Podcast: Crystal Washington On Making Social Media Work For You


Crystal Washington knows a thing or two about online addition. She's a technology and social media expert who helps companies around the world figure out how to act online.

In this episode of our podcast, Speaking Of, she talks about how we relate to our devices, what new tools are out there now, and how to avoid the unhealthy aspects of leading hyper-digital lives. 

We ask questions like:

  • How has social media and technology changed the way human beings interact with one another?
  • If your network is your most important asset in business, how can people take advantage of that network through social media?
  • How can you maximize the good and minimize the bad aspects of social media?
  • What can our listeners do to better their social media habits and personas right now?

Plus, we talk to Crystal about the latest news about social media and privacy, and even get her recommendations for apps and podcasts to download today. 

Download the podcast episode from iTunes here.

Podcast Transcription

Here is the full transcription of this podcast episode:

Crystal Washington: I'm going to help you determine right now if you're addicted to your mobile device are you ready? I'm going to ask you one question. How many of you in here sleep with your smartphone? Now, I want you to notice what happened when I asked that question. You heard like the little whispers across the room where people said, "What does she mean? In the bed? By the bed? On the floor?" So predictable. And if you ask that question and I heard a lot of it coming from over there, I have a question for you. If you slept with a beer in the bed, by the better on the floor, might you have a problem? Now that we know that we're all addicted, the truth of the matter is we're using all these devices so much that we're kind of becoming cyborgs. And sometimes it's a little scary because we want to make sure that we're keeping balance and all that we're doing and that we're actually communicating with humans. But it is important that we stay up to date on all of these technology advances.

Leading Authorities: Crystal Washington knows a thing or two about online addiction. She's a technology and social media expert who helps companies around the world figure out how to act online. Crystal wants technology to work for you, not against you. And she spends our days teaching people how to use it to work smarter, stay ahead of the competition and get more from the brands and services they love. Today, I talk with Crystal about how we relate to our devices, what new tools are out there now, and avoiding the unhealthy aspects of leading hyper digital lives. You're listening to, Speaking of, where we sit down with innovators and thought leaders to talk about ideas that are changing the world now. I'm your host, Maddie Glading. So here with us today, we have Crystal Washington. She is a social media guru that a lot of our clients turn to for tips and tricks and insights on technology and social media and the ways that those things are changing business. Crystal, thank you for being here.

Crystal: Thank you for having me. I'm so excited.

Leading Authorities: We are too. So, let's just dive right into it. You say that social media and technology have shifted human interaction, what is the biggest way you think peer to peer communication has changed, especially that maybe people aren't aware of?

Crystal: Well, I think we're semi-aware, but there's two diverging things that are happening. In some ways, we're becoming more connected with people and the fact that we can communicate with people all over the world in an instant. I can save someone's life, anyone listening can save someone's life across the globe through social media and calling a contact if someone's in danger, right? That's never been possible before. So, it's brought us closer. When it comes to the people that are actually closest to us, sometimes, even our office mates, we become so dependent on the technology that we forget to get from behind the cubicle or the desk or whatever else, and come over and have a conversation, or to actually spend time with loved ones. So, it's interesting, it's bringing us closer and driving us further part at the same time.

Leading Authorities: And what are some things that you would recommend that people are aware of in order to maximize the benefits and make sure they're not getting caught in that trap of not having those real conversations?

Crystal: I think it's a matter of being aware of how much time you're spending on devices and how much time you're spending behind screens, and then stop and ask yourself is a certain type of communication or certain thought that you're trying to communicate with someone, is it better communicated in person, by phone, by email or by text? Because often times we get those confused. And I think the last piece to that is get rid of technology you are not currently utilizing. So even we talk about our smartphone, everyone has these smartphones, the have all the time, and we had all of these apps and different things. Some of them are time wasters. So maybe some of us are spending more time on social media, than we should maybe we're not being productive there. And then some of us, it's business apps we've downloaded that we've been told we need to use, we're not using them, it's taking up space. And so, I think it's like spring cleaning for your phone. And I think when you get rid of the technology that you don't need or you're not using, it frees you up to think more clearly and then possibly use some that's helpful or maybe to spend time talking to people in person.

Leading Authorities: What are some of those ways that we definitely want to be mindful of how much time we're spending on all these platforms and apps, but what are some of the really great things that social media can do for us, especially in business?

