Stirring The Pot: Maddie Grant of SocialFishing

maddiegrantMaddie Grant (@MaddieGrant on twitter) is a Gen-X blogger, “shiny new toy” addict and 1%er. After more than 10 years of experience in marketing, communications and international business, Maddie found her home in the association community–first as the COO of a small professional membership association in Washington, DC and now as the chief social media strategist for SocialFish, LLC. Maddie has written articles for a number of publications and speaks frequently. Her popular blog, SocialFishing…, covers the intersection between social media and association management.  [LinkedIn]

I first ran across her words on twitter, which led in short order to investigation of her blog and her company. Since a lot of my work over the years has been of a socially conscious/ non profit nature it was nice to see another voice on the subject. Maddie was kind enough to help us kick off the Stir The Pot series with this interview, so I’ll quit distracting you and let you read it.

Loki: So what have you found are the particular differences between social media used in an association context as opposed to its other applications? Since a lot of your work is focused on non-profits how do find social media approaches differ from for profit ventures?

Maddie Grant: It ‘s an interesting paradox where associations are, by definition, groups of people with common interests – in other words they have built-in communities, so communicating with their members through social media is an obvious and natural fit – however, there’s still a very strong fear of relinquishing control, and a historical lag behind for-profit companies which have been thrust into the conversational social media space, originally, because of market forces and the voice of the consumer.  With associations, we’re helping them build community online which translates into building community offline – new members, more people at their events, etc.   It’s more about community than it is about brand awareness or word-of-mouth marketing, though of course that plays into it.

Loki: One of the big conversations centering around social media lately is the marketing angle. What sort of metrics do you use to measure success in a campaign and how do you address potential client inquiries about ROI?

Maddie Grant:Everyone’s concerned with ROI, and in the association industry it’s often complicated by the fact that on the one hand, there’s not yet a body of knowledge about what exactly to measure (which can be different for different kinds of associations and nonprofits), and on the other hand, there’s not a lot of budget money to go round so there’s a fear of trying anything new.  I always say that the specific metrics you will want to track will come out of whatever strategic goals you are trying to achieve – if it’s energizing buzz around your annual conference, you can measure blog mentions, other mentions in social spaces, plus registrations, book sales, vendor exhibit sales, all kinds of things.  But if you’re trying to recruit young members, then the things you will measure will be totally different.

In every case, you should start with a benchmark of where you are on day one, so you can track your progress and make adjustments as necessary.  Which also brings up the point that social media strategy is really not about “campaign thinking” – it’s much more long term and you’ll be able to set lower expectations at the beginning and show greater success over the long term if you help people understand that it’s not a quick marketing campaign with an “end point”.

Loki: How long have you been using social media and what got you started? What’s your favorite social media to play with?

Maddie Grant: I’m a classic Gen-X  early adopter and 1%er who has been using social media for over ten years.  In a different life I was part of a PR/communications team in charge of an international financial services company’s intranet, put in place to help employees through a difficult merger/acquisition process.  I used all kinds of online forums for years before I joined the usual Facebook, LinkedIn etc.  I started a blog in 2007 and I will say that while I really truly love Twitter, it will always be an extension of my blog, “Socialfishing…” which is where my heart is.

Loki: What are your thoughts on the new wave of progressive social media types entering the space, the ones who place a high priority on their work having a socially conscious slant? What advice would you give them?

Maddie Grant: I really don’t need to give them advice, actually, I think we can learn a lot from people who really care about things and who enable others to share in collective action.  Social media is all about word of mouth, and word of mouth is part of what builds community – so as long as their work is valuable and worth talking about, they won’t have any problems spreading the word about the issues they care about.

Loki: How much importance do you place on physically meeting people you have interacted with over social platforms? What was the most amusing meeting of this type that you have experienced?

Maddie Grant: I always say “technology enables community” – and that means making friends online means making friends offline.  The face-to-face relationships that are enabled by social media are crucially important and a lot of people (or organizations) forget that!  So while I may not meet every single person IRL that I have met online, I would say it’s a huge part of what makes social media so powerful.  And I’ll be honest – this exact thing has changed my life, since I met my business partner Lindy Dreyer online through our blogs and we became friends long before we ever met in person.  I have lots of funny stories, which I don’t have room to tell here, but I will say it’s weird (and awesome!) to be greeted by “It’s the famous Maddie!” when I have never met the person I’m talking to but they seem to know all about me…

Loki: And, as always here on SocialGumbo, would you close by sharing a favorite recipe with us? Preferably something you like to cook when having friends over (i.e. a social setting)?

Maddie Grant: Here’s my recipe.  I’m half Thai and eat a lot of Thai food.  It’s super easy, you just have to be willing to not measure stuff, just throw everything in to taste (more or less spicy)!

Shrimp with Chili and Basil
Ingredients: fresh shrimp, some fresh basil leaves, 1 large fresh green chili finely sliced, 1 large fresh red chili finely sliced, some cloves chopped garlic, some chopped coriander stems, chopped spring onion, decent amount of oystersauce, sprinkle of fish sauce, 1 tsp sugar, some soy bean oil

Peel and devein the shrimp, leave tails on. Heat the oil in a wok (high heat), saute everything except the coriander for maybe a minute or two.  As soon as the shrimp turn pink they are cooked, do not overcook. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with steamed rice.  Eazy-peezy-yummy!

 is the owner of SocialGumbo, LLC


  1. Hard not to be with an interview subject like Maddie! Thanks, Rick.

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