Newly-published author, digital media strategist and social media celeb Rohit Bhargava is our special guest at the BlogPotomac Speakers’ Dinner tomorrow, June 12, 2008. He kindly took time to answer a few questions about social media and, specifically, how he is using it to promote his new book.

: You’ve just published your first book, Personality Not Included. Huge congrats! I know what a huge undertaking it is. Tell us a little bit about how you’re using social media to promote it.

Rohit: Thanks!
Though I didn’t write the book to be about social media (it’s actually
more about a culture shift in business and organizations), using lots
of social media tools to promote it has been a key part of my efforts.

Early on, I created a Facebook group
where I released exclusive downloads and bonus content, as well as
early invites to book launch events. That group is a core of just over
400 people who have been great word of mouth ambassadors for the book –
and a group that I consistently try to give something back to in

On the day of launch, I also decided to launch a “virtual interview” project
by asking bloggers for 5 questions about the book.  I promised to
respond to each interview without cutting and pasting responses. Over
three days, I got 55 requests and responded to each – creating a huge
archive of information and buzz about the book on the same day it
launched. The ensuing contest seeking votes for the best interview also got some great conversations happening.

Since then, I’ve been doing lots of other interviews, attending
events, and steadily building buzz with bloggers.  I also have a review
program where I’m sending review copies to bloggers, and launched an
interesting promotion to encourage reviews of the book (both good and
bad) that you can see here:

I also have a companion site to the book where I am inviting “100
visionary minds” to all answer the question of why personality
matters.  It’s called The Personality Project.

The theme throughout all these activities has been that I’m trying to
offer something in return instead of just asking for favors.  Every
piece of my strategy is designed to offer a reason for people to
participate, and then give them something real to talk about.

: Many, if not most, companies still seem slow to pick up on social media as a marketing and communications strategy. When will that change and why – or why not?

“The theme throughout all these activities has been that I’m trying to
offer something in return instead of just asking for favors.”

– Rohit Bhargava on using social media to promote Personality Not Included

Rohit: I
think part of it is because they are getting some bad advice from the
“experts” in this space.  Most people are realizing that there is a
conversation going on, but if marketing pros who get social media are
telling their clients to “give up control,” they are spreading a
defeatist message.

I have been pretty vocal about my point of view that
the future is about sharing control, and the companies that get
it are the ones that are finding smart ways to do that. Sharing is
about dialogue, but it also means you do have some amount of

You can decide what to respond to and who to engage with.
That’s an empowering message that I think we need to spread more
freely.  It’s also the type of message that will get more companies to
engage with social media rather than shy away from it because of fear.

Debbie: If you had a crystal ball and could look ahead two years, what would the cool new thing be (aka Twitter, etc.)?

Rohit: Hmm,
the crystal ball question … I always love to think about this one
because it’s a tough one to answer without setting yourself up to look
like an idiot six months from now when you end up completely wrong! But since I hate people who evade questions, I’ll take a stab at it

I think the greatest area where I see evolution will take us
is in the promise of a single “dashboard” view of our digital lives
that is portable. For many of us, Facebook comes close simply because
we can aggregate our activities on many other sites in one place there
– but the future is going to be about seeing our personal interactions
side by side with the media (both new and traditional) that we

I think an example from the future will be a dashboard where
I can see live updates from my friends attending an event, alongside
news reports from the event, alongside a list of friends of mine that
are attending and others I may want to add to my network, alongside a
stream of content from the event, alongside with the ability to
interact and share my voice at the event virtually. 

You can do all of
that in pieces right now, but putting the pieces together is where I
think the future will take us.