Trender: Social Media Guru Kevin DeSoto

Monday, July 25, 2011


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Who are the Rhode Islanders leading in arts, fashion, food, and style? They're Trenders, and GoLocalProv offers glimpses of the people you most want to know on the scene. Today, social media guru Kevin DeSoto, a California transplant who has embraced and is spreading the gospel of New Media. He's worked with clients ranging from luxury eyewear company OPTX in Johnston, RI, to actress Mariel Hemingway and supermodel Cheryl Tiegs.

Homegrown factor: Lives in Warwick.

Age: 42

1. You're squarely in the center of social media and message development. How'd you get to this place in your life?

After a 20-year career in a couple of executive positions that focused on public relations, marketing and people, I was abruptly laid off during the height of our economic downturn that hit Rhode Island quite hard. After a zombie-like, in-shock, kinda-devastated ride home with all my stuff in a plastic bag, I was forced to reevaluate what was next and what I loved doing the most.

It was not that long after that I was introduced to Erik Proulx who directed the documentary, Lemonade. After watching the documentary and after a few tears, I connected with Erik to thank him and we have been in touch ever since via social networking.  It was at that time that I realized I needed to continue to help people connect via social networking and have been doing that ever since with some great success stories under my belt now. The goal - creating stronger communities, families and individuals.  

2. Where does Rhode Island sit, from your point of view, along the spectrum of technology, media, and innovation?
Many here in Rhode Island are spearheading technology, media and innovation. I think of the hundreds upon hundreds of entrepreneurs who are working hard in our area to boost the economy, from technology to fashion and everything in between. And who are even helping change peoples lives. It only takes that one special connection or introduction to help catapult someone's life into another stratosphere. It can even be done via using social media tools responsibly and powerfully.
3. For your money, what's the next great thing in social media?

Everyone is always looking for the next big thing. I think everyone should embrace and start with the basics of technology.  Facebook, Twitter, mobile phones and mobile apps - tried and proven - are good and of course for many, free is nice. Google+ is doing well.  My advice: do not skimp on your content, brand or look. Consistency is key and constant communication is vital with your respected given community.

4. Some people criticize Rhode Island for being lots of small groups that live right next door to each other but don't talk. Do you see the state this way? Does technology offer a method to change that?

I could not agree more with this statement. Originally from California, my transferring to a small state like Rhode Island has been quite an adjustment. However, I have found everyone, no matter where we are from, is  looking for the same thing. Oprah Winfrey said, "Every human being, no matter what age, no matter how old we get, is looking for the same thing. What everybody wants is to know: Do you see me? Did you hear me? And did what I say mean anything to you? That is what everybody is looking for."

It could not be more true for those here in Rhode Island, for every person and every business. Technology can play a positive role or a negative role in any state. I personally think that it is playing a positive role in Rhode Island, maybe slower than it should - however I do see it changing the way we interact and do business. I have met some pretty fantastic people and local entrepreneurs who are helping drive our economy via social media.

5. What's the thing you most love about working in Rhode Island? What is your biggest frustration?

The number of diverse, driven entrepreneurs and the great restaurants here! The biggest frustration? The underlying old way of doing-business mentality of "Who you know" and "If you don't like it, Get Outa Hea." That way of doing business is slowly dying and catching up with people and business. Someone once told me, doing the right thing eventually always pays off. Never compromise your values and ethics.


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