Why Are 138,000 People Following This Guy on Twitter? How a Savvy Salesman Became a Social Media Guru
Ted Rubin

I like to say I got started in social media when I got involved in this thing we call the Internet. It was 1997 when I joined Seth Godin’s start-up, Yoyodyne. It was the first Internet-based direct marketer.

Seth was quoted in an article saying that even though Yoyodyne did not have any official openings, he was looking for smart, driven people. He would find them a place. I thought … I’m smart, I’m driven. He found me a job. It was early days and they desperately needed people who could sell. So I sold more than anyone else there and was quickly given the mandate to build out a sales team. Sales is such a great place to start a marketing career because you learn to understand the product and the needs of those who buy. And if you are taught well, you very quickly learn the value of truly listening.

Everything digital enabled sharing in ways never imagined before … so, for me, that is where it all began.

In 2008, when I joined e.l.f. Cosmetics, social marketing became the core of what I did every day. Social platforms were starting to dramatically scale and I was fortunate to be at a brand where making it the heart of what we did seemed the natural way to go.

I quickly learned the incredible value and power of Twitter, the ability to aggressively grow followers, interact with them at any time and have your ideas and message spread so quickly.

I believe Twitter is a tool that leads to other forms of social sharing. I consider Twitter a place to lay the groundwork where other people pick up things. Twitter is a seeding medium and a place to build engagement and interaction. It is not a broadcast medium (although can be used that way at times). It is not about the quantity of people listening at once, but the ability to lay it out there for those whose attention are drawn to what you have to say at any given moment.

We were selling to women, without which, in my humble opinion, there would be no social marketing; we were selling a fun aspirational product, cosmetics; and since e.l.f. was a family-owned business, there was no legal team to get in the way of my social experimentation. The brand thrived, we built the first aggregated social content site for a brand, and consumers felt like they were a part of the success.

I shifted to the title of Chief Social Marketing Officer after I left e.l.f. and joined OpenSky, a shopping site. The title was new but it made sense. It was clear to me that social needed to be a shell around everything we do.

At Collective Bias where I have been since 2011, in effect, the role is the same. Since we are a socially focused company—we drive retail sales through a coordinated creation of social media stories—being the Social CMO allows me to make certain that we integrate a social posture in all we do. Listening is so important now for a brand.

In business, I preach about the importance of relationships. But relationships aren’t just good business. They can change the world, spread kindness, and at the very least, they can help a dad let his daughters know how much he loves them and wants to be there to see them grow up. As a divorced dad, I am constantly focused on involvement and presence. Don’t be left out of your kids’ lives, I think. Step up and commit to being available for your children right from the beginning.

Spending time with my girls is something I put before all else. They are teenagers now and it can be challenging to continue to reach out, put them first and maintain a relationship in the face of their lack of interest and the roadblocks so easily put in place by their mom.

What inspires me to move beyond limitations and obstacles is my love for them and a deep desire to not only be a part of their lives, but to have influence on how they think, reason, and develop. Because of all this I have learned so much about how to find the “moments” of connection, inspiration and engagement.

So welcome to the ‘Age of Influence,’ where anyone can build an audience and effect change, advocate brands, build relationships, stay connected to work and family … and make a difference.


Ted Rubin is the Chief Social Marketing Officer of Collective Bias, a Social Shopper Media Company that drives retail sales through the coordinated creation of social media stories. He is also the author of Return on Relationship: The New Measure of Success. Visit his web site at www.tedrubin.com for more information.

Originally posted at TedRubin.com.

[Photo Credit: mkhmarketing via Photo Pin | Creative Commons]