Four Questions for Shel Israel

Shel’s been getting a lot of press lately, some warranted some not, but for sure, a lot of attention. I’m less interested in the drama, but more focused on the impacts of these tools to marketing (that’s my day job) and have some questions for him about the purpose of his Global Neighborhoods mission, quite a few of the folks he interviews are companies I also cover, are my clients, or could be.

Jeremiah: As a new video blogger, you’ve had a rough start, the interview you did with me received some criticism, and equal praise for those who focused on the content. What is the biggest learning from this mixup?

Probably to leave my owl out of the picture.

More seriously, there were three connected lessons:

(1) Don’t even try to become a great video expert. There are plenty of experts, who have training, knowledge and passion for the AV portion of this. When a sponsor comes in, that problem will be promptly solved. That being said, I’ll continue to improve. It’s two months since you became my first interview. I’m a lot better now, although I’m no pro in this area.

(2) Focus on what I do best. I have a pretty good track record as an interviewer. One of my favorite comments–I’m not sure who placed it or where–was a guy who said that when he stopped looking at the video, and just listened, he thought it was quite good. I think this problem also goes away once we get sponsorship. In fact, you were my first interview and I appeared unfocused because I was worried about the camera frame when I should have just listened to you. I also should have cut you off a couple of times. You did go on pretty long now and then.

(3) Make clear who the show is intended for. I think there’s a perception that this show is for people already immersed in social media. Robert and I had a similar problem with bloggers when we wrote Naked Conversations. They thought the book was supposed to be for them, rather than just ABOUT them. Naked Conversations was intended to evangelize blogging to those who didn’t yet know about it. GNTV is intended for professionals who are still struggling over how to use social media in their organizations. They may have never visited Twitter; know nothing about Seesmic or Qik. There are a great number of these people all over the world and this show is intended for them.

Why Global Neighborhoods TV? (GNTV)? Why this show? What’s the story you’re trying to tell?

This show has been my dream for a long time, long before Robert got the chance to start a global tv network for business innovators at FC. I’m primarily a writer and for a very long time have been aware that the best I could ever do is to tell you ABOUT what a person or an event was like. A video camera lets you actually SHOW viewers what you see.

I became aware of the potential when I was writing a book with Robert. For his day job, he was walking around Microsoft with a camera on his shoulder, just talking to people. The result was that he played a role in perceptions of Microsoft improving, of the “Borg” becoming human. I could have written a million words, but they it would not have changed opinions as effectively as a few minutes of handheld video by Robert.

GNTV grew out of a project I’ve been doing since last June on my text blog, with the lengthy title of the SAP Global Survey on Social Media Culture and Business. [http://globalneighbourhoods.net . [Go to the “SAP Reports” category to see them]. So far, I’ve interviewed 71 people in 32 countries, on six continents. They have ranged from Michael Dell, Founder CEO of Dell Computer, to Wael Abbas who posts videos about Egyptian police brutality and posts them on YouTube despite the fact Egypt has incarcerated a fellow blogger to Ethan Bodnar, a Connecticut High School student who said he’s never work for an employer who did not trust him enough to talk about his job on a blog.

The concept was to take this and move it into video, where people could see these diverse believers in social media for themselves. That vision holds firm. In the initial phase, I’m focusing more on business people and service providers who have broken ground for social media in business. It will also be more US based until we get going. My next clip will be an interview with Bob Lutz, vice chairman of GM. Then, I’ll probably post my interview with Biz Stone and the Twitter guys. After that, we’ll probably post a clip I just did on Disney Interactive, mostly on Club Penguin and how it’s bringing the next generation into social networking at such an early age.

Again, GNTV is a program FOR people still struggling with social media, primarily in business, but also in their lives and cultures. It is ABOUT pioneers and smart movers.

Jeremiah: What is the biggest finding from the many interviews you’ve done on the SAP Global Survey, what’s the one trend you’re finding?

That’s easy. in every country, youth is driving social media adoption. That means that when the Club Penguin generation comes into the marketplace, most traditional marketing simply won’t work. So companies really need to start understand what SM tools work for them.

Jeremiah: What can we expect from you and GNTV going forward?

better cameraman.

Jeremiah: Thanks Shel, I look forward to hearing what nuggets come out of these interviews with folks embracing social media in companies and cultures around the world.