want to be on Facebook? Are there benefits over having a business profile on LinkedIn?

CB: I’m not all that jazzed about Facebook Business Pages because unless you’re just using them for lightweight community management, I’ve not really seen many conversions. I’ve seen more sales and marketing success with LinkedIn, but in all, Facebook just hasn’t yielded a lot for me, business-wise.

DH: You do a great job in Social Media 101 of breaking down different social media by function: listening, speaking, community and rich media. Do you think businesses just starting out should use one from each segment?

CB: I think businesses starting out should ask whether they should be using these tools to listen, connect, and publish. Maybe they start with listening, then realize that engaging the community via connecting is a good thing. Ultimately, companies will think about publishing and making rich media. They build on each other, is what I’m feeling these days.

DH: We read stories about businesses who  are trying to decide whether to use traditional media or to opt for social media initiatives for their marketing. Are there any words of advice you would give to businesses around how to make these decisions? e.g. is the price differential of social media a good enough reason for businesses?

CB: I think businesses should consider both. Traditional media still often has the much bigger reach. The opportunity now is to thread good social media into the project before, during, and after the traditional push such that there’s a deeper spread of the media, a bigger opportunity to connect with people who experienced the media, and a chance to do more than what’s allowed in the format of the original traditional media. One doesn’t kill the other, but one sure can help extend the other.

DH: How do you think email marketing and social media can complement one another?

CB: Email marketing is just another flavor of social media. It’s usually a bit more one way, but if you’re using a good email marketing company (I’m hosted by Blue Sky Factory, for instance), they’re already letting me blend the two together. My emails go out with the ability to share content with people via Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere. This ability to share and extend means that my email message, which is somewhat one-way, turns into a two-way opportunity through the use of social sharing. They go nicely together, in my world.

DH: What are your initial impressions of Buzz and will it make it?

CB: I’m not impressed with Buzz and I don’t know that it will stay too long in the hype sphere. It’s a bit redundant to other things we already use, and not nearly as interesting as those other things.

DH: Where do you think social media is going? What’s the next wave? And how will it affect your work as a blogger and someone who spends their time writing about and educating others on social media?

CB: I think mobile applications and location-centric social media is one big wave. I think devices like the iPad will power this even more. I think that closed or velvet rope social networks are the next wave, where we get more specialized and where we keep people from pushing in. I think that all of these waves are great for me. I love mobile (as chrisbrogan.com is already an iPhone, Android, and Blackberry application), and I can’t wait for more closed social networks so that I can deliver value with more niche-minded communicators.