What Makes You Say “I Want That”? A Look at User-Generated Content

Laura Petrolino (here she is on Twitter) and I have been friends online for five years but never actually spoke face to face (via video conference) until when we were putting together this post!

It’s a miracle we were able to coordinate a time, given our mutual inability to tell what day it is. Case in point from a 2016 Facebook message exchange:

User-generated content examples

How Does Our Experience of the World Compare?

As communications professionals, Laura and I are both interested in user-generated content (UGC) — messages and images created by consumers rather than brands — that help tell a brand’s story. In fact, Laura wrote a post, The Magic of User-Generated Content, for Spin Sucks on the topic back in 2014.

For the #BridgingTheGap Campaign, in which 100 Millennial and 100 Midlife Influencers are coming together to blur boundaries, we each decided to share examples of favorite pieces of UGC, and let you see how the perspectives of millennials and fifty-somethings compare.

We needed some kind of structure, so I chose to use the four categories described in this analysis by Kantar Added Value: discovery, fun, status and wellbeing.


Meet my canine friend, Rocky. Rocky has quite an active life on Instagram, and watching him since he was a tiny puppy has been a discovery adventure. What matters for an image like this as UGC is that it clearly shows the brand of bed he is using, but it doesn’t scream “YOU SHOULD BUY THIS PET BED.” It’s more of the kind of thing that would be in the back of my mind if I were in the market for a pet product.

And because I know Rocky, I feel a connection. It’s not the brand saying “you need a Snoozzy bed because your dog will like it.” It’s Rocky’s family saying “here’s a day in Rocky’s life and he’s on Snoozzy because he clearly deserves the best.”
user-generated content examples


What would you wear to spend a day at the park with your toddler (or, given my generation, perhaps your grandchild)? You would want to be comfortable, prepared for changes in temperature, and look decent enough that it wouldn’t be embarrassing to run into a friend.

This post from MommaInFlipFlops accomplishes all that in its display of a Prana product. (Note: I participated in the same campaign, but her toddler is way cuter than the jar of catnip I held up in my UGC!).

Here’s why this works as UGC for me. The main thing I am drawn to is the relationship between the mom and the toddler, and the beautiful setting. When I scroll through the hashtags, I can see that she’s wearing prAna and can choose to pursue it.

user-generated content examples


Is there anything more affirming that the start of a new married life? Although my niece Olivia had a fantastic photographer at her wedding, this shot is one I grabbed with my iPhone from my perfectly positioned seat as her sisters toasted her and her new groom.

Why is this effective UGC for Hayley Paige? It showcases a bridal gown and two bridesmaids’ gowns in a genuine moment, not an artificial pose. It could appeal to a potential bride OR a mother-of-the bride, all depending on the consumer’s perspective.

user-generated content examplesWellbeing

This is just a simple selfie (and it sort of bleeds over into the bonus category I’ll be adding…) but it’s so much more as UGC goes. The Charity Miles app is used by runners, walkers and cyclists to generate donations to favorite charities.

The app is designed so that the user can add a picture of himself or herself that can then be shared on social media.

Like I said, this isn’t just any wellbeing selfie, it’s Charity Miles founder Gene Gurkoff and running legend Bart Yasso.

From a UGC standpoint, it makes me say, “gosh, if Bart Yasso is staying healthy anhelping a great cause at he same time, maybe I can too.”

user-generated content examples

BONUS: Causes

It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t add a “causes” category. I adore advocating on behalf of causes, and hopefully my UGC shows it.

Team RWB is one of my favorite causes. It’s an organization that supports veterans in various ways.

This image of a Team RWB supporter doing the Old Glory Relay evokes the sense of the journey, the walker’s purpose, and the unifying point of the organization.

It works for me as UGC because it makes me say, “hey! I could do this and help veterans like this guy,” rather than “you should care about this and sign up now.” It’s a subtle but powerful difference.

user-generated content examples

Bridging the Gap

Are Laura and I totally different from each other when it comes to how we view UGC?

The New Jersey American Marketing Association writes:

There are clear differences in how millennials and baby boomers consume and trust branded content. Millennials enjoy images of real people using a product, whereas baby boomers care more about the quality of the product or service. Boomers also enjoy written and video content just as much as images.

Judging by the images I chose, maybe the difference isn’t actually that big after all.

Take a look at Laura’s post and let me know what you think.

