BET Wins With Rapid Response

On Sunday night, Madonna performed an, um, interesting Prince tribute at the Billboard Music Awards. I don’t want this to turn into a rant or a shade bonanza, but let’s just say it wasn’t great.

A few moments after the show aired, BET posted a tweet that gave me chills:



“Yeah, we saw that. Don’t Worry. We Got You.”

BET’s social media team has won the rapid response game for the week. Everybody else can go home now.

They know their audience intimately, so much so that they knew how they’d react to Madonna’s tribute. And not only that, they knew that their audience was still on Twitter and Facebook talking about how much they hated it.

And not only that, they seized an important moment that had cultural significance. 

Really important things to think about when creating a rapid response to breaking news and events.

What about you? Did you see this tweet when it was first posted? What did you think? 






What Cardi B. Teaches Us About Building a Brand on Social Media

I have a confession to make.

The VH-1 reality show Love and Hip Hop is one of my guilty pleasures. It plays out like a telenovela and it is delightfully ratchet…and I love every second of it. I  watch every Monday night–much to my husband’s disappointment as it overlaps with the beginning of WWE Monday Night Raw. The twists, the turns, the side chicks,  the wigs, the waist trainers…I love it all.

So when I found out that social media personality Cardi B was going to be on Love and Hip Hop New York, I just KNEW I had to watch. Cardi is one great example of someone who used social media to build her brand–and ultimately, change her life. There are some lessons to be learned here, and I’d like to share them with you in this post.

Want to make an impact? Be Authentically YOU. 

You can love or hate Cardi B. You can think she’s a national treasure, or you can think she’s just another “regular, degular, shmegular girl from da Bronx.” But you know what? Cardi B is herself on every single medium, whether she’s talking about Ayesha Curry on Twitter, or addressing people who throw shade at her, and people love it because in the end, people respond positively because they can relate to authenticity. She never tries to be anyone else, and when you’re building your brand, neither should you. We can all learn a good lesson from that.

You see, when you are inauthentic, people can see right through it. They can see when you are “faking the funk.” So why be anything or anyone other than who you are?

Cardi has always used social media and other forms of media to tell her story and control her narrative. 

Cardi B has told her story of how she started stripping to escape an abusive relationship several times, and she’s not afraid to do so. For me, it showed me that she was more than just a social media celebrity who’s good for a few laughs – she has an inspiring story, one that only adds to her authenticity. Everyone’s story is different, valid, and valuable – so what is yours? Don’t shy away from using social media to share it.

Cardi B knows her audience – and knows where to find them. 

I first learned about Cardi from an instagram video she posted that had gone viral. What struck me most? She knew exactly who she was talking to, knew what she was talking about, and how to find people who wanted to see her content and hear what she had to say.

I always say that when creating your brand and your social media strategy, equally important as your goals is who your audience is and where you can find them. Always keep your audience in mind and know who they are like the back of your hand.

Is there someone else in pop culture we can learn from when it comes to building a social media brand? Let me know in the comments. 







What My Wedding Taught Me About Social Media


Last Friday was one of the best days of my life. I got to marry my best friend and partner Neal, who I famously met on Twitter nearly 6 years ago. I have been writing for Blogher about my wedding planning journey, and I explored some of the more stressful parts of it all. Throughout this process, I dealt with pressure to make my wedding Pinterest perfect and also struggled with the possibility of being a fat bride. But when the day came, I realized I had nothing to worry about after all. The day was beautiful and perfectly imperfect. It was a wonderful time to celebrate our love surrounded by our friends and family.

Social media played a big role in our wedding planning and it goes without saying that there was a hashtag (#Carterson15) with plenty of videos, pictures, and kind words from our friends. The wedding planning at the wedding itself taught me some unexpected lessons about social media strategy. Here are a few takeaways:

Not every moment has to be tweeted…or instagrammed…or periscoped. 

 Neal and I went back and forth about whether or not we wanted people to live tweet our ceremony. We certainly wanted people to use the hashtag and eventually post pictures after the ceremony was over.  Our photographer brought up a possibility we hadn’t thought about: that people could take pictures of the ceremony and that they would potentially end up on the internet before we even got a chance to see them.

Knowing that was a possibility, we decided that it was best that there was no social media at the ceremony and that people can tweet and instagram to their heart’s content for the cocktail hour and ceremony. We did this for two reasons. The first reason was practical; we paid money for a professional photographer who understandably didn’t need the help of our guests to capture the moment. The second reason was loftier; we wanted people in attendance to be truly present and in the moment with us.

Not everything is for public consumption – whether you are tweeting from a personal account or running social for a large company. It is okay if some moments don’t make it to your twitter or Facebook feed, especially if you create a time and a place for social media coverage elsewhere.

If you create a meaningful hashtag, people will use it, even if it takes time to get there. “Carterson” is a portmanteau of our two last names: Carter and Wilson. Our dear friend @amandamichellejones came up with it soon after she met Neal for the first time. Once we got engaged, we came up with #Carterson15…and then tagged pics of us together on instagram with the hashtag every now and then. Well people we invited caught on once our save the dates went out, and soon enough #Carterson15 was a thing…pretty much everyone we followed on Twitter knew that was our wedding hashtag, and our guests used it enthusiastically!

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You may be someone who wants to create a hashtag for that exciting new project or campaign, but you’re worried no one will use it. The way to quell that worry is to make the hashtag meaningful to your audience.

No matter what anyone tries to tell you, it is never “just Twitter.”

This is actually an old lesson that I was reminded of last Friday at our wedding. Many of our friends who attended were people we met via Twitter, which isn’t a surprise since it is how Neal and I met. Twitter will never be “just Twitter” because it is made up of real people with real needs. There is a huge opportunity there to build authentic connections and relationships with folks who care about the same things you do, or who can teach you something you didn’t know about before. Take that opportunity seriously and make it work for you, no matter what.

What have you learned about social media lately? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

Giving Props: Google Honors Zora Neale Hurston


Today marks the 123rd birthday of writer, folklorist, anthropologist and one of my heroes, Zora Neale Hurston.

Needless to say, I was completely stoked about it. I decided to devote my Facebook timeline to quotes, facts and reflections on Zora.


And to top it all off, Zora Neale Hurston was trending in the US:


(Shout out to @ErickaSimone for the screenshot.)

Remember a few days ago when I was talking about using social media to reach a Black audience? This is an example of a job well done. While Google may not have been targeting African Americans specifically, it was highlight a famous African-American woman writer that sparked conversation about Zora on Black Twitter and beyond.

Excellent work, Google. Let’s hope other brands take note.

Best Practice: Check Your Sources


Today I happened to be on Facebook and saw that the Courage Campaign posted this article about Governor Rick Perry not being able to locate a vagina on an anatomical doll.

There was only one problem: it was a satirical article. Never happened.

People took to their comments right away to tell them it was a fake article. But what amazed me is that Courage Campaign didn’t even take it down! They left it up opening themselves up to more angry comments from people who realized it was satire.

This is an example a Facebook and Twitter best practice: before posting an article to your page, check that it is a real new source and not a satire site like The Onion.

I always say it’s a good idea to post relevant articles that relate to your work or your brand, but one huge part of an article or report being relevant is that it must be real.

I know it seems small – I see my Facebook friends do it all the time: post a satirical article and then react angrily because they think it’s real. It has a much bigger impact with a company or organization makes the same mistake.