After one post in the Grilling the Gurus series I'm prepared to make a sweeping statement: the best social media tools have the brightest thinkers behind them. It was true with Tagboard and Josh Decker and it's true again today as we're treated to 10 fascinating insights from one of the biggest names not just in social media, but in computing, period: Guy Kawasaki.
Few people have had a bigger impact on the way we talk about and view technology than Guy. As the former Chief Evangelist for Apple and the current Chief Evangelist for Canva (with a stop at Google in-between), Guy has been a huge force in articulating how we ought to think about technology and what we should demand of it as it plays an increasingly large role in our lives. He helped make huge groups of people enthusiastic about Apple products, and is now doing the same thing for Canva. That's no small thing.
When I think of the term "evangelist" I think of a champion; someone who breathes life into a product or idea that's worth being passionate about. When you read Guy's answers to my questions below, you'll see why this label fits him perfectly.
The timing for our interview with Guy is perfect, as he has a new book coming out next week, The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users, which is co-written by his long-time collaborator, Peg Fitzpatrick. Here's what this book is all about:
With over one hundred practical tips, tricks, and insights, Guy and Peg present a bottom-up strategy to produce a focused, thorough, and compelling presence on the most popular social-media platforms. They guide you through steps to build your foundation, amass your digital assets, optimize your profile, attract more followers, and effectively integrate social media and blogging.
If only I knew of a group of people who might be interested in this kind of thing....If I knew of such a group I would definitely recommend they pre-order a copy on Amazon right now. Seriously, do it (I did).
Making pretty pictures wasn't a strength of mine in elementary school and it isn't a strength of mine now. I'm not sure that "design-phobic" is a real term, but it should be. Some people just have a knack for conveying things artistically, and others get sent home from Mrs. Mosley's first grade class for embarrassingly bad use of glue, crayons and construction paper.
Fortunately, the Internet has brought me and my similarly design-inept brethren a great equalizer: Canva.
The best social media tools take something complex and make it easier. Canva is one such tool. It makes the process of creating visuals unbelievably easy. From visually appealing, pre-baked templates to an intuitive interface that makes tinkering a breeze, Canva is a tool that both design-phobes and design pros can appreciate. I won't dive too deep into Canva here, as you can check out this post written by my predecessor at SMToolbox, which breaks down Canva in detail and explains why it's a must-have tool in any social media user's arsenal.
Since this last post, Canva has come out with several new innovations that are generating substantial buzz in the social media and design communities. I'll let Guy fill us in on what those innovations are...
Guy Kawasaki Q&A
1. You could have done a lot of different things after your time at Apple and Google. What led you to Canva?
It's hard to top my experience with the Macintosh Division of Apple. Truly, we were trying, and did, change the world by democratizing computing. Canva actually found me because my social-media ninja, Peg Fitzpatrick, and I were already using it.
Canva presented an highly attractive opportunity because it was an early-stage company, and it had epic goals: to democratize design-just like Apple democratized computing, Google democratized information, and eBay democratized commerce.
One doesn't have too many chances to change the world like this.
2. Give us a high-level overview of Canva with a specific focus on the problem it tries to solve?
Canva is in the business of providing amazing graphic capabilities to anyone. You don't have to buy an expensive application nor scale an enormous learning curve to use. The problem it solves is enabling everyone to improve their communication skills by using graphics.
3. Canva is such a successful tool and yet your team continues to innovate. Can you tell us about some of your newer innovations?
We just announced three new features. First, there's Design School. This is where we provide educational material to help everyone become a great designer. Second, there's Canva Social. This enables people to show their designs to others who can then comment upon and "like" what they've done. Third, there's the Design Marketplace. This enables people to sell their designs and photographs. We think that these three enhancements will make Canva an order of magnitude more useful and engaging.
4. How are you looking for Canva to grow and evolve?
The ability to design is as powerful as the ability to write. The evolution of visual communication has gone from scribes transcribing test to Gutenberg printing bibles to desktop publishing to websites to blogs. Now we're all using social media, and social media, websites, and blogs are heavily dependent on graphics. We would like Canva to be the rising tide that floats all boats in design and visual communication. In a perfect world, everyone would be able to write compelling text and design great graphics.
5. What impresses you about your product?
Personally, I find that Canva's ability to enable people with no graphic-design training to create elegant and beautiful designs to be its most impressive accomplishment. This is like the ability of Macintosh, in 1984, to enable people to create documents with multiple fonts and integrated graphics. Canva and Macintosh enable many people to do what they could not do before.
6. The word most people associate you with is "evangelist"-first at Apple and now at Canva. What does being an evangelist mean to you?
Evangelism comes from the Greek word that roughly means "bringing the good news." When I evangelized Macintosh, I was bringing the good news of a new way of computing. Now I'm evangelizing Canva, and I'm bringing the good news of empowering anyone to create graphics.
7. So many people spend their professional lives looking for something worth evangelizing. Any tips for how people can find that one thing worth evangelizing?
I have used the title "chief evangelist" only twice in forty years: Apple and Canva. Something worth evangelizing doesn't come along too often. I'm not certain that one necessarily finds things worth evangelizing...it seems like something worth evangelizing found me. I guess my strategy is, "Wait and get lucky!"
8. You've seen the social media industry grow and evolve from many different vantage points in your career, what excites you about the industry's future?
I love social media because it gives everyone a voice. This doesn't mean that everyone has something intelligent to say, but at least now everyone can be heard. That's powerful. That's democracy. That's what continues to excite me.
9. When it comes to social media who do you learn from?
First, I learn from Peg Fitzpatrick, the co-author of my book, The Art of Social Media. I would put her up against entire agencies. And I'll tell you the secret to her-and by extension-my success in social media: we are constantly experimenting and trying new techniques. We are never satisfied. And we refuse to take anyone's word for anything.
Second, I learn from a select group of people on Google+. If you'd like to see who they are, click on this link to see my circle. These are the people who provide the highest quality content.
10. Any last bits of advice for Social Media Today's readers, who work with/are passionate about social media?
My last piece of advice is that people should never stop experimenting, and they should read voraciously. There's no right way and wrong way with social media. There's only what works for you.