The Godfather of Social Media: Josepf Haslam

Some folk still are of the opinion that Social Media is a time waster, for the lonely hearts, social animals or narcissists, while others are knowledge junkies who embrace it as a vehicle to subscribe to information at a speed they control how much they want to absorb.  Then there are the exceptions.  Those that are in “the know” or the ones who “get it”:  a world in which information, networking and socializing that break down barriers such as location, intelligence, color, religion, corporate, private, interactive, passive or active participation.  No matter where you sit, most everyone agrees today it a force with which resistance will leave you in its dust.

Once you break down your personal barriers or bias, you discover that there are some people that appear at every turn in the social media phenomena.  One such person is Josepf Haslam.  I coined him the “Godfather of Social Media” simply because he is an expert, personable and willing to lend an opinion, always.  Josepf Haslam is at the heart of Social Media.  Luckily, I was able to squeeze in time with Josepf while he “ went from Montreal to Kingston NY to Philly, last to see my girls 13/15 and then back to Kingston on Monday and Montreal Monday night”.  Whew. 

1.      How did you get into Social Media, why, and when?

 I have been involved with Social Media since 1979, we just didn’t call it that then!   As an early advocate of Social Media,  I helped implement a global infrastructure at DuPont along the way.  To me the reasons are obvious, collaboration, connections, relationships, and speed.

 2.      What has changed the most since you began, besides numbers, of course?

What has changed the most is the increased opening/expansion has hit a tipping point.  Previously the most advanced Social Media networks were arguably “inside” and based on closed tools such as Domino (Lotus Notes).  Now with Twitter and GooglePlus, Social Media can reach anyone in the world with Rich Media and has obliterated the 6 degrees of connection, reducing it to around 3.5.

3.      Klout Score or Peer Index?  How do you measure your online influence personally?

Kred, there I said it.  I use all three platforms with a grain of salt.  Klout (disclosure am part of the Klout Squad) is great for a quick glance and roughly indicates activity level for me instead of Expertise level.  Peer Index & Kred currently go deeper / lower into context.  I find Peer Index good from a holistic perspective as you can easily “see” how well rounded someone is or is not.  Kred is very interesting and has honed in even further.  The issue is we need agreement on the measurement systems.  We want to avoid using multiple Metric Systems.  Typically today when all 3 have the same level of access a user’ profile they are all roughly in agreement…

4.      How would you advise organizations to go about adopting Social Media as part of their portfolio?

 I would advise them to purchase Social Marketology by Ric Dragon of and read it cover to cover while writing extensive notes in the margins.  Seriously, Ric has an entire book coming out from McGraw Hill on this topic.  You need a methodic, well thought out process that is consistent and congruent with your Brand Image(s) and Corporate Vision

5.      In today's competitive environment, what do you think is the biggest challenge? 

Speed and the rapidity of change seem to be the biggest challenge. However, they are actually your biggest ally!  The technology spurring Social Media is also changing the rules fundamentally on how we interact with each other corporately and how we market and get “found” or discovered.  Do not Flinch from the challenge, you have to embrace it, be an earlier adopter, learn and use it to your advantage.  History is littered with companies who have failed because they waited too long to embrace new ways of doing things.

6.      What is your claim to fame?

I like to inform people I’m internationally ranked in Chess. It’s true and sounds impressive but actually anyone who plays in an Internationally Sanctioned event gets a ranking.  So I will say that my claim to fame is that I like to help people and will do Blogs, Videos, and Seminars just to help my friends figure stuff out.  When I see someone like Matthew Liberty Browne thank me on Twitter for a post I’m happy.

7.      You’ve gain insights by helping people with Social Media, what amazes you the most?

What amazes me the most is to see true community built off of Social Media platforms, especially Twitter.  We simply help each other, care about each other and support each other.  My life is completely different after one year on Twitter.  I’m working with people I love who I meet through Social Media.  I’m living in another country with someone I met through Social Media.  And almost all of my clients are people who’ve sought me out through Social Media.

