First impressions are very important; you don’t get a second chance at them. How someone perceives you right from the start can have a big effect on how the relationship moves, or doesn’t move, forward. I had wanted to meet up with Ted Nguyen for a long time. We had connected on social media a while back and we finally had the chance to meet up when I was in Anaheim for a few days.
Nowadays, first impressions aren’t always made in person. They can be made on social media, email, or by phone. Ted was a fun person to chat with on Twitter, he always came across as helpful and encouraging. When I met him in person, he ended up being exactly who he was online, which was very refreshing. Ted was very hospitable, introducing me to some great Vietnamese food and we had a great conversation.
What impresses me about Ted is that he’s very adamant about aligning himself with brands that he feels represent his own values, and he won’t compromise that. He’s done some really great work with the brands he’s partnered with. I was also impressed with his story and how hard he worked to build his network and blog. No matter how busy Ted is, he’s always willing to help. When Ted commits to doing something, he always follows through and I appreciate that about him.
Ted was kind enough to share his thoughts and advice on building a strong following on social media and working with brands. I hope you find his words helpful and as insightful as I did.
Me: How and when did you get started on social media?
Ted Nguyen: I got started on social media with MySpace in 2006 and when I heard that universities students were abuzz about Facebook. The social network was exclusively available to them at the time. As soon as it was available outside of universities, I signed up my dog, Maddox.
I didn’t want to risk another wasted attempt after MySpace, so I admit I used my 7-pound Chihuahua as an experiment. But the animal testing was great. I started connecting with other animal lovers and advocates for pet adoption and spaying and neutering. In just a few months, Maddox gained thousands of meaningful friends all around the world. I thought this is really different this time.
As a public relations and marketing communications professional, I can’t help but start with the research and after pouring over the overwhelmingly positive touch points of Maddox’ experiment on Facebook, I decided to join myself with a plan of providing personal, helpful and meaningful content. But my lesson with Maddox also taught me to not only share about professional and personal life but to contribute to the different communities and help others with insights, solutions and encouragement.
Soon after that I jumped on Twitter and began keynoting and speaking at regional, national and even international conferences on social media. And I have to credit the social media prowess of my four-pawed companion for getting me started.
Me: You’ve been able to build an impressive following and network, what advice do you have for people looking to grow their own following and network?
Ted Nguyen: I’ve been really fortunate to have a large network across all the different social media platforms. But it does take work. The first thing I do in the morning and the last thing at night is to check on my network. Once I’m committed to something, I can’t help but to be passionate. And so should you if you want to grow your network and your influence.
For those looking to expand your network, I recommend to first identify your objectives for having social media platforms. The numbers will grow, but you must have a strategy to drive toward your goals and objectives. Make sure your online voice is consistent with who you are in real life. And I cannot stress the power of being positive and motivating others in your network. I also find that it’s important to take a stand on issues that are deeply important to you and show respect to those who share their convictions and beliefs. It’s important for your emerging network to get to know your true authentic self.
I’m also a firm believer in not just saying but doing. I take time to actively participate in real-life events and activities whether it’s meeting someone for coffee, live tweeting at a conference or organizing events – large or small. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy, but it takes a concerted effort to scale appropriately. It will take time, and you must employ a consistent approach to be successful.
Me: You’ve been able to work on some cool social projects with some really great brands. What are your words of wisdom when it comes to working with large brands?
Ted Nguyen: When working with large brands the same applies to small brands or entrepreneurs – develop a deep understanding of their business world and gain insights into what makes them tick. What are their business needs? How do you make their lives better and easier? How will you provide value in helping them do something faster, smarter and cheaper?
I also think you need to possess strategic-thinking skills in helping brands and corporate officers discover how you can help them connect with a dynamic world and deliver on those alliances that move the marketplace of ideas, goods and services. The other component is measuring and evaluating metrics by separating outputs from outcomes. How did your plan impact the process toward the tangible and measurable objective? And how did your tactics and objectives help drive the business goal?
In this hyper-active business world of doing, it’s also critically important to start off correctly with a healthy dose of research and discovery and to book-end it with measurements and evaluations – and most importantly, re-adjusting and refining all along the way. Social media, digital communications, online marketing, etc. are powerful tools but they are not the end all of a strategic approach to solving problems and making life better for you and your loved ones.