The folks behind the curtain at PLUS blog recently had the opportunity to spend a few minutes (by phone) with entrepreneur, social media expert, and PLUS Medical PL and Professional Risk Symposia presenter, Peter Shankman.

PLUS Blog: In your opinion, what makes social media so revolutionary?

Peter Shankman: It’s not social media that is revolutionary, but for first time ever everyone in the world is a reporter – a journalist to some extent. Everyone has a camera, and is connected to thousands of other people – the tools that social media bring with them help to tell the story of customer service, whether good or bad.

PB: What is the most unique or impactful use of social media that you’ve seen?

PS: The best things are when someone has an incredible experience you can share it with the world – share the moment they’re in. Everyone can share the good and the bad – It really has to come back to positive customer service. If you get upgraded to 1st class you take a picture and say “Hey, this is great!” But if your flight is delayed 4 hours because of an overflowing toilet, that will be the top downloaded image on Twitter.

PB: You’ve stated that being a great writer and being able to tell a good story are vital to engaging people. With almost everyone writing daily on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and elsewhere, are we becoming better writers as a whole?

PS: Absolutely not. When you only have 140 characters to engage your audience you damn well better know how to write. The ability to write well is a dying art – It will kill your business if you can’t communicate with your customers. Become a great headline writer – that’s what it is all about.

PB: I really liked your tweet this morning on amazing the customers you have versus trying to chase more followers. Are organizations getting better at being social or are social media still being used primarily as a broadcast vs. engagement platform?

PS: No one cares how awesome you are if you’re the one that has to tell them. Companies are starting to learn to engage instead of broadcast – if you want to broadcast go buy radio.

PB: In the insurance world, social media are often viewed as potential exposures instead of tools for engagement. How can this mindset be overcome?

PS: Become a curator – Find interesting things, articles, newspaper clippings, websites and become the person that tweets those out. When people then need information they’ll know where to go.

PB: According to a recent study, over 50% of employers Google potential hires before bringing them on board, and in some cases before interviewing them. This opens a potential Pandora’s Box of discrimination and employment liability related claims. As a social media advocate, how do you view employers’ use of this publicly available information?

PS: That number is closer to 95% actually. The truth is, privacy died 30 years ago. It is our job to be smarter and not post pictures of the stupid things that we do.

PB: With that in mind, do you see a point at which companies or social networks will start shrinking/losing customers as a result of the move toward less restrictive/protective privacy policies?

PS: If the benefit outweighs the drawback we as consumers are fine with it. If Google knows that I occasionally visit this site or that it doesn’t bother me. I’d rather that they know I’ve visited 15 sites about travel in Nicaragua and I then get relevant info about traveling to Nicaragua. If I get information about traveling to Taiwan, that doesn’t help me.

PB: What else should we know about you?

PS: There is a lot of worry and fear out there regarding social media. It is time to get the hell over it. If you get it right you can generate a lot more revenue with it.

For more from Peter Shankman catch him at the upcoming Medical PL and Professional Risk Symposia, March 29 and 30 in Chicago. Early bird registration deadline is March 6.