Kelly OlexaKelly Olexa is a blogger/vlogger, fitness fanatic, Ford Fiesta Movement Agent, and partner at full-service eMarketing and Social Media Consulting firm Sacrilicious Marketing.

Kelly O knows social media and fully understands what it means to "be youself" online.

If you don't already, please make sure to follow Kelly on Twitter and leave some comments on her blog.

1. When/how did you start blogging and what were you first posts about?

I started blogging in January of 2008. My purpose in starting a blog was strictly for accountability in my diet/exercise commitment. I’d been READING other blogs and commenting and thought, why not? My first posts were then, and are still now, about my fitness journey~ what I was experiencing that day, what my challenges and frustrations were/are, what I was having success with, the products I use and recommend, etc.

2. You also do a lot of video blogging (vlogging). What feels more natural: to write a blog post or talk in front of a camera?

At this point, I’d say it’s more natural for me to vlog.

I do love to write, and have been told myriad times that I am a very talented writer. However, I certainly tend to have a lot to say, so my written blog entries can end up being very long, which is not ideal for online consumption. After incorporating the vlogs, I realized that I could communicate more effectively that way and more precisely (usually!) than by writing, where it’s far easier to be misinterpreted. I will say this, not everyone that is a good writer is also going to be a good vlogger. There is definitely a need to be comfortable in that medium and to be somewhat of a strong personality. Otherwise, viewers will simply tune out.

3. You've sort of committed to sharing your life with social media. Do you think it is possible for a company to get into social media without fully committing?

It is possible, yes, but not recommended at ALL. I cannot say this strongly enough. Although my website/blog is a personal endeavor for me, I follow the same principles there that I teach my clients. You have to view social media as a massive opportunity to BUILD RELATIONSHIPS. Relationships are not built overnight, and they don’t sustain themselves without being ‘fed’. So, if a business or an individual representing a business is not willing to commit to regular engagement and interaction in these channels, I would almost suggest NO involvement. Why? Because if one sets up shop by creating a Twitter account or a blog and then never interacts, never updates- that very inactivity sends a message to potential clients and business partners whether it is intentional or not. That message is one of utter indifference, and I can’t name any company or professional that would like to be perceived as apathetic towards their business.

fordfiesta_socialnerdia4. How did you become a part of the "Ford Fiesta Movement"?

My good friend mentioned the Ford Fiesta Movement to me and said that with my vlogging habit, I should definitely try out. I’ve been driving Ford vehicles for over 15 years now, so I jumped at the chance to be involved with Ford, and also with a social media endeavor that I think is incredibly well thought-out. I taped a 5 minute vlog on Thursday night, filled out an online application on Friday and sent in my vlog. They called me Monday for an interview and the rest is history. I’m so excited to be a part of this fantastic movement. It’s a fabulous group of people that are involved, and I’m thrilled to be a part of the Fiesta Movement.

5. You refer to your Fiesta as "Cupcake". Tell us what you love about the car and why you chose that name.

Anyone that knows me personally knows that I’m all about nicknames for everyone. So, the Ford Fiesta is no exception. She’s a part of my life for 6 months, so I called her Cupcake, after her ‘momma’ Kelly O. Who doesn’t love a Cupcake? What do I love about this car? I’ve been a Ford fanatic for 15+ years and have loved their very reliable cars and SUVs. This car is fantastic on so many levels~ it appeals to anyone interested in an eco-friendly vehicle, a car that is good for the budget, not only in sticker price but also in fuel efficiency. Cupcake gets 40MPG! That’s fabulous! Ford also focused heavily on providing a compact, fuel-efficient vehicle that had all the ‘perks’ you’d expect to find in a larger car with a larger price tag. Bluetooth interactivity with your cell phone is hugely convenient and a great safety factor. If you like your tunes, connect your iPOD, throw in a CD, listen to the radio – whatever- all with an amazing sound system. The car is a “compact” vehicle but there is some serious legroom inside and the seats are some of the most comfortable I’ve experienced. The outside of this car is sleek and sexy, but it’s very spacious on the inside. That’s key. No one wants to feel buckled up in a small car. The safety features that were detailed for us are very impressive as well. Clearly this is a car that I’d feel safe driving myself around in, but also my niece or other small kids. Bottom line, I knew I’d love the car because I’ve always loved Ford, but this one has wowed me beyond my expectations. Seriously. I’d highly recommend this to anyone ready for a new ride in 2011.

6. I'm assuming fitness fanatics like yourself deserve a cupcake here and there, but you also spend a lot of time online. What do you do to remain balanced and stay in shape?

