So, I have some news to share: today is my last day at Travel Channel. In two weeks, I’ll be moving to New York to join the team at MSNBC as their new social media content editor.
I’ve been at Travel Channel for over two years now and it has been an incredible experience that I’m so fortunate to have had. I came in with no prior experience at a TV network and had the chance to learn all about the TV business from seasoned veterans who have worked in cable TV for years. I am so lucky to have been able to work in the TV space and build the social media efforts at Travel over the past two years. And, I got to work with an amazing group of colleagues at Scripps too.
But, I’m very excited about my next chapter! I’ll miss DC, but am looking forward to moving to New York and exploring a new city. I’m also excited to be back in news and politics, which has always been my passion, and especially honored to join an incredible network like MSNBC. In my new role, I’ll be helping to shape social media strategy for MSNBC programming and supporting the launch of the new MSNBC.com later this year. I start later this month, and can’t wait for the new challenge!
Last week, the New York Times published one of the silliest things I’ve ever seen: a Room For Debate piece titled: “Do Women Have What It Takes To Lead?” (at a paper that is RUN by a woman). When the inevitable backlash happened, NYT Public Editor Margaret Sulluvan addressed it on her blog: “Is There Really Room To Debate Whether Women Can Lead?”
My favorite response was the #EdgyHeadlines meme on Twitter, created by Kate Harding and Sweet Machine. All those headlines we’re so used to seeing about women? Take them and flip the genders and ask yourself if we’d ever ask that question if it wasn’t about women. Would we ever ask if men can have it all? CAN MEN JUGGLE FAMILY AND CAREER? No, that’s a ridiculous question that no one has ever asked.
Here’s a few of my favorite #EdgyHeadlines tweets rounded up via Storify.
Have you ever seen a headline asking if men have what it takes to lead? The best #EdgyHeadlines tweets.
There’s been a lot of conversation about Sheryl Sandberg’s new book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead lately, and I’ve weighed in at a couple of different places:
- Here’s my review of the book for Ms. Magazine
- Some of my thoughts on Lean In & the women’s movement are quoted in this group review of Lean In with many other fabulous women at all stages of their careers in The Guardian
- I also wrote a bit about the pre-release Sandberg “backlash” for HuffPost here.
Overall, it’s a book I really enjoyed reading and found informative, inspiring, and well-researched. I’d recommend it to almost any professional woman looking to move up in her career.
And, here are links to some older stuff I’ve written that I haven’t gotten around to posting here just yet:
Huffington Post, “3 Reasons Why Startups Are the New MBA,” January 2013
Huffington Post, “Sorry, Lizzie Wurtzel, It’s Not Cool to Not Have a Savings Account,” January 2013
The Daily Muse, “10 Women Who Are Shaping The Future of Politics,” January 2013
Huffington Post, “50 Women Who Made the Election,” December 2012
Feministe, “Let’s talk about that ambition gap,” December 2012
Here are a few pieces I’ve done across the web + in print lately…
- I’ve got an essay out in American Dreamers, a new book from Wieden + Kennedy’s “Make Sharp Stuff” project. The book features contributions from 50+ writers, thinkers, artists and activists on what their new American Dream is. You can get it here!
- I wrote a piece for Racialicious, and re-published in Jezebel, on the Mindy Kaling backlash and why I think some of the criticism being lobbed at Kaling is more than a little unfair.
- I wrote a piece for the Ms. Magazine blog about whether feminism is having a TV moment, with two new feminists shows being produced by Mila Kunis and Elizabeth Banks for Fox and the CW.
- I also wrote a piece for Feministe during the election debates about Mitt Romney’s infamous “binders of women” answer and why we should be concerned about what it really showed about Mitt Romney – that he won’t do anything to help close the gender wage gap.
Thanks for reading!
Jessica Valenti had a really interesting Reddit AMA today. While it was a little bit focused on her newly released book, the parts I found most fascinating were those that came from young women telling Valenti how much her books had impacted them, some of whom had never considered themselves feminists till they read her work, and asking her for advice on how to deal with the negativity people tend to associate with those who call themselves feminists.
It reminded me of when I first started to think of myself as feminist. I remember a distinct moment in high school when I friend invited me to join a feminist group and I remember clearly telling him (yes, it was a him) that no, I wouldn’t, because although I agree with most feminist ideas, I can’t call myself feminist because it’s a pretty radical word and people will assume I’m some kind of radical man-hating anarchist or whatever.
I’ve come a long way since then, but it was a gradual coming out process.
