The Passionate Expert

Posted on: 02/18/2010
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I’m not the biggest fan of baseball. It’s too slow. The games take too long. The players get paid too much to stand around. But, conversely, I really enjoy hearing people who are passionate about baseball talk about the intricacies of the game. That happens all the time on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning… and they aptly describe the folks doing the talking as “passionate experts.”

In terms of baseball, the passionate expert has a love of the game that transcends. They notice minute details in a game that I would never catch. And when they share that experience, their knowledge comes across as more of a human story than a baseball story.

That same passion is the main ingredient of a successful social media (and to some degree, any marketing) endeavor.

In his recent post about the cost of a social media strategy, Mack Collier put it this way:

“I understand that some companies need to outsource. But in the long-run, your efforts will be more effective, and cheaper, the more you can handle yourself. I was talking to a company recently about their launching a blog. We were discussing if the company had the resources to keep and MAINTAIN a blog. The CEO said he could that he had a great passion for his products, and the people that use them. I pointed out that the PASSION was the one area that can’t be outsourced. I can show you how to craft content that will be more valuable to customers and show you how to encourage interaction, but I won’t be able to match the passion or understanding that YOU have for your business. That can’t be outsourced.

A great example of a passionate expert that I found recently is Todd Shelton. He’s a clothing designer running his own label. His brand seems well-defined. The great-looking clothes are well photographed and are the stars of a clean, tight website. The shopping experience on the site is easy. But where the passionate expert really pulls you in, is the blog.

Todd SheltonIt’s the intense focus on the details—the answer to the unasked question “why”—that’s the indelible mark of the passionate expert. More often than not, there are others passionate about the same things the “expert” is, they simply don’t know where to find the expert to ask.

In this specific case, Mr. Shelton does a great job of explaining (via text and graphics) why some clothes are better than others, and why it matters. It puts his passion for craftsmanship on display. And in turn, it often gives him a chance to show how that passion relates specifically to his own offerings. (The only advice I’d offer to improve this blog is to give it a bit of The Sartorialist treatment; bring in some photos of how this information applies to the average, fashion-conscious person.)

Are you wondering if social media can work for you? Start by identifying the passionate person in your organization. Only then should you start to explore the strategy to put that passion on display and define the tactics that you’ll use to do so. And if you need help with that part, we’re here to help you.

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