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Saluting our local... Social Media Pioneers
Caravan News 2922

Saluting our local... Social Media Pioneers

When you think of pioneers, you think of those that lead the way, create something new and memorable, someone who isn't afraid of taking the path least traveled.  We honor three community Social Media pioneers for their positive and impactful contributions:  Matt Beckwith, Podcast Stockton, Benjamin Saffold, Gospel Center Rescue Mission, and Miguel Guillen, StocktonCa and Mayaco Marketing & Internet.

If you've ever listened to local podcasts, enjoyed a photo that made you smile or laugh on #StocktonCa, or you're involved with the arts and social causes via social media, you'll want to thank Matt, Benjamin and Miguel for all their hard work and volunteer efforts.

For all three, it all started with a vision, a desire to help and make our community a better place for all.

Being social isn't anything new.  The way in which we are social is.

Remember the term "Social Butterfly?"  The term "Butterfly" gave way to "Media" and a whole new way of interacting with each other began.  Some say we live a "distracted life" due to social media.  Others find social media an amazing answer to stay connected with friends and family in a very positive manner.

The average person on social media spends about 2 hours per day checking their accounts for tweets, pics, postings, videos and comments.   Whatever your reason, there is reason to celebrate the good things happening on the Social Media front because of these pioneers and others in our community.

While our "pioneers" have mainly made contributions via their volunteer and community efforts, we also would like to acknowledge the contributions of Wes Rhea, Stockton Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) "Visit Stockton."  While a CVB in most cities is tasked with promoting the city to attract visitors, Wes was involved early on with Social Media as a way of promoting Stockton.  This was part of his duties, but we know that he went above and beyond with targeted CVB investments in Social Media as a marketing tool to enhance Stockton's image and bring more visitors to our community.  He has achieved much success as well.  We thank Wes for his unique community contributions and his support of others in the Social Media realm.


With Miguel, he was tired of all the shootings and negativity around Stockton and he, along with some friends, wanted to show the "positive" of Stockton through Instagram in 2012.  This also was a way to add crafty filters to photos.  Instagram was a ghost town platform then, soon after the platform took off a couple of months in 2013.

For Matt, it all started with Flickr a file-sharing photo/video platform called Flickr in 2006 and the YouTube to connect with people all over the world and meet locals.

For Benjamin it was a desire to connect with individuals that shared his common interest that got him started on MySpace around 2005.  Now he uses various Social Media platforms.


All three pioneers found social media as a great way to connect to followers, listeners, associates locally and throughout the world.  Imagine that for a moment the profound change in the way we communicate and interact with one another easily due to Social Media.  " Facebook connected us in a way that was never possible before," Matt said.

Social Media also removed many of the gatekeepers controlling information.  Never before had there been such an opportunity for individuals to reach masses so easily and directly.

Miguel shared another viewpoint regarding Social Media.  " We're living in a time of instant gratification when something is posted on social media, text messages etc., you get a quick response. For example, you send a text to your friend. Five minutes goes by and there is no response. You wait another five, and you can feel the anxiety and impatience rising. The need to receive instant gratification is a growing trend in modern society."


MySpace was probably one of the first social media platforms that caught the attention of the masses.  It soon gave way to other, more popular platforms like Facebook and including the quick adoption of mobile phones for social media interaction.  One could say that the mobile effort of social media today really owe its beginning to the invention of the cell phone because without it, people would find it hard to stay connected.

Reflecting upon the beginning of social media, Matt shared, "When I first started using social media it seemed as if every service catered to the fringe. Most services provided a place for a tiny sliver of the population to converse. In the early days, this meant most people interacted with many people that were vastly different than the people they interacted with in real-life. That also meant that  social media was a great new way to interact with people that were once impossible."

Benjamin added, " Social Media started as a free-for-all of sorts. NO ONE could predict where it was going in the beginning."


Benjamin is involved as a volunteer and leader with numerous arts and literary efforts.  He also contributes to the mission of his work. "Gospel Center Rescue Mission is blessed to have truly compassionate Facebook "fans". We can post a need for turkeys for Thanksgiving or volunteers for fundraising events​ and receive immediate and overwhelming response. Our favorite social media impact? Receiving a post or a message from a program client graduate who wants us to know that they are continuing in their successful recovery after coming to us homeless and addicted years earlier. Gospel Center Rescue Mission has the highest rate (of 47%) of long-term recovery from drug-addiction in the county. Knowing that is great. Having said that, there is a distinct thrill in hearing from an actual individual sending a personal note of appreciation and update of their new life since coming through our doors. To know that my social media efforts contribute to the facilitation of electronic interaction for such a higher purpose is rewarding beyond words!"


Matt quickly responded, " I have learned so much from other people from using social media and I have started some of the greatest personal and professional relationships of my life. "

Benjamin viewed that question in this manner.  " Its potential. If you understand its highest purpose and use, and utilize that to truly serve you in your daily life, it can increase your interactive experience with people and information to an exponential degree"

Miguel commented, "Social media is a powerful tool to promote business and even grow your own personal blog brand. As fast as social media has evolved up to now, it is certain that we will be seeing many more changes in the coming years. It is important to stay in the know. Knowledge is Power."


For his final thoughts, Benjamin said, ​ "I have found that maintaining my moral consistency, fidelity and integrity from my personal life on social media has reaped rewards for me both personally and professionally. My personal brand is an asset to my professional brand and vice versa. I encourage everyone to ask themselves, "Why am I on social media?", "What do I want from my social media experience?", "Where is the boundary that divides the 'virtual' from the 'real'?" and "How can I best stay focused and maintain a healthy perspective while on social media so that it serves me and not the other way around?". I completely enjoy my time on social media. I also completely enjoy my time away from social media. That's what I call balance!"

Without a doubt, StocktonCA has become an extremely strong, positive voice for our community.  "The movement of hash tag #stocktonca began to a group of people who were heavily involved in the community promoting the good of Stockton, CA. Now over 16,700 followers luse it as one of Stockton’s leading Instagram pages of all things good," said Miguel.

For Matt, "I serve as the event chair for the Stockton Earth Day Festival, a role I took on after being the event emcee for a few years. I was introduced to this group by Benjamin Saffold, whom I had never met in person, we only knew each other on Twitter. I also serve as a board member for the San Joaquin Bike Coalition, again, through people I met through Podcast Stockton and Twitter and Facebook. I, along with my wife and daughter, volunteer with the California Rays Beep Baseball team, California’s only NBBA sanctioned Beep Baseball team (beep baseball is baseball played by blind and visually impaired athletes). I met Jennifer Boylan, an amazing blind woman and athlete, on Twitter and the rest is history."


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