8.      Do you think you will write a book?  If so, what will it be about? 

You mean publish a book!  I’ve written a few so far.  I love to write. Yes, I will publish a few different books ranging from a collection of Poetry to a laser focused book on Social Search.  In the meantime I’m back-logged on videos and short writings which I blog about.  I’m not a blogger, I’m a writer.

9.      What is your biggest challenge for 2012?

2012 is already a great year!  My biggest challenge will be keeping up with the sheer volume of opportunity.  We will be on a book tour most of the year supporting Social Marketology.  I will be pushing the bleeding edge of every Social media tool such as Nimble and Hashable to CRM and organize contacts and follow-up on opportunities, Anyone who knows me knows I practice what I preach and I’ll be pushing the envelope on Social Tools and Processes this year.  With that said, I am committed to maintaining an excellent work/life balance including relationships with my daughters and the love of my life.

10.   The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?  Who is your favorite musical artist?

Haha my 13 year old is studying the Beatles in School right now and she does not get them at all!  I’ll say the Beatles.  My favorite Genre is New Age Acoustic.  My Favorite artists are varied such as Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Ani DiFranco, Regina Spektor, and Frank Sinatra.

11.   What do you want to be remembered for?

That I cared.  I can be stubborn, opinionated, driven, smart & fast.  I never want this to come across as arrogant which I did when I was younger.  I love engagement and making new relationships. Those who come into the inner circle (I believe we have 3 generic circles) are people whom I want them to know, to feel, that I care about them

12.   Predictions for 2012?  

We are approaching many tipping points and in 2012 Mobile will certainly tip as will GooglePlus.  What is perhaps not so obvious is that the App proliferation and Platform proliferation will start to create a backlash.  Most people want a more streamlined, consistent interface and the tools just are not there yet.  We just do not have the time or patience to log into all of the different ‘worlds” that are being created out there. The companies that start to figure this out will be the huge winners.  Perhaps Facebook “gets it” and becomes even more dominate.  Maybe Google gets it and starts to open up as a Platform for developers.  I predict we’ll be hearing much more about this toward the end of 2012.  Platform Wars….  Next, we have to have better Social Contact Management and CRM.  Several people are working on this and I expect we’ll see breakthroughs in 2012.  If we do they must sync or be portable #justsaying.

13.   What is your biggest pet peeve?

Haha I did a post on Twitter Pet Peeves called  My biggest pet peeve though is people not trying something.  We all can have that initial fear of failure or risk taking.  To me life is about living and overcoming these fears.  When someone simply refuses out of hand to try something new (without experience) I probably find that most annoying.

14.   Social Media was a hobby before it became an occupation was that by accident or on purpose?  Looking back, knowing what you know now, what advice would you give?  

People are Social and the first use of almost any new technology will have social implications from the start.   My advice is stop, figure out how to engage at the lowest levels, one on one, and then look to see how this can be scaled up or built out.  If you cannot engage on the personal level you will most likely fail at social media!  Look for the book  Social Marketology coming up late Spring of 2012.

15.   Obama or _______ will win the US Election?

 Obama, simply do not see a viable contender at this stage of the game.  My politics? Mr Smith goes to Washington.  We are dis-serviced by “professional” politicians.  It should be a public service role and the very people who do not want to serve are probably the best to serve…

16.   Sustainability:  Hogwash or Greenwash?  Why? 

Sustainability is important, period.  We’re building a terrible legacy right now with disposable consumption.  Anyone want to argue that point should spend a night in New York City’s landfill island….

17.   What do you dislike the most about salespeople?

 A great salesperson does not sell, they close.  I cannot stand someone who is trying to sell me.  A recent new client told me at the end of our meeting that I was a great salesperson.  I did not initially take this as a compliment, he assured me that my passion for my products and services was infectious and he simply wanted to be a part of it.  I’ve worked in the past with Strong Arm Sales “Professionals”, I think that breed will become increasingly extinct as we all become increasingly interconnected.

18.   Who/what did you want to be when you grew up?

An Astronaut as a child!  Then a Sociologist/Economist.  I’m fascinated by systems and a student of history.  One of my books is called “Einstein’s Wheel” and is basically a Systems Thinking book on how and why to facilitate change.    