Crystal: From a business perspective, it allows you to have a reach that you wouldn't have as a normal individual. If we're talking about a business or even an association, people can get a feel for your business or association through your Facebook page, through a group. People can start to have two-way dynamic conversations with you, whereas they can't have that with the website. And so, I think it gives our audience a window into who we are, and it gives them an opportunity to take some ownership in our brand through conversation. So, if you're not in the social media space, that can't happen. Also, it makes it easier for you to have a say in a conversation that's happening about you. So, when you're on social media and people are talking about you or your brand, often times they'll tag you and you then become aware that you're being talked about. Well, now you can, enter the conversation to add additional information, to correct misinformation or even thanking them for mentioning your brand.

Leading Authorities: And with all this talk of branding, I guess. I'm wondering, what do people need to be, people who are maybe managing these platforms? What do they need to really be focused on in terms of projecting a positive brand image?

Crystal: Well, I think when you want to positive brand image, first off, you have to look at your target audience and understand what it is that they want. Oftentimes organizations project what they want their audience to hear versus what the audience is interested in, and that's a big piece, give them what they want, and they'll appreciate you for that. That might be information, that might be entertainment, it might be a mix of the two. And then also having a person in mind, I always tell organizations, create a person and speak in that person's voice. So, you can ask yourself, what would Sarah say? Because if Sarah's your brand is Sarah the funny neighbor next door? Is your brand Brad, the older gentleman down the block that's extremely helpful and knows all facts about everything? Create a brand, make it into a person, write it out, and then post as that person.

Leading Authorities: Who are you loving that's getting this right, right now? Have you seen the Moon Pie account?

Crystal: The Moon Pie account? Like the food?

Leading Authorities: Have you seen their Twitter?

Crystal: No, what funny stuff are they doing?

Leading Authorities: Just really kind of zany out of the box stuff that I don't even know if it would be something you would recommend, you'll have to take a look and let us know what you think, but who out there is really getting this right?

Crystal: I'm trying to, I saw something recently that was hilarious and because you asked me, it slipped my mind, but funnily enough, I think a lot of the fast food companies get it right. That they're taking very witty and funny...

Leading Authorities: Yeah, why is that?

Crystal: I think they're just free to be more open and they're encouraged to be. I mean when you think about it, a burger and a taco aren't serious. So, it's not the same as your financial services firm that's in charge of our 401k. You may not want them to be zany and talk about crazy things you can do with hot sauce that that might not make you feel good. So, it depends on the seriousness of your brand. So, a lot of that, and then what's funny is you're seeing... you know what? I'm trying to think recently. I'm trying to remember there was a Beyoncé, say there was a reference she made, oh, this was a while ago, but companies that catch on to things that are happening in pop culture like when Beyoncé did that song about buying a guy was the Red Lobster biscuits or whatever, and then they came and then Red Lobster tweeted about it, how they have Bey cheddar biscuits, or whatever.

Leading Authorities: To play on it.

Crystal: That stuff is cute. Like catching those things is funny.

Leading Authorities: And tasteful. There has been... I'm sure you've been following it a lot of news this year, sort of talking about social media and potentially negative effects on society. I'm curious to know your thoughts on all of this press that's been floating around. Do you think that social media is going to evolve or people are going to keep using it? Or how do you think what's going to become the biggest... I'm just interested how you think this is going to play out.

Crystal. The future of social media. So first off, when we talk about a social media, good or bad, or whatever. I think social media is neutral. Social media is a lot like money. If you hand someone that has major issues, money, they're going to find a way to create more problems. If you hand, someone that is responsible and has a kind heart money, they'll find a way to enrich their lives and the lives of those around them. Social media is he exact same way. All it's doing is magnifying the hearts and the mind of the people that are using it. So, some people are using it in some wonderful ways, and some people are just mad all the time about everything. In terms of the future of social media, it's very hard to predict what's going to happen in the future when it comes to technology, because it moves so fast. But this is what I do know, the youngest generation that's around right now, which is Gen Z, so these are the ones after the Millennials, they are less interested in connecting with the whole wide world, the generation before the Millennials, which is my generation, we treat it social media as our own reality show were like, finally, the world can know about me.

Leading Authorities: And my lunch.

Crystal: That no one cares about. Now, Gen Z, on the other hand, keep in mind these were kids who were born, where the moment they came out of the womb, someone stuck a camera phone in their face and then recorded them, they're still gooey, and uploaded them to YouTube and Facebook. They've never had any amount of real privacy and so they joined these chat-based social networks and they only want to connect with people they already know or true one-off connections. So, it's not that, there's not a mass exodus from Facebook, it's the younger generations didn't join it. And so, the people that were the young people at the beginning, they're still there, they just got older, you either get older, you die. So, I think we're going to see, it's going to be harder for brands to reach people, especially this younger generation because they crave privacy, and they're not going to give you their mental space for advertisements as easily.

