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. 







Social Media is an Opportunity for Media Diversity


This week I had the opportunity attend Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.’s Congressional Black Caucus forum on improving images of Black women in the media. It was a lively discussion that raised a lot of questions about not only the media images Black women are chosen–and sometimes choose–to portray but also which images we choose to consume.

The part that really stayed with me were comments from Shari Nycole Welton, who is a producer of TVOne’s News One Now. When asked about what we can do to combat negative images of Black women on TV and Movies, Shari reminded the audience that social media has created a platform for users to create their own content. If we don’t like the images we see in the media, we are only a few clicks away from creating our own content to consume. And if we choose to, we can create content that shows positive images of Black people in general and Black women in particular.

I was ready to disagree at first. Yes, people of color can and do create their own content, and social media makes that much easier than it was in the past. But then you have to take into account that production companies have the money, power, and influence to create media portrayals of Black people and make them ubiquitous. And we already know that it is extremely hard to make a video go viral.

Even with all that said, I ended up nodding my head when Shari said that. Social media gives people a great opportunity to be the change they want to see in the world, especially as it pertains to combatting negative images and stereotypes about Black women. 

I wouldn’t say that if there weren’t already countless examples of young Black content creators doing their own thing and developing new images of their people. Issa Rae’s Awkward Black Girl is one example of this for sure, but it doesn’t stop there.

The Whip and the Nae Nae has become a staple when we talk about Black youth culture, has it not?

And Vine and Instagram has become a testing ground for some of the funniest, most talented up-and-coming Black comedians and actors.

Social media gives us more power than we think.

If you are using social media, whether you are a manager/consultant or whether you are “just tweeting,” you have the opportunity to shift the dialogue about how people of color are portrayed in the media. So create your content wisely – and remember to have fun. 

Interview with the Trillectro Social Media Team


In my last post I talked about the lessons we could learn about audience engagement from Trillectro 2015, but after publishing the post I realized I had more questions about what goes into live-tweeting a large-scale event. In my professional life I have live tweeted conferences, hill briefings, and speeches but nothing as large as a music festival. So, I did some  homework and got in touch with the social media team for this year’s Trillectro festival: Ramya Velury, Heather Cromartie, and Ahad Subzwari. I talked with them about what live-tweeting for events and what they learned from running social media for this year’s festivities.

How did you approach your social media strategy and what were your goals?

Ramya Velury:  To be direct and immersive as possible. As much as Trillectro is about the talent, I think we wanted to ensure that it was about the diverse fans and attendees too. The goal was to make Trillectro a topic of digital conversation. As simple as it sounds, it wasn’t necessarily about making it “trend” on social media, but making sure it was experiential as it possibly could be.

Heather Cromartie: I wanted to capture the diverse range of attendees this year. As soon as I would capture people enjoying the festival with their friends I would enable the wifi on my camera and send the images out to Ramya so that they could be posted right away.

Ahad Subzwari: I think it’s most important to tell stories. Everything people want to consume tells a story. The goal was to be as broad as possible, show all aspects of the festival. And as Ramya mentioned, immersion is extremely important. It’s easy to just post photos of what’s happening, but capturing moments and relaying them to an audience is much better.


When live-tweeting an event, you have to keep in mind what story/narrative you want to tell on social media. What was the story you hoped to tell about Trillectro?

RV: It’s only 4 years old, but Trillectro has provided a platform for so many new artists who are reaching new heights in their careers. Everyone who is apart of Trillectro/DCtoBC, from Modi to Greenwood, has an amazing taste in music with a close in ear on budding talent. Part of relaying Trillectro’s story is about harmonizing this new talent with the established ones, making it as detailed as possible.

HC: I would agree with everything that has already been said. I think it was important for us to capture how much the festival has grown and how our audience is shifting and expanding with each passing year.

AS: The story to tell is about growth, discovering new things, and the emotions of a festival. Trillectro has grown, its audience has grown, and the diversity of the lineup has as well. We also wanted to show everyone who the artists we brought really are. Focus on capturing their emotions on and off the stage and also show how people react to the music in front of them. Emotions last a millisecond so it’s vital to be on the lookout for everything that’s happening.


What were some of the challenges of live tweeting such a big event?

RV: Being in two places at once! It’s also easy to get sucked into reiterating the line-up or general tweets because you’re trying to push out as much content as possible. Additionally, making sure you’re aware of things going on outside of the festival too, like if an artist decides to drop an album before they go on stage or something.

