Gilmore at Front of Social Media Revolution

By Eric Smith

“Social media really does level the playing field. It creates an opportunity for everyone to learn and share and communicate the messages that they have.”
– Glen Gilmore

Glen Gilmore remembers when he first felt the powerful impact that online social media could have on the world.

Last year, an American graduate student was arrested in Egypt, so the student quickly sent out a one-word tweet that read “Arrested” to alert friends and other followers. Word spread quickly, and he was eventually freed. After his release, he tweeted another one-word message: “Free.”

Gilmore then recalled how social media reached a “new dimension of legitimacy” during the Iranian presidential election. Twitter accounts about what was happening in the country kept alive a story of violence and potential fraud when mainstream news outlets were banned from reporting.

And Gilmore cited the iconic photograph of the US Airways plane that crashed in the Hudson River. The picture, taken by a ferry passenger with his cell phone, was the first image from the crash scene. The passenger had uploaded it to his Twitter account and in minutes the world was watching.

“We’re in the midst of an incredible change in how people communicate, how business communicates, how government communicates,” Gilmore said. “What we’re recognizing is that social media has become the primary forum. We see it in so many different ways.”

Topic to leverage

Gilmore will bring his unique perspective on social media to “Leveraging the Conversation,” a discussion on the strategies and policies that businesses can harness through tools like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

The event is set for Oct. 22 from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art Auditorium. For more on “Leveraging the Conversation,” see Page 1.

Gilmore Business Network
Gilmore will be the keynote speaker at next week’s “Leveraging the Conversation” session.

As the owner of the social media consulting firm Gilmore Business Network, Gilmore is well-versed in all things Web-related. His Twitter account, @TrendTracker, has more than 56,000 followers. Hollywood superstar Alyssa Milano even included Gilmore’s page as one of the top people on Twitter to follow.

Gilmore, of Hamilton Township, N.J., where he once served as mayor, said businesses need to take the popularity of Twitter and other social media more seriously because that’s where their customers are. And, despite the common perception that Twitter is only for young people, Gilmore said the largest demographic for the site is ages 35-45.

“Businesses have begun to appreciate the fact that social media is not just a place where kids are,” Gilmore said. “Businesses big and small that are confused by social media and don’t quite understand it, the message I have for them is, ‘Don’t let that scare you away from it, because you can’t afford not to participate in social media.’”

Gilmore said that’s especially true for nonprofit organizations, because social media helps them reach a huge number of people without the need for large advertising and marketing budgets.

“Social media gives them this capacity that has what’s often referred to as

a ‘viral message,’ meaning a message that can really cover not only their town, but their state and the nation, and even go worldwide,” he said.

Equality for all

Social media is more than just the singular tools of Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. It is a vibrant way in which the Internet is evolving, Gilmore said. With more and more people accessing the Internet through their wireless mobile devices, social media is a necessary tool for success in this global, digital age.

“That’s very important for businesses to understand, because otherwise they’re not going to get their message out to people,” Gilmore said. “They’re going to find that they can’t reach their customer base if they’re not participating in how interactive the Internet really is today.”

One of the best parts of tools such as Twitter and Facebook, of course, is that they’re free. They are tools any company can use, and sometimes the smallest mom-and-pop businesses are using social media better than the largest corporations.

“Social media really does level the playing field,” Gilmore said. “It creates an opportunity for everyone to learn and share and communicate the messages that they have.”

Gilmore said he has been to Memphis only once, but during his visit he realized that social media can help spread positive messages about a city like Memphis. For example, he was ecstatic to see the historic Peabody hotel on Twitter, giving rise to the notion that brands – whether they be businesses, nonprofits or governments – can have personality and character.

And they can all benefit from a smart, progressive use of the Internet.

“Social media, especially for a destination city like Memphis, is critically important because you’re a town that’s got so much personality,” Gilmore said, “and nothing thrives better in social media than a rich character.”