Facebook has Hashtags….Now what?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Facebook now has hashtags:

Facebook said that the adoption of the hashtag will provide users with “a simple way to see the larger view of what’s happening or what people are talking about.” Until now, hashtagging was limited to services such as Twitter, Facebook-owned Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest.

I can’t say I’m too excited about hashtags coming to Facebook. I’m not convinced it will be as effective on Facebook as it is on Twitter. How will they measure the use of hashtags on Facebook? Will they have trending topics similar to Twitter? Where is the mechanism for facilitating converstations or talking about live events? Facebook doesn’t lend itself to back-and-forth dialogue the way Twitter does, so how will it be useful everyday users and to businesses and organizations?

I want to believe that Mark Zuckerberg and company brought hashtags to Facebook simply because they saw that Twitter and Instragram uses it so they wanted to follow suit…but I know better. Mark Zuckerberg wouldn’t do anything that didn’t bring more money to Facebook. Navneet Alang at the Globe and Mail seems to think so as well:

That tension between privacy and aggregation, a personal social media and a public one, reflects a basic contradiction inherent to Facebook. While privacy concerns become ever more important for consumers, the more stuff on our profiles we make public and accessible, the easier it is for the company to adhere to its singular desire: to make money.

Time will tell us whether hashtags on Facebook was brilliant or a flop, but right now I’m not sold on the former.

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Go ye therefore: Social Media in the Faith Community

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost…” Matthew 28:19

Before moving back to DC, I was on the social media team for my church, West Angeles Church of God in Christ, located in South Los Angeles. While there, I wrote posts for their blog, helped manage the Pastor’s Twitter page, and posted new content to the church Fan Page on Facebook.  This past Sunday, I attended service at All Nations Baptist Church here in DC. I met a member of the church back in April when I lead a digital media training for work, and she informed me that the church was in need of help building a social media presence. They are a relatively small church, but are very active in the community of Northeast Washington, DC and have even started a blog. But currently, they aren’t on Twitter or Facebook.

All Nations and West Angeles are two very different churches; West Angeles is a large megachurch Los Angeles and All Nations is a smaller church in DC. It’s not a surprise that a church like West Angeles would have a social media presence – I almost think that at this point we expect megachurches to be all over the internet. West A’s social media team plays an integral part in the church’s outreach not only in Los Angeles but outside of the city as well – they use Twitter and Facebook to post livestreams of church services which in turn makes their ministry more accessible to a broader audience. But again, that’s expected of a church with thousands of members. What about smaller congregations, who could arguably benefit more from using social media than larger ones?

Many smaller churches want more members of their church and more people from the surrounding communities coming to church event and benefiting from the things the church has to offer. The fact is, those new members and neighbors are engaging on social media. Why not meet them where they are?

There’s no reason why a place of worship, big or small, wouldn’t want to be on social media. I understand that there are many congregations that have an older demographic that might be more adverse to using social media, but the fact is that if you’re a place of worship in 2013, social media will be a great avenue to attract new (and younger) members and spread the word about events, community outreach, and–yes–the teachings of your faith. Not using social media puts places of worship at a disadvantage and can cause growth to become stagnant.

Just in case you still needed convincing, I’ll give you another example. When I moved back to DC, I tweeted that I was looking for a church home in the city. About an hour later, I received a tweet from Capital City Church (@capcitychurchdc) that they had services every Sunday at 9:30am and 11:00am and that they hope I would visit soon. I did, and I became a member soon after my first visit.

I know that I focused on churches in this post, and I apologize if I failed to include other places of worship into my discussion. Christian churches are what I am most familiar with, but I honestly believe that all places of worship regardless of religion could make use of social media.

What places of worship are doing social media right? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Why Leaders Should Be Tweeters

Last night I attended the Women’s Information Network’s Women Opening Doors for Women, an annual networking event where attendees can choose to go a small dinner about different topics in professional development and politics.

At my dinner, we talked about women of color at the forefront of leadership with Judith Browne Dianis, Co-Director of Advancement Project. She talked about a lot of things that resonated with me. She told us about how she balances working and raising a daughter, and about being a woman in a male-dominated movement like civil rights. But as a social media professional, one thing that stuck out to me was this: Judith Browne Dianis does all her own tweets.

She said her tweets are mostly about her work (follow her at @jbrownedianis), and every now and then she’ll slip in a tweet or two about Scandal.

It was really great to hear that a dynamic leader like Judith Browne Dianis writes her own tweets and doesn’t rely on some intern or Communications Assistant to do it for her–and I wish more organizational leaders did the same thing.

Do I think every leader should be doing all their own tweets all the time? Not at all. But I think organization leaders, business owners, CEOs, etc. posting their own tweets at lease some of the time is a smart idea. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Positioning yourself as a thought leader

What I love about Judith Browne Dianis’ Twitter page is that she tweets mostly about her civil rights work. This allows her to brand herself as a thought leader in that area, and as a voice of authority in civil rights and social justice.

2. Creating an authentic voice

There’s nothing wrong with having a social media person on staff that handles the day-to-day management of your organization or company’s Twitter page. There’s also nothing wrong with having that same social media manager help the CEO or ED with their own tweets. But the difference is that the social media manager doesn’t always get the voice of the ED exactly right. When a leader tweets for themselves, they can create an authentic voice that doesn’t seem canned. Twitter is about conversations so it’s important to sound like a human being and not a machine spitting out 140-character messages every hour or so.

3. Connecting with the regular folks 

Most Twitter users are just regular people. Maybe they are connected to the progressive movement. Maybe they saw you on Melissa Harris Perry that one time. Maybe they visited your store. In any case, these are every day folks who want to hear from you. They are following you because they want to know what you have to say. Why not use twitter to talk back to them and start a conversation?

I’m not suggesting that having an organizational leader do their own tweets is necessarily easy. Time has to be set aside for training him or her so that they aren’t intimidated by the medium and be put at ease. But more importantly, leaders must be trained on what to tweet and what not to tweet (which is another post for another time).

What other way can organization and business leaders use Twitter? Are there leaders on Twitter who are using the medium very well (or perhaps not so well)? Name them in the comments!

Back Again: A Re-Introduction

Many of you who follow me on Twitter or know me from Facebook know that I have been blogging for almost 10 years in some way, shape or form. I’ve written blogs, I’ve deleted blogs, and I’ve started new blogs all over again, and somehow I found myself wanting to know more about not just blogging but social media as well. As a junior PR professional at my first job, I started to think about ways we could use social media not just to sell products but to inform, to mobilize, and ultimately to change the world.

Approximately 7 years, 5 jobs, and 3 moves from the east coast to the west coast and back, I have found myself doing the types of things I had envisioned when I was working at a small PR firm fresh out of college — developing digital media strategies that help not just to build a brand and tell a narrative but also to create the change we want to see.

Currently, I am the Digital Media Field Manager at the NAACP, where I train local NAACP units on how to use digital media in their organizing strategies. I’ve also learned a great deal about managing a mobile messaging program, and what it takes to do the hands-on work of implementing a social media plan. I recently started my own blog series on our website called Digital Evangelist, where I promote my weekly webinars and preach the gospel of digital media to our membership. There aren’t any praise breaks like the ones I am familiar with having grown up in a Black church, but I am proud to say that our members take away new knowledge about how they can use digital media to broaden their message and further their work in the areas of civil and human rights locally.

Blogging at my day job made me realize how much I miss it, and I realized I wanted to share what I am learning as a digital media professional with people who have questions on how to use digital media to its full potential. And so, here I am.

I am a Digital Field Manager by day, and a social media consultant and writer for hire by night. I live in Washington DC, having moved back here after a year and a half stint in my hometown of Los Angeles. I’ve been in social media in some capacity for 3 years, and I am so excited to share what I have learned so far with all of you.