It took me a good few years to feel comfortable self-identifying as feminist — largely because I was so afraid of what people would think. The vast majority of people, I felt, continue to think of “feminists” as some sort of radical, hardcore, man-hating group. What I find even sadder is women who vehemently reject feminism — because they believe all the silly feminist stereotypes they’ve been fed. I won’t deny that I used to believe some of that crap, but what changed for me was finding a community of other women who shared the same beliefs I did and didn’t give a damn if someone called them an angry feminist. It wasn’t until late in college that I started meeting women who shared the same opinions that I’d long felt I was alone in – and it was such a relief to finally find that community. It was a relief to find sites like Jezebel and Feministing and realize, I’m not alone! It was a relief to go to SXSW and meet people like Ann and Latoya and think, why don’t I know more people like this? There are more of us than I thought!
Finding that community had such an impact on me — it strengthened my beliefs and allowed me to finally feel comfortable in proclaiming what I care about, regardless of what most of my more mainstream peers might think. I no longer had to believe anyone who thought I was “the angry feminist” — because I knew I wasn’t the only one who thought things like the wage gap and rape jokes and abortion rights matter. And that’s why when I saw this question on Jessica Valenti’s Reddit AMA, I almost felt like she was speaking to a younger version of me:
How do you find a balance between keeping a positive outlook on things and criticising sexist behaviours or portrayals in for example the media or politics? I mean, can you still enjoy a movie if it’s sexist or be happy at a party when someone said some stupid things about women being sluts, make ma a sandwich etc? I often find myself being angry for too long, so I wonder how you deal with it.
Having community helps a lot. When things get tough, having someone to bitch to or commiserate with is the best. That said, yes – I can still enjoy a movie or song if it’s sexist and I can still have fun at a party if someone says something awful (though I would take them to task). I know that it can be difficult, and sometimes it’s hard not to be angry all the time! What helps me is using that anger towards a positive end – writing an article, tweeting something, calling someone to talk about it. Using humor also helps – it’s not just a political tactic, it’s a survival mechanism!
Reading your works and seeing you speak at my university were HUGE moments in my feminist path so far. I was just wondering who your biggest influences have been and how you first got started thinking about feminism?
You know, probably my biggest feminist influences have been other feminist bloggers and the community I’ve found online. That’s the wonderful thing about online feminism – you don’t have to have a stagnant feminist canon, it’s constantly moving! The folks at Feministing in particular, like Samhita, Courtney & Jos, are real inspirations to me.
Being a young feminist can at times be a really isolating experience – especially when you start to notice things you’re uncomfortable with, and things that go against what you stand for that might infuriate you, but you feel like you have to stay silent. Finding a community of other like-minded women makes all the difference — and this generation’s feminist movement is largely defined by the massive online network built through the blogosphere, Twitter, and Tumblr. Fitting into that network totally changed my worldview — and I hope some day I can have the same impact on other, younger women.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about whether social media is inherently a “young person’s job.” Whether young people are better at social media, even more qualified for social media jobs, because they grew up as digital natives. Most of the discussion has centered around a post written by a girl who just graduated college two months ago, is unemployed, and thinks that because she is 22 and loves Facebook, she is entitled to a social media job.
This is a dangerous way to think about social media and does a disservice to the whole field. Unfortunately, my fear is that many people – and companies – read things like that and truly believe that they can just put a young person in charge of their company’s social media pages, and they’re covered.
This way of thinking – that kids inherently get social, thus they should be in charge – neglects all the other skills and experience that successful social media management requires: an understanding of marketing and communications strategy, an ability to set business goals for social media and strategy to get there, copywriting skills to be able to craft messaging people want to read, an understanding of the web ecosystem and what makes good content and gets pageviews, experience working with a variety of cross functional departments and teams, an understanding of research and web analytics to track performance, and more. If your organization just puts any old intern or fresh college grad with no experience in charge of their social media efforts, they have none of that experience and are bound to fail.
There’s a lot of angry older social media professionals on the internet who have penned responses to Sloane’s piece. Most are unnecessary, since Sloane’s piece is so silly it doesn’t even merit a response. But perhaps one of the best things to come out of the debate is this smart piece by Meghan Peters at Poynter. Peters argues that it’s time for all of us to work on learning about social media, young or old, and take age out of the equation.
Young people aren’t inherently “better” at social media just because they are young and use the tools more. Social media is like any other field — it requires experience, skills, knowledge, and strategy. An intern or a fresh grad don’t necessarily have an advantage because of their age, so take age out of it. Does that recent grad actually have professional experience in marketing, communications, and social media? Age shouldn’t be the only qualification – because it’s no qualification at all for any other type of job, and social media should be no different.
It’s time for more people to respect social media marketing as they would any other type of digital or marketing work — and recognize that it has nothing to do with age, young or old, and has everything to do with skills and experience.
I have curation fatigue.