It’s something we can discuss the next time Friday rolls around, if we can figure out what day it is.


Talking About Children on Social Media

Sometimes, I find it impossible to make my point in a succession of 140-character tweets. This recent tweet about an article titled Why I Decided to Stop Writing About My Children

…led to an exchange that got me thinking and also resulted in me feeling like I hadn’t really articulated my thoughts on the subject thoroughly.

Social Media Choices

The exchange led to two thoughts:

  1. Honestly, my first impulse was a knee-jerk reaction to the term “mommy blogger” rather than an urge to delve into the article the tweet linked to. I don’t love the term. Or, to be specific I don’t love the term as it applies to me. I’ve always incorporated MANY topics into my blog in addition to the fact that I’m a parent. I enjoy blogging in leadership and public relations circles, and I recoiled the first time a “leadership blogger” acquaintance referred to me as a “mommy blogger.” Had he NOT READ my blogs about customer service, supervision, and corporate culture?
  2. A desire to dig a bit deeper into the topics the article addressed.

NOTE: Christine wrote a post related to this topic on August 15. Click here to read it.

Blogging About Our Children

I am glad I didn’t start blogging when my kids were little. 

I published my first-ever blog post on May 17, 2008. It was a whopping four sentences long and did not contain any images but it did contain a reference to my son, who was 8 at the time. On June 28, 2009, I declared my intention to blog weekly (and I have, missing maybe five weeks in the seven years between now and then). At first, I intended for every blog to be about running (although the blog declaring my intention to post weekly contained a picture of my son too!).

As time progressed, I branched out from running. In the 700+ posts I’ve published since then, I’ve discussed my sock drawer, people and companies that provide incredible customer service, running (in prison and elsewhere), a convenience store bathroom, causes I love such as Shot at Life, and many other topics.

am glad I didn’t start blogging until my kids were 7 and 10. I am pretty sure I would have been an oversharer if I had been blogging through my pregnancies and childbirth, as well as my children’s early years. I have read quite a few blogs where I thought “holy crap this blogger is sharing a LOT of personal info” and “I’m not sure that kid is going to be glad his mom shared that picture of him at eighteen months wearing his sister’s tutu on his head and his superhero underoos on his butt when he is 18 years old.” But that’s up to that blogger, and I can always move on and read something else.

Does an alias name protect a blogger’s children?

Some bloggers use aliases to protect their children’s identities. They may call “Susan” a name like “Ann” or they may call “Susan” an amusing moniker like “Doodlebug.” Frankly, one of the reasons I don’t do that is I could not pull it off consistently. It’s a lot of work to a) remember and b) implement.

My incredible friend Jess (Diary of a Mom) explained her rationale for using alternate names here, to give you one parent’s thoughts.

One of my earliest lessons.

Back in 2009, I thought it was HILARIOUS when I tagged my son’s stuffed animal in a picture. I just happened to show him, and he (at 10 years old) didn’t laugh – he immediately burst into tears. This incident was one of my first lessons in “what you find hilarious as a blogger, something you think your readers/Facebook friends will laugh at, will embarrass your child.” Hmmm.

Here’s what I wrote after that incident:

If I had not offhandedly mentioned to Wayne the “tagging,” he never would have known. However, it was something I did for me and not at all for him. I learned a lesson that a certain set of parents of 8 children [I was referring to Jon & Kate + 8] is completely missing right now (in my opinion): our children have to be able to trust that we as parents will think before taking liberties with their images, identities, and hearts. I may have 572 friends on Facebook who would get a chuckle out of something like this, but I only have two children counting on me to give them an emotional safe haven.

Nothing is Temporary on the Internet

I mean, nothing is temporary on the internet (even Snapchat). On the one hand, my blogs create a better “virtual baby book” than the paper baby books I’ve managed cobble together for my two children. On the other hand, what on earth is going to pop up 20/30/40 years from now when they google themselves?

So many opinions

I asked the smartest, savviest people I know (my friends!) their thoughts on the NYT article. Here are a few:

I wonder what it will be like for her [referring to her daughter] to read something at 10, 11, 12, 13. She’s very sensitive so I try to be mindful. But I think it’s a matter of personal choice and temperament. – Sili of @mymamihood

I think that we have a tendency to overshare on social media. When it comes to your own life, that’s up to you as an adult to decide if your trials, tribulations, joys and secrets should be shared with the world. Writing about your children – especially about topics they might find embarrassing – should be tread on lightly. – Kim F.

