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Husani Oakley, Technology Director at Wieden & Kennedy

Web and social habits of W+K’s new Technology Director, plus a harrowing tale of when social and professional worlds collide!

1.     What are your top 3 favorite apps?

  • Twitter, on iPad — the official Twitter iPad app is absolutely fantastic, perhaps the best iPad utility-focused app (as opposed to media consumption focused) I’ve seen so far.
  • Soundhound, formerly known as Shazam — hands down, the best way to answer the eternal question, “hey, what song is that?”
  • Kindle, on iPad — within a month of buying an iPad, I’d purchased and read 6 books.  The app does a great job of getting the hell out of the way and letting the content be the king.

2.     Top 3 blogs? How often do you read them?

  • TechCrunch — every day, sometimes repeatedly throughout the day.  While I’m in interactive advertising and TechCrunch is more focused on dotcoms and Silicon Valley, it’s a great way to stay on top of news and products that will eventually make their way to consumers.
  • AgencySpy — every day, sometimes repeatedly throughout the day.  Contrary to popular belief inside traditional advertising firms, digital folks are just as invested in industry gossip and news as they are.
  • Gawker — a few times a week.  Guilty pleasure, but to rationalize it, it helps me stay plugged in to pop-culture stories in the wider world I should probably know about.

3.     How much time do you spend (per day) on social media sites like FB, Twitter, YouTube, etc? How often do you post or comment?

Before I even get out of bed, after checking email on my iPhone or iPad, I spend a few minutes checking Twitter and Facebook.  That’s my social media consumption time.  I may post an update during the day if something interesting happens or I see a post worth commenting on.  I never post comments to YouTube, though.  This great XKCD comic says why —

I also have a recurring event in my calendar dedicated to social media — 30 minutes every Wednesday is supposed to be devoted to finding new business contacts on LinkedIn and Twitter.

4.     What’s your main objective for social media sites?

My primary objective is business-related networking. Showing a bit of personality (professional, but informal and even a bit snarky), demonstrating my interactive/creative/technical expertise, etc.  The biggest compliment is to be retweeted by a person in the industry you don’t know personally — it shows that you’re making an impact.

I use Facebook for more personal tasks.  It’s a great way to keep in touch with old friends and family members spread throughout the country.  I do have business contacts on Facebook, but it’s always a bit awkward.  Even more so when I find out that a client has political views that are the opposite of mine — that’s information I’d rather not know!

5.     Has someone used one of these sites in an ingenious or surprising way that you admire?

It’s been done too many times at this point, but I get a kick out of people who target a single company or potential boss to get a job.  And not just sending a short message, either — but creating entire websites specifically targeted towards a social media contact.  For example —

And forgive the shameless self promotion, but the work I did at EVB for PayPal was a fantastic use of social media.  Regift the Fruitcake allowed people to create a virtual fruitcake, choose a charity and donation goal, and “regift” it to their Facebook friends.  Recipients could then regift to THEIR friends, and so on.  Each time a fruitcake was sent, the regifter had the opportunity to donate money to the selected charity.  We raised almost $50,000 for twenty charities.  That launched in the 2009 holiday season, and was the first time any major brand used social media in such a way.

6.     Biggest social media debacle or pet peeve?

I’ll share a somewhat embarrassing incident that I was involved in, sad to say.  Shortly after leaving EVB, the agency launched a major campaign for a high-profile client.  I posted a status update on Facebook congratulating the team.  A relative of mine — having no insight into the great relationship I had (and continue to have) with EVB, publicly responded to the update asking if I were serious or not.

In a very leading way, of course; she assumed that I was being sarcastic, and her question reflected that.  I freaked out and immediately deleted her comment, and sent a private message (a bit over the top, in retrospect) insisting that she never do such a thing again.  I don’t know if anyone connected to the project saw the comment, but I’m Facebook “friends” with practically everyone at EVB and the client.

That’s a good example of the strange place social media is in, and the questions that should be asked before posting a comment, or even before accepting connections:

Why am I adding this person to my friends list?
I think this depends on the specific site in question.  I have a rule that I only add people on Facebook that I actually know in person, and personal contacts are higher priority than business contacts.  Twitter is open, and the objective is to share information, so I add people whose content I find interesting.  LinkedIn is solely business for me, but I’ll usually only accept connections from former colleagues and clients.  I’ve often accept connections from strangers, but only when they’ve written a customized email asking to connect and explaining why it would be mutually beneficial.  I can’t stand random LinkedIn spam from people who are simply growing a list without a real reason.

Is this post appropriate?
Never say anything you wouldn’t say in front of your mother.  Of course, my family is known for cursing like sailors, and sometimes (ok, often) I’ll slip up — but a couple of sanity checks are critical before hitting the submit button.  This is an example of why usability is so important in social media sites. For example, on Facebook, the “search” field is too close (physically and visually) to the “status update” field — I’ve seen status updates that were obviously supposed to be searches many many times.

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