Social Media Boot Camp: Progressive Women’s Voices

(crib notes and some text of the talk below)

Resource list

My notes for the talk

Let's kick off with one of the grandest social media experiments ever: the Wikipedia. How many people have looked up something on the Wikipedia? A-ha, yes. Becoming pretty darn important in the culture, eh?

Now how many of you have edited something on the Wikipedia?

Hmmmmm. Did you know that eighty percent of the Wikipedia's editors are male? And most of them are young, too. You know what that means?


These guys are documenting history. Seriously?


Okay. I really, really need you guys in here. We can't let this moment pass by… women and other previously marginalized voices have this huge opportunity to shape conversations and shift our cultural consciousness with their experiences and expertise. But it's going to take tons of different perspectives to make that change happen… this is like DNA. The more we mix up what we're putting into ideas and culture, the better chance we'll have at evolving and making progress.

So then. Let's clear up some common perceptions about social media first. I want you to be REALLY honest here…


How many people think this is about confesses all our dirty laundry and documenting every last moment of everything? We'll get into more about the private versus professional stuff later, but one of the more fascinating parts of social media is ambient awareness of one another. We're creating pointillist paintings of our lives.


Yeah, yeah, Oprah and Ashton are on Twitter, big deal. I feel the same way! It's fun to sometimes get updates from cool people like William Gibson (famous authors are sometimes the most fun people to follow), but for the most part, you can ignore the whole celebrity brou-haha.


Who doesn't have time for this? Got it. A couple of thoughts here. One, over time, you'll find that using various social media replaces some amount of email, because people are in touch with you online. The other thing is that I'm going to ask you up front to set aside 2 or 3 weeks, and practice 20 minutes a day or so to just see how you feel.


Who really hates technology? It changes all the time, blah blah blah. I hear you on that. But hopefully what we're going to cover today will give you some solid fundamentals that will carry you across multiple technologies without a lot of learning curve, so that picking up new things when they come down the pike… and abandoning old one… isn't so bad.


There's an economy at work on the Internet, and it's all about reputation. Increasingly, our lives are being built around referral, recommendation, and being known Out There. This isn't new, or different, than how we've operated for eons… it's just that it's all mapped out, and we can all see everything now.


So if you're missing from a number of social networks or media spaces, it's a little awkward. It's like, remember when it was OK to not have an email address? And then all of the sudden that wasn't OK? This is where we're going with these things. Part of that also is that you're going to show up in search results one way or another, and social networks are coming up more and more in the top results, so this is a really good way to have tremendous influence on what comes up.


Ah yes, influence. So, the currency of this economy — how many Burners in the group? You know the gift economy? — is social capital. Just like regular capital, it's something that's earned and invested, but not just for personal gain. This whole part of the world is about doing things because they're a good idea, not just to Get Ahead. It's like a simplified notion of karma, in many ways.

Here are some of the things that make up your social capital, according to Tara Hunt, author of The Whuffie Factor (with my explanations):

" Connections: Who do you know? Not just important or famous people, either. Are you connected to lots of different kinds of people who can complete different tasks?
" Reputation: What are you known for? What do people say about your expertise?
" Influence: Can you move groups of people, small or large, to take some action?
" Access to ideas, talent: Beyond your own skill set, do you have ways of reaching out to others with talent and knowledge?
" Access to resources: You may not be able to fund a particular project, but do you know people who can? Do you have ways of generating physical support?
" Potential access: Will your access to resources and talent stay static in the future, or will it continue to grow?
" Saved-up favors: We're not writing down every good deed, but do people remember you for the ways that you help others? This is incredibly important. Is your own generosity with your social capital part of your reputation?
" Accomplishments: What awards have you won? What concrete recognition — papers or articles published, etc. — have you received for your work?


One of the biggest things is to know that authenticity is absolutely key here. Who you are — as a professional, as a person, whatever you choose to run with — needs to shine on in social media. Your voice is unique, your expertise and perspective are 100% you… don't lock them down in old school stuffy corporate speak. Conversations are important… messaging is more subtle.


Any questions so far?

So, how do we actually do this? What does it mean to be public?


One of the main focuses in the book that I just wrote is that I feel pretty strongly about sharing our everyday experiences with one another… that we present a sort of version of our lives that says, "Hey, this is what it's like to be a person in these shoes." It's like the digital version of consciousness raising. We can use these seemingly unimportant minutiae of our lives as fiercely political acts, to connect with one another on more real, empathic levels. Storytelling is the building block for any movement for change, and here's our chance to share our stories. It's terrifying, but also fun, and highly impactful in unexpected ways.


