by Kweli Wright
Calling someone a ‘freak’ isn’t generally a compliment, but if you called Terance Thatch a ‘gadget freak’ he wouldn’t even be mad. “I’m a very creative person, but I’m a gadget freak,” Thatch confirms. “I joined the Air Force right out of high school and went to work in the technology field, but at night I was on the radio and ran a promotions company; when the Internet hit, I was hooked.” After the Air Force, Thatch returned to Atlanta and attended Morris Brown College and wrote his senior thesis on African-Americans & the Digital Divide. “After doing that research, I knew I had to be in technology in some shape, form or fashion.”
These days, he works as a product manager and is best described as a social influencer, taste-maker, marketer, biz developer, and mobile entertainment and social media beast. You’ll have to read-on for an explanation of that moniker…
We recently caught up with Thatch to talk about why MySpace is still relevant and how the African Americans should recognize the power we possess in digital media.
Favorite website: That’s hard. Mashable.com, Twitter.com and Bluefly.com (I’m a clothes & shoes junkie).
Favorite read: The Way of the Wild Heart : A Map for the Masculine Journey by John Eldredge
Recent read: “Mobile Media and Applications, From Concept to Cash: Successful Service Creation” and “Launch” by Andy Johnston & others.
2010′s ultimate goal: I’ve been toying with the idea of launching my own website and mobile & social engagement company. I’m determined to have both of them off the ground before year’s end.
Quote Governing Terance’s Mission: “I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying” – Michael Jordan.
Can you describe your job and the demands of your position?
In short, I manage and develop digital entertainment properties. I write product requirements, work with business development and senior management to define the product road map and I’m constantly looking for ways to increase the value of a product through consumer feedback or things going on in the mobile entertainment industry. Demanding is putting it lightly. Most of the products I manage are subscription-based and with P&L responsibility, everything I do must be carefully monitored because the slightest enhancement or change could affect thousands of subscribers and affect hundreds of thousands of dollars.
What is a typical day consist of for you?
I wish I knew what a typical day was like. I manage two branded entertainment properties so I usually start my day by checking out what happened the day before. I’ll review properties billing numbers, etc. That is usually followed by going into my task management system to see what issues have been assigned to me to review or to assign task or issues to IT, operations or marketing. Everyday there are multiple meetings; Monday usually involved writing
SMS copy, Tuesday’s is usually creating pivot tables, reports and graphs in advance for Wednesday’s product roundtable. Depending on the day, I’m writing specs for new products or product enhancements, juggling calls from IT, marketing or business development or researching new prizes or contest for promotions. I’m always collaborating with other Product Managers The end of the day usually finds me dealing with vendors, updating the loyalty catalog for
contest winners, updating the website and creating mobile games for the next day.
What does social media mean to you?
To me, social media is the two way street of information. Media—newspaper, broadcast TV–feeds you information. It tends to tell you a story, supposedly unbiased. Social media flips that completely by allowing you to interact with that information and communicate it back within your social circle, usually with some power of influence.
What attracted you to the digital world?
The digital world allows me to combine my strengths with passion. It allows me to be that technologist who is stuck in a marketer’s body. I’ve always been into computers since the days of DOS but I’m “mechanically declined”.
You say your friends describe you as a “social media beast.” Why?
I’m on MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr, Flavor.me and a few other sites. I use my laptop, iPad, Android and Blackberry to get the word out about anything I feel is relevant 24/7. More importantly though, I think I am labeled a “social media beast” by my friends because I understand how to leverage the power of social media. Social media allows you the freedom to say something you might not normally say in person. It allows you to reach out and connect to someone you might not otherwise come in contact with.
Why do you think you are the go-to guy when it comes to music and digital industries?
Passion! Someone said to me “follow your heart, do what you love and the money will find you.” This statement is so true and I didn’t understand what that meant until I was laid off from a job with a great salary and took an intern position at Hidden Beach Recordings. I live and breathe this stuff. I’m constantly reading up trends in social and emerging media. I speak on panels about it, tweet about it, I push my friends on it.
I have something of a daily ritual; I wake up every morning and check my email for my feeds from places like PaidContent.org, MocoNews.net, MobileMarketer.com as well as hitting up sites like DigitalMusicNews.com, Billboard.com, Variety.com, and Adweek to see what happened overnight. Most mornings on the train headed into the office, you’ll find me surfing Mashable.com or similar sites on my iPad and tweeting digital media updates. On weekends, I’m reading or in a bookstore perusing booking on media, music and technology on any giving day. Music and technology soothes my soul.
Why is it important for African Americans to immerse themselves in new digital media?
Digital media is the future and as it evolves; our way of life will evolve. I recently read an article that said African-Americans spend 31% of our discretionary income, $39 billion, on computers, cell phone and other electronics; higher than any other ethnicity. We also spend more time online than in front of the TV. We’re consumers, tastemakers and influencers. Not only should we understand it, but we should immerse ourselves in it, own it and be decision makers in our future.
From an economical standpoint, it is important for us to not only spend our money in this realm, but understand the power we yield in digital media. By immersing ourselves–and therefore educating ourselves–we would eventually be able to gain more control over what and how things are marketed within our community. Consumer power and influence at its best.
You still have a MySpace page. Given the blazing popularity of Facebook and Twitter, why do you feel MySpace is important right now?
MySpace is just as importance now as it was two years ago. MySpace is more customizable than Facebook or Twitter and from a creative standpoint, there’s more room for play and originality. I think musicians, comedians, and entertainers have more leverage on MySpace to showcase their talent. From a brand marketer’s standpoint, Facebook allows you to reach your target audience and connect with them. With Facebook advertising, you can create your own ads, choose Pay Per Click or via impression to control your marketing budget and you get real time reporting, when you want it.
Twitter is a “micro-blogger,” great for short updates. The more you update, the more you attract people and unless you have privacy setting in place, it is easier for someone to follow you. From a marketing and publicity standpoint, Twitter is great promo tool. In the end, each one has its advantages and disadvantages and serves a different purpose for different people. They are all communication tools.
What advice would you give to an entrepreneur on developing his or her brand using new digital media?
Everyone uses digital media. 194 million consumers are on the Internet. Digital media influences $500 billion in offline retail sales. Men 18-24 spend so much time online, gaming and using mobile phones that digital media is increasingly important to reach them. Understand your target audience, know where they go and what they like and use that information to develop a digital roadmap for your brand. Leverage the power of digital media.