This really speaks to me. I had a blog a few years ago about parenting my son with autism. I stopped writing that particular blog for the same reason this writer discusses: He is a person and deserves his privacy. Both my kids still find their way into my work, but now they are carefully disguised as some kind of talking animal in a children’s play or the lyrics to a song. – Amanda B. of Making Light Productions

I share my failures in mothering because blogging is a virtual water-cooler of sorts.  I reveal *my downfalls* not her shortcomings. – Carla Birnberg of Unapologetically Myself (read her full post on the topic here)

I am very careful to not over share on social media. I feel strongly that it is their story to tell. – LeeAnn K.

I have been burned by over sharing in real life and online. I say things that are not ugly but brutally honest. That’s the way I was raised, but I always thought it was a southern bell thing. At some point I realized that it’s not the way my kids developed. They are quite opposite from me. – Kathy D.

There is a balance that is needed and each writer has to find it. – Velva K. of Tomatoes on the Vine.

My kids are old enough now that they actually ask me not to post certain things, not to take pictures of them, not to share stuff. It has become an issue of trust, and I pray I never violate theirs. – Rebecca B.

With all the problems we have in this world, we focus on things that are byproducts of overthinking. – Will L.

I stopped posting pics of my children online and talking about them is limited – when I was working on research project and learned how often pics of children are stolen and used on child porn sites. They take what would be innocent pics and pervert them. – Kora R.

For Me, It Boils Down to This

If I were to scrub references to my children, my parenting, and my family life from my blog and social media presence, that would be as much a misrepresentation of who I really am than it would be to share every moment, even those with the potential to embarrass or humiliate my children either now or decades down the road.

When I began blogging, it was “to exercise my writing muscle,” but it has become much more. It is part diary, large part therapy, part family documentation … it is many things which bring me joy and hopefully educate/inspire others along the way.

What I don’t want it to be is an ill-considered instrument of destruction. To repeat what I said back in 2009: “our children have to be able to trust that we as parents will think before taking liberties with their images, identities, and hearts.”

I suppose with seven years of blogging experience behind me, from the perspective of a parent of a 17-year old and a 20-year old, I would change the “think before taking liberties” phrase to something different:

Our children have to be able to trust that we as parents will think before taking not knowingly take liberties with their images, identities, and hearts.

What are your thoughts on parents who blog about their children?

Social Media Choices


Is It Crazy To Think An Online Community Can Succeed?

One of my tasks with Weaving Influence is helping to manage the Lead Change Group community. This is a fairly new role for me, and taking it on has me thinking almost constantly about what makes an online community work.

Although in my opinion the success of an online community boils down to a handful of characteristics that sound very simple, there is something intangible that has to take place between assembling the right “ingredients,” following a trustworthy “recipe,” and “cooking” everything to result in a tasty product. These include:

A Cyber Welcome Mat

Although I believe it is important that there be a cadre of “regulars” who contribute to the community, there should be plenty of acceptance and respect to make someone who is visiting for the first time feel welcome. (Many people probably read your posts frequently before venturing to comment.) I have been active in one of my favorite online communities (more on that later) long enough to know many of the “inside jokes” that would mystify a newcomer. The inside jokes are part of what makes the community fun, but there’s a fine line between inside jokes that make you want to keep coming back in order to “get them” and inside jokes that are so plentiful, pointed, or cryptic that a newbie can feel excluded.

People Keep Showing Up

This is the next part after the welcome mat. People like what they read, how they are treated, and how they feel after interacting with your community. You know you can count on seeing some of the same people week after week, and connections grow deeper roots that way.

Good Writing

This language freak has long ago given up on grammatical perfection in the online world, so I am not referring to a draconian management of spelling and grammar (although consistently sloppy use of language is a turn-off). I am referring to good writing. The kind that makes you laugh at your desk, that makes you stop mid-post and tweet the author saying “I haven’t even gotten through this post but thank you,” the kind of words that stay with you long after you click off of the post. Writing like this Spin Sucks guest post from Cindy King.

Connecting Across Other Channels

As a blogger, I will tell you I will love you forever if you will share my post via your other social media channels (unless you’re a creeper in which case of course I won’t love you forever). There are times when I read a  Spin Sucks post that is quite technical (such as this one) and I have nothing useful to contribute but I know I can trust the content enough to share it via Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and/or Linkedin. If I am going to keep the cooking analogy going, we’ll call the “connecting across other channels” the equivalent of allowing our product’s fragrance to waft into adjoining rooms and make everyone salivate over what we’ve made!

