Jim Hedger of WebmasterRadio.FM is joining the Shindig to answer 6 mind-blowing questions. Jim is an industry leader in search marketing and currently hosts a weekly show on WebmasterRadio.FM called Webcology. This interview is part of my SES Chicago 2009 preview series to get everyone excited for the industry leading event for Search Engine Marketing & Optimization (SEM/SEO).
Marketing Shindig: Jim, thanks for taking the time to interview with Marketing Shindig. As someone who has experienced the evolution in search marketing, what drives your passion for search marketing and how have you embraced social media?
Jim Hedger of WebMasterRadio.FM: Being too small to play professional hockey, I’ve excelled at communications my entire life. I’ve loved the art of advertising since hearing the 1970′s Coke jingle. I used to sing it to myself while walking to grade school in the mid 70′s. I grew into the spartan but radically honest values of punk in my teens and early twenties. Being one of those super-cynical GenX’ers, I have little patience for dishonest or misleading forms of communications.
Search marketing makes so much more sense than other forms of marketing from many perspectives. First of all, the relationship between advertiser and search engine user is somewhat voluntary on the part of the searcher. Search advertising is not intrusive. Nothing assaults the sense of the receiver of search marketing.
Next, the consumer is pre-qualifying themselves when they conduct a search. These people actually want information on the subject of their query. Think about that next time you hear Devo used to sell floor-dusters on television.
Lastly, the technology behind search is endlessly fascinating. I’ve had the unique privilege of a front row seat since the dawn of the industry.
That fascination is rapidly transferring to the extraordinary communication power of social media. I have two stories that illustrate the beauty of social media. a) Six or seven months ago, we tried an experiment at WebmasterRadio.FM. Craig Newmark was going to be a guest on one of our shows, Rainmaker. To promote his appearance, we decided to try using Twitter to reach 750,000 people in ten days. We set a goal we figured was very hard but not entirely impossible to reach. We reached it within six days! b) I grew up in Toronto but spent the last sixteen years living on an island off the west coast of Canada. Needless to say, I lost contact with a lot of friends I went through grade and high school with. Two years ago, I decided to fly back to Toronto to visit family over Christmas. Through Facebook, I had gotten in contact with dozens of people I went to school with and spent a hilarious New Years Eve with friends I hadn’t seen since Kindergarten. I remember when making a long-distance phone call was reserved for special occasions because it cost so much to make. For a dumb punk kid like me, the opportunity to use social media to communicate with millions of people, or to catch up with influential people from one’s past is beyond extraordinary.
[Marketing Shindig]: Some excellent points made Jim. As part of GenY, I agree with you and I think it’s a safe assumption to say that no one can or wants to tolerate deceptive forms of communication. With social media, consistent, clear, and relevant messaging becomes key.
Marketing Shindig: You host a weekly show on WebmasterRadio called Webcology every Thursday at 2 PM EST, how did you get involved with WebmasterRadio.FM? Were you recruited?
Jim Hedger: That’s a hard question to answer. I’ve known Daron Babin for years. Honestly, it just sort of happened this way. If I remember correctly, I had a meeting with Daron and Brandy at SES San Jose four years ago. I’ve been hosting a show on WebmasterRadio.FM ever since. I celebrated my 40th birthday at SMX New York last year and decided to make a major life-change. I had a breakfast meeting with Brandy and told her I wanted to make a radical change in my career. Two weeks later, I was working with WMR full time.
Marketing Shindig: What do you hope weekly listeners will get by tuning into Webcology?
Jim Hedger: Webcology is a mix of interview and talk radio. Some episodes we have expert guests while others, we examine the news of the week and laugh our way through our interpretations of those events. The mere mention of the word Yahoo! on the air will set us off giggling for minutes at a time. [Marketing Shindig: haha]
We have a number of goals with Webcology. First of all, we want our listeners to enjoy the show. The vast majority of our shows are recorded live to air before becoming podcasts available through the WMR archives or at iTunes. Live radio is fun.