19.   Greatest influence?  Event or Person? 

 Perhaps travel is my greatest influence.  I have been all over the globe many times and have seen and felt many different ways of looking at the world and events. At one level, people are people; at another level we have very different belief systems and cultures.  We all are a product of our environments, language, and culture.  The best of us strive to see past this upbringing.  It’s difficult to do, and almost always worth it.

20.   In the next five years I would like to see …………………………… happen? 

I want a biometric login method that controls all other log-ins.  Forget passwords! Next I want a more sophisticated GooglePlus Circle like control mechanism for how I share things.  Think open Auth for profile management and types of data.  It is such a waste of time to create all of these independent profiles!

 Next device independence, I want to seamlessly go from Phone to Tablet to Portable to Desktop and have my data, preferences, and profiles follow me.  I do not see the need to eliminate any of these platforms and you might as well add in the TV which is being co-opted into the internet and should already be a home Monitor / nerve center.  Anywhere I go I should be able to “log-in” and seamlessly work without skipping a beat.  The Cloud infrastructure is already starting to facilitate this. 

 Applications which are bound to a platform will become increasingly obsolete or specialized (such as video editing). Bandwidth must increase and become cheaper to facilitate this.  Battery life must improve. I want to plug my phone into standardized consoles (think Motorola Atrix) and have Large Screen Real Estate wherever I go.   

Back to Social, too often we mix/match people into platforms where we do not necessarily want them to be.  With better profile management I can add people and seamlessly restrict or open up the data I want to share with them without having to worry about it.  So if I take photos on FourSquare I may say today Public or Private…  

Tomorrow I want GooglePlus like options, and consistent across all of my platforms so I do not have to set it up over and over again…  Lastly, with better profile management it will become easier to find people and services.  We can and will use inference engines such as those being built by to make better recommendations on who to find/follow.  We also will have access to a wide array of social information such as on combined with a Kred or Klout.  

Your reputation has always been paramount and in the future it will be even more important….

“The man is a machine.
I’ve experienced him as rabid early adopter and fervent connector.  I’ve seen him in action on #hashable and winning place to SXSW.  Josepf is an early adopter, pushing boundaries, gaining insight before others have even heard of new tools, Josepf is on Skype with the founder”
Nick Kellet

Now you have it:  Words and insights from the “Godfather of Social Media” Josepf Haslam or @josepf (how many people do you know have a one-name/short Twitter handle like that?).  If you happen to be on Twitter, you may be lucky to catch him in #usguys (one of the first groups formed using #hastags) or in many of the great forums discovered by hashtags on leadership, fatherhood, etc.  WHETHER or not you DO catch him, Josepf’s presence is certainly felt by many of us that he helped paved the way.


  1. This is a fantastic interview with Josepf and captures him so well. He is beyond amazing, so sharp, the first anywhere and I am so blessed to count him my friend. Great job Jeannette, great guy Josepf, privileged to know you both! <3

  2. I love Josepf's ideas about central profile management, privacy controls and information sharing. Great interview, Jeannette!


  3. Thank you Libby for your comments. Happy to see that he was captured in a way that those that know him, like you, can agree that Josepf has been "the first anywhere". I like that!

  4. Nice to know that you enjoy the ideas Josepf shared with us all so that we can learn from someone like him.

  5. Great interview. I certainly count myself lucky to have met Josepf. He's remarkably easy to both talk to and listen to - his clarity is world class. Josepf's knowledge about the social media scene is impressive; plus he shares!

  6. Thanks JC ... a great interview because the subject is .. you're right: easy to talk to and he shares is knowledge.

  7. Loved the interview and found out a lot about Josepf I didn't know. Met him once at an #usguysnyc meetup and found him to be very genuine.

  8. Really liked this interview. Especially the part about contact management needing to go mobile and sync with all other devices. Amen bro...

  9. Love Josepf! Great interview & insights into a wonderful friend and human being.

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  11. Really I don't know about the father of Social media thank you for providing such an important information.
    Very interesting blog love to spend time here and each time I found something fresh and new.

  12. People do act on solid recommendations that their friends make. I found that taking as basic an approach as asking clients at the end of projects if they knew anyone who could benefit from social media marketing. tiktok


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