Sometimes when I talk about social networks, I get the "she's crazy" look or the "I don't know how you have the time" comment. In response, I say that I might be crazy and I have the same amount of time in my day that everyone else has. But in addition to crazy, I'm also pretty damned lucky. And in addition to the amount of time I have, I also have an amazing cohort of friends I've met through online networks. Never mind my three best friends in the world are people I met online. I thought I'd take a minute to celebrate and promote a just few of them. (There are many more I could include here, but I'd be writing for weeks, so I figured I'd limit myself to five. For starters.)
Be warned, this is going to be a long post, maybe the longest I've ever written. Settle in. Put your feet up.
I’ve talked before about my terrific friend Mack
Collier. Since that post, Mack’s star has only continued to rise, as I totally expected. Mack has a
terrific panel proposed for next year’s SXSW. (That’s South by
Southwest for those who haven’t been introduced to the 3-in-1 mega conference
that brings together music, film and interactive media every year in
The panel is Co-Created Marketing: Embracing Your Customer EvangelistsOnline and will also feature Jackie Huba, co-author of the book Creating Customer Evangelists; Virginia Miracle, the SVP of Digital Strategy at Ogilvy PR’s 360° Digital Influence group; and Mario Sundar, LinkedIn's Community Evangelist. Here's the panel write-up:
What if you found your most passionate customers online, and let them market for you? Would the world implode? Or could embracing your customer evangelists online be the best business decision yo make? Together, we'll unmask who customer evangelists are, and show how you can embrace them via social media and other online tools.
So why am I telling you this now? One thing that makes SXSW so great is that the schedule is filled not in some back room by a select few, but through a combination of advisory board selections and community voting. Anyone can register and vote for panels. If you are at all interested in social media and community, I encourage you to register and vote for this panel.
Also vying for a couple of panel slots is a newer but good friend, the pink-boa wearing and all around amazing person Connie Reece. I know Connie best through Twitter and Plurk, but you can also get to know her through Every Dot Connects which she co-authors. Connie has two panels in the running at SXSW. The first is one I am very interested in and intend to be on the front row for - Breaking the Digital Glass Ceiling. Anyone who knows me knows why I want to be there just by reading the description:
Are you a woman (or a man) who loves to tech out but is tired of sexism, ageism, and the lack of diversity? Women in tech and social media experts identify strategies for breaking through the digital ceiling. The panel will discuss topics such as getting heard by upper management, how to effectively advocate for your work and expertise, what men can do to help promote women in technology as well as how to break through the barriers of being too young or too old in the tech sector.
This panel is presented by Allyson Kapin and includes Connie, Susan Mernit, Lynne Johnson and Charlene Li. Please consider voting for it here.
The second panel, Beyond Social Media: Introducing Social Communication asks:
Who really “owns” social media? Is it PR, Marketing, Branding? This panel will demonstrate that it’s all of the above and more. Thus the new category “Social Communications,” which we can think of as a hybrid of PR, marketing, branding, WOM, customer service, product development and more.
This panel is presented by Jackie Peters and will include Connie, Kristie Wells, Chuck Hester and Todd Van Hoosear. You can vote for the panel here.
You can also read about these panels at Every Dot Connects.
Connie is also the founder of the Frozen Pea Fund, the non-profit group that began when she suggested that people donate the cost of 2 bags of frozen peas to breast cancer research. Why frozen peas? Friend and social media consultant Susan Reynolds had been diagnosed with cancer and in her blog Boobs on Ice, she described using bags of frozen peas as ice packs to ease the pain from biopsies and surgery. Frozen Peas caught on quickly on Twitter and soon people were donating money, changing their avatars to feature peas and talking about the fund with others. Money has been raised not only in the physical world but in the virtual world through Second Life, in which both Connie and Susan are highly participative residents. (See what I mean? When I said Connie was an amazing person, I wasn't exaggerating.)
Then there’s Amber Naslund. I’ve gotten to know Amber through Plurk and aside from being smart as a whip and uber well rounded (from fantasy football to roller derby to classical music, she's got it going on), I’ve come to view her as a consummate conversation starter. She always asks thought provoking questions, seeks out other perspectives so she can make her own work better, and is happy to share her brilliance.
The New York Times recently ran a feature on this year’s BlogHer conference (BlogHer is a network for women bloggers) that was not only mildly patronizing but also in my opinion (and many others’ opinion) insultingly included in the Style section rather than in Technology, as any other web-focused conference would be. When the issue dropped, many were outraged by both the tone and placement, and Amber wrote a letter to the editor and published that letter in her blog. Her letter was fair and even-handed, and she quickly received a call back from the editor who, in my opinion, completely mishandled the interaction. Long story short, she asked Amber to edit her letter so that the focus was on the content only and not the section placement. Yes, I understand her argument about why the article was in Style, but the fact remains that the Times' placement practices did nothing but reinforce institutional sexism in this case. Read Amber's follow up post for more details on the interaction, as well as some lively discussion on the incident in the comments.
Now, I’m going to talk about another dear friend who is also a social media/brand smarty pants. I don’t want to talk about that part of his genius, though. Sure, what Tim Jackson has done for Masi Bikes is amazing. I could surely write a post at least this long about how he’s used his blog to pretty much single-handedly to reinvigorate the Masi brand – on virtually no marketing budget. But instead I’m going to talk about something else.
Anyhow, as might be obvious
by this point, I’m a bit of a poetry nut. Tim is also a poet and played a not insignificant part in encouraging me
to be more self-disclosing about my own writing. It was a huge, hairy deal for
me to post a poem I’d written and Tim gave me the “you’re good enough, you’re
smart enough” pep talk long enough to make me believe it. Or at least long
enough to hit “post.” So first I want to publicly acknowledge that support and
say a big whopping THANK YOU.
Since then, Tim has launched a new blog dedicated to sharing his own poetry – Poetry When I Feel Like It. His poetic voice has strength in its spareness (hmmm, Microsoft doesn’t think “spareness” is a word. I do, so there.). In this newest blog you’ll find scans of his earliest writings, poems recently written and even poetry improve written and posted in the moment. In the two days since launching the blog, he’s posted a number of pieces, including three poems written on Saturday alone. THREE! So I’d like to applaud Tim for his willingness to share and for his enormous courage. Maybe there’s something about almost dying that makes posting a few lines here and there a little less frightening? I don’t know, I’ll have to ask Tim about that, but I'm leaning towards just sticking with breathing and pep talks.
Finally, I wanted to give a little shout out to Jocelyn. Jocelyn isn't a social media person, she's a lawyer and all around amazingly, wickedly awesome friend. Her blog, I Can’t Complain, never fails to make me laugh. Except, of course, when it's making me cry.