Where do I start with Ann Handley, chief content officer of MarketingProfs? I met Ann for the first time at a blogger dinner held in Jeremiah Owyang’s honor in Fall of 2007. I was (and still am) a big fan of MarketingProfs and had started following Ann on Twitter. My conversation with Ann at the Rattlesnake Bar in Boston didn’t last long that night but as I’ve talked about before, it was nice to make a personal connection with Ann.
Since that time, Ann and I have done Webinars together, talked regularly via Twitter, e-mail and occasionally on the phone. It’s always refreshing because Ann is such a wealth of knowledge and just a nice person in general. To that end, here are her answers to the Experts in the Industry questions:
In one sentence, please describe what you do and why you’re good at it.
I have two sides: I create and manage digital content to build relationships for organizations and individuals (right now at www.marketingprofs.com), and I’m a writer (right now at www.annhandley.com). I am good at it because I love it, I suppose, but I’d rather leave that judgment up to others.
How did you get into the world of online community, social media or social marketing?
I invented blogging when I was a kid. It just took 30 years for the technology to cach up.
I am only partially kidding: I have always been a believer in interaction, feedback and community, and in the power of talking to an audience in an intimate and immediate environment, and in hearing their voices talk back. I’ve embraced it as a business tool, certainly, as a way to educate, elucidate, and be educated. But, at the same time — just as I did when I was a kid — it’s rooted for me in the joy of communicating, the creativity of writing, and the thrill of the conversation.
If you had $10 million to invest in one company and one company only based on their use of “social,” which company would it be and why?
I’m not sure I’d invest in anything “only based” on their use of social, since I see social as a tool, not a business model. That said, I’m impressed with what lots of companies are doing to embrace social media tools — but that usually requires a shift in mindset more than an influx of cash. p.s. I would, however, invest in MarketingProfs. There’s lots of things we’d like to do here, and $10 million would sure get us there quicker.
Which business leader, politician or public figure do you most respect?
Politician: Barack Obama. Business leaders: Arianna Huffington and Tina Brown. The writer I’d most like to meet: David Sedaris.
Would you join a toothpaste community? Why?
This reminds me of my favorite inner debate, which do I hate more? The dentist or the gynocologist? Which would you say?
Freeform – here’s where you can riff on anyone or anything – good or bad. Or just share a pearl of wisdom.
Thanks for including me here, Aaron. I’m grateful to anyone who wants to hear what I have to say, both in the physical world, and online, both in business and in life. My pearl, my mantra is this: Your community is everything: Foster it. Feed it. Respect it. Don’t abuse it.