By @SimonCocking. In depth interesting interview with Brian Fanzo Periscoper Of The Year  Nominee ~ Chief Social Media Officer & Digital Storyteller at @WeAreMYC | Millennial Speaker. You can see Brian when he comes to Dublin, for the upcoming Social March Summit.  

Who is Brian Fanzo

My name is Brian Fanzo and I like to say although my tagline talk fast and tweet faster was given to me into 2010, I came out of the womb talking, my mom will testify to that.  I grew up very active in sports loving people and really being a part of many groups from baseball to roller hockey and surfing through high school to college being the president on my fraternity and the captain of the college hockey team as a computer science major, so you can say I never fit into one group because I liked networking and connecting with people in all groups.

After college I struggled to find work in my major but thanks to fraternity connection I was given the entry-level job in cyber security and a security clearance.  Used MySpace in college. I like to believe that Napster provided me the first opportunity to be an entrepreneur selling burn CDs from my dorm room.  But it was my first entry-level job when I started to leverage YouTube watching hours of content about cyber security that I started to realize the power of social media.  I was very blessed at that job to learn the power of reverse mentorship as it allowed me to be promoted many times growing a team of global cyber security training engineers before deciding to pivot my career away from cyber and the government as a technology evangelist at a datacenter/cloud computing startup.

It was when it was in this role then I start to realize that although I thought my passion and purpose was around technology, it was actually less about the technology and more about the mindset needed to embrace change not only with technology but with social media and business.  This allowed me to take this role in many directions developing employee advocacy growing a social selling program connecting our product development team with the customer service team our partner user community.  All the while my focus was really on three things inspiring change empowering community in finding new And unique ways to tell the brand story as well as my story.

Fast forward to today and I am the chief social media officer at My Channel Inc helping enterprise brands leverage social live video to drive collaboration and power their passions and ultimately help senior leadership understand, engage and celebrate their employee’s in real-time!  I’m also the founding partner in back lamp LLC working with brands to develop a strategy around digital storytelling connecting them with influencers and community leveraging new technologies like Snapchat, periscope, Blab and Facebook live streaming.  On top of that I’m a global speaker presenting on topics ranging from personal branding to employee advocacy to digital disruption and my new favorite topic a millennial mindset wish also have a a book out of the same title in 2016.  Although all of these roles and work fuel my passions I’m also the dad of three girls whom have given me my favorite role in life, being a dad.

What inspired me to speak at this event?

I’ve been very blessed in my career to have traveled to over 30+ countries as my work has had a very global appeal.  That global appeal has grown tremendously over this last year as mobile life streaming apps have allowed me to connect collaborate work with and learn from people around the world in real-time building relationships and ultimately what I believe change the world.  So when I was presented the opportunity to speak in Ireland I said yes immediately for these reasons but also of course I’m a big fan of Guinness.

Why Should People Attend SMsummitIRL?

Something I say often and believe and maybe more than anything else when it comes to social media is that is not important to grow your followers or other vanity metrics what’s most important is connecting and building relationships telling your stories and ultimately building trust that leads to off-line hugs and selfies!

My Dad once said to me: “Son Social Media will never replace a handshake!” I replied:

So for me attending the largest social media event ever to be hosted in Ireland is not only a no brainer for connecting with my community and fellow speakers but it’s also an amazing opportunity to grow existing relationships and celebrate the amazing times we live in that thanks to social media we aren’t limited by our boarders, who we know or backgrounds when it comes to connecting and bonding with those who have similar passions and purpose!

Why is Social Media Important in Business?

No matter the business, no matter the industry, no matter the type of customer, all businesses must find ways to relate with her audience, build a community and listen to their customers.  Social media in my opinion is the great equalizer as it allows big businesses to think small and innovate to hire globally and collaborate without Borders or restrictions.  The key for businesses on social media in 2016 is finding those unique ways to stand out from noise and empower your community which ultimately connects your brand your services your product the people that need it the most.

Your tips for people looking to do well on social media?

