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Amanda Congdon (born 1981 in New York City) was the co-producer and host of a weekly vidcast for ABC. She has an independent videoblog, Starring Amanda Congdon. She is co-president[…]

Amanda Congdon explains how business and public figures can best take advantage of social media.

Question: What do you think about Twitter?

Amanda Congdon: Twitter is something that came about in 2006 and just blew people away, but it didn’t enter mainstream consciousness until this last year or so. What’s crazy is that people like Ana Marie Cox are now Twittering instead of blogging. It’s just a great way to be concise, get your ideas out there and connect with people in ways that you never would. Whether it be politicians or celebrities or just your friends, I absolutely adore the medium. I also love Facebook. I use them equally.

An email is something a bit more personal. You feel like maybe you need to really work out a response or spend some more time on it. With Twitter and Facebook you can jot out a one-line messages to people and connect with them even quicker than email even though you could also do that with email. It removes the fear of getting in touch with someone. So as a phone call might be even more personal, email takes it back one notch and Twitter and Facebook take it back another notch. So it’s just a way to connect with people that you would never either know their email addresses or feel comfortable emailing them and that makes it just absolutely terrific.

Question: How are public figures using Twitter?

Amanda Congdon: I probably would never in my life have communicated with Shaq or Jimmy Fallon. Well maybe I would have interacted with Jimmy Fallon, but who else? Barack Obama is on Twitter. Not that he is, you know, sending me direct messages, but anyone you can imagine is out there and yeah, it’s just, it’s almost overwhelming. Still to me it’s just I can’t believe that I can get in touch with someone like Demi Moore on Twitter. Who knew? Who knew? And the fact that they’re so down to earth, a lot of the celebrities that are on Twitter are genuinely there to connect with fans of theirs and aren’t just promoting what new movie they’re in or whatever. They’re taking back their identities and I see that as extremely positive especially in a tabloid culture.

Lance Armstrong especially. He always talks about that. How it’s like, “Well, you think I was there at this time with this person? Actually, why don’t you check my Twitter? I’ll go back and look and see where I was. I was eating a ham sandwich at home getting ready for whatever cycle ride I was about to take.” So, yeah it’s really a way to take back your identity for a public figure.

Question: How do you use social media to benefit your business?

Amanda Congdon: I use twitter and Facebook as both a way to get my content out and also a way to communicate with people. My favorite way of using social networking is to query. I’ll go out and ask, whether it be a professional thing like an Amanda on the Street question, or I recently went up to Big Sur and I hadn’t had time to do any research and just asked, “What should I do in Big Sur? Who knows?” Who knows what I’m going to get but it ended up being one of the best vacations ever because I got some really informed answers and I spent three seconds writing my Twitter message and getting the answers. All I had to do was bring up was my iPhone and I was set.

Question: How can Internet content be sold?

Amanda Congdon: Well, I think a subscription model works for some content. I think it works better for extremely niche content. A small subscriber count of ten or even five dollars a month even if you only have 10,000 people watching, that’s going to bring you a pretty decent income. However, for content that is a little bit broader and perhaps more mainstream I think that the free model works better. Advertising works better. Sponsorship works better. Product placement works better. I’m a fan of the five-second pre-roll just saying, “ is sponsored by…” It’s a really quick way of getting out the thank you to your sponsor. You don’t need 30 seconds to explain your product. People are going to get it or not and connect with it or not within five to eight seconds so why torture the rest of the people that are watching and hammer it to their heads. You’re actually only annoying them.