Balance has become a top priority for me of late. As actively engaged as I am online, finding “free time” is a challenge. I am committed to my fitness goals, but I’m also realizing how important it is to have some “down time” for myself. I define “down time” as time offline, spent doing things I enjoy - but things I don’t HAVE TO DO. So, I’ve actually cut BACK a bit on my training so I can squeeze in that well-needed down time. Oddly enough, cutting back on the amount of training I’ve been doing has been very effective and I’m seeing great results. Just like social media involvement, I’m in this for the long-run. It’s all about determining your priorities and then just SCHEDULING accordingly. Easier than it sounds!!

7. You were a History major in college. At which point did you fall in love with marketing?

I chose History as my major in college (at The Ohio State University) because at that time, I had plans for law school. Once I graduated, I accepted my first job as a catering sales manager with Hyatt here in Chicago. I can’t really pinpoint when exactly I fell in love with Marketing – I think it just naturally blended in with my sales and business development efforts throughout my career. I love the idea of businesses growing sales by building relationships - that’s an entirely different approach to “marketing” as it has been defined in the past. It’s no longer about “how do we position ourselves?” (by crafting a one way message) but rather “where do we position ourselves?” (via social media platforms, and your own website when appropriate). I would say that I am more in love with “marketing” now than ever before, simply because of the huge opportunity that Web 2.0 has provided by leveling the playing field. Making connections is now easier than ever before, but that doesn’t make “marketing” easier than ever before.

Cupcake and Kelly Olexa8. I understand you co-founded a company called Sacrilicious Marketing, which offers to "sustain major buzz". Which online campaigns (by other agencies) have inspired you in the pursuit of buzz?

I did not co-found Sacrilicious Marketing; I joined the existing team of Mary McKnight and Nicole Nicolay in December of 2008. This likely won’t surprise you, but the online campaign that most inspires me? The Ford Fiesta Movement. And honestly, I would say that even if I wasn’t an Agent.

9. You allegedly teach your clients "what not to wear, social media style". Give us examples of the kind of advice you've given your clients and tell us how a blog like Social Nerdia can rock it social media style.

I often feel that “What Not To Wear, Social Media Style” is equally if not more important than what a company or business professional “should” do. This Web 2.0 space and all the social media platforms have truly leveled the playing field. Anyone can get involved at any time and for little to no investment. With no barrier to entry, we are inundated daily with businesses and individuals hoping for their 15 minutes of fame or an easy way to “Get Rich Quick.” It is appalling to watch and enervating to experience on a daily basis. The adage “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” is really key here. Engaging in social media is a tremendously significant opportunity for any business. But, without the right approach, without being aware of (what should be) common courtesies and ‘best practices’, it is very easy to crash and burn. So, what are some easy “Please Don’t” suggestions?

1) Don’t Spam. Whether through a Facebook message, a Twitter DM, a YouTube Friend Invite, whatever- any time you are sending out a message about YOU or YOUR BUSINESS that the recipient did not request; YOU ARE SPAMMING. Stop it. Now.

2) Don’t be anonymous. No one wants to interact with a brown paper bag or a gender-neutral outline of a head. Put up your picture, fill out your profile. We call it “Social” media for a reason. Be Social.

3)  Don’t be selfish. Being “social” means interacting, sharing, helping out. Think about what you can do for others first and you’ll be amazed how it will come back to you. Seriously.

10. What advice would you give to anyone getting started in the crowded world of digital marketing?

My first suggestion for any business or business professional is to first identify your own goals. What is it that you’d like to accomplish? Do you want to create buzz, build sales, handle customer service issues, gain feedback for future products/services, track trends… the list is endless and each of these objectives would require a unique approach to the various social media platforms. It is critical to first decide “What do I hope to get out of this?” and then, move forward in an appropriate manner to accomplish those goals. Secondly, as discussed in an answer to your earlier question, realize that this must be a long term commitment. This is not about dipping your toe in the water. “Social Media” platforms will evolve and grow; new spaces will originate and others will fade away, but the concept of interactivity and transparency (for better and worse!) in Web 2.0 and beyond is not going to disappear. Decide to get involved NOW. Solidify your goals. Jump in head first and stop worrying about what you should or shouldn’t do ~ just be yourself. Be Yourself. Be Yourself. Be Yourself. Did I say that enough? Be yourself, engage with others and commit to doing so for the long term. With an approach like this, your business will inevitably benefit almost effortlessly. Just watch.

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