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Brian Solis - photo taken by Kenneth Yeung -- thelettertwo.com

Anyone who’s been in public relations and also involved with social media will probably know Brian Solis – or at least have heard of him. Recently he was the subject of a three-part interview with technology evangelist Robert Scoble in which he talks about what he’s done recently, his latest book Putting the Public Back in Public Relations, the latest news with Twitter and anything else relevant to social media.

I have been a fan of Brian Solis’s since I first got onto Twitter nearly three years ago and when I arrived in San Francisco, he was one of the people that I wanted to meet. Why? Because I knew he had influence and people were always recommending him to me saying “You should talk to Solis. He knows where to get the information.” And they’re right. I’ve been fortunate enough to be at very much the same events as Solis and talk to him on occasion about some of the latest trends happening in the web today. Moreover, I’ve been lucky enough to have even worked with Solis as a photographer and a blogger on his social media blog Bub.blicio.us.

So what I think is interesting about this whole thing is that rather than getting a 30 minute talk from Solis, we are now privileged to get a glimpse of what one of the top influencers in the social media realm has to say about an arrange of topics. Basically it’s one of those “everything you wish you could ask a PR guy about how to use social media” type of scenarios. This nearly-hour long interview is broken up into three parts for digestible pieces.

Some of the highlights include:

- Solis talking about his latest book Putting the Public Back in Public Relations and how it was written specifically for those in the PR industry and also those who are entrepreneurs & how new media has transformed the landscape of influencers. Since 1991, Solis has been around to observe how media has changed. The principles has always remained the same: it’s all about relationships & face-to-face dialogue.

- Compared to ten years ago, Solis talks about how the augmentation of influencers has changed. For communication professionals, they need to figure out what the community is interested in & how to make it happen. It’s no longer about bringing in just the press, but also looking at the people who are influential but may not be really in-tune to that industry.

- When not at parties, Solis spends his day looking for influencers with tools like Klout.com, AllTop.com or any form of curation – even Twitter lists. He also looks at what people are writing, their reach, analyzing statistics on bit.ly links, ComScore statistics and much more. Both him & Robert Scoble don’t use many tools – for Scoble, it’s mostly his 16,000 people he follows and also Techmeme.

- On paid tweets on Twitter, Solis believes that most of the uproar didn’t happen until disclosure began. He thinks that there should be someone out there to help people understand how to use the money and have an effective ad policy. Twitter, right now, is also showing that people are receptive to sponsored tweets.

- Twitter has become a major player in the relationship culture and how people keep in touch with each other. Twitter is becoming less about the dialogue.

- If you inject too much into your Twitter stream that doesn’t apply to most people, then it will turn others away from following you.

- While it’s been a while since Solis started using Twitter, he decided to “document” his experience from the perspective of a new user and notes that it has not changed much since his first login. Twitter doesn’t tell us what we need to do, what we need to do next or what to expect. Scoble believes that it is changing.

- Scoble uses Twitter lists now in order to listen to brands, companies and not necessarily people. He believes that it has changed radically in the past month, especially with the opening of the API. Solis points to how Intel has brought in digital anthropologists on staff to help understand how they can get in front of the cultural shift. Perhaps Twitter needs that?

- Solis says that we can’t rely on people for everything. For people to get introduced to Twitter through advertisements or commercials, there’s no rationale – he wonders “why?”

- Twitter needs to find some way to engage with their audience. Solis points out that Twitter retains about 40% of those new accounts, but people are not sure what to do. Facebook has more hooks to it, according to Scoble. Continues by saying that you would be hard-pressed to leave Facebook versus Twitter.

- Twitter is a way to invest in social capital.

- Scoble highlights the new digital divide: both him and Solis knows who some of the key technology innovators and influencers are because they are part of the culture and environment, but the majority of people who dabble on the Internet don’t “understand the world” like those in Silicon Valley. It’s a need for normal people to find out “what are we getting out of it.”

- Three tips for companies given by Brian Solis:

(1) pay attention & look at what the keywords are in your industry. Look at where the influence is happening – from blogs, Technorati, etc. Look at who is talking about it. Build a list to find your influencers.

(2) look at how your influencers want to be contacted. For influencers, they need to be clear on how they can be contacted. Robert Scoble says that you should also make yourself available.

(3) understanding what you look for, what you like and find a way to make your story worthy. Try and make a connection.

You can read more insights about Brian Solis on his blog here or you can buy his book by clicking here.

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