Knowing Your Place

It would be easy as a Spin Sucks Crazy to think that the blog is all that happens at Arment Dietrich. I say that because the activity stream is constant. That’s not because the blog is all they do, though; it’s because they make sure to delegate responsibility for reining in interacting with the community throughout the day to someone on staff. I have to remind myself that the blog is only a part of what they do and respect that, although they would point out that the blog is the entryway for many business leads (80% of new revenue, to be precise — details about that in this post).

Telling Me Specifically How To Get Involved

Tonight’s post is an example of what I mean. Back when Spin Sucks posted this, I said the following:

spin sucks post

(The pigeon is a story for a different post!)

This is not the first time I have commented about doing something, and been encouraged to follow through. The very first time was when Spin Sucks rescued me from weekly habit of #FollowFridaying a long list of people by publishing this post which in addition to convincing me to rethink how I was using Follow Friday, instilled in me a secret little goal to get featured (which I did, here).

Moderating Closely

It is no small task to moderate the comments section of a blog. There is no faster way to lose me as an online community member than to make me wade through a stream of trolls, spam, and other trash. An unadulterated comments section does not happen by accident; it takes work. And I appreciate that.

green pen two cropped

As a new community manager, I can tell you that I am hungry for the people in my community to blend their unique ingredients more thoroughly. There’s so much great content; staring at a comments section with a line of “0’s” on my dashboard makes me sad. There are many times during a week when I utter a little prayer that the Lead Change Group community will acquire some of the attributes that make Spin Sucks great: dynamic people, talking to one another, evolving into something more than a set of comments on a blog.

Want to help me out with whipping up something delectable at the Lead Change Group? Here’s a recent post that provided useful tips for helping people work to their fullest potential. Take a moment to share your thoughts in the comments?

And I would be remiss if I didn’t give a last “thank you” to Spin Sucks for being such a tremendous example of an online community that works. I would also be remiss if I didn’t try to earn some brownie points (because I love brownie points!) by asking you to tweet the following:


(Click here to tweet!)



Why I Check In

When I first started seeing people’s Four Square check ins pop up on Facebook and Twitter, my reaction was fairly negative. Why should I care that someone was home? Eating at Applebee’s? At a rest stop on I-10?

The first time I really felt like Four Square may have a place in my social media life was when I was at a TweetUp benefiting Japan and one of my fellow diners checked in on Four Square – I realized that it was possible to see who else was present at the restaurant (who was also a Four Square user).  

Shortly after that, I read a post by Jason Mollica that clarified for me the fact that Four Square check-ins do not always have to be synced to Facebook and/or Twitter. I realized that I could get the benefits (knowing who else was at the same venue as well as any mutual connections) without broadcasting my whereabouts to the larger circle of social media.

[I should note that one thing that held me back from joining Four Square was one individual – someone I did not know as well at the time as I do now but who, more than once, stated on Facebook, “join Four Square and I will unfriend you.” This was someone in whose circle I wanted to remain – I wasn’t sure if the individual was serious but I didn’t want to find out!]

Fast forward to me taking the plunge. I was at the Georgia World Congress Center, at Tenley’s dance competition, so my initial checkin was rewarded with the knowledge that there were others at the same venue as me.

I “thought” I had configured my FourSquare membership to do it “relatively secretly,” meaning my check-ins wouldn’t show up on Facebook. But I did have the setting configured so that my mayorships and badges showed up. As a result, almost immediately upon checking in a few places I was outed as having been awarded the “Crunked” badge – for “4+ Stops in One Night.” I think the stops were the dance studio, the grocery store, and two other mom-driving-around-kids stops!

The Four Square “Crunked” Badge

[Side note #2 – it didn’t take long to figure out that my friend who I thought was still a Four Square hater was already on Four Square!! It started out for business reasons but I think that individual, like me, discovered a like of Four Square that went beyond business.]

Now, why I check in and some thoughts about it.

