Interview: Gord Weisflock talks Kodak, B2B, China and Social Networking


gordweisflock_socialnerdia2Gord Weisflock is a Marketing and Business Development Manager for Kodak in Asia Pacific. Working on the B2B side of Kodak, Gord focuses on demand generation and building relationships in the largest market on Earth. I was able to speak with him on The Social Nerdia Show! and you can listen to it below, on blogtalkradio, or as a downloadable podcast on iTunes).



I was excited about this conversation because China is going through an incredible shift from manufacturer to creator and designer, and because Kodak is a great example of a company that is thriving in social media. Gord, who called in through Skype from Shanghai, told me about doing business in China and about his role within Kodak. While most of us know Kodak for its cameras, film, and printers, the fact that 75% of the world's newspapers use Kodak products is only one example of the impact that this company has from a commercial point of view.

chinaweisflock_socialnerdiaGord explained that "a lot of companies see China as a huge market, a huge opportunity, but there are definitely some unique challenges. You have to understand the market, you have to understand what it's like to walk in the shoes of people that live and work in this country... The Olympics were a great experience for the world to see how China operates and also a great opportunity for China to show how they do things themselves."


china_socialnerdiaHe also told me about some of the unique things about living in Shanghai, a Chinese multicultural and cosmopolitan city with 17 million people. For example, going out to a "small town" may actually mean a town of 5 million people (which is more than the people living in Dallas, the city where I live). Chinese food as we know it apparently doesn't exist in China. For example, you might have to forget about sweet and sour sauce over there. And don't even think about 1-2 hour flights. In Asia Pacific, most flights will take you 8-10 hours. Still, the attitude in China is "really positive" and Gord has been able to make strong friendships and relationships over there.

Gord also told me how some of the ideas and excitement around the web from the mid 90's are similar to what is happening today in social media. "The more you put into it, the more you get out of it" Gord said and he also mentioned that he hears people talking about the ROI of Twitter but doesn't think you can put a stamp on ROI "unless you have a plan in the first place." You need to know "what it is you want to accomplish".

We talked about how networking online is similar to networking in person even though everyone's focus is different. Gord realizes that his social graph is global and he has specific times in which he gets on Twitter and makes it his goal to "focus on engaging in discussion with one or two people at a time". You can't engage in discussion with everyone but you can engage in great discussions with a few. By the way, in case you're wondering, Gord personally likes to use Tweetdeck.

socialmediatips_kodak_socialnerdiaKodak recently published a Social Media Tips booklet on what they've experienced, some of what they've learned, and how they're going to move forward with it. Due to the fact that Gord is representing his company when on Twitter, he explains that he uses "the same corporate values and guidelines" that he uses at a trade show, for example. And he is quite proud of what his company has achieved in the space: "Kodak is definitely a leader when it comes to social media from a corporate stand point.. bottom line is you have to educate yourself on the tools and understand that what you're saying is going to be public."

Gord also brought up the topic of pushing sales on Twitter and using it only to advertise, an idea he doesn't consider very valuable: "While there are some short-term gains, it's networking and it's social, it's not an advertising vehicle."

I asked Gord a little more about his background because his Twitter profile is quite interestng. Hints of advertising and creative work, photography, and the fact that he is Canadian, made me wonder how he got to where he is today. Gord exaplained that he first became interested in working at Kodak while in college but it wasn't until many years later that he finally found himself working there: "It's fantastic, I can't think of a better company to work for. Every single one of our products has features or benefits that can easily turn you into an evangelist for the product, and there's never a dull moment."

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