Eric Harr is widely regarded as one of the leading social strategists in the world. He is the CBS News Social Media Expert, the author of the best-selling book “The Real Truth About Social Media”—and the Founder & President of Resonate Social Media, a boutique agency in San Francisco representing small businesses to multinational corporations. While social media is their core competency, they integrate it into a broader marketing strategy that includes website optimization, SEO, PPC, email, brand monitoring, influencer engagement and traditional media.
He is also the Founding Editorial Director of VIV Magazine, the world’s first mass-market digital magazine — and one of five international Ambassadors for CARE, a leading global humanitarian organization. Eric also happens to be an ironman triathlete in his spare time (and ranked 6th in the world his first year and, in October, he finished 40th overall at the 2011 Ironman Triathlon World Championships in a time of 9:01:34. To learn more, visit www.ericharr.com.
MO: You seemed to have your plate full before starting Resonate Social Media. Why did you feel the need to start your own business?
Eric: I’m a serial entrepreneur. I cannot help myself. And, frankly, I cannot hold down a “regular job.” (The only “normal job” I ever had was being a beach lifeguard in Avalon, New Jersey and at the end of the summer I got fired for swimming with dolphins). In all seriousness, in 2008, I saw that social media wasn’t changing one thing. It was changing everything. It is a seismic shift in how we connect and communicate—and it’s not going anywhere. Our desires to connect and be heard are woven into our very genetic code. In business, the money follows the eyeballs and ad budgets are changing. So, I started the agency, and we were profitable within 32 days.
The people, and the businesses, who bet on social media now—whole heart, all in—will thrive in the next decade. Those that don’t will be left behind with blinding speed. Mark my words.
MO: Are you able to apply any of the attributes that make you a successful tri-athlete to running a successful business?
Eric: Unquestionably. Carbohydrate replenishment is key! I eat 5 energy gels during busy days at the agency! Actually, they’re similar pursuits. For Ironman, I see people training way too much, too unfocused. Same in business. We’re very data-driven at the agency, focused on the “metrics that matter” most to our clients. We also have an unrelenting work ethic driven by passion and we have a “why”: we do good business with good people as we do good in our world.
MO: There are a lot of marketing agencies out there, what makes Resonate better and different than the others?
Eric: There are a lot of great agencies—and people—doing great work. It’s presumptuous and inaccurate to say we’re better than the others (we let our clients say that!). Seriously, we’re all learning here. There are no “experts” as that takes roughly 10,000 hours to achieve—if you believe Gladwell (and I do). One thing that makes us different is we focus on financial outcomes for our clients, as opposed to the “shiny objects” and non-financial outcomes like Twitter followers or Facebook fans. We actually show ROI in reports we pull together—and we’re building the first-ever real-time ROI dashboard that shows a businesses’ ROI from social channels in a clear, easy-to-use dashboard. It’s called SocialSee and it comes out in January, 2012.
MO: What’s infuencer engagement and why is it an important factor in marketing?
Eric: There are a new vanguard of influencers who can tip brands. And, most of them are absolutely delightful to work with. Send a press release to an established journalist and you’ll likely be waiting forever for a response. @-reply one of these terrific socially-influential people, and you can get a bright, shiny response within hours! And, people are trust filters for one another now, so these new “everyday influencers” can actually compel more action than mainstream media. I love it.
MO: How did you become a CARE ambassador and what does it entail?
Eric: CARE is a leading global humanitarian organization that focuses on empowering women to fight poverty and defend dignity around the world. I believe, to my core, in the power that women have to save humanity. Look: put a woman at the head of every government in the world and watch the armed conflicts go from 17 to 0 within three years. When I sold the equity in my magazine (VIV, named after his daughter Vivienne), I donated a good deal of money to CARE. I traveled to Mozambique to see the effects of their work first-hand. It changed everything about me. It’s a big catalyst for my starting the agency: I resolutely believe social media can unleash a world of social good.
MO: How do you manage to find balance in your life when you have such a large variety of serious commitments?
Eric: I use my time very, very efficiently. I don’t watch TV. And, because it comes from my heart, this in in my blood, it never feels like work. It’s fun. And, life is not a dress rehearsal. It should be fun.
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