Energy. Enthusiasm. Optimism.
Hardly words that come to mind when describing a 7:30 am meeting on a chilly Monday morning. But the main dining room of Soby’s on South Main Street in downtown Greenville, SC fairly crackled with the energy of the 100 people packed in for the inaugural meeting of the Greenville chapter of the Social Media Club (SMC).
Live feeds made the meeting available to groups in Shanghai, China and Orlando, Florida. A welcome message by Steven Weathers, an American professor currently residing in Shanghai, kicked off the high-octane feature presentation by Geno Church, “Word of Mouth Inspiration Officer” of Brains on Fire, a local branding agency in Greenville.
Using slides, film clips (including the hilarious “These go to eleven” sequence from This is Spinal Tap), and stories, Church chronicled the success of campaigns such as Fiskars “Fiskateers” and the Park Angels in Charleston to illustrate how social media played a role in the viral building brands. As enthusiasts connected to each other, relationships grew and consequently strengthened the brand’s image. “Community loves company,” explained Church.
And never was that idea more clear than in the room this morning. The Greenville SMC was founded just over a month ago by Trey Pennington, marketing director with Showcase Marketing also headquartered in Greenville. Beginning with a group page on Facebook, the club grew exponentially through both Facebook and Twitter, swelling the ranks to 200 members and counting. That makes it the second largest of twenty chapters around the world, just behind Chicago.
Church reminded those present that this wasn’t a tool club. “Social media is powered by people,” he said, emphasizing that, “the killer app is YOU.”
After the meeting adjourned, business cards were exchanged and further connections were made. When Weathers was asked how these connections might translate to business relationships, he said, “That’s what SM is about: relationships. Business deals always follow friendship in China. So we can learn from the Chinese business model: friendship first, business second.”
John Warner, founder of SwampFox and president of Jute Networks stood at the back of the room smiling. He believes that this great economic crisis will spread the seeds of the greatest entrepreneurial explosion of our lifetimes. He saw it in the room this morning. “I look around [at all these members of SMC] and all I see is optimism.”