Social media is not a checkbox is not another broadcasting Avenue and is not just a role that impacts marketing and sales.  Ultimately I’ve been taught and always believed that every person in a company sells, in 2016 not every employee needs to be a social employee but every employee plays a roll in telling a brands story.  I believe to be great on social media and any other technology in 2016 you must first start with trust and then embrace and power continual learning and training and then amplify scale and leverage tools.  To truly leverage social media you must listen more than you post you must focus on education an amplification more than promoting and ultimately you must never forget the word social in social media.

Without naming names what avoidable mistakes have you seen companies make with their social media strategy?

For me most mistakes happen because brands lack the understanding and true power of social media and to often don’t value the social media manager and community manager roles giving them to an intern or agency that doesn’t understand the brand story or share the brand passion but is responsible for telling the brand story, being the first touch point with their customers and being the face of the company.  Mistakes happen and all businesses in all departments and in all roles of a company but in social media those mistakes happen often times in a public place in real-time.  I believe too many brands overreact to social media mistakes and forget that we are all human and they focus on building a community and relating to their audience prior to those mistakes they’re community and their audience who are also human will not only forgive those mistakes but respect the brand more for it’s honestly in acknowledging that they made a mistake and those things happen, rather than doing what we see today where brands fire social media managers rather than taking on responsibility themselves.

What’s your special sauce, what do you excel at?

I believe in the power of storytelling and although storytelling has been around since the beginning of man we’ve put too much focus on the platforms that we use to tell these stories, I help brands embrace these changes in technology and social platforms to tell their stories in unique ways building and growing a global community.

I like to say I suffer from FOMO or the Fear Of Missing Out so brands don’t have too as I test and jump on all new social networks and technologies studying, testing and often times breaking them so that I not only know how to leverage them but ultimately I know who is on them and what role if any they can play in a brands storytelling workflow.

My diverse background allows me to relate with cloud developers while giving keynotes to the joint chiefs of staff in the pentagon.  My background and my ultimate passion for always learning and testing new things has allowed me to discover and do what I love to do, which is being a Change Evangelist! I believe when brands empower their greatest assets which are their employees not only amplify and tell the great story of the brand

Running your own business is also tough, how do you manage the work /life, online / offline balance?

For me this is a constant struggle as someone that was diagnosed with ADHD at 31 years old my world it became much clearer my focus never stronger to truly do it I love to do every day.  The With that passion and with that focus comes tough decisions and sacrifices that I think all of us entrepreneurs have to make a daily basis.

One of my keys to success has been knowing what I don’t know and then ultimately surrounding myself with those people who know what I don’t.  These people have come in all shapes and sizes from family to college friends to my very first senior VP who is still in mentor for me today.  I wish I had tips or tricks on easy button for this question but I believe ultimately but if you have an open mind to always learn and learn in all situations and understand that plans and strategies are important but also change happens we must embrace that change and power that change and focus on making the best out of that change we possibly can.

Who has inspired you?

My inspiration started at home my dad was a driven entrepreneur that travel every week but always found time put my brothers and I first in all situations and even coach our sports teams and ultimately grow up to be strong confident men.  My mom had a tough with a house full of boys who loved Pittsburgh sports and doing our share of clowning around.  My mom inspired me to her actions her love and her ability to allow me to grow to try something new because even if we failed, my brothers and I knew she would always be there.

Recently I’ve had the luxury of sharing the stage with many thought leaders, speakers and business mentors who’s books I was reading just a few years ago.  One of these leaders is the keynote here at the social media summit Ireland Ted Rubin, who not just a couple years ago I sent a tweet letting him know his book Return on Relationships had an impact on me, fast forward to today and my daughters call him “Uncle Ted.”

Others I’m inspired by daily include Simon Sinek, Gary Vaynerchuk, Jay Baer, Chris Brogan, Tamara McCleary, Vala Afsfar and many others whose books, social engagement and business hustle I reference often.

Final Thoughts:

I’m truly honored to be a part of this summit not only because it will be my first time in Ireland but because I will get to share the stage with so many other great speakers while connecting and building relationships with many new social media friends in the audience.

I want to leave you with this, although my keynote and workshops will be focused around new social networking apps Periscope & Snapchat, my focus and hopefully the audiences takeaways will be on something far bigger and more important than any one app.  That is, that we all have a story to tell, all businesses understand the importance of community and when you focus on building a strong community and empowering your employees, partners customers to tell your story, we can each make small change that ultimately will help change the world!


If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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