Discovering the Community: Cheryl Lawson

Cheryl Lawson is one of the best social media experts around, and she’s been gracing our airwaves at Spreaker with her own show, helping you out with marketing and branding yourself online, and giving her reviews and thoughts on the latest social media trends. Now you can read her interview with us:

Do you mind introducing yourself?

I’m Cheryl Lawson, aka @PartyAficionado, and I am a social marketing specialist from Tulsa, OK. While I’ve lived in Louisiana, Texas, Northern, and Southern California, I’m back in Oklahoma and loving doing what I do at home.

After working in corporate America for 16 years, I decided to start my own event planning business. In 2000, I named my event planning firm The Perfect Date. There was a great story of how the name came about that included a trip through wine country. Super cool, right? Wrong! The onset of internet dating sites took my little play on words to another level. [There’s a date on a calendar].

I struggled with changing the name for years, however, pre-social media, the one thing The Perfect Date did was spark conversations. “Ooh The Perfect Date!” People would say. “What do you do?” As a marketer, it’s hard to turn away from that kind of reaction. No matter what the situation, I always had an opportunity to talk about my business.

In 2003, I came up with the name Party Aficionado. I’ve always believed that people love to do business with others whom they share social experiences with, Party Aficionado was the…. well, perfect name. Unfortunately, my goal of creating a Cigar Aficionado type magazine for events never materialized. (yet)

In 2005, I discovered social networking sites like Mypsace and decided to use Party Aficionado on those sites and I secured the domain name. I still did business as The Perfect Date, but my online persona and posts were from the Party Aficionado.

In 2008, I started my original blog, and soon after, joined Twitter. Since my name was not available on Twitter, I decided to Tweet as @PartyAficionado and a brand was born.

This brings us to Los Angeles in 2009. Jeff Hazelet, then Chief Marketing Officer of Kodak came up to me at the #140conf, looked at my name badge and said. “Oh Party Aficionado, I’m following you on Twitter” RE-BRAND DONE.

How did you get into social media?

In 2005, I was listening to the Business Week Podcast on iTunes talking about their December cover entitled “The Myspace Generation” At the time, I had a client whose conference was for professional sports dancers 18-24 year old women. At that time Myspace was where 18-24 yr olds lived.

I created a community where I’d share photos, videos, and other information of interest to the community. The 2006 convention had record attendance and the client made a profit for the first time in 10 years. It was then that I knew Social Media was a powerful way to create, maintain, and connect with an offline community online. I began using it for my own business, and the journey has been fantastic.

How did Social Media Tulsa begin?

In 2010, I moved from California back to my home town of Tulsa Oklahoma.

Mashable was doing Social Media Day via Meetup everywhere, when I looked, there wasn’t an event organized in Tulsa, so I decided to organize it. In just two weeks, we had 26 people show up to a burger bar in the historic Greenwood District in Tulsa.

In 2010, my goal was to have a place where Tulsans can come to connect and geek out about social, mobile and all the technology that makes our lives more manageable (and sometimes more hectic). Along the way, we have become so much more than I could ever imagine. People started coming to the group (now over 300 members) wanting to learn about social media.

In the beginning, we’d have speakers at meetups and Tweetups, but I discovered something more powerful happening. People were teaching each other. Smart phone to smart phone, tablet to tablet.

So our meetups became much more social in nature. A way to connect the people who know about social media with the people who wanted to learn more. We still tweet and post, and check in where we go. I think it helps people learn by doing, and wherever we’re holding the meetup gets the benefit of a little social buzz before, during, and after a meetup. In 2011, I decided that an annual conference could be the place where we gather to learn and connect with speakers. The 2013 conference will be our third.

How did you start podcasting? Had you already been doing it before coming to Spreaker?

In 2007, I started a podcast called The Event Planning Podcast. I let it go after Youtube, Blogger, and other sites allowed me to share the same information in a different way.

When I heard about Spreaker, I was excited to get back into podcasting and using it as an addition to my blog and other social networks.

Can you give us some social media 101? How could a Spreaker user use these sites, for example?

Hmm that’s a tough one since each person on Spreaker is so different and many of the already have pretty active and engaged communities.

The only thing I would say is find ways to connect with your community where they like to be. If that’s Facebook, create a Facebook page or group to stay engaged with them. Give them access to your journey to keep them engaged with you before, during, and after your Spreaker show.

If Twitter is where your community is, create a hashtag # to let them find other members of your community to connect with.

What are your social media pet peeves?

I think people need to understand that each social network is different and connecting with people in each space is different.

Using the share button is ok, but make sure you’re not neglecting your audience in each space with automated tools.

Do you use Spreaker’s interactive features to chat with your fans?

Not yet, I’m still getting used to the fact that people are listening to me 🙂 I just recorded my first live Spreaker from my phone last week. I try to ask for feedback with each podcast, and I hope to do more live shows where I can connect with listeners in real time.

Has this podcast helped you personally or professionally?

I think it’s too early to tell, but anytime you can have people listening to your point of view, there is potential for a new client, friend, or recommendation.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’ve got the 2013 Social Media Tulsa conference coming up, so I’ll be sharing news about the conference and speakers and how to connect with us in Tulsa or online.

Thanks so much, Cheryl!

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  • Prentice Feb 22, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Hi I am truely inspired by this information. Would it be at all possible for your to contact me maybe to kind of guide me through the process of launching my radio station? And id like you to possibly assist me with starting and understanding the benefits of twitter

  • Cheryl Lawson Jan 16, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Thank you so much!
    Now I have to do more Spreaker podcasts 🙂

    • Anna Jan 21, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      Please do!

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