Category Archives: discuss

Once there were 30-min recipes for dinner; here’s one for social media

Amy Sample Ward, Membership Director of NTen and a co-author of Social by Social, kicked off a 4-part discussion of social media practice at this year’s Public Media Development and Marketing Conference (PMDMC), with some advice for goal setting.

Identify the groups within your demographic, she said, and then ask “What do they want?” and “What do YOU want?”

Seems simple enough, but it does involve discovering where in the net universe your groups are hanging out. Add to that the burden of learning how to drive new online tools and figuring out useful analytics. Who has the time?

Amy claims you CAN carve 30 minutes out of a busy workday to engage with others. She says social media tools are just that–tools. They should exist along side other forms of communication you’ve become familiar with, like your email. Her recipe for doing social media daily without scrapping your to-do list: listen first, then engage.

Information overload is a fact of life today, and the tools we use to manage the flow are numerous. You’ll have to experiment to find what works for you, but here’s a short list of listening tools to get started. Most webpages have an RSS feed, and blogging sites are searchable. Set up alerts and readers to collect relevant data with services like Netvibes, People Browsr, Nutshell Mail, Radian6, Ice Rocket, Sysomos or Lithium. You can take a look at Amy’s RSS reader on her blog, to get a sense of how it works.

Some other great advice for making social media work for you: pay close attention to analytics you track to see when to change strategy, and be sure to include trends and insights you notice in your internal reports. Add external reporting to your to-do list as well. The people you engage with can also be encouraged by what’s working for you and learn from what isn’t. Once you start interacting with your real audience with the right tools, and at this level, you’ll find that they are as invested in your success as you are.

One last piece of advice: take it easy on the ROI worry. Providing good context for trends in your regular reports will help ease your anxiety and remind  your superiors of what they are really investing in. Share the qualitative side of the numbers by adding anecdotes and identifying your social media influencers, highlighting the ways they share news about you. Remember your people, program and mission and take the time to cultivate real social media relationships, even if only on your lunchbreak!

More resources and references to useful net tools are on Amy’s blog,



Filed under discuss, journalism

Did you hear about that black guy?

When I caught bits of the radio broadcast of this week’s Republican debate, I found it incredibly obnoxious for all the old, suited, white male candidates to mention the number of ways in which they could keep Hilary out of the White House, while not once mentioning Obama.

Sure she’s way ahead in the polls right now, but that hardly seems like a reason for Republican candidates to ignore speculation of who the Democratic party pick will be. A lot can happen between October 07 and November 08! Heck, by the time I cast my vote, I’ll be one month from finishing grad school!

It’s an old trick to ignore race , to deflate and remove it from public discussion. We’ve seen it for years, especially with the current administration. Seeing the candidates display the same arrogance is disappointing.

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Filed under discuss, politics, race

my grandma made me do it?

It may take awhile, since I have family members who refuse to read the NYTimes, but once a version of a new theory on our moral choices being linked to evolution circulates, it’s sure to drive my already polarized liberal and conservative relatives farther apart.

That’s a shame, since a main point by U-Virginia’s moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt (author of “The Happiness Hypothesis”) seems to be that we need each other if we’re to be a thriving family.

Everyone, he argues, operates on two sets of moral guidelines: the kind we developed before language to avoid ugly things that would cause us harm, and a second set that allows us to apply reason to those reflexive reactions (for example, we react with strong disgust  to a grisly murder, but then apply reason by trying to understand what happened and what the motivation was, yet sometimes we’re left baffled by a killer’s actions.)

It’s our disgust reactions that got Haidt’s attention.  He thinks we’ve translated reflexive reactions like that into our ideas of what’s sacred, how to define justice, give people rights and enforce laws. Out of those values come religion, and religion binds groups together, which ensures their survival.

For those as intrigued as I was, there are ways to explore more.  Haidt and his colleagues operate a website, where you can offer yourself up for psych surveys that may tell you something about your moral responses, but certainly help them with data collection.  I tried the “Big 5 Personality Inventory“, which measures things like how open I am to new experiences (very!) and how extroverted I am (not so much-but I’ll blog nonetheless!).

Other surveys explore questions like “What would you do for a million dollars?” and “Do you forgive easily and often?”.

In my family, we probably don’t need a survey to help each of us see what side of the political fence we sit on, but according to Haidt, it’s a good thing we’re varied.  Liberals, he maintains, tend to foster more creativity and sap resources, while conservatives safeguard stores and keep us decent.

What a dilemma! How do I go to my uncle suggesting it’s ok if we’re wired to disagree, but perhaps God didn’t make me bad and him good, we just evolved differently?!

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