Employees, Customers, Supporters – I read one article that recommended that an organization’s employees not be allowed to check in and be the Four Square “mayor.” I don’t feel that way. I think that is because I have a pretty “open flow” opinion of relationships between business and personal life. My job is as much of my personal life as my personal life is part of my job (an outlook that is not working all that well right now but that’s a topic for some other time). If an employee feels enough ownership in their organization to want to trumpet that fact, they should be able to. However, this does not always put the employer in the best of lights. When I saw that a fellow Four Square user was an employee at the grocery store I frequent almost every single day, and that the person was “mayor,” I thought that was all pretty cool. Until I saw these tweets on the individual’s twitter feed:

“Some b***h came in right at nine to get some turkey cut up on the saw tonight. So now I have overtime minutes I have to take off.”


“I feel like crap. I threw up twice at work tonight.”

Having read that, I am always checking nametags at the deli at that store now. AND for several days on end, I would pull into the parking lot to check in so that I could become mayor of the store and oust the disgruntled person. It just didn’t do the store justice to have a griping, barfing, employee of a mayor. It’s that much of a pleasure shopping there. I am a loyal customer. And a little wiser for having put social media two and two together.

Connecting Social Dots – I have never figured out how to explain this succinctly yet clearly to people I don’t know well yet, but I am faceblind (prosopagnosic), meaning my ability to discern faces is impaired. Four Square, like Facebook, gives me photographic evidence as well as cues about people that help me tune in more quickly. I was at Chez Pierre one evening and someone I had never met in person was there, in the same dress she was wearing in her Four Square picture, so I was able to facilitate an introduction a lot more easily.

The potential to save money – One of the draws of Four Square is that users can get discounts at certain businesses for checking in. Honestly, I am so frugal that this was probably one of the top reasons I capitulated and signed up. But I don’t think I have saved a cent yet!

The “power” of being mayor – It’s virtual, it’s toothless, it’s just fun. But through Four Square, I can have the very minor head trip of being “mayor.” Here are my current mayorships.

Healthy Kids
The Bus Stop
Performing Arts Center of Tallahassee
Journeys in Yoga
Richview Park
Envision Credit Union
Holy Comforter Church
State Employees Credit Union
Stewardship Dry Cleaners
FSU Film School
Summit East
Nancys Alterations
Leon County Community Room
Skate World

But then there’s the questionable side:

I am spewing data about my habits – Does it matter that I do that? Probably not. If I don’t want to check in, I don’t. But who stands to benefit from knowing about my frequent Publix, Walgreens, and Maxwell’s BP visits? 

I am spewing data about my whereabouts – again – it probably doesn’t matter because my life is pretty much an open book, but when is too much information too much? AND what am I teaching my 12 year old, who only has one Four Square friend (me) by having “fun” with Four Square and encouraging him to share information about himself?

Trust Issues – Sometimes I will be sitting in my parking lot at work or in my driveway at home and Four Square will refuse to give me any points for my check in because “your phone thinks you are a little far from where you say you are” (paraphrasing here). WHAT? I know where I am, thank you very much. Trust me! Conversely, Four Square has caused my son to doubt my veracity. My Droid Eris is very slow to check in, so I will check in to a location a few hundred yards in advance. He once told another parent at camp, “my mom is here so she can talk to you about our sleepover – Four Square says she’s here.” I wasn’t. Oops.

I am helping someone make money (but I don’t really know who) – I am by no means a Four Square expert, but my innocence was quickly erased when I learned that a “custom badge” to support a cause doesn’t come cheap (think quite a few zeros). Hmmm….. (This article delves a bit into Four Square’s revenue generation.)

My ultimate thought is that Four Square is another fun tool to use to connect. It helps me publicize businesses and causes I love. It helps me keep track of my habits (the “Fried Check In badge Level Two”? Really? but the “This is your 23rd consecutive week at a gym – your biceps say ouch your heart says yes” is reassuring).

For me, it goes back to the same reason I jump at opportunities to Tweet Up (meet fellow Twitter users in person) and extend social media conversations beyond the limits of Facebook statuses and 140 character tweets – I like writing and in many ways that helps me establish a relationship in a deeper way than a face to face does. But nothing, seriously, nothing replaces the camaraderie of interacting with another person with whom I have something in common.

Four Square is just another way of allowing me to “check in” with humankind.

Maybe there needs to be a “looked ’em in the eyes” badge!

