A social media success story about Google’s top-ranked Willie Jackson and me

Summary:

A story about the early days of social media and Internet communities, when starting authentic personal relationships was common.

Willie Jackson

Willie Jackson is an IT entrepreneur who understands how to take full advantage of social media.

Scanning blogs, forums, e-newsletters and the like, every day I notice people wondering:

“How do you measure the value of social media?”

“Can social media generate sales leads?”

“Is social media the future of marketing?”

Here’s my story.

Not long after launching my eponymous Ribblog, I posted a question about Word Press plug-ins on an Atlanta social media forum. One of the two people who responded had excellent answers and he offered guidance generously. We began communicating and I checked his credentials.

On his website, Willie Jackson offered proof of his Internet savvy by asking people to Google his name. And there he was and he remains there today — Atlanta consultant Willie Jackson — at the top of Google’s search page, ahead of two famous singers, a former NFL star, a wrongly accused prisoner and maybe thousands of people with that very common name. What an impressive way to walk the SEO walk.

As we got to know each other, the unique value of social networking in bringing people together became more striking. Willie is a 20-something African-American Florida State Seminole. I am a 50-something Jewish Florida Gator. Willie has a degree in information technology and manages huge networks for FORTUNE 500 companies. I am a former journalist who helps companies keep their messages simple.  Almost everyone understands the importance of networking, but qualifying new relationships is grueling. However, Willie and I easily discovered how we can benefit each other. Although I have developed other relationships by sharing ideas on the web, none have been as valuable as this one.

This week, I am relaunching my corporate site and blog which Willie has engineered. Although we think the design is better, the big deal is that we have used a content management system (CMS) to rebuild the site, replacing the static HTML/XML web pages that have dominated web development since its beginning. I won’t get into tech details, but Willie has taught me why traditional Dreamweaver development is inefficient and obsolescent. With CMS, all designing, styling, editing, and functionality can be managed within a single user-friendly module. For those old enough, it’s somewhat comparable to moving from a DOS to Windows desktop environment.

But, I’m not the technologist, Willie is and I brought him into a client project at the first opportunity. We are building a new company’s website from scratch using CMS. Since it is so new and hot, and because most web developers are married to legacy HTML architectures, agencies and programmers generally charge a premium for migrating companies to CMS, but that’s a rip off. Working with CMS takes less time, therefore it should cost less to produce. My client is getting a cutting-edge web site with lower up-front costs, and far lower long-term management costs.

Although I have used social media many different ways to build my business and help my clients, there was no new-media strategy behind the simple query I posted five months ago. However, meeting Willie Jackson ranks high among the best things to come of the countless hours I’ve spent using the social web.