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Social Media

Change Makers

“So, what can companies do [about social business]?

“Experimentation is key. I believe that social champions are evolving into champions of change and internal transformation. I actually see businesses changing how they approach social media to deliver value to the consumer,” Solis said. “We’re at the end of decades of moving away from the customer, automating their experiences, and interpreting loyalty by how much they spend not how much they drive business and that’s changing because of the tenets social media encourages. But not of this is possible without the voice of the consumer and employee gaining strength and the voice of change agents who are making a difference internally.”

From The Battle for Social Media Authenticity

When I work with companies in helping them do social business, this is exactly what I say/think/do. Social Media is not a stand alone that someone with a twitter account can do. In itself, it’s not a strategy – it’s a tactic. Doing social business takes someone knowing businesses, of being able to think differently, of knowing how to connect the internal structure of a company to an external community and more over, being able to create the internal change needed to bring it all together.

It’s often a hard and long processes because exec’s think social media is pure marketing and often entry level. But it takes someone with leadership, creativity, insight and human/business understanding to do it right.

Most of all, it takes passion and courage to be a change maker. Because the resistence you’ll get initially and the blockers that will keep popping up and the amount of ideas, meetings and selling you’ll have to do will be a lot.

But so will the rewards.

Online Brand Management

In the past five years I’ve worked with a lot of brands get into social media in a holistic, useful, human way. Each of the companies had unique internal organizations, brand voice, industry (retail, software, online content, hollywood PR) and different external goals. But after working with several companies and their different needs, I began to realise an overall process that was needed before doing any kind of campaigns, marketing or expansion on – especially in case a crisis situation arose (and it always, always did in the most surprising of ways).

When I work with companies now, the following presentation is the basics of what I do (and I do mean basics!). I’m a huge believer that you don’t just “do” social media or hire an intern or someone out of school because ‘they know how to tweet’ (I remind people that if it took them 5 years to build a company, it can be undone in 5 seconds with the wrong tweet).

Before a company gets into social media, they need to ask themselves a very important question: why. Once that’s answered, they need to figure out what the brand’s online voice is (this can sometimes be a couple of months of trial and error to see what’s working & what isn’t) and then what social media channels work best for all of that and the company. Then the whole company can start to produce the right content, customer service and campaigns plus be able to receive information back from the community, grow it, and empower it.

The other big component is the Crisis Communication solution, lightly touched on here. It’s something I try to get initiated in the beginning of working with a company but generally speaking, it’s been hard to partner with PR and internal groups to get this accomplished as a lot of companies – particularly corporations – are used to working in silos. And PR, generally speaking, acts as a gate keeper of information and doesn’t seem to like partnering with social groups in solving online issues (they like to “make statements” instead of looking at the issue, understanding its online process and community, and addressing it frankly). Usually the thought of a crisis communication plan doesn’t come up until, well, there’s a crisis. Don’t let that happen to you – trust me.

[slideshare id=6795541&doc=onlinebrandmanagement-110203014917-phpapp02]

Convergence Culture

Convergence requires media companies to rethink old assumptions about what it means to consume media, assumptions that shape both programming and marketing decisions. If old consumers were assumed to be passive, the new consumers are active. If old consumers were predictable and stayed where you told them to stay, then new consumers are migratory, showing a d declining loyalty to networks or media. If old consumers were isolated individuals, the new consumers are more socially connected.

As they undergo this transition, the media companies are not behaving in a monolithic fashion; often, different divisions of the same company are pursuing radically different strategies, reflecting their uncertainty about how to proceed.

Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide by Henry Jenkins

Negotiating Technology


Amish settlements have become a cliché for refusing technology. Tens of thousands of people wear identical, plain, homemade clothing, cultivate their rich fields with horse-drawn machinery, and live in houses lacking that basic modern spirit called electricity. But the Amish do use such 20th-century consumer technologies as disposable diapers, in-line skates, and gas barbecue grills. Some might call this combination paradoxical, even contradictory. But it could also be called sophisticated, because the Amish have an elaborate system by which they evaluate the tools they use; their tentative, at times reluctant use of technology is more complex than a simple rejection or a whole-hearted embrace. What if modern Americans could possibly agree upon criteria for acceptance, as the Amish have? Might we find better ways to wield technological power, other than simply unleashing it and seeing what happens? What can we learn from a culture that habitually negotiates the rules for new tools? (via)

I often feel like a great contradiction; I have long been an advocate and avid user of technology (having been on every computer since the Commodore 64 & Apple ][) but at the same time have completely resisted so much of it – it took me years to get a cell phone. And although I’ve been online since 1988 and had a web page since 1995, I am really hesitant about spending lots of time reading other blogs and updating my own. I love connection and sharing information but still feel confused about Twitter and Facebook. I totally keep up to date on everything new media and tech because I both love and work in it but at the same time I read lots of books, garden and spend a great deal of time outdoors, disconnected.

Over the past two years I’ve had a really hard time trying to put all of this into words and accurately describe (or even catch up) to how I’m feeling about technology as more of it’s created and incorporated at crazy speeds. Because it’s not going away and really, I don’t want it to. It’s just trying to figure how to be a part of it instead of swept up in it.

With the addition of Twitter, RSS Feeds, and Facebook, I’ve found myself receiving the same bits of information several times over. For example, I used to just subscribe to a blogs feed and access their info that way. But if that person is on Twitter, they’ll also tweet about their new post and link to it. If they’re on Facebook, chances are their Twitter hits their Facebook profile and I’ll get an update there, too. LinkedIn now offers the same. So instead of getting one piece of information one way, I’m getting the same information 3 or 4 different ways which results in an overload.

But what happens if you then remove that person from your Twitter feed? Will they think you aren’t their friend? This has happened to me. People have equated my Twitter removal with a friend removal even though in real life I did a lot more and gave much more support than just clicking “follow” on Twitter. So once you incorporate technology, removing it becomes really hard because of social and sometime business consequences.

A lot of my work is in new media so if I’m not Twittering up a storm or talking about the same things as everyone else or Diggining’ every post, it can seem as though I have no idea about these things. The truth is, I do and almost always know about them from the beginning before main stream thanks to all my geek friends who build the stuff and I get to test it out. But there comes a point where I ask myself, in my personal life, do I need this? How much value does it have to me? How much value does it have to my readers? Am I overloading us both? Am being redundant? Am I just saying whats already said to several mediums just to stay relevant, but not even really being relevant?

Now lets add in the iPhone of which I have had for a couple of years. After my 4 year old more than basic cell phone died I decided to get an iPhone so I wouldn’t have to worry about upgrading for a long time and liked the idea of music/phone. But when people see mine, they think I’m insane. You only have three apps? they ask. Do you need helping knowing about apps? No, I’ll tell them. I’m actually up on a lot of apps, I know what’s out there, I know what’s being built it’s just that my needs don’t require them. I don’t want to be able to do everything all the time on my phone. It used to be if I didn’t have my computer with me, people understood not getting an email right away or me checking out their Flickr or their new MySpace page. But then laptops came to be and so vacationing got really hard. Now with the iPhone, every minute, every day, everywhere you can access every thing.

There’s no reason to miss an email, an update, a YouTube video, or everything you friend ate that day. In fact, I feel like all this technology and access has prevented us from doing more and instead made us monitor more. How much of your day is just catching up on what other people are (uselessly) doing? How much of your information intake is actually propelling you to a better life? How much is just a big time suck but you feel like you just have to keep up with your friends, comment on their status, read that popular blog post or contribute your own for fear of being irrelevant, seeming unhip or worse, out of touch.

