Guy Kawasaki wears many hats. He's the founder of Alltop.com, a bestselling author on social media and marketing, and still somehow manages to fit in about 75 speaking engagements each year. Here, Inc.com reporter Eric Markowitz chatted with Kawasaki to get his thoughts on how entrepreneurs treat social media—and how they're doing it all wrong.
First, to what extent has social media changed the way companies and entrepreneurs fundamentally express themselves to customers?
It is marketing at this point. Luckily, social media enables you to do that in a fast, free, and ubiquitous way. You really can't spend money on social media unless you really try. Social media is really more about effort than expense.
Let's say an entrepreneur is new to the whole social media thing. There's a tendency to hire a consultant and formulate a plan. Is that the right approach?
No. Just dive in. Dive in to Facebook or Google+ or Twitter. Create a personal account and test the water. See what those sensibilities are, and just have at it. This is very different than the typical expert telling you that you first have to set your strategy and your goals and have this massive document and a working plan. I think that's a mistake. It's very difficult to create goals and strategies for something like Google+ or Facebook or Twitter if you're not familiar with Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.
What are some of your favorite examples?
I look at the small companies that have done it really well. There are examples of bakeries that tweet when cupcakes are out, or Kogi BBQ in Los Angeles that tweet out street food locations. And 100 people show up. To me, a street food vendor driving their business like that, that's a cool story.
You were the chief evangelist at Apple, so you know a thing or two about getting people to love your brand. But how do you promote your brand, and yourself, without becoming nauseating about it?
I think 90 percent of that battle is making sure that you truly have that great cause. What causes that "nauseation" is when you are promoting something that is crap. I don't think Steve Jobs nauseated people when talking about how great Apple stuff was. The reason why he didn't nauseate people is because it was true. The start of all great marketing is to have a great product.
You're writing a book about Google+ that will come out March 8th. So tell us, why do you love Google+ so much?
I love the quality and the interaction of the commenting. I think the comments come in faster and better than any other service. I love that you can have photos in line in a large way. I love that you can edit your posts and comments after you've posted them. On Twitter and Facebook, once it's there, it's there, and there's no editing. I edit almost every one I do. I love the notification system on Google+. If someone mentions you, you get notified via Gmail. That's very useful for someone like me.
Can Google+ become as big as Facebook one day?
Absolutely. No question in my mind. It's hard to predict someone overtaking something that has a billion users. On the other hand, five years ago we said MySpace would control the world. Let me put it this way: I think it's easier to be a search engine adding social networking than a social network adding a search engine. Google is adding this social component to search. It totally makes sense. I think it's going to be a long time before people go to Facebook and type in "Hockey" to find the score for a game.
This all plays into search engine optimization, of course. What's your biggest SEO tip?
My recommendation for SEO is very simple. It’s Write Good Stuff. In my mind, Google is in the business of finding good stuff. It has thousands of the smartest people in the world, spending billions of dollars to find the good stuff. All you have to do is write the good stuff; you don't need to trick it. Let Google do its job and you do your job.
Want to learn more SEO and social media secrets from Guy Kawasaki? Join him and other seasoned entrepreneurs on October 3 in Phoenix for our Inc. 500|5000 conference. Visit conference.inc.com for more details.