Sunday, July 21, 2013

Twitter Emerges as Powerful Tool in Wake of Zimmerman Verdict

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

A snapshot of the power of social media to quickly mobilize people in order to accomplish a specific goal. Good work, @MoreAndAgain!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Over, Under, Through*: Social Media Steps Over Mainstream Media in Protest Coverage

The past few weeks have brought so many wonderful examples of the power of social media to connect, share and transform the political landscape in profoundly exciting ways. Like many people, I've been glued to Twitter following the battle for reproductive rights in Texas. Despite the huge groundswell of these protests, with up 200, 000 people watching livestream coverage of Sen. Wendy Davis' filibuster late into the night, the mainstream media was nowhere to be seen, even as many people were mentioning the Twitter handles of news outlets directly and asking for coverage. 

Anyone who has been paying attention to media shifts isn't surprised. For several years, I have been getting my news directly from Twitter. With careful curation of your follow list (and this step is important), you can quickly amass a timeline that is packed with timely and accurate information about what is happening in your neighborhood, town, country or on the other side of the world. With this kind of information at your fingertips, there is simply no reason to look at a major news site anymore, where the information is often an hours or days-old stale rehash of AP or Reuters, or even worse, full of errors. The ongoing decimation of newsrooms across the country doesn't bode well for any improvement on this front.

So as events unfold in Texas, Ohio or anywhere in the world, I'll be checking Twitter. No need to wait around for mainstream media to report what is happening. The people on the ground are on it. 

*Tip of the hat to Tiny Fey, who cited this Sesame Street teaching phrase when addressing how she deals with workplace sexism in her insightful and hilarious memoir Bossypants. Applies nicely to barriers of all kinds!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Online Meltdowns

I'm not sure which point this story about Amy's Baking Company illustrates more clearly: the need for strategic, clear-headed social media management or the need for expanded access to mental health services. Either way, it's painful to watch unfold.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Challenges of Community Building During Times of Need

If businesses or organizations haven't thought about or implemented social media strategically, they may find themselves with a dilemma when they need something from their community, such as attendance at an event, building momentum for their cause or funding. Perhaps the number of likes or followers is too low, there hasn't been good content or engagement yet now the urgent need or deadline is looming--with little community to activate. What to do?

Unfortunately these are not the ideal conditions to build community. The reason is very simple and can be illustrated with a neighbor analogy: if your next door neighbor rarely spoke to you, made no effort with social niceties, then rang your doorbell one morning in a panic asking for a ride to the airport, how would you feel? You might agree to it because you're on the spot, but you also might make an excuse. You might not even answer the door. Why? No effort had gone into creating the conditions of investment.

Community building can be done in the middle of need but requires thought and planning. How can the organization now, even in the midst of the pressing need, offer great content, great connections, perhaps a giveaway--something to the community as it is built? All the activity on your networks may help get new followers or likes but they can be lost just as quickly if the ratio of asking to giving is skewed.

If this does happen, it is a great opportunity to start thinking strategically about social media so that the organization can capitalize on the energy of the growing community and build investment--before the next need appears.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Social Media Skyrockets

This week an article from Fast Company caught my eye: in the next five years, chief marketing officers anticipate social media budgets more than doubling, to 22% of the total marketing budget.

A huge shift, but the landscape of social media is changing quickly--no longer optional, cute or kid stuff, social media is business critical and the dollars reflect it. Social media companies are well positioned: the cost of promoted tweets and trends has skyrocketed. According to All Things D, the cost of a promoted trend on Twitter rose 33% over last year, now at $200, 000 per day. 

Facebook community managers are already well aware of paid posts on that platform. Facebook smartly places a "promote" link at the bottom of every page post, so if your post doesn't perform as you had hoped, you can fix it with a click of a button--and dollars, of course.  For those bemoaning the fact that much content is never actually seen by the people that "like" your organization, this can be a tempting option. The New York Times Bits blog recently featured the upset caused by this reality and the looming question of whether Facebook's practices constitute a monopoly.

What's happening in your organization or business? Are you dedicated more of your budgets to social media? If so, where are you cutting back, if at all?

Monday, February 25, 2013

What's In a Hashtag?

Being simply a reflection of offline life, the internet is both great and terrible.  Most of it is great, but the terrible stuff gets more attention. Nowhere is this more evident than in Twitter trending topics and hashtags. As I write, #ThingsGirlsLike is trending.  An example of what this hashtag inspired:

Though it's easy to get caught up in outraged reaction to the awfulness, instead of putting your head in your hands and crying for humanity, direct your attention to two other hashtags that trended earlier this month. The first, #TellAFeministThankYou

  then #WhiteHistoryLessons

I was glued to my phone as both unfolded, alternating between laughter, cringing and the turning on of lightbulbs. Plenty of people were encouraging others to read and learn. Sure, there were trolls, there always are, but the righteous power of these tweeters definitely prevailed.

What's in a hashtag? Sometimes nonsense, hatefulness and defiant ignorance. But other times? It's the collective, coalescing to unpack privilege, to tell the story from a perspective not often enough heard or ignored. 

Jamil Smith, who works for the Melissa Harris Perry show, said this last night:

Smith nailed it.

What's in a hashtag? Waking up.