HC: I think the most difficult part of live tweeting an event as large Trillectro is keeping things organized. Ahad and I were shooting with wifi enabled cameras which made pulling images to post, incredibly seamless.

AS: Getting high quality images and having all the right content is tough. Our biggest assets this year were having a diverse team of photographers who were constantly moving, cameras with WiFi that can get pictures up ASAP, and a team that’s on the same page. At times words were not even necessary; things just got done.

What did you do to ensure that your attendees participated on social media as well? (using the hashtag, posting pics, etc).

RV: In addition to the hashtag, geo-tagging, posting photos, tweeting, it was important to INCLUDE them in the conversation too. On Twitter, we responded to them and RT’ed them and on Instagram we posted a lot of crowd photos to gauge their interest.

HC: The energy on the lawn was so alive that I honestly just told people to follow us on instagram for more updates, after I snapped their picture. Since I wasn’t spending much time on our social throughout the day, it was the quickest and easiest way for me to spread the word while I ran around gathering content. While we may not be able to post every single crowd photo, we will be able to direct those users to the correct platforms where they can see all of the images from the da

AS: Having photos going up in real-time was the main part of our strategy. We really sought out those moments, as I mentioned earlier, and it was important to have posts go up as close to real-time as possible. When people can see what’s happening on Twitter, as it’s happening, it adds more value. If they see three of their friends post a picture of Kehlani and we have a super high quality image at the same time, it adds to the experience. Also focused on getting attendees on social platforms because who doesn’t love seeing photos of themselves.

What do you hope people gained from your content?

RV: FOMO– Fear of Missing Out!!– The photography was amazing and captured the festival accurately. There really wasn’t a dull moment and those that weren’t there, could feel it.

HC: In my opinion, the content gets pushed to shed light on something that people are either already hip to, or are hearing about for the first time. The images shared to our instagram cater to an audience that was already following the festival. The images shared and re-shared on twitter help to spread the word to people who may not be tracking our movements on instagram.

AS: FOMO really is the best way to put it. We wanted to show the festival from all aspect – an “in case you missed it” of sorts. The festival was much bigger this year, so it there were some things that were missed. We made sure to capture it all and have it in a streamlined feed.

What were some lessons you learned from running social for Trillectro 2015?

RV: Staying consistent to the strategy- posting, copy and content.

HC: It’s important to keep things moving throughout the day. It’s important to keep the copy clever and concise, while still engaging the audience.

AS: Accurately capturing the tone/mood/vibe of the day is vital.

Thank you to Ramya, Heather, and Ahad for agreeing to this interview. If you missed Trillectro this year, put it on your to-do list next summer!

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. 

One Mistake Most Digital Managers Make

If you were to ask me what is the one grave mistake a great number of social media/digital managers make, I’d say it has to be posting a tweet that is meant for your personal account onto your client’s account by mistake. I won’t say all social media managers have done this, but many have and many will.

Take, for instance, this post from the University of Maine’s Parking Services department:



As far as Posting To The Wrong Account can go, this is among some of the worst I’ve seen, particularly because of the racial implications. Because it is irrelevant to what @UMParking normally tweets about, it’s safe to say that this was likely a case of someone meaning to tweet from their personal account…and unfortunately, they posted a blatantly racist tweet onto their work account. Yikes.

Now most instances of Posting To the Wrong Account are not as terrible as the one I discuss here–normally it is as small as a colorfully worded tweet about your favorite football team or an “OMG” tweet about Scandal. But my point here is that it’s a very common, very embarrassing mistake that can easily be avoided.

So what can you do? My one piece of advice is, unless it can’t be avoided, never link your personal social media accounts, especially Twitter, to the same  app as your client’s account. In fact, I wouldn’t even l wouldn’t even log on to Twitter from your company phone unless you absolutely have to.

Trust me on this. It will save you a lot of emabarassment in the long run.

What do you do if you slip up? Delete the tweet IMMEDIATELY. Not 30 minutes later, not tomorrow, IMMEDIATELY, as soon as you realize you have made the mistake.

Then, depending on how offensive it is–and given the nature of Twitter, you will know right away–apologize to your Twitter followers. And not a “sorry if you were offended” apology. It can say something like this:

We have deleted the previous tweet – it was sent in error. We send our deepest apologies. 

Now this won’t necessarily stop all the outrage in your mentions, but you will have at least let your audience know that you are aware of the issue and that you are taking action. If other action is taken–i.e., a team member is removed from managing the account or is let go from the organization or company, you can note that as well.

But first and foremost, you have GOT to delete that tweet. There’s no way around it.




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.