Meet WCG’s Spike Jones



Spike Jones is the group director for the Engagement Group at WCG.  His background includes contributing strategic development of online and offline word of mouth programs for companies, and his best-in-class programs are well-known throughout the industry and used as the ideal model of how to engage and grow advocates.  Jones is an author of Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable Word of Mouth Movements, published by Wiley & Sons in August 2010.  He is a results-proven communications professional who has served on the Board of Directors for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) and presented at private events, as well as at national conferences such as SXSWi and the Public Relations Society of America events.  Jones was at Newhouse last week for #SocialCommerce days.  We got to ask him some questions about social commerce and SXSW!

Q: What is social commerce?

A: Social Commerce is the convergence of social media tools and e-commerce. It’s taking a step back and looking at how social permeates every aspect of a business, from sales and marketing speaker_spikejonesto customer service.

Q: Where do you see social media going in the next few years?

A: Social continues to evolve at an ever-increasing pace. Sometimes I think it’s a full-time job just trying to keep up with all the new developments these days. My best guess is that in the next few years, we’ll start to see more of a marriage between online social and offline experiences. Mobile is already beginning to bridge this gap.

Q: How far do you think communications professionals should take their education in social media?

A: Social’s been around for a while now, but in a lot of cases, it’s still the shiny new object in the room. And while social media is great – and every communications professional should have a good handle on it – I would caution people not to get tunnel vision. Social is a tool and a part of a bigger picture. While clients will want you to come up with social solutions, an even better (and bigger) skill set is a holistic approach that integrates disciplines across what tends to be siloed departments.

Q: Can you talk about the relationship between online initiatives and offline endeavors?

A: I’m a word of mouth guy at heart, so I often remind people that 90% of word of mouth recommendations still happen OFFline. That’s a huge number that hasn’t seen much fluctuation over the past 5 years. So when we are building out programs, we want to place the proper triggers and tools that people can use to complete the circle. So when they have an amazing in-store experience, we want to make sure they go back online and tell their friends/followers. And when they hear about something online, we want to make sure that we follow through and meet their expectations offline as well. We always want to connect the dots. Offline feeds online and online feeds offline. Never put all your eggs in the social media basket.

Q: Can you tell me about your experience at SXSW?

A: Ah, SXSW. It’s an amazing experience that you get out what you put in. So many great minds converging on our city is a sight to behold, but you have to have a plan and work through the clutter. The organizers are trying hard to get back to what made the festival great in the first place, which is collaboration and knowledge-sharing – a place where start-ups come to launch and gain momentum. And the $200 million in revenue for Austin isn’t a bad thing, either!

Q: Do you have a personal message for Newhouse students?

A: The biggest piece of advice I can give is to stay curious. Question everything. Turn models on their heads. If a new piece of technology comes out, ask yourself, “How can I use this in a way that nobody would expect?” I love people who challenge the status quo, because they are the ones that look at the world differently. And they are the ones I want on my team.