I feel the need to reiterate that I love technology and am thankful for the web; it’s provided me a fantastic career and I’ve met the most amazing friends and counterparts because of it. There are so many amazing communities and sites out there from technology to health to home and travel that I have found more than useful, inspirational and just plain fun. But even though so much of my life is incorporated into new media and technology, I don’t want my life to be 100% about it. I don’t want to know that much about everyone or feel obligated to comment on every post or fear that not Digging will make me look stupid as will bailing out on this years SXSW. It’s so easy to get caught up in technology and make some things seem bigger and more important than they are instead of really thinking about each bit of technology’s use to each of us and finding whats really important to us as individuals and making all of that work.

Reading how the Amish use technology really struck a chord with me because I feel like I am constantly negotiating and choosing what to use and how it works for me. Yet I often feel like an outcast for doing so or worse, a really bad friend because I didn’t update as much as my counterparts or I didn’t acknowledge every single status update of every single friend.

I like the idea of being ‘sophisticated’ for choosing technology instead of a drone doing everything out of fear or greed. And I like the idea of really learning how to incorporate technology that I really do love and really think has great benefits into a world that still needs to have boundaries and breathing space and conversation instead of just giving personal updates.

I’d be curious to know how others navigate the technological waters; do you love getting several of the same updates? Do you feel pressured to comment on others status or follow their every move? Are you Blackberry free? Do you spend too much time surfing the web or do you have a great online/offline balance? Are you really connecting online? Has technology made your life better or harder to keep up with? Do you embrace every bit of technology and see the benefits personally/professionally in doing so or have you seen more benefits in being selective?

(Cross-posted on Girl at Play while totally seeing the irony!)

Where are all the women?

In response to Jeffery Zeldman’s Women in Web design:

In 1984 I received my first Apple II computer and coded endlessly with “the turtle.” A few years later I begged my parents for a computer (just a blank PC) and they thought I was crazy (a pretty little cute 14 year old girl wanting a what? This was 1987 after all). I began coding games in DOS Basic in between rounds of playing with Barbie and learning how to put on rouge. Then I got into BBS’ing – 300, 1200 oh my word 9600 baud! It was pre-web at that point but I was connecting to people from around the world at a very slow pace and loved every minute of it.

In 1995 I created my first web page using Netscape Navigator and began writing a daily online journal in 1996. My personal site became instantly popular (I assume because at this time, there wasn’t much personal stuff on nor was there many females). In 2001 I began my own freelance career which I chronicled on my site, I ended up creating more sites, branding things, creating a loyal audience, and having 2 SXSW Web award nominations.

I’ve worked in New Media and technology for a lot of years yet I’m almost never invited to speak on tech subjects (I usually am only asked to speak at writing and “creative” conferences which I mostly pass on). Although I’m 33 with this 20 year solid online history, I look quite young, I’m very blond, I wear dresses, I laugh whilst speaking, I’m not uber-competitive with others and I still maintain a life outside the web. This, I think, makes it hard to get taken as “serious tech geek who has authority” amongst a whole bunch of men and a few pant wearing women – the same 4 women that seem to get asked over and over again to speak.

I think people often have a perception of what “geek” is, what “authority” is and what “serious” is and if one doesn’t fit it, they’re out. I know all the “cool kids” who speak at these conferences, I am connected with my peers yet I don’t have their “look” nor do I blog 24/7 about it. I think that has a lot to do why I – along with other women like myself – do not get invited to participate at conferences. We can talk about “being creative,” our “feelings” and “wearing pink boas” but we don’t really get to talk about the meat of things very often. And that’s frustrating. Especially since I don’t think we have to be one or the other – we can be both. And I think those of us who don’t just make a living blogging 24/7 about tech or just going to conferences as a full-time job might be a little more in-touch with the outside world and have a fresher perspective than the people who keep making the same rounds.

It’s why I initiated and helped put together a (very well-received) panel at the 2007 SXSWI called “Boss Lady” – showing women can be smart, creative, funny, personable, driven, and geeky. Because I know I have something to offer and I’m not going to wait to be asked to share it anymore.