Our Klout Stars series highlights top influencers and how they got to where they are today.
About:Benedict is the oldest of three kids of immigrant parents in a Filipino family from Stockton, CA. His first language was Tagalog and learned English from Sesame Street and when he started pre-school. Benedict made my way through high school, then to college at CalPoly: San Luis Obispo, CA where he started in Aerospace Engineering and switched to Teaching.
Benedict has worked at two private English schools in San Luis Obispo where he worked with students from 16-80 years old that came from all around the world to be immersed in an English program here in the USA. After teaching, he became a flight attendant and also co-founded CS Toys International with a physical store in Japan and two web stores (CSToysJapan.com) and smaller satellite (CSToysUSA.com) where we use social media to interact with our customers. Benedict is also the on again, off again mayor of San Francisco International Airport on Foursquare. Find him for some at SFO for some random swag!
1. How did you get started in social media?
Back in high school, I found out about the Internet and never looked back. Back in the day it was all about local BBSes and using Compuserve, Prodigy, or AOL to get online. I remember using AOL v1.6 for MS-DOS to connect to the Internet with a 9600 baud modem. I frequented many chat rooms and made many online friends and chatted via AIM, MSN, and Yahoo Messenger.
I used to share photos on my self-published website. It was a lot of work. Friends always wanted me to send them pictures. Social networks made this easier. I started out on Friendster where most of my friends already were then moved to MySpace and Facebook as many people have done. Those sites made it a lot easier to share. More friends have popped up online on one network or another. These networks made it easier to share, connect, and stay in touch with friends here and abroad.
At one point in college, I worked an 11PM-7AM shift at a hotel and being online kept me sane. It was easy to connect with a friend in Europe or Asia while all of my North American friends were asleep. From then on, social media became a must to keep in touch with old and new friends both near and far as well as making new friendships and connections. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare…I love it all.
2. In what ways does social media play into your current job or industry? Do you have any examples?
Since I work as a flight attendant, it was normal to be away from home and friends for days at a time. My computer and phone were my windows to the world. I’m constantly meeting new people from many different places. Rather than exchanging phone numbers, many now exchange Twitter handles and Facebook friend requests now to keep in touch with me.
3. What does influence mean to you? Who influences you the most online, and why
Influence is a trust. Some people influence you more than others, the same way you trust some more than others. I’m more apt to take a suggestion from someone in my circle than a review that I read or a spokesperson telling me to do so. Most of the people who influence me online also influence me offline.
My combination SF Bay Area/San Diego crew of @lehea1212, @sdwifey, @eyemusing, @sukhjit, @richandcreamy, @csix, @mymelodie are the people I like to hang out with when I’m at home in or my second home of San Diego.
I also have to mention my Foursquare friends. Foursquare really brought me back into social media. I love the game aspect. I’ve made many online/offline friends via Foursquare including @nutzareus, @dwaynekilbourne, @rocktique, @redbridgeonline, @lesliempr, @funtobehad.
Calvin Lee, @mayhemstudios is one of my biggest influencers. We met at an event in Las Vegas and clicked in person. We have overlapping social circles and have hung out at CES and SXSW amongst other events. I want to be like Calvin when I grow up.
4. What recent social media trends do you think are interesting or helpful?
I see a huge trend with location based services and smartphones making recommendations for you. Foursquare has turned from a game into a recommendation engine. I like finding out who or what is around me. I can look up a certain type of food I am hungry for and see what restaurants my friends have gone to or left tips at. Foursquare’s radar feature also lets me know if I have a listed “to-do” nearby.
There are newer apps like Banjo that tell you when friends or people you follow are nearby based on the location data in their public posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Highlight is another fun app that recommends possible connections for you based on someone you have been nearby during your day. I opened the app on my flight to SXSW, and Highlight had listed the person that was seated next to me on the flight. We connected.
I also like another app called Zaarly for buying/selling/requesting locally via push alerts. I’ve seen a couple good deals come up such as someone stuck in an office requesting a certain coffee and paying $15. There are quite a few requests for rides as well, mostly to SFO Airport. When I open the app and determine where the request is made, I can decide whether I can take them up on their offers.
I can’t wait to see where the next paradigm shift takes us. I try to stay up to date on the newest networks and try new ways to stay connected.
Connect with Benedict on Twitter at @superben