The Art of Social Media – Interview with Guy Kawasaki

by | Feb 17, 2015

Guy Kawasaki
10 min read

While researching the Top 25 Social Media Books to Read in 2015, I came across Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick’s new book, The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users and promptly picked up a copy which is sitting beside me now and has already made quite an impact on my own personal social media efforts.
After requesting a quote to accompany the post, Guy and I got chatting and he was kind enough to let me interview him on his new book, social media and life in general. I have been a huge fan of Guy’s for quite some time now and before we delve into the interview I’d just like to put it out there for other fans that Guy is everything you expect. He is brilliant, friendly, charming and humble to boot.
Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He co-founded Alltop the “online magazine rack” of the web. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.

Interview with Guy Kawasaki

Q: “Great stuff, no fluff”, The Art of Social Media which you co-authored with Peg Fitzpatrick, provides over 100 tips, tricks and insights to create a compelling social media presence. With over 1.4M Twitter followers and 6.7M Google+ followers, what is your number 1 tip for developing a great social media presence?

Try to ensure that what you post passes the Reshare Test. The Reshare Test means that whatever you post is so informative, analytical, helpful, or entertaining that people who get it from you share it with their followers. There is no higher form of flattery than resharing.tweet

Q: You’ve stated that Steve Jobs taught you 3 very important lessons: “First, people cannot tell you what they want – they can only tell you how to revise what they already have. Second, design matters – maybe not to everyone but to enough people. Third, never let the opinion of other’s limit what you try to do.” Have these lessons shaped your social media and content marketing strategies in any way?

These lessons are about product development and innovation, not so much social media. I could stretch them and try to convince you that they fit, but they really don’t. My social-media and content-marketing strategies are most dependent on the Reshare Test and the NPR Model.
By the NPR Model, I mean that NPR here in the US shares great content all year. By doing so, it earns the right to run pledge drives. If its content were not good, it could never get away with running the pledge drives. This means that your content should be so good that you earn the right to use social media to promote your product or service every once in a while.tweet

Q: In 2013 you said “We are in a great time because it’s one of the cheapest times to start a company. Using social media, your marketing is free or cheap. Using virtual teams, you don’t have to rent an office. Using the cloud, you don’t have to buy servers. Using open source, you don’t have to buy tools. And, if you want to raise money without sucking up to venture capitalists, you use Kickstarter and Indigogo.” While we obviously still have these technologies and capabilities do you still believe that the power of social media for marketing is growing in 2015? And what do you believe the future holds for content marketing and social media in general?

Social media as a marketing method is getting more challenging because of the noise and because Facebook is providing less organic views. But still, there is nothing that is as fast, cheap, and ubiquitous. I believe that social media = marketing for most businesses—it’s not a part of marketing or a separate kind of effort.tweet

Q: You’ve said that top 10 posts and bulleted lists make for great content. What else do you think can create a great piece of online content?

There are four forms of great content: information—what just happened, analysis—what does it mean that this happened, assistance—how to avoid a bad thing or get a good thing, and entertainment—what the heck?tweet

Q: And, once that great piece of content is created, how do we create buzz around it and make it go viral across the social media channels?

You cannot make content go viral. You take your best shot and hope for the best. No one can guarantee that content will go viral. You can help get exposure by repeating tweets and adding visuals—I work for a Sydney-based company called Canva that can help you make fast and fantastic graphics because I believe in visual marketing so much. But after you do these things, it’s in the hands of the Internet gods.tweet

Q: Last week you honoured me through tweeting a link I sent you. As I have now reached my own personal ultimate Twitter dream, tell me, is there someone you’d love to get a tweet from?

First of all, you need to raise your expectations! I’d love to get a tweet from Richard Branson because I admire his zest for life.tweet

Q: You’ve done quite a few interviews about time management, something you’ve confessed to not being so great at, but as a social media junkie, do you have any tips for those of us wanting to better organise our time spent on social media?

Cheat. That is, piggyback on the curation of others such as, Feedly, and NPR. Watch the posts that get on the What’s Hot lists and post the same thing. Watch what’s doing well for people and reshare their posts. Then use tools like Buffer, Sprout, or Hootsuite. But using all of these, social media is still lots of hard work. Deal with it. That’s what it takes, so man up.tweet

Q: I think I already know the answer to this, but what is your favourite social media network and why?

I don’t have a favorite anymore. I just try to optimize for each platform and hope for the best.tweet

Q: While you’ve held many top level positions, your self-identity is truly a Father above all else. Does your family use social media too and how do you feel about it?

No one in my family uses it anywhere near the level I do, but they dabble in it. For me, it’s not “social.” It’s a business. It’s what I do. It’s both a passion and a means to an end: providing for my family.tweet

Q: Likewise, how do you feel about using social media in a personal way as opposed to in a marketing way?

I have no idea. I’ve never used it in a personal way. People do this?tweet

I suppose that helps to answer my previous question about how to better manage your time on social media too. Thank you Guy for your support and encouraging responses!
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Kirsten Tanner

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