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Member of the Week – Geoff Livingston

About six months ago, I started reading a blog called the Buzz Bin which had all sorts of great tips and interviews regarding social media. One thing led to another and Geoff Livingston (who maintains the site) joined GovLoop, started participating, and eventually we met at Gov 2.0 BarCamp a few weeks back.

I thought he’s make a great member of the week so here’s our chat.

Tell me a little about yourself, your company?

We’re a boutique social media firm that’s been doing it for a while now. Our first social media campaigns (blogger relations, blogs and MySpace) we’re in 2006, and we’ve never looked back. It’s been quite a ride with more coming…

Tell me about your rockstar blog. How did it start? What do you primarily use it for?

It started with the business in April of 2006. I did it as a cheap way to market the business and chronicle the start-up from the basement forward. Now it has become a marketing and social media best practices blog that seems to get read now and then.

How did you find out about GovLoop? How do you use it?

A referral, actually, I think Mark Drapeau. I delve into the B2G and public sector spaces periodically, and have always had a hand in that business. I like showing up periodically and see what’s going on, read some of the posts, get a pulse for the real undercurrent of the “Government 2.0” movement

Your company works with both public and private sector clients. What do you see as the major differences between public sector and private sector use of social media?

ROI is measured differently. Generally speaking, private tends to really want to market, while public or social causes wants to inform. Social causes also want to fundraise, but it’s not the same as private sector.

The other big difference seems to be the immense amount of regulation that prevents any kind of meaningful dialogue. We’re basically looking at the initial attempts to tear down 50 years of command and control public relations. Good luck with that.

Give me one rockstar tip for the Gov’t Soc Media folks reading this post. A Livingston vignette….

God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason. Use them proportionally online.

What did you think of Gov 2.0 Camp? How did it compare to other un-conferences you have been to?

Loved it! I thought the gov. focus added just enough professionalism to the Bar Camp format, something I kind of like, and kind of don’t. Unconferences can get a bit… Unwieldy. This had just the right mixture of fun and seriousness for my tastes.

You have a book “Now is Gone” which I haven’t read but people have told me it is awesome. Tell me about your book. And give me the dirt – how painful was the process/what was it like?”

Man, it was brutal. I wrote it almost two years ago (completed in June of 2007) in four months. What a beating. All night, all day, every weekend and it almost cost me my marriage. I am definitely taking a much more leisurely pace this time, let me tell you.

It was what is now being considered an early primer for social media, but in reality it was later compared to some of the classics like Cluetrain and Naked Conversations. It’s saving grace was a focus on introducing executives to social media as opposed to a tactical how-to.

I love your Twitter updates about your exercise regimes. You are hard-core. 15 sets of squats? What’s your exercise philosophy?

Always do cardio, and keep the weights low with high reps. Turning 37 this spring, I have no use for bulk. It’s a recession, so lean and mean! I try to hit cardio 4x a week, weights 4x a week with a different isolated workout each time, and then one long monster cardio session (bike ride for 20+ miles or spin). Total weight loss is almost 60 lbs in 11 months.

You also run a sweet event called Blog Potomac. Give me two good reasons why I should go.

It’s the best social media marketing conference in the MidAtlantic annually. Period.

It’s the best… Oh, I already said that 😉

If you had an elevator ride with President Obama, what would you say?

Dude, I want to work for you!

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Andrew Krzmarzick

Hey Geoff – I was bummed that I didn’t get a chance to meet you at Gov 2.0 Camp. But I got to know you a bit more through this interview – thanks for the feature, Steve.