5 Questions With… Ian Schafer, CEO Deep Focus

This post is part of a weekly series called “5 Questions With…” featuring Q&As with Social Media Week Global Advisory Board members.

Ian Schafer is CEO and Founder of Deep Focus, a full-service interactive marketing agency, delivering pioneering and meaningful engagement in the digital space. Advertising Age named Ian a ‘Media Maven’ and he is on the list of the Adweek “Young Ones”. Read his full bio here.

Deep Focus will be hosting “Participation, Aggregation and Criticism in the Digital Age” – a panel discussing how social media is challenging (and changing) social and business rules of engagement – on Monday, February 7 from 3PM – 5PM.

Q: When and why did Deep Focus first get involved with Social Media Week?
Ian Schafer: I’ve been involved with Social Media Week since the beginning. I’ve known and respected Toby Daniels for quite some time, and as soon as I caught wind that Social Media Week was in development, I wanted to get involved and am now on the Global Advisory Board.

The more educated the industry is about social media, the more successful Deep Focus will be. I’ve brought Deep Focus in as a partner to coordinate & run events and help with communications around Social Media Week NY. We’ll be very visible during Social Media Week, so be on the lookout for the team!

Q: What is a major trend you see rising in the social media space of the ad industry or otherwise?
IS: Social media represents an evolution in the ways humans connect to each other, to information, to brands, to objects, to causes, and to places. The biggest trend I see this year is that some companies will actually begin to integrate social media into their organizations, not just their marketing programs or public relations efforts. It will only be a handful of larger brands at first, but smaller brands have been doing this for a while, and will inspire the big guys. The usage numbers are too large to ignore or write off. Social gaming will become a viable ad medium, and mobile connections will be more important than ever, as payment processing starts picking up steam, and smartphone penetration hits an even bigger critical mass.

Q: How do you use social media for both personal and professional use?
IS: Personally, I use social media just like everyone else does – to stay close to family and friends, discover new content, and share what I find interesting. Professionally, I’ve been using social media to put a human face on Deep Focus, while also empowering other Deep Focusers to do the same. I use it to share opinions and things I find interesting with people within (and outside of) the advertising and technology industries. I like staying close to news and information, but I like staying close to people even more.

Professionally, my social media channels of choice are Twitter and my blog. I find it wonderful that I’m not only surrounded by brilliant people at work, but on Twitter as well. Some may say that social media dilutes the idea of being friends with, or even “knowing” people. That’s only true if you let it. It can make those relationships stronger if you make it. I opt for the latter.

Q: What are you looking forward to the most during Social Media Week 2011?
IS: I’m looking forward to Deep Focus’ panel as it comes together, as well as many other events at the JWT hub. I also plan on making it to the other hubs so I can engage in conversation about things other than advertising and marketing. Of particular interest are events that discuss the impact social media has had, and will have, on culture, society, journalism, and governments. Debates on privacy concerns are also something I’m looking forward to participating in.

Q: What are a few major goals for Deep Focus in 2011?
IS: In 2011, Deep Focus is going to make significant advancements in integrating social media and engagement into our clients’ overall marketing and business strategies. We’ve done a great job of making measurement and ROI an important part of what we do, but there’s much more work to be done. As everything becomes more social, we’ll be developing initiatives that use digital media to move people physically, and get them to create content when they are there. We will be cementing the role of the “engagement agency” in a brand’s agency roster, and making that role a significant consideration for brands everywhere.

We’re also looking forward to our first full year as a part of the Engine USA family, and will be working with our sister agency, Noise, and other new partners to bring integrated marketing solutions to some of the biggest brands in the world – all while keeping the consumer at the center of marketing strategies, where they belong.

Follow Ian on Twitter and his blog.

Alysha Lalji is a contributing writer to the Social Media Week blog and works in digital communications at Deep Focus.