Caught in the Act (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

It is Mama Kat prompt day. Here’s my prompt:

If Social Media died tomorrow, describe another hobby you might get into.
If you are reading this, I am guessing you are least mildly pro-social media (or you are a social media hater who is being punished by being required to read blog posts written by people you don’t even know). If you’re like me, you would feel pretty bereft if social media died tomorrow. How would I fill the time?
The hobby I “might get into” is something I am already “into” but I would probably be able to focus on it a bit more if I weren’t blogging, Facebooking, or Tweeting (or DailyMiling or LoseIting or my latest, IDoneThising). I would do more acting classes, volunteer more with the FSU Film School, and dabble more in live theatre.

(One of the things I do as a volunteer is help find locations, such as this “teenage girl bedroom”.)
When asked, I usually say that I started hearing the siren call of acting and filmmaking when I got tired of sitting in the waiting area while my kids auditioned for FSU Film projects. I decided “I might as well audition too!”. Then my friend Duane reminded me that I had, after all, played Sue Ellen Ewing (from Dallas) in a high school production back in 1982. For some reason it does not surprise me that I have totally blanked that out of my memory bank!
(No more Sue Ellen Ewing for me; I have moved on to a respectable “career” in the faux medical field!)
I have so much to learn about acting and am frequently in the presence of stellar amateur (and some professional) actors whose talents stun me. What I do know is that I learn something about myself each time I audition or am fortunate enough to be an extra or actor in a production. And I walk away, without fail, mystified at the paradox of how pretending to be someone you are not somehow brings you closer to who you really are.

BONUS! I guess it is fortuitous that I wrote a prompt about the “end” of social media the same week the comedy sketch that satirizes Facebook, in which I was an extra, was released on YouTube. Here it is (fyi it contains language that will make some of you want to press play immediately and some of you want to skip it!)

A “Hard” Book For Me Please (A Mama Kat Writing Workshop Prompt)

First of all, a hearty “welcome back” to Kat, who has been on a well-deserved blog break. During her break, I used prompts from the #Reverb10 project to do a bit of processing about the year 2010 and set the stage for 2011.  When Kat’s prompts arrived in my in-box yesterday, I did my usual routine – use random.org‘s random number generator to “assign” myself one of the five prompts. Then, after seeing the first prompt I was assigned:

What happened in 2010 that you’d rather not repeat?
I thought, “I’ve already done enough of that through #Reverb10,” and tried to manipulate a little order into the randomness by running the random number generator again. I ended up with:
Read and Respond: “If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up.” ~J.M. Power
For a while, I thought I would go with the “dreams come true” quote (it’s a pretty cool and true quote, don’t you think?), but I kept thinking “surely there is something about 2010 that I don’t want to repeat).  Quite a few things come to mind:
  • My mother-in-law’s breast cancer diagnosis
  • My husband’s job loss
  • Sitting in a judge’s chamber as a defendant
  • A protracted “cyber bullying” situation that my daughter was embroiled in
  • My 11 year old’s apparent aversion to sleeping in his own bed …. still
  • The deaths of people my age, especially Jarrod Heierman and Missy Reeves

To reflect on a less dramatic moment, but one that spoke volumes about the choices I make every moment, I turn to a comment my daughter made early in the school year. Apparently now it is a “bonus” to actually get a textbook that is made out of paper (as opposed to a cd or an online version); in Tenley’s math class, students have to request a “paper” book in order to receive one from the limited supply. She said, “Yeah, I told my teacher that you do a lot of freelance work on the computer which is why I couldn’t get on to access my textbook. I didn’t want to say, ‘My mom’s on Facebook all the time.”

Dan Perez touches on some of the same feelings I have about the intersection of family commitment (the kind where you actually touch each other and look each other in the eyes) and social media in his blog The Klout Myth and Living Above the Influence. He talks about how his wife and daughter each suggested that one of his three New Year’s Resolutions be “stop spending so much time on the computer,” which he translated to “start spending more time with us.”
Between the time I drafted this blog Wednesday morning and now, when I am completing it, I read Alexandra Samuels’s Harvard Business Review Blog article Social Media in 2011: Six Choices You Need to Make. It was the perfect article to read on a day when I was contemplating the content for this blog. Should I completely ditch social media to make amends with my child who is usually behind something herself: her bedroom door, her earbuds, her teenaged independence? In the section of her article headed “Who Am I Choosing to be Online?” Samuels says this:
“since the persona you create for yourself online inevitably bleeds over to your life offline, creating the best version of yourself online will invariably help you become the person you want to be, online and off”

I like social media for many reasons, including the fact that I like to write and heck, put together all the statuses, comments and tweets I have pecked out through 2010 and there would probably be enough for a small book (not a good book but a book-sized book!).
I don’t know exactly what I would change about the mix of family time and social media in 2011. Maybe Tenley’s comment was a lot more fleeting than I interpreted it to be. But it has stayed with me since she first said it in August. I suppose what I hope for 2011 is that she won’t be compelled to say I get on Facebook too much, even if she is saying it in jest. I hope this:

Mama's Losin' It

Why Tweet When We Are Already LinkingIn on Facebook?

