SMXQ: Michael Fitzgerald

Michael Fitzgerald was one of the organizers of the very successful BizCamp Galway which took place earlier this week. He has a background in industrial engineering and now runs OnePageCRM a cloud-based system for small business.

1. Could you tell us about your background (where you’re from, what you’ve done)?

Originally from the Comeragh Mountains in Waterford (home to the largest glacier lake in Ireland), I qualified in Microprocessor Electronics and worked as a Sport Science Technologist before heading back to University in NUI Galway.

My career then turned towards product design and marketing for multinational companies, before I found my feet firmly on the internet. Quite varied you may say, but I’ve loved the journey.

2. What was your route into social media?

I had already been using LinkedIn and Facebook, but the first social media tool that I ‘really’ took to, was Twitter. They say there are two types of people when it comes to Twitter, those who get it, and those who don’t – well I started off not getting it until I read an article “ignore Twitter at your own peril” – so I gave it another go and it took off from there.

3. Tell us a little bit (if you can) about what you’re interested in or working on right now.

We’ve been building web applications and eCommerece systems for clients, but our future is geared towards “building great web apps for small business.”

We’ve created a novel and very effective Sales Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool called

It takes the essential parts of a CRM application, compresses them to a single-page application that’s strongly influenced by Getting Things Done (GTD,) a personal time management system, to give you one of the most ‘effective’ sales tools on the internet.

OnePageCRM is web-based and we have found that our centralized presence in the cloud as opposed to supplying every client with their own specific download saves a tremendous amount of time and increases efficiency. All software needs to be updated and ours is no exception. With one update at our central server everyone using our software is immediately using the most current version.

4. What social media services do you use regularly and why?

I use Facebook/Facebook pages, LinkedIn and Digg but mostly Twitter, as it has been good to me. When you move into a new business area, you need to get to the “town square” in that sector. In the town square you’ll find your competitors, suppliers, customers, peers, key opinion leaders etc. and even employees, Twitter has helped me get to that point quickly by interacting with the relevant people.

Facebook is good to see what the cousins get up to in the US, but I use Facebook pages for business purposes. I’ve always been a good networker, so LinkedIn was a natural extension to that.

5. If you could only keep one service or tool, what would it be, and why have you chosen it?
It would have to be Twitter. It’s been great for finding the “early adopters” for our Software as a Service (SaaS) web applications. We use a very gentle approach to communicating with people on Twitter for the first time. I never use any service to auto-follow users, only specific and personal interaction. Word of mouth is the most powerful marketing out there, and Twitter gives everyone a voice.

6. Including your own area of expertise, what developments in social media do you think are particularly important?

I think ‘context’ is going to be the most relevant in the future development. We all have a personal side, a work/business side and a special interest / hobby side to our lives. Getting the segregation right is difficult at the moment.

7. What can you do now that you couldn’t do before the arrival of social media?

As stated above, in business, I can learn a huge amount about my area, meet relevant peers, and get opinions on what we’re working on very easily. You hear some people commenting that social media is “anti-social” – for me it has been the opposite. I now physically meet and chat with more people because of Twitter.

In addition, I have better quality conversations with those people because I know more of what was happening in their lives or business prior to physically meeting them.

8. What issues, either technical or social, do you see with social media?>

I think location-based services are good, but I think they could be done better. For instance, the service for me to ask “where are my friends now?” is good – but if it wasn’t always pushed to the stream you could give off your location more often and not cause clutter.

9. What one piece of advice would you give to someone entering the social media world?

Treat your social media interaction like you do in real life. If you wouldn’t shout something out in front of everyone one passing on a street, then don’t say it publically in social media.

10. How do you see social media helping and improving things for us in the future?

The real-time search will be the killer outcome of all this social media content. My favourite example of this is Baker Tweet. Imagine in the future walking through a city you are visiting and turning to your phone to ask “which cafe has the freshest raspberry scones right now?”
I’d love that… ‘cos I love scones ☺