Next, we want to bring valuable and actionable information to our listeners. Dave and I are both old-time white-hat SEOs. We have a lot of historic knowledge and take a legacy view of the industry. Because Dave and I have both been around so long, I think we take a sense of responsibility for the evolution of the industry.
Lastly, we share WebmasterRadio.FM’s goal of building on the incredible community formed in the search marketing industry. Radio is a difficult medium to work with because you have to project a sense of caring and veracity in your voice but it generates an immediate sense of intimacy between announcer and audience.
Marketing Shindig: What is the funniest or most embarrassing incident that has happened while you (or colleagues) were on-air?
Jim Hedger: We have a lot of fun at WebmasterRadio.FM. I can’t remember specifically the funniest incident as there is at least one hilarious happening every day. Embarrassing, that’s easy… I regularly mispronounce names. I have no idea why. I’ll call someone named Smith, Smyth. My favorite mistake is Danial Yomtobain, CEO of Advertise.com. Though I think Dan is one of the nicest and warmest people in the industry, I can never get his last name right! Every time I interview him, I screw up the man’s name! It’s uncanny.
Marketing Shindig: What are your top 3-5 reasons for attending SES Chicago 2009? What are you most excited about besides the panel on SEO Through Blogs & Feeds featuring WebmasterRadio.FM CEO Daron Babin?
Jim Hedger: SES Chicago is probably my favorite show of the entire year. I have a civic crush on the city of Chicago. I really enjoy the people, the music, the architecture and the history of the city.
SES Chicago is the most intimate show on the annual circuit. The atmosphere at Kitty o’Sheas is not replicated anywhere else in the world. I truly feel the members of the search marketing community are my family. SES Chicago is like a gathering of family.
Because it is the last of the major shows of the year, for those of us on semi-permanent tour, SES Chicago feels like a FRIDAY. You know you’ll be getting some rest after SES Chicago.
I am excited about a number of panels at SES this year. I really like the direction SES has been going in over the past few years. Amazing speakers, great keynotes and very smart skills sharing workshops.
The thing I am most excited about for SES Chicago I can’t actually talk about just yet. All I can say is watch what WebmasterRadio.FM is going to be doing at SES Chicago. It’s going to be a cool evolution for the network.
[Marketing Shindig]: You have me even more excited about SES Chicago with the little nugget about WebmasterRadio.FM. Great teaser Jim!
Marketing Shindig: You have 15 seconds to say anything, what do you want to say?
Jim Hedger: Only 15-seconds? Peace on Earth and goodwill to all persons. Be extraordinary.
Marketing Shindig: And with that the interview comes to a close. Thanks to Jim Hedger for taking the time to answer a few questions. Be sure to watch out for WebmasterRadio.FM at SES Chicago 2009.
More About WebmasterRadio.FM
WebmasterRadio.FM: the destination for education and entertainment. WebmasterRadio.FM is a free, Internet-based radio network focused on the B2B e-commerce marketplace. Each show we air reaches out to a different part of the marketplace, ensuring there is a radio show for all potential listeners. All radio shows are broadcast live and then available in archive, mobilcast, and distributed in podcast format through all of the major podcast portals. WebmasterRadio.FM is proud to boast that we are the official radio network for many of the world’s most prestigious conferences.
More About Jim Hedger
Jim Hedger is a writer and broadcaster specializing in organic SEO and search marketing. Jim works with WebmasterRadio.FM as a producer, coordinator, show host, writer and interviewer. He is also one of the coordinators of the Affiliate Convention conference series.
Jim has been involved in the SEO field since the days of the dinosaurs. He felt like he lost a personal friend the day Disney went “ol’ Yeller” on Infoseek. Over the course of his career, Jim has shared drinks with Jeeves the Butler, tossed sticks to that sock-puppet dog from Pets.com and walked away from staring contest with Googlebot confidently declaring a tie. When not traveling between conferences, Jim lives with a perpetually annoyed cat named Hypertext and can often be seen riding around Toronto on a very fast red bike.