(Image Source: Invisible PR)

I have been wanting to blog about social media for a while now.  I never could find exactly the right angle, until Weigh Your Mind’s Social Media Blank.  Jason of Weigh Your Mind has become one of my favorite Twitter acquaintances, through the very simple act of conversational tweets back and forth about this and that (AND the occasional retweet of my blog).  When I finally decided to visit his site and figure out the site behind the tweep, I ran across the Social Media Blank and voila! I had my mechanism for discussing social media (thanks, Jason). 

The red sentences indicate the “starter” thoughts and the underscored areas are my responses.  I added additional commentary below some of my responses.

Here goes:

The most important thing about Twitter is how it can instantaneously help people in geographically (and interpersonally) distant places share the same experience, real-time.

I prefer words over pictures on Facebook.

Strange, right?  I mean, the site is called “Facebook,” not “Wordbook.”  I do enjoy the pictures, but I have a slight grudge because exposure to all of these pictures still does not help me overcome my horrible, horrible memory of faces and names.  I like the words, though, because I seriously love to communicate via the written word, and Facebook gives me the platform (with the added bonus of pics) to share my good news, bad news, and quirky observations with a lot more people than if I were relying on the spoken word. 

The most common mistake on Linkedin is thinking you have it figured out.

I do have a Linkedin profile, and when I get “so-and-so wants to connect with you on Linkedin, I usually follow through,” but I am skeptical that Linkedin can ever do anything for me professionally.  Sometimes when I read “testimonials” for people whose abilities I know pretty well, I wonder if the recommender and the recommendee have ever even been in the same room.

In the next 5 years, I predict social media will morph repeatedly, presenting us users with the challenge of keeping up and adapting.  I also think many things that are currently “free” may  move to a fee-based arrangement.

The most positive result I have seen from social media is giving multiple generations a way to communicate on a somewhat even playing field.

I got on Facebook partially to keep up with my teenager.  But I rapidly integrated Facebook into my everyday routines.  For some entities with whom I communicate (such as FSU Film), if I were not on Facebook, I would miss so many opportunities.  And on a level that is very “micro” from the standpoint of the Facebook universe, I have had opportunities to exchange thoughts and feelings with FB friends about experiences past, present and future that I would not have had without FB. 

I also read that the fastest growing demographic for Facebook is ages 55 and above.  I can always hope that my children’s grandparents will get on the bandwagon and share the fun. 

I use social media to connect, connect, connect.

And, I have to admit, to fulfill my curiosity about details that I would not have known about people who are otherwise relatively casual acquaintances without access to their pictures, relationships, and favorite stuff. 

The social media platform I use the most is Facebook because it is easier to keep up with than Twitter.

Maybe I still haven’t found the right Twitter platform, but Twitter feels like a snapshot and Facebook feels like the full length movie.

I consider Twitter to be a) a whole lot important than it was six months ago and b) a prime method for promoting my blog and my identity as the Big Green Pen.

I think the social games on Facebook are not for me.

I find them especially problematic when my 11 year old boy plays things like “Midnight Racer II” and I end up with status updates like, “Paula just unlocked a Fly Ferrari and is gonna smoke some suburbia a** tonight!”

(But I do admit those little Farmville animals are awfully cute.)

On Linkedin, I don’t think I have figured it out.

When writing this blog, I discovered that I have not changed my Linkedin profile job title, which changed ten months ago in November 2009.  Nobody noticed. 

What does this all mean?  What I hope it does not mean is that I am addicted to Facebook, as Ron Greenstein apparently suggested to my husband a few months ago.  What I hope it does mean is that I have found another way to connect with people, using a medium that draws upon my writing skills and allows me to share more of who I am. 

And if connecting in writing doesn’t work out?  I can always arrange a #tweetup!