Speaker Highlight #1: Meet Van Baird

In case you didn’t know, SoCon is the Southeast’s longest running social media conference. Since 2007 we’ve crafted what has become a one-of-a-kind, must-attend social media and tech event with world-class speakers and industry leaders. Our keynote panel and breakout speakers each year are a huge part of why this is true.

To give you a taste of SoCon14, we are releasing a post on each of this year’s Keynote panelists so you can see what they have to offer to this year’s event.

Meet Van Baird – Owner and Chief Thank-You Economist at Relational Equity

 Van Baird SoCon14

Van is a small business entrepreneur that loves helping other entrepreneurs. He’s been in the Financial Services world since 1999 with companies like Northwestern Mutual and State Farm. After dumping “traditional” marketing efforts in his State Farm office for 100% Social Media and referral driven marketing, his revenue increased 60% and his closing ratio went from 25% to 80%.

Based on that success, while maintaining his State Farm office, he created Relational Equity. Believing that advocacy for your clients is the ultimate form of engagement online, they teach small business’ and churches how to leverage what their people are posting online in order to drive retention at a relational level. A few of his company’s clients include Leadercast, Hive Atlanta, Connexus Church and Keller Williams Realtors.

We asked Van a few questions. He has good things to say:

Can you tell us what you sought out to accomplish by starting Relational Equity?

VAN: Ultimate engagement! To help companies/churches realize the value of listening to what their clients are posting online so those companies/churches can have loyalty. Not loyalty to a brand, but to the relationships they’ve cultivated. The power of Social Media isn’t how much content you can put out as an organization, it’s the ability to connect at a value driven, relational level with your clients. Our process listens socially across every platform we can find your client on and lets us take note of all the different ways you can show them you appreciate them. Through deepening that relationship, clients will be far more willing to listen to you when you need them to the most. Relational Equity allows you to give value in ways you never have before and become your clients greatest advocate.  We believe that advocacy is the ultimate form of engagement!

With most of it in constant transition, what do you think is next for social media and how do you think it will affect our lives online?

VAN: In 10-15 years we will all be connected digitally. It will be how we “DO” social in our lives. I believe at our core, our desire to connect at a relational level will actually be enhanced because we will have the ability (data) to connect with who we want about what we want at any second.

What’s your favorite social media or tech app not on everyone’s radar just yet? What makes it relevant?

VAN: The Refresh app is pure gold for anyone that is well networked online and is meeting with other socially connected peeps. Sales people especially. You’ll never have an awkward conversation in a meeting again.  It’s relevant because it connects you to multiple platforms at once and gives you the most pertinent info about what the person you’re meeting with has shared online about who they are and what they like recently.

If you’re stranded on a desert island, what are the Top 5 albums you take with you?

VAN: Aww, just 5 though? That’s really hard! In no particular order: Motley Crüe – Shout at the Devil. Guns & Roses – Appetite for Destruction. Hall & Oates – Greatest Hits (cop out). James Taylor – Discography (bigger cop out). Def Leppard – Entire iTunes collection (biggest cop out).

*If you want to connect with Van, hit him up on Twitter or Facebook. We can’t wait for SoCon14.

You can’t miss these breakout sessions:

Rip Off the Band-Aid and Blog Already!

Shai Smith, Owner of The Vagabond Studio

Taking your Social Marketing Program from #2Dto3D

Jason Dominy, Social Engagement Manager at Engauge

Social Sauce – Tap into New Media to Launch a New Product

Josh Martin, Manager, Social Media at Arby’s

Register here: