January 17th, 2014 / by Andrew Shusterman

Fred van Schie Social Media Interview

Fred has been my good friend for over the last 6 years and in my opinion, one of the most knowledgeable social media consultants out there. A couple years ago when he told me he wanted to start his own social media agency (FvSMedia.com) to help professional skateboarders with their social presence I knew he was the man for the job. In fact, Fred is the first person to take on the challenge of helping pro skaters and brands with social media and is now leading the charge in this field as the #1 social media expert in skateboarding. He’s Dutch, blunt, honest and genuinely down for the cause! He likes helping his fellow skaters, and I’m sure he will continue doing so for many, many years to come! So without further ado, here is the Fred van Schie interview…

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1. If you were a superhero, what would your super power be and why?

Batman, first movie I ever saw as a kid in a theatre. I smuggled a can of Coke inside too, I was so stoked. Hard to beat first impressions like that.

2. What were your thoughts when you saw social media (Myspace, Friendster, or whatever it was) for the first time?

Creepy. I remember having a Hyves account (Dutch social media site that no longer exists) and posting on there that I was gonna see a friend in Amsterdam. When I called a friend later that day he asked me how my meeting went. I just remember tripping out on that. Ten years later and it’s all people too. Shows how “quick” we (can) adapt to things.

3. How did you first start working in social media and why do you enjoy working with the skateboard industry?

In June 2010 Sole Technology hired me as their Marketing Manager for Altamont and Emerica. Facebook was the buzzword around the time and every brand has one, or was starting an account. The first day I started the Emerica Facebook Page had 47 fans. By the end of my first week it was at 20,000. I contacted Facebook and hit the jackpot! They closed down a fake Facebook Page and moved the fans over to the official page. Supposedly some other people had tried to do that in the months before I started, but I just got lucky I guess. Recently I’ve been helping a lot of pros and brands with those fake Facebook Pages again. Feels good to do that.

Skateboarding has given me a life since I first started when I was 16. My friends, my travels, the music I listen to, the views I have on life, and my work life for over 10 years have all been shaped because of it. I’d be lost without it!

4. What were some of the initial challenges you faced when you first started working with pro skateboarders on their social media?

Some guys just think people like me can do it all for them. But they have to understand they have to step up their game and only then, can I and will I help them. Sometimes it not necessarily more work that they have to do, but just better. Working smarter, not always harder. I always see myself more then a coach. And yes I know that sounds wack within the “action sports”, but that’s really what I do. I help people be better with social media. I can’t pretend to be them.

5. Social and digital media have changed a lot in skateboarding over the past couple years. Do you think these changes are mostly positive or negative?

Mostly positive for sure, since it’s gives skateboard fans all around the world a chance to connect with their favorite brands and pros. The main negative aspect of it is mostly when those brands or pros don’t interact with those fans. After all they are the past/present/future consumers of their products. It’s mind blowing to see how many brands and pros do not seem to care about those fans. Social media is all public so you can look up anyone Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account and see what’s happening. It’s shocking to see how a lot of people just get left in the dark when they ask a question (about wanting to buy a product). On the other hand it stokes me out so much when I do see the interaction. Reminds me of when I started skating. You always see how stoked and thankful those fans are when they get a reply. And that’s what brings you brand ambassadors. A bunch of followers is nice but if you don’t make a difference for them they won’t care about you (as much).

6. If you could bring back one social media platform that is extinct, which one would it be and why?

I would hope people would take Facebook and Twitter more serious. Seems like the action sports world thinks Instagram is the end-all-be-all. It’s not up to you to decide on which platform you need to be. Instagram is great, don’t get me wrong, but there is a lot of opportunity on Facebook and Twitter. Plus you can have people click on a link in Facebook and Twitter. And everyone loves sending people to their website….

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Photo: Tadashi

7. Currently, what is your favorite social media platform/tool to use for yourself?

Twitter, for sure. It’s the interaction that makes it so good. The people I follow and interact with on there are just amazing. A lot of people complain about Twitter and say that they don’t like it. I guess that makes it even better. Those who get Twitter know.

8. What are some of your favorite company and/or individual (celebrity, athlete, etc) accounts on social today and why?

Tum Yeto, DLX, and NHS all do a good job with interaction.

Corey Duffel is awesome on Facebook. His replies are as real as it gets. And you can’t beat real.

And Daewon Song kills it on Instagram. Replies to fans, asked them what tricks he should do and then films them. Simply amazing!

9. Predictions for where social media will be at in 1 year from now?

Even more 1-on-1 marketing based as it is now. In order for it to work you need to spent at least 50% of your social media time on replies and interaction. Talk with people, not just at them. It’s about relationship building, not just spitting out your crappy marketing message or your logo every other day. The goal should be to get a “fan for life”, not someone that buys your product one time. That’s cool, but that doesn’t keep the lights on in the long run.

10. Who had the biggest influence on you when you were first learning about social media?

During my 18 months at Sole Technology I’m not sure who was my biggest influence. I was discovering a lot and while I was getting more into it, I felt the people around me where just focused on doing what they were always doing. Print ads, blog, team trips, and events. All very important, but social media has become the front line of every brand and pro. If that doesn’t look appealing, people might not bother to look further.

Right before I was let go Jim Thiebaud told me to read The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk. I finished it in 4 hours and it hit home in every way. He said a lot of things I was thinking about, and more. I remember being so stoked on having someone that was pushing the social media side of things. Not just for the hell of it. but “because it sells shit.” Marketing has become about relationship building more then anything.

11. Top 3 social media marketers/bloggers today?

Gary Vaynerchuk, Scott Stratten, and Brian Solis. All the books that these 3 guys wrote are a must read.

12. What is the plan for FVS Media in 2014?

Same as the last 2 years, help people get better at social media. Whether that’s people at brands, retailers, bands, or professional athletes, we can help.

For some great social media tips, check out Fred’s blog: www.fredvanschie.com

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