Several months ago, I was contemplating putting together a list for this blog because we all know that every serious blogger’s got to make at least one resource list, right? As a result, I got in contact with fellow work at home mom and social media expert, Shana Albert, to discuss an idea I had. I was blown away! Not only because Shana was extremely helpful, but because she sacrificed her valuable work time, to essentially, encourage a total stranger (me) in my quest to develop the “perfect list“.
Since then, it has been a privilege to get to know Shana through various interviews in and around the blogosphere as well as through her own blog, Social Desire. I have found her to be not only honest, smart, and humorous in her posts, but above all gracious in the social networks she participates in.
So without further ado, here is a candid e-mail interview with Social Media Expert and Mom: Shana Albert………….
1. You are undeniably one of the most prominent women of the social media revolution. Tell us a little about yourself and what got you interested in social media in the first place?
Well, I don’t know about that, but thank you for such an amazing introduction.
I’m a Mom and an Internet Entrepreneur. I’m fortunate enough to be able to work out of my home, so I’m home to take care of and bring up my children. However, since I have been out of the full-time “real world” Work Force I’ve been working more hours than ever.
2. Many folks are trying to get into social media, and some just don’t get it. There is often a misunderstanding of “using a community for traffic” vs. “being a valuable member of the community”. Can you give us an idea of how you explain social media to the “newbie”?
Social Media is and should always be about Community. That is what Social Media is all about. Plain and Simple. If you aren’t a valuable member of the Community you won’t last very long there. If the community senses that you are gaming it they will let you know it one way or the other…. Just like you would know in a “Real World” Community if you weren’t welcome. If in a Real World Community you were “Gaming” it the community would make you aware that they don’t appreciate it. You better believe that if a “Virtual World” Community felt you were gaming it…. They would let you know.
I wrote a post a few months back about using analogies to explain Social Media to people. I’ve learned that using analogies is a great way to explain things that are normally difficult to explain. I usually compare social media to something they already understand. For example, I compared Social Media to High School, Shaun at Grin & Grumble explains Social Media by talking about swimmers in a pool (Social Media being the Pool and Bloggers being the different types of swimmers in the Pool of Social Media), there is even an amazing analogy comparing a symphony orchestra with social media. So, you see, using analogies is an amazing way to explain Social Media to a newbie. Just find a topic that interests them and compare Social Media to that.
3. Tell us about the blogs you write for and the sites you maintain?
I own a Social Media Blog called Social Desire. This is where I write about Social Media and Web 2.0. Ever since I started participating in Social Media activities I have fallen head over heals in love with it. Social Desire is where I write about my desire for Social Media and Web 2.0.
I am also one of the authors on Collective-Thoughts. Collective-Thoughts is a group blog made up of some of the most amazing social media minds out there and I’m honored to write along side of them. I also own a bunch of other websites and blogs. I don’t just stick to one topic. My websites are made up of many different niches. I have many interests, and designing / writing for different websites keeps me from getting bored. I am lucky enough to be able to do a little work here and there on many topics that interest me. Although, I would like to work on my static websites more often…. I just don’t have as much time as I would like.
Much of my time is taken up by running my e-Commerce site. I designed my own Preschool Curriculum that I sell. So, this particular business takes up much of my workday.
4. What are your favorite social media sites and which have been the most effective in sending traffic subscribers and comments to your blogs?
My favorite Social Networking sites right now are StumbleUpon, Sphinn, Twitter and Facebook. They are each very different from each other, but very special to me in their own way. My workday is extremely busy and the time I have available for social networking in a given day is limited. I stick to these four because I feel that they give me exactly what I need in the least amount of time. I just don’t have any more time than I already give to social network.
StumbleUpon is very good for sending traffic your way. Plus, I have discovered so many websites stumbling around that I just probably wouldn’t have come across with out it.
Sphinn is the Social Networking Community where my heart is. I’ve met a lot of people that I feel will be my friends and colleagues for life. And, if your site is about SEO, Marketing or Social Media this is the Social Networking site for you.
Twitter and Facebook are a ton of fun and great for networking through quick messages and fun games. This is a different method of social networking than the other two, but equally effective in a much different way. Communication is a great way to keep your name on the minds of the people within the Community.
5. I have seen you Twitter about your kids and having them home from school for a sick day, snow day, etc. how do you arrange your day based on their schedules and priorities?
Hahaha… I don’t arrange. My life is in constant chaos.
My children always come first. So, their needs and activities also come before mine. I plan my days, but they don’t always follow this plan. Their needs get pushed in between my list of projects all the time. It is how my life is…. How it has always been. I’m not sure if I even know how to work any other way. I think I’m more structured in chaos…. Is that even possible?
6. About 12 yrs ago I was a mystery shopper when my oldest child was just a little guy. You have written many posts about how to be a mystery shopper, pet sitter and more. What are your memories of your earliest jobs?
Ooooh, what a fun question!!
Most of my memories of jobs early on (teen years) were more about being social…. Ironic, huh? I took a job if it paid at least minimum wage, sounded half-way decent, but most importantly… I would be working with people I enjoy to be around. My memories of jobs back then are filled with a lot of fun and laughter. Some of my earliest jobs were babysitter, Hostess, keypuncher, salesperson in a toy department, and a bank teller. The bank teller job I interviewed the day after I graduated from High school. That was my first Professional Job after High School and before College. I didn’t go to College until I was 21, so I had many years of working professionally first.
7. What do you consider to be your best personal strength in social media?
I would have to say honesty, integrity, morals & values.
Looking back at how far I’ve come in Social Media in the past 6 months has led me to believe that my success is because I’m being the real me…. The only me I know how to be. I treat people with respect. I treat people the way I want to be treated myself. I follow the same principles that I was taught as a young girl and I follow the same principles out in the real world. There is no reason why I would act any other way in my Social Networking communities.
8. What is your advice to moms, like yourself, wanting to get started with a career online, maybe with an e-commerce store, or hoping to make money from a blog?
Be ready to work hard because it is not going to be easy. But, it can be done. A mom can do quite well running a business out of her home. But, she must understand that simply creating a website or blog is not going to bring in customers or work. Plus, there are a lot of sites out there promising Moms the world. Moms have to be very careful not to fall for false promises. She needs to trust her instincts. If a website is promising her a fortune and something doesn’t feel right…. It probably isn’t.
9. What do you want your children to know about social media and what steps are you taking to make sure they are protected online with networking sites like Facebook and MySpace?
Your children and Social Media needs to be taken seriously and with a lot of precautions. I am very careful when it comes to my children spending time online. Obviously, my 4 and 6 year old are too young to be spending anytime at all online without me. And, certainly they wouldn’t be a Community Member at any of these Social Networking sites like MySpace or Facebook. However, I have a son that will be turning 12 later this month. He is at the age that not only should I be concerned, but I need to keep being involved in his time he spends online.
His time online is limited. He is not a member of MySpace or Facebook. He is just way too young. There are children’s communities that he is a member of, but again I limit the time he spends there. And, every night I check to see where the children went during their travels online. I have software installed on the family computer to keep the children safe if I do walk away. And, I involve myself in most if not all of their internet travels. And, I think that is soooo… important.
I hope you all have enjoyed getting to know Shana as much as I have. She is an asset to the community and I am honored to call her “friend”. Thank you so much Shana!