Leading Authorities: It's so interesting. It's like they almost are having this pushback, and that's so true. What you were saying about the cameras, my niece and nephew, they're two and they know the camera's on, they're supposed to be performing for us essentially.

Crystal: And it's funny, you mentioned that because I know we're talking about more business stuff, but that's also something that teach people, I believe in teaching children that they have autonomy. And so, I have a nephew who's seven and from the moment, he was probably about two when I can kind of loosely explain the Internet, he knows that he has the ability to take pictures or say, no, thank you. And he knows that before I post anything online, I always ask, "Is it okay?". In about two thirds of the time, he'll say, "No, Titi" and then one third of the time, he'll say, "You can share that with your friends Titi" and one time he even told me "You can only share it with the friends who have been to your house Titi" and so I had to put it in chat group with people that I really, really knew. So, he had a concept, and I think that's important that children don't feel the pressure to just perform.

Leading Authorities: I love that.

Crystal: But it happens. We all do it right. But I just think that it is good to kind of give them that option and teach them that they have autonomy over their bodies.

Leading Authorities: Absolutely. What are, I guess, shifting back to business for a minute. What are two or three things that audiences listening right now can use in their lives to...

Crystal: Two or three? There's so many.

Leading Authorities: If you want to share more please.

Crystal: To do what give me some, because I'm like, oh, there's so much.

Leading Authorities: I guess, two or three takeaways for somebody, whether they're managing their company's social media account or they're just struggling with how they want to use social media in their personal lives. What are a couple of takeaways that you think would help people now?

Crystal: One of the things that I would suggest is that everyone get into the habit of listening to one tech broadcast or podcast a week, and then read...

Leading Authorities: Do you have any favorites?

Crystal: I think there's... what is it called... why did I push that button or something like that? It's very funny, but it actually examines the mentality behind why we're doing some of the things that we're doing. That's a cute one. There's one that is the tech guy with Leo Leport. That's a good one. So, it's a little bit more techy and then just reading one tech blog. There's many, I mean Wired has it, the Verge has a good one and just reading one article a week so that you're aware of what's happening. I think that's important to stay focused going forward. And then other people are trying to figure out what they should do to manage the organizational accounts, just spy on your competitors, see what they're doing and many of your competitors are probably going to be lost. Just being a... that's not a judgey statement, it's just true. People are there because they feel they should be there. But see what people are responding to on their pages, see what they're posting, where they get crickets, and just sometimes it's just a matter of watching and that'll inform you on maybe what you should or shouldn't be doing.

Leading Authorities: Is there anything else you think that our listeners might benefit from hearing?

Crystal: Well, I'm really into efficiency apps. That's my thing. I'm really big on using apps for efficiency. And so, if you have too much on your plate, my suggestion is start looking for apps to help you figure out how to do things. So, for instance, with me, I use apps for grocery delivery, I use apps to do restaurant delivery from restaurants that don't have delivery, I use apps to get my air filters. I use just about every app you can think of. Well, almost every app. There's one called Cuddler, I wouldn't suggest you do that.

Leading Authorities: Oh, no. That doesn't sound good.

Crystal: Don't outsource that. There's even the run pee app, if you want to watch your movie and you don't know when it's safe to go to the bathroom, that app will tell you...

Leading Authorities: Are you serious?

Crystal: Well, I have the bladder of a two-year-old TMI for everyone listening. It'll even tell you when it's safe for you to go to the restroom. There are apps that can help you do just about everything in life. The thing I would suggest is, look for those that will honestly help you be more efficient, effective or connected in some way and then throw out all the junky ones.

Leading Authorities: Awesome. Well, Crystal, thank you so much for being here with us today. We really appreciate it. This has been really insightful and helpful. I know I definitely am going to take away a lot from this conversation, so thank you so much.

Crystal: Thanks for having me.

Leading Authorities: Thanks so much for listening to our conversation with Crystal. If you want to learn more about her, visit our website, or you can obviously find her on social media and we'd love to hear your feedback about the podcast. If you have questions or comments, email insider@lauthorities.com.

To hear the rest of this podcast, click the SoundCloud player link above.

If you want to learn more about Crystal Washington or think Crystal Washington would be a good fit to speak at an upcoming event or meeting, please visit their speaker page. You can also call 1-800-SPEAKER or live chat live chat with a member of our team now.

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