My first meeting with Howard Greenstein, principal of the Harbooke Group & co-founder Social Media Club was under some unusual circumstances. For one, it was at the UN building in New York City. Second, Howard was moderating a panel on Web 2.0 meets ICT Entrpreneurs — not your usual SXSW or DMA kind of event. Since then, Howard and I have stayed in touch via Twitter and blog posts. We even managed to catch up for a quick podcast at Stephanie Agresta and Brian Solis TechSet event last fall in NYC.
With that as a backdrop, let’s see how Howard answered the questions in the Experts in the Industry series…
In one sentence, please describe what you do and why you’re good at it.
As a life-long early adopter of technologies, I help people understand the possibilities inherent in these new technologies, and how that translates into opportunity for their marketing and business efforts.
How did you get into the world of online community, social media or social marketing?
I’ve been building real-world communities and networking groups since the 1980s and was one of the earliest people doing online communities as well. In 1994 I started wwwac.org, the World Wide Web Artist’s Consortium, which was an in-person web user group in NY with an online email list. The online list helped develop the community, which met in person regularly. I really saw the power as people formed companies (like Razorfish and Agency.com) by finding people at our meetings. My interest in what we now call Social Media grew out of how I saw people starting to use the web in the late 90s and early 2000 when I was at Microsoft. The early ability to blog, instant message, and form groups online was powerful. My ideas about this phenomenon formalized around mid 2006 after I joined my 4th or 5th Social network.
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?
It may seem trite, but I believe Facebook is doing a better job than anyone these days. LinkedIn is a close second.
Which business leader, politician or public figure do you most respect?
I think Warren Buffett is a wonderful example for my kids of someone who made a huge amount of money and gave it away, and his friend Bill Gates, for all the cut-throat business done at Microsoft, is now putting that passion to work fixing the world. These guys can actually buy the change they want to see. That is great.
Would you join a toothpaste community? Why?
No. I have no passion around toothpaste. I have limited time, and my online time is spent talking with others around things I’m interested in, and frankly toothpaste doesn’t raise the bar enough for me to spend time on it. Now, a flossing community, well, then we’re talking.
Freeform – here’s where you can riff on anyone or anything – good or bad. Or just share a pearl of wisdom.
People keep asking me for that ‘one thing’ they can can do in social media to make a difference for them or for their brand. It is not a secret. I wrote it up here. I really believe that being generous, useful and most importantly helpful to others online means more than any advertising, search optimization, or outreach you can make.