Our Klout Stars series highlights top influencers and how they got to where they are today.
About Alex: Alex Lightman is the author of Brave New Unwired World: The Digital Big Bang and the Infinite Internet (Wiley, 2002), the first book on 4G wireless, and Reconciliation: 78 Reasons to End the US embargo of Cuba. (Social Universe, 2010). On Oct. 20, 2010, The Economist honored him with the first Reader’s Award, on behalf of 4G wireless as “the innovation that will most radically impact the world over the next decade”, 2011 to 2020, after five months of voting in over 200 countries. Lightman studied engineering at MIT, government at Harvard’s Kennedy School, national innovation at Lund University (Sweden), and management at MIT’s Sloan School. He likes to call what does with his 5,000 Facebook friends “conversation art.”
1. How did you get started in social media?
Way back in the mid-90s I was asked by J. Michael Straczynski, then writer and producer of Babylon 5, to collaborate on the creation of the official fan club for the show. That let to doing over 100 Internet projects for Hollywood movies and TV shows that attracted, in aggregate, tens of millions of people to websites for movies like Star Trek: First Contact, The Fifth Element, Titanic, Zorro, Blade, and Xena. Spawn won both “best avatar” and SGI’s only VRML contest, for both the Entertainment and Grand Prize. I was thus one of the lucky geeks who got to live in the intersection of the Venn diagram between the circles for “Entrepreneur”, “Social Media”, “Hollywood”, “Silicon Valley”, and Science Fiction.
If we refer to current social media, I went an Interactive Television Alliance summit on the Queen Mary, and met a woman from England who insisted that I got onto Facebook three years ago. It took me about two years to reach 5,000 people.
2. What’s your strategy for the content you produce and share on social media?
I respect and provoke people to make changes in the way they think and act, and seek to raise the bar for how social media is used. My aim is to make my conversation so unique that you print them out and remove the names of the people on a given conversation and “just know” that it’s the sort of conversation that you would only have on Alex Lightman’s wall. My strategy is to make my Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and Google+ community (plural, communities would also be accurate) more healthy, wealthy and wise. Healthy, by consistently posting about diet and exercise, and giving my own examples. I once posted a photo of a healthy farmer’s market salad, and got over 45 Like. Wealthy, by acting as if I am in touch with 5,000 people, each of whom is going to create $100 million from my suggestion, and posting the best insights for dealing with the big transitions that I know of by creating new products, services, and businesses. And wise by seeking to get people to engage in activities leading both to neurogenesis, and having a fresh perspective.
3. What advice do you have for someone who wants to take their social media influence and presence to the next level?
I have six suggestions:
Show people how to get meaningful work or to find teams to do complex, challenging, and profitable projects.
Point people towards becoming more healthy, vibrant and alive.
Share suggestions for how people can make money, including but not limited to social media.
Think of your social media presence as a host of dinner party with interesting people. Make people feel comfortable, and raise the bar on the level of conversation so that it will attract smarter, more passionate people, who also accept basic principles of etiquette.
Be careful of being too predictable. Don’t repetitively put up quotes, news stories, or simple things, as it will get people in the habit of tuning you out.
Learn about collective intelligence, and seek to solve very complex global problems. There are a lot of brains out there. Put them to work.
If you’d like to hear more from Alex, you can follow him at @lxlightman on Twitter.
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