Delighted to bring you this interview with Jeff Barrett, who chose to respond to getting fired in the most effective way possible!
Your background, how did you end up doing what you do now?
Years ago, I got fired. I went through the five stages. Anger, ice cream, daytime TV, acceptance, revenge (the emotion, not the TV show). Being fired motivated me. For the first time, I wanted to prove someone wrong, multiple people wrong. I still do.
In 2011, I took a chance. I made a bet that social media would evolve, that the lines between social and PR would be blurred and that companies would eventually shift most of their marketing budget to digital.
Then, I focused on my network. I knew I needed to know more people. I knew I needed to connect with the right people. I didn’t ask for things, I provided value. If I wanted to get to know someone, I interviewed them for a blog piece. That blog piece then became a tweet chat, Mashable article, Washington Times column. Nothing happened overnight. All the change was incremental. But one day I woke up and I was on a Forbes list. Damn. I didn’t expect that.
— Jeff Barrett (@BarrettAll) November 9, 2015
How was last 12 months, what went well?
The plan I had in 2011 wouldn’t work today. Things in tech and social evolve so quickly. The key is to focus on where people will be, not where they are currently.
I’m focused on connecting brands with the perfect influencers. When done right, a single post of organic content by an influencer on Instagram or Vine can drive exponential sales. I’m focused on finding better, more organic, less intrusive ways to reach customers. People know an ad when they see one. People respond better to a suggestion from a friend. So my goal, every time, is to recreate that feeling.
Anything you’d do differently?
Plenty. There is always room for improvement. I would have leveraged my own channels more. That’s why I’m rolling out a new weekly tweet chat called #RealTalk with the Real Time Academy. Eventually there will also be a weekly podcast and daily four-minute video. People want quick content. Look at what Jon Stewart is doing with HBO. You don’t need 30 minutes or a TV show. You need an audience and something people can digest in four minutes or less, 500 words or less on their phone.
World Anti-Doping Agency accuses Russia of cheating. Russia accuses them of being jealous they can't ride a bear. pic.twitter.com/K6AJnwV59n
— Jeff Barrett (@BarrettAll) November 9, 2015
Plans for the future?
I just teased some of them previously. I work in a service industry. I create digital PR strategy. That’s not a product. That’s not incredibly scalable. I’ll be looking to create more and invest more on the product side. That’s where the real money is.
I’ll look to also help the community I have created by connecting dots, providing guidance and speaking more. I want to travel more, speak about personal branding and digital strategy, grow the audience and give back more. Plus, I want to see more of the world. Life is a collection of moments, not things. Hopefully I’ll be in Ireland soon.
What’s a typical day like for you?
There is no typical day. It always starts by waking up with the family, somehow getting a four-year-old ready for school. After that it can go in a million directions. I have a set time in the morning to address emails and take meetings/do client work. I always leave the early afternoon open for “Whatever.” It literally says that in my calendar. You never know what the day will bring. Leave time open when opportunity strikes.
— Jeff Barrett (@BarrettAll) November 6, 2015
Well done on winning the Shorty Awards. Why do you think you won it / secret of your success?
Still doesn’t feel real. Guy Kawasaki won my award the year before. He’s on another level, certainly where I eventually want to be in my career.
I think I won for my ability to connect and use humor. I have a fresh voice. I keep it 100. I hired someone to put my pants on one leg at time, just like everyone else. I don’t take myself too seriously. I provide valuable content in a fun way. If it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing.
And same question for winning Business Insider award too?
That was a list I was on a couple years ago. Again, I was surprised I was on the list. Even more surprised they thought I was the best ad executive on Twitter. I’ll probably be surprised when I win awards. I post a lot about Drake and kittens. I speak in GIF and emoji. I use ridiculous portmanteau like nomonym, millennial and hanger. But that’s how I relate well to a younger generation, my generation. Millennials are getting better jobs, spending more, becoming a bigger part of the economy. We have a thirst for knowledge and current events. We just want that news communicated in a different way – usually followed with prayer hands and a poop with eyes.
— Jeff Barrett (@BarrettAll) November 2, 2015
And did it have a positive impact on your life / how you do business?
Of course. Publicity and recognition never hurt. It makes it infinitely easier to walk in to any room and convince a client to work with them. I’m not any better, or more creative than I was before I received awards. But awards create trust. Trust is key in creating relationships. The greatest predictor of future success is past success.
You have a great following in twitter how has it helped you in business?
I’m available, any time, to anyone in my network. If you tweet me, I’ll tweet back. That access and consistency, coupled with a few laughs I provide each day grew the network. It makes for a compelling pitch to a client. If I can make a completely average 31-year-old man from Grand Rapids, Michigan interesting…imagine what I can do with your brand.
How much time does it take to stay on top of your social media digital footprint? Where else are you active as well as twitter?
Instagram, Vine, Twitter, Linkedin are the main four. I use Facebook to remember birthdays and see which of my high school friends got engaged. It doesn’t take long. It’s part of the routine. I check when I have time or when I feel it’s the right time. I have been doing so consistently, for so long that my body has a way of reminding me that it’s time to check if it’s been too long. Social media is now part of my central nervous system. I may be part robot. I haven’t seen a doctor in a while.
— Jeff Barrett (@BarrettAll) November 10, 2015
Top tips to companies trying to do well on social media?
Create two-way conversation. That’s the advantage of social media as a channel. You can interact with your customers, your audience. You can ask questions. You can get feedback. You can great a deeper trust between the consumer and the brand, make people more brand loyal. But it all starts with creating a good two-way conversation.
Anything else to add / we should have asked you?
That was fun. People should connect with me on Twitter, @barrettall. There’s no question I won’t answer or at least attempt to answer.