Pay it Forward

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I recently had the opportunity to talk with Erin Serkaian, who works at another non-profit about how my organization uses social media. The conversation was wonderful and very beneficial for both of us!

Back when I started dabbling in social media, lots of friends, colleagues and strangers offered their advice and best tips and general practices. Some of these conversations happened on Twitter and others happened in person. I would not have the knowledge base I have today or the confidence in my ability to do my job if it weren’t for these mentors. Thank you, again.

When I saw Erin’s request on Twitter for ways non-profits use Facebook and other social media platforms, I knew it was my opportunity to give back. I sent a message and in a short time, we arranged to have a phone conversation.

While I know Erin got lots of ideas, practical tips and encouragement to take her non-profit’s social media to the next level, what she doesn’t know is that I got just as much out of the conversation. It reminded me of why I love my job and reminded me of the things I wanted to try and haven’t had a chance.

I hope Erin will be able to learn from our successes and failures and set realistic goals for what she and her organization want to accomplish. I’m excited to see what she comes up with!

If you’re ever given the opportunity to pay it forward, do it. You won’t regret it.

Verify, then report

Image from the CNN story.
The whole Morgan Freeman’s reported demise blew up yesterday. To be clear, he is not dead or dying.

Twitter can be much like a game of telephone, which is why it is extremely important that the initial tweet that sets off a chain reaction must be verified BEFORE it’s sent.

While CNN is not the perpetrator of the initial incorrect (and subsequently removed) tweet stating Mr. Freeman’s demise, they’re the ones who caught the flack for it.

They responded quickly with this article posted on their website, but not quick enough for the Twitterverse. While I find the response a bit glib, I think the sentiment was correct and CNN is right to do some damage control.

One of the first things reporters learn is to verify and corroborate a story to the best of their ability before going public with it. In the age of the race to be first, incorrect information is going to get out, but when it comes to killing someone before they’re actually dead, the oweness lies on the reporter and organization to make sure the information is correct before sending it.

In retrospect, the initial tweet could have said, “we’re hearing reports that Morgan Freeman has died and are working to confirm or deny that information” and this whole thing could have stopped before it started. As the initial tweet was quickly removed, no one can determine exactly what was tweeted. Deleting the tweet only made it worse because those on Twitter assumed it came from CNN without being able to see it, putting CNN in a bind.

Maybe this is a lesson in leaving your mistakes open in the same way newspapers print retractions? Do you agree?

Define Value on Twitter

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I’m skipping a grammar post this week to add my thoughts to a post Jason Mollica had last week. His post, Value to your community came from a past Twitter conversation he, Rachel Lawley and I had.

My comment was that the litmus test that I use when deciding when to follow a PR pro, “social media expert” or other big name on Twitter is, “Would you work with that person in real life?”

I realize, after reading the comments on Jason’s post, that my initial comment may have been taken a bit out of context. There is some background information that would help further explain my personal litmus test.

I first joined Twitter after the urging of several friends. Some of whom are in the PR business and some of who are not. Those that are in the business suggested I check out various Top 100 PR People on Twitter lists. Their advice was to start by following them all and then pare them down based on the relevant information in their tweets. Keep following those that added to my knowledge base and stop following those that didn’t.

Several of the people I followed because they were big names, didn’t add anything for me. Some of them have become close confidants and advisers and I can’t imagine operating without them. I would even go so far as to call some of them friends.

Then there’s the middle ground of people I follow on Twitter because they’re fun and entertaining. While they might not necessarily add value, they make me laugh. I’ll be the first to admit, I follow Sesame Street because the tweets make me happy. Would working every day with Elmo eventually irritate me? Probably.

For me, Kelly Misevich‘s comment on Jason Mollica’s post sums it up, “Social media is all about we, not me. You have to think about your followers and ‘friends’ when you are using social media.”

I see Twitter as a place to learn because I will never know it all, as a place to meet people I might not others have met and to laugh because a day without laughter is the saddest day of all.

Another Thing I Love About Twitter

Several people I know have had the amazing opportunity to attend some excellent conferences. Normally, I would be super jealous, but thanks to Twitter, I can tag along!

I’ve been following #mmcon10 the hashtag for the ASAE Marketing & Membership Conference. While I am not getting the whole conference experience, I am able to get the take away nuggets of wisdom that tweeps share. And they are sharing! I’ve got pages and pages of notes, quite like I would if I had actually attended the event.

I’d like to just take a moment and state for the record that I do not think Twitter devalues the conference or will ever replace conferences in general. I do think that Twitter allows those of us not lucky enough to be in attendance the opportunity to see what we’re missing.

In a way, it is a win-win for the organization. In this specific case, people who can’t attend the conference are still paying attention to the content and are probably more likely to attend in the future.

I hope this trend of sharing continues.