On a daily and weekly basis, I’ve started to get dozens of “curated” emails delivered to my inbox. Some that I didn’t even sign up for. Each one is supposed to have carefully culled the internet and found the best things for its readers to help you cut through all the noise on the internet and get straight to the good stuff. Twitter daily digests, Percolate emails, Brain Pickings, Media ReDefined, Smart Briefs, and lots more. Wasn’t curation supposed to cut down on the noise? At this rate, I have so many “curated” emails to filter through that I just feel like deleting all of them rather than trying to sort them all out.
It’s true that content curation makes it easy to find some of the best, most popular content of the web, but it also allows us to become lazy. We no longer discover anything truly new on the web – why search for anything interesting to read, when you can rely on others to tell you what to read? There’s no longer any need to search or browse. How many people do you know who no longer open up a magazine – or even visit a magazine homepage online—and go straight to Facebook or Twitter to see what’s trending amongst their peers and just read that?
By relying too much on content curated for us by others, I think we miss out on one of the most important parts of the internet: discovery of new content and new ideas. We stop browsing and finding new, random things, outside of our predefined interests. We lost out on the process of randomly stumbling upon something you might not have known you were interested in before.
Ultimately, reading new things outside your usual niche is one of the best ways to expand your mind and broaden your horizons. By relying so much on content curated for us based on our pre-determined interests, needs, and social circles, we’re missing out on the wonderful experience of browsing, of stumbling on a random article about psychology of the brain in love or how the North Pole is melting and disappearing.
Curation is important, and still very helpful in finding interesting, worthwhile things to read – but relying too much on curated content makes us lazy and allows us to miss out on arguably the best part of being online. There’s still something to be said for the experience of browsing, of getting out of our niche and our social networks and learning something totally new and different; rather than reading, oh, the same BuzzFeed listicle that 250 people have already tweeted and posted about.
I get asked often if I have any “social media advice” — sometimes for people who want to work in social media or sometimes from someone who’s been put in charge of their company’s Facebook page or Twitter handle. So, I have compiled a list of some of helpful tips and resources that should be helpful for anyone getting started in social media.
First of all, you should read. Read lots. There are hundreds, even thousands of blogs about social media and the answer to almost any social media question you have can probably be found online somewhere. Some great resources that you should read:
- Social Media Today
- Smart Blog on Social Media (and subscribe to their daily email, SmartBrief on Social Media, too)
- Social Media Examiner
- Jeremiah Owyang’s Web Strategist
Second: write a plan. Write out what your goals are, what tactics you’ll employ, and what metrics you’ll measure (fans, followers, replies, retweets, likes, comments, shares, etc). Look at other brands and see what they’re doing in social media to get ideas. Follow your competitors on Facebook and Twitter.
- Get really familiar with Facebook’s Help Center. Most common Facebook questions already have answers posted in their help pages.
- Need to run some kind of contest on Facebook? Read Facebook’s Promotions Guidelines – they don’t allow any kind of contest where entry is based on liking, commenting, or posting something. You have to set up a third party contest app — try Wildfire for this. It’s inexpensive and easy to use.
Other helpful links:
- Hubspot: How to Use Facebook for Business
- The top brands on Facebook
- Small business Facebook page tips
- How to create an effective company Facebook page
- Mashable’s extremely comprehensive Facebook Guide Book
- 12 ideas for engaging Facebook posts.
- 5 tips for managing your company’s Twitter account from The Daily Muse
- Mashable’s comprehensive Twitter Guide Book
- 17 Twitter marketing tips from the pros
- 40 of the best brands on Twitter and the people behind them
I wrote a story for Poynter recently to attempt to tackle this very topic, one I think a lot of people in media struggle with. The vast amount of publicly accessible tweets and Facebook posts from ordinary people can be a dream for reporters – they can instantly pull real-time accounts of breaking news, find context around a story from people who were there as it happened, or find citizens’ reactions to breaking news events. Much of the time, since there are no standard rules about what you can and can’t quote from social media, the thinking is often that if it’s published on the internet, it’s on the record – and therefore fair game to be quoted.
But I think there are a lot of scenarios where this isn’t fair – private individuals who publish something on Facebook or Twitter may have consented to have the friends who follow them see it, but probably haven’t given informed consent for it to published in the Washington Post. Facebook groups are a big point of contention because if it’s a “closed” group – and therefore accessible only to members who have been invited – I have heard many journalists argue that this space, despite still being online, should be private.
It’s still a very grey area to navigate — I tried to tackle it in my piece with a few suggestions for how to determine when something is fair game to be quoted from Facebook or Twitter. But I think when in doubt, it always helps to contact the original poster to get permission, and most importantly, additional context.
A couple months ago I had the opportunity to lead a small workshop at the CrushIQ conference here in Washington DC. My session was on managing social media channels for your brand. If you’re interested, my presentation is below. I focused a lot on how to make content engaging – too many times we post information that WE want others to know about our brand or organization, instead of putting ourselves’ in the reader’s shoes and asking whether this information is valuable, useful, or entertaining to them.