The reality is that at this juncture, it's hard for many of us to do that, especially women. And that's actually okay… your first guidepost should be that of Susan Mernit, who says, "If you're wondering whether you should post something, you probably shouldn't." First and foremost, you need to be comfortable with what you're doing, or else you won't be super authentic, will you? There are plenty of people that are very conversational and never reveal a wit in their blogging or their social networks about their personal lives. Check out Johanna Vondeling on Twitter, Lynne D Johnson on Fast Company, her own blog, and Twitter, and Allison Fine on her blog and Twitter.


You may have any number of fears… blending personal and professional profiles, keeping your information safe, etc. The best thing to do, honestly, is get yourself a buddy or a mentor who can walk you through the different settings on different networks. I'm happy to help any of you. What are your fears?


Your toolkit! Here are the different pieces that go into a social media toolkit. There's more detailed information in a presentation that Susan Mernit and I gave at WAM! this year, which will be in the resource link list.

Framing difference: bucket versus flow, via Baratunde Thurston. Email is a bucket that needs to be emptied, but social networks have flows of information going by. You dip in and out as time allows; it's like a water cooler you can stop by. You're also allowed to take longer breaks altogether!


It's a good idea to set up a blog for yourself if you haven't already. If your organization has a blog, start cross-posting your pieces there. Christine Cupaiuolo has some great resrouces on getting started with blogging, and I'll put them in the resource link list, too.

One of the most important things you can do with a blog is use it to help flesh out a profile of who you are, what your expertise is, and what topics you cover. Traffic, honestly, does not matter in this case, because what you're doing with your blog is in some ways adding a robust search result about your work. Especially if there's breaking news in your area of expertise, a blog can be a great tool to punch out quick-hit thoughts into the world, and serve as a platform for cross-posting elsewhere.

Which brings me to the next bit, working with other blogs that do have more traffic! Huffington Post (sigh), AlterNet, group blogs that cover what you write about… If you've got something good, submit it to as many other outlets that will republish it as you can. This (unfortunately) isn't about getting paid for in-depth reportage; it's about building your social capital.


A lot of professional and corporate folk use LinkedIn extensively. The profiles there are very much geared towards the professional and are less about sharing personal experience, so many people are more comfortable joining there instead of Facebook, for example. It's a good idea to fill this out as it can act like a running resume of your work and accomplishments, and it creates another way that, for example, media outlets who are googling you or your topic can quickly look and say, oh she's a real person.


Dun dun dunnnnnn… Facebook is great for a variety of reasons. How many people are on Facebook already? First rule: "block application" is your friend. Hide is your friend. Excellent for checking in and letting your friends curate news; also very helpful for organizations on awareness building. Not good for direct fundraising — Internet is not an ATM! More on organizational uses in another presentation that's not as pretty as this one.


Whee. Does everyone know what it is? Very large, fast moving flow of info. I have a beginner's guide; big points here are don't be afraid to unfollow, and along with Facebook, only 20-30% of your tweets should be about you. Last points:you're your real name, don't add your org name to it, and keep your feed separate from your org's feed.


Google analytics for traffic to blog
Google alerts on your name, organization
Saved searches in Twitter (ability to search status updates supposedly coming soon in Facebook)

(this section is from a post I link to above on Social Media ROI)

My friend Beka referred me to this fabulous 28-page Social Media ROI report from Peashoot. One of the biggest takeaways from the report is that it’s important in social media to not just consider traditional ways of measuring success. This is not about dollars raised, for example, as a direct measurement of the time you invest in having these conversations.

Here are some examples:

* Satisfaction. Look at not just the number of people talking about your work, but start documenting what they’re saying. Is it positive? Neutral? Negative?
* Authority. Are they coming to your organization as a resource, looking to you for expertise?
* Loyalty and trust. How about repeat performance … is this their first time dealing with you? How often are they dealing with you?

When working with these measurements, goal-setting becomes crucial. It’s important to keep your goals very tight, direct and focused, especially when you’re getting going. Choose timeframes that are small … having x positive conversations about your work per week. Also, keep your metrics, to start, within just a couple of services. Say that you’re going to work on your Twitter presence for the next two months and then stick with it, rather than trying to spread yourself too thin across multiple services.

Charlene Li has a great graphic on measuring blogging impact…

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