A Brief Interview: The Social Media “Evangelist & Skeptic”, Sree Sreenivasan.

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I had a recent epiphany to set out and interview some of the people who have really inspired me since I discovered my love of social media.  I reached out to them via Twitter, and some of them found the time to get back to me!  Last night, even after his busy day at work, Sree agreed to speak with me for a little while so I could learn some more about him and pick his brain about the social media world I continue to dive further in every chance I get.

For those of you who don’t know who he is, I highly recommend reading on… he is a man of many talents and an vast amount of knowledge (and a great sense of humor)!  He is the Dean of Student Affairs & a professor of Digital Media at Columbia Journalism School (where he is responsible for admissions / student & career services and the life-cyle of the student body), as well as the contributing editor for DNAinfo.com, and the co-founder of the South Asian Journalists Association.  On top of all of that, he’s got his own Tip site called SreeTips.com (which I highly recommend checking out), which is a site dedicated to tech tips and tricks to make your lives a little easier, and he hosts workshops on so many different topics.

People that speak about Sree on a professional level are constantly referring to him as a “social media expert”, to which Sree replies, ” there are no such thing as social media experts”.  When I asked him yesterday how he felt about people calling him that, he replied, “It’s okay if other people call me that but I’ll never call myself that.  It’s all so new and we’re all still learning.  Why rush calling yourself an expert?  Just look; the one’s who called themselves experts when it came to radios and television when they first became popular are gone.”

Being that Sree has been involved in the journalism world for quite some time (he sent his first byline at 15!) I thought it would be interesting to know how social media has changed journalism … for better or worse.  Sree stated,” Along with mobile it’s one of the biggest changes & represents enormous opportunities.  If you have something to sell, be it an idea, education, or an object of any sort you can use social media to effect business in a positive way.” He also made sure to say, ” However, you need to first have something positive at the core, you can have all of the Twitter knowledge in the world, but if there’s nothing to back it up, it’s not going to sell it any better!”

After that wise and true statement, I couldn’t help but ask if he had any other advice for people either just starting out  or heavily involved in the social media world.  He said “Be open minded, try different things, find technology you’re comfortable using, and LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN.”

When I asked what his favorite part of social media was (if he had one) he sad to break down the phrase.  “Social means connecting with people and media means the access to a lot of people, the two together are great!  You have every day human interaction… but never remember that some things just shouldn’t be amplified.” After saying that he mentioned (while chucking to himself)  WhatTheFacebook.com, which is a website solely based on people revealing things on Facebook about themselves, to people they should have never revealed them to (an absolute must check out website) !

Last time I saw Sree was at a MediaBistro event in New York City; Social Networking For Media Professionals.  He opened up the seminar showing us this fabulous website TwitCam.com, which had just launched the day before, that allows live video streaming on Twitter.  Being that he’s always on the cutting edge of new media, I asked him some of his favorite social media sites (all of which you should check out!).  The first he named is Muckrack.com, which is a constant feed of journalists on Twitter.  It allows you to “discover what’s happening, right now, in the world of journalism”.  The second he mentioned is Twiangulate (which I now LOVE) and it’s for anyone who is interested in making lists on Twitter. He said, ” If you put any 2 or 3 usernames, you can compare the people they follow & it’s a great way to create a Twitter list for something you’re working on.  It’s also a great way to cut out the clutter and funnel the information.” Lastly, he said he is beginning to play around with geolocation tools such as Foursquare.

The conversation with Sree was fantastic, and I would once again like to thank him for taking time out to speak with a fan of both his and social media.  His website http://www.sree.net/ has all the information you need to find out when and where he’s speaking, any upcoming classes he’s going to have (he gave me a heads up about one coming up in October!), and his amazing Tips site, SreeTips.com.  You can also follow him on Twitter @Sreenet. 

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