MikeDriehorstI’ve chosen Mike Driehorst as the first subject of our Spotlight On… series. In the future, those highlighted in this column will be chosen by you, the TOLeeps. But I wanted to kick things off with a Toledoan whom I feel is making a difference in the community. Mike is an integral part of Social Media Breakfast Toledo and his Mike’s Points blog is a worthwhile bookmark for social media professionals and enthusiasts alike. Mike’s frequent columns on TalentZoo.com establish him as a key figure in public relations and marketing. Mike is a valuable asset to the Toledo community as well as a must-follow on Twitter. But these are just my words. Let’s turn things over to Mike in a brief Q&A session that I conducted with him via email.

TOLeeps: How long have you been actively involved in social media and when did you join Twitter?

Mike Driehorst:You could say I’ve been active in social media since joining some public relations-related discussion groups on Yahoo! in 2003. However, for the most part, I count my “birth” into social media in the spring of 2005 when I started reading blogs, and in late June that summer when I launched my own blog, www.mikespoints.com. Other than monitoring social media for clients, my first blogger outreach effort began in late 2005. I joined Twitter March 13, 2007.

TOLeeps: How do you you use Twitter? What do you hope to achieve when utilizing Twitter as a tool in your social media toolbox?

Mike Driehorst: Twitter is a great way to learn things (like via links) that I may not normally find, and seek input on questions and ideas. I also try to keep in mind the sharing aspect and post links to stories I hope are of interest to others. I joined Twitter for professional reasons (I work in PR, social media marketing, etc.) and that’s how I still primarily use it.

However, in recent months, I’ve been looking to add more Toledo-area Twitterers as a way to network with people that I may actually get to meet, for personal and professional reasons. Ultimately, like other social media tools, Twitter is a great way to start to complement and expand one’s offline network. That’s the real value — to meet and on some level, get to know more people. Since last fall, it’s really hit home that, to get ahead in and enjoy life, it’s much more about who you know, than what you know.

TOLeeps: How do you see social networks and social media changing, evolving, or improving in the future?

Mike Driehorst: Social networks and media will definitely continue to become more common place. And, the use of these tools via mobile technology will become the norm for most people in another 10-15 years. The pessimist in me believes that, as more companies become involved in social media, that the community-feel for these tools will change into more broadcast channels, as you see with traditional, offline media.

My hope is that there’ll be enough peer pressure and education to keep social media as it is: about connecting, contributing and developing community.

TOLeeps: Who, in your opinion, are three must-follow Toledoans on Twitter and why?

Mike Driehorst: There are definitely a lot of great Toledo Twitterers, and I’ve benefited from following all of the ones I’ve found so far. If I must pick just three, here you go: Damian Rintelmann (@drintelmann) to get tied into his Detroit-network. It’s how I’ve met other great people like Dave Murray (@davemurr).

Another is Holly Whitney (@_pixie_) who has a blog that’s both fun and thought-provoking.

Still another is Allen Mireles (@allenmireles) who is a genuinely nice person, not afraid to show appreciation towards others, and has another great network that others can check out.

I can’t have a Toledo Tweeps list without a including my wife, Amy (@AmyJoD) who keeps me grounded in reality (in a good way).

TOLeeps: What factors do you feel Toledo has working for and against it in terms of growing an involved and connected social media network?

Mike Driehorst: I was very pleasantly surprised with the great response to the Social Media Breakfast-Toledo events. The timing of that group and the rise in local popularity of Twitter has provided great opportunities to connect with locals who have professional and personal interests in social media. Until late last fall, I didn’t see much of a social media community, at least not an active one. Maybe I just wasn’t looking hard enough.

For being a decent size metropolitan area, the small-town feel for the Toledo area is definitely a plus for sustained interest and growth in our social media network.

What could work against us, and it’s something that could happen anywhere, is if agencies and companies start using social media tools like Twitter to broadcast and overly self-promote. In social media, you promote yourself by helping others.