CMX had the recent pleasure of speaking with Dom Garrett, Quarterback at Large for BTC Revolutions, a social media agency and the co-manager of The Only Colors, the Michigan State blog for SB Nation. He was also the social media lead during CMX Summit East and West, and continues to work on projects with CMX. He is also a passionate sports podcaster for The Riding The Pine podcast.
In this Ask Me Anything, Dom enlightened the CMX Slack community by sharing his experience with starting and running a podcast, plus what it takes to really nail engagement through social media. To get us started, let’s dive into what makes and breaks a good podcast.What are the top three things that make a podcast successful? What are the top three reasons they fail?1. You need to have passion for what you are talking about. If you are bored and don’t love it, it is hard to fake loving it. No one wants to listen to someone who doesn’t care.2. You need to know what the hell you are talking about. People go to podcasts to be entertained and to learn. If you don’t know anything, the passion doesn’t matter. People will stop listening.3. Consistency. The worst thing you can do is fall off the map and disappear for weeks at a time. You are building an audience and if you are not consistent, someone else will be. People rely on that above all else and betraying that trust is hard to bounce back from.Dom goes on to explain, “I think that kind answers the other side but three reasons they fail would be,”1. Lack of consistency. Can’t stress this enough…2. Audio Quality. No one expects a new podcast to have a multi million dollar set up with a team of producers, but it is not hard to figure out how to sound decent.3. Trying to bullshit. Be who you are and don’t try to be someone else. If you know what you are talking about and are passionate but disingenuous, people will not make it through an episode. Plain and simple.How do you connect with your community outside of the podcast show?“Well, mostly it is on social media.” Dom goes on to explain, “While my co-host Tyler and I both use the handle of the show to talk to people the majority of it is via our personal social media profiles. We are bouncing around a few ideas like setting up a voicemail box to be able to play and answer questions, as well as a mail-bag feature to our email. Connecting with listeners is super important in the early days so we welcome all sorts of communication!”Dom also shed some light on other out-of-the-box tactics used to increase engagement and foster a sense of community, “Twitter polls are so much fun right now. While our audience is not always super engaged at the same time, setting up polls about past episodes gives very valuable feedback. Also, being a sports podcast it also allows us to talk to people in real time around events that are happening. Gives the audience a good hint as to what we are going to talk about. Every tweet is a teaser for the next episode so they get people excited!”When Dom was asked about the intersection of community and social media, he noted “This is a DEEP topic that I would love to continue conversation around because I think that as community as an industry grows, so does social media and what it can do. That being said, I think about the definition of community from CMX: A community is a group of more than two people with a common sense of identity, who participate in ongoing, shared experiences to meet their needs.” He continued with, “The way I think about social media is not as “end all be all” like some people may think. SoMe is not the one stop shop: it certainly is one entry point into community though and it very well may be a way that people continue the “participate portion” of the ongoing shared experiences.In an article on CMXHub, David Spinks talks about how you don’t ‘launch’ a community, quite often they start small and organically and turn into a movement. That is where I think that social media is something that helps the community. It is a place where ideas can be shared, the barrier to entry is low and the movement may begin. That being said, I tend to view social media and the platforms we all know as entry points to deeper communities. In the world we live in, I do not think there is one right answer for every community. Some are better built in forums, some lend themselves to Facebook groups. Some are in twitter chats and some are in slack communities. Social media is an amazing listening tool, the greatest discovery tool we have. But it is not the end, nor is it the answer. Social media is a tool and if you know what to do with it, you can help a community thrive with it.”Aside from his podcast and its supporting social media efforts, Dom has had experience running social media during large-scale, live events like CMX Summit East and West this year. The second group of questions shifted to the use of social platforms during events like those.How is it managing social media at a live event?“It is a rush, for sure. You have a group of people, all experiencing some awesome together and you get to tell that story to the world. That to me is one of the coolest things I get to do. To do it well, it takes a crazy amount of preparation, a team who is locked into a common goal, and a healthy amount of coffee.”How do you plan and prepare your social media strategy for a live event? How do you balance circulating original content and highlighting content from your followers?“The goal I always set out for a live event is to highlight those people in the room, not the team behind the keyboard. The people on the stage and in the crowd deserve the shine so give it to them. You want to create a social experience so we practice something I learned at BTC which is the idea of “No Tweet Left Behind”. If someone tweets at CMX, they get a response. If they say something great, they get a RT. The goal is to use your audience to amplify others. Every time someone tweets and they see the heart and response from us it makes them feel heard. That is the feeling I want to give at these events.” As far as balance goes, you need to tweet out the speakers points, try to do so in a captivating way that is good for those inside the room and those outside who couldn’t make it. You want to give as much as you can, while highlighting other who are giving as well."When wrapping up, Dom had this to say in conclusion, "When I think of community and things that can help it grow and thrive, podcasts and social media are amazing tools. Remember however, tools are only as useful as those wielding them. If you have impassioned community members that know what they are talking about, these tools can help your community. The key is highlighting the knowledge and enthusiasm of your community. Be it on social media or a podcast. Find where your community lives online and talk to them there, share with them there. Barrier to entry is so low now, all it takes is you taking the step and learning the basics, but you just have to take the step. You are the one wielding the tool after all."You can find Dom on Twitter, LinkedIn and the CMX Slack Community.