Dan Amrich jumped from traditional publishing to social media after 15 years in senior editorial roles for video games magazines GamePro, Official Xbox Magazine and World Of Warcraft: The Official Magazine. In 2009 he became the Social Media Manager (and first social media hire) for Activision, where he runs the popular @OneOfSwords account and podcast. Dan’s first book, Critical Path: How to Review Videogames for a Living, has just been published in traditional and ebook versions.
What does being influential online mean to you?
It means I’d better watch what I say! I try to balance being approachable and authentic with being responsible. The only reason I have any influence at all is because I have built up trust — people can and will unfollow me if they feel I’m no longer useful or credible. So to stay influential, I need to remain trustworthy and respectful to the people who turn to me for information.
How do you use your influence to improve your community?
I get to champion small causes that might not otherwise be heard. I did what I could to help a recent Guitar Hero fundraiser called @HeroForTheHeart, where a gamer played a marathon session to benefit the American Heart Association in memory of his dad, who used to play the game with him. When I send out Tweets about something like that, I can only hope that my audience is really listening.
How does generosity enhance your online relationships?
I think the best thing about social media is that the relationships are genuine. I have met people from Twitter and Facebook in real life and we basically just pick up the conversation where we left off. Being nice to strangers often makes those strangers into friends, and that’s just fantastic.
How do you integrate your real life experiences with your online identity?
I am basically the same person in both realms — devastatingly witty, incredibly humble. (That’s a joke.) But I do want to show a little bit of me and my tastes to tap into some common experiences while I talk about “work stuff.” I don’t think people want a corporate drone; I take care of whatever responsibilities the job requires, but if I go somewhere interesting or do something I think the audience would find cool, I want to share those experiences too — as long as it doesn’t come off as “Ha ha, look where I am that you’re not” or “Check out how much more awesome my life is than yours.” Ivory towers suck.
There’s a flip side to that: Early on I was checking in with Foursquare to every place I went and parroting it to Twitter, and I got some teasing about that — “Really, do I care that you’re at Target? Pick me up some Mike & Ike’s.” And that was a fair point, one I needed to hear. Oversharing of the mundane is lousy, but sending photos in real-time from an event like E3 or PAX — places a lot of gamers would like to be if they had the chance — is always appreciated. And yeah, if I see an interesting new t-shirt at Target that I think my game-focused followers might want to know about, I will still send that out too. But I consider the audience before I share what I’m thinking of sharing.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to make social media their career?
I came at it bass-ackwards, having spent 15 years in traditional media before making the jump. That has proven incredibly helpful — I already knew how to speak to a large audience on an intimate level, as a friend — but it’s not exactly a roadmap for anyone else. I would suggest that you not use your metrics as the final judgement of your worth. Count the number of meaningful interactions or conversations you have in a day instead. If you are actually engaging people, that’s more interesting anyway. I’d rather make friends than gain followers.