Posted by rebecca
One of my friends and colleagues, Chris Winfield, is presenting on how to ignite viral campaigns at SES San Jose later this month. If you’re attending SES San Jose, I highly recommend hearing Chris’s presentation. Not only is he a great speaker, he knows his stuff when it comes to social media marketing, link bait, and viral marketing. Also, he has excellent taste in television, if I do say so myself.
Anyway, recently I interviewed Chris about his company, 10e20, viral marketing tips, and desert island must-haves. Hopefully you enjoy this little Monday afternoon interview.
Chris Winfield (center) with (l-r) Jon Kelly, Neil Patel, and Jeremy Schoemaker rockin’ out to the Backstreet Boys (photo courtesy of Liana Evans from Search Marketing Gurus)
1. Tell us a little about 10e20 and your role there (how many employees you’ve got, how long you’ve been around, what sort of work you do, etc).
10e20 was started in 2002 by my wife (Danielle) and I. We’re an Internet marketing company that specializes in search and social media marketing. Our office is in Manhattan but the majority of the 13 people in our company work from home. We had people doing insane commutes and found that we were just as (actually more) productive working virtually.
I guess what we do can be explained really simply – we get qualified traffic to people’s websites and increase their sales. That’s the goal and the mission with anything to us.
2. How did you get involved in the SEO/SEM industry?
My first (and only) job out of school was with a start-up web design company that was started by a few guys with a bunch of money and no technical backgrounds. This was towards the end of the dotcom bubble and when the original Razorfish was worth like $4 billion. They saw that and they wanted in. They would build these massively expensive sites and just not even think about how to get the clients any sales. After being with them for awhile and seeing everything not to do, Danielle and I left the company. At that time I really didn’t want to do much with any of that.
Then a friend of our family came to me and asked me to help him get more artists into his recording studio that was down on the Lower East Side. I told him I’d help and one of the first things we did was build him a website, but I wanted to be sure it was going to do something for him. So I started learning everything I could about SEO. I think I read everything that Danny ever wrote on Search Engine Watch and just started trying out all kinds of different things. All of a sudden this guy was ranking at the top of the search engine for every ‘recording studio’ related term out there. This little, tiny recording studio was getting hammered with requests and getting booked like crazy. It got to the point where the guy first asked me to remove the phone number from the website. Then he had me take the address off (because people were just stopping by randomly). He was an engineer – he didn’t really want to have to work so much. So basically my work for them was done and then there were lots of people asking for help.
From there we started 10e20 as a web development company with a strong focus on organic SEO. My wife Danielle was working with Ralph Lauren at the time and she would help me like crazy during the day and after work.
3. What is something you love and hate about the SEO industry?
It sounds corny but I love the people. It’s a really accessible industry. Most people really do want to work together and will help you. It doesn’t matter who you are.
I hate a lot of the bullshit that goes on. Just like there are a lot of people who want to help you, it seems that there are also people who like drama, controversy, and hurting people. It’s unfortunate because people could be so much more productive without all that.
4. You’re speaking at SES San Jose about "Igniting Viral Campaigns." How much viral marketing do you do at 10e20?
A lot. Personally, that’s the majority of what I do each and everyday.
5. What is the biggest misconception people have about viral marketing?
That it’s all about links.
6. What is the hardest thing about viral/social media marketing?
The time commitment. You really have to understand what your goals & objectives are and then know the social communities & how they operate. But that’s only the beginning. You have to have something special to get people excited about your company. So you have to come up with great ideas and produce great content or else it won’t matter. All of this takes time. Lots of it…
7. Can you share a couple secrets to succeeding at viral marketing/link bait/SMM?
Understand what people want and how your company can play a role in that. What is going to get someone to link to your article/tool/video? What is going to get someone to IM their friend about your content? Why should they? You have to be able to answer that question.
Understand what communities and networks are right for you. Which ones are going to help spread your message the most effectively? Where are your customers? Once you know which ones are right for you, start participating in them. Know the sub-culture that goes on there. Learn about what they want.
One other important thing is don’t dismiss the ‘old school’ stuff. For example, forums are some of the most effective places to really get something to spread virally, but a lot of people dismiss them because they aren’t sexy. If you’ve ever had something go truly viral, take a look at your logs and see how much traffic comes from forums.
8. Obviously not all of us are as charismatic and comfortable in front of an audience as you are. What are some tips you can give to new speakers/presenters in a conference series?
Know your stuff. I try to only speak on panels that cover things I am really comfortable with. Personally, I don’t do enough SEO anymore so I never pitch to speak on SEO panels unless it’s combined with social media marketing.
9. What is one piece of advice you can give to someone who has just started out in the SEO world?
Network with other SEOs you respect. It shouldn’t just be someone you think is cool or a good writer – it should be people that can help you and vice-versa.
10. Do you have any super awesome top-secret projects or ventures in the works? Where would you like to see your company and your career be at in the next few years?
Answer to the first part: yes but they wouldn’t be super awesome top-secret anymore if I told you. 😉 I’d like to see us continue to grow on the social media marketing side and be known as one of the premier companies in the space. I’d also like to see continued growth on the tracking side and something we can offer around that so other companies can take advantage of it too.
11. What are some of your hobbies when you’re not living and breathing search?
Oh you mean people actually have a life outside of search? In all seriousness though, I love to workout, ride my mountain bike, go out to dinner with my wife, BBQ at home, and just hang out with family & friends.
12. How the hell did you manage to land the best-looking wife, the cutest dog, and the best hair in this industry?
Luck. Luck & research. Genetics and this stuff called ‘Dirt’.
(Seriously, here’s photographic proof that he has both an adorable wife and dog:)
Chris and his impossibly cute wife and business partner, Danielle(photo courtesy of Liana Evans)
Charlie Winfield: so cute he’ll melt your face off if you stare directly at him, just like the Ark of the Covenant (photo stolen from Chris’s Facebook profile)
13. If you were stuck on a desert island with one DVD, one meal, one CD, and one website, what would they be?
The Office (British version – Ricky Gervais is a god). NY Strip with lobster tails & mashed potatoes. DJ Shadow’s ‘Entroducing.’ Twitter – at least then I could keep in touch with people…
More: continued here