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I love Chinese Food. I particularly enjoy reading the messages found inside the fortune cookies received at the end of each meal. Well, today I had an epiphany. As I sat there reflecting on the two short sentences I’d just read, I realized that it wasn’t enough.

I needed more. More detail, a greater explanation. I needed a LINK!

I wanted my fortune cookie to operate like Twitter. After all, the message was my fortune. My future was at stake. A quick blurb is nice, but where can I get additional details? Where the heck is the link? Are there any blogs out there about this topic? Do you not understand the concept of social media, Mr. Cookie? GIVE ME SOMETHING MORE! Be social.

I wonder if I should have tried to convert him. Maybe I should have tried typing this under-140-character blurb into my BlackBerry right there at the restaurant:” @Fortunecookie Tell me more about that second sentence. Is there a link?” An exercise in futility of course, but you see where I’m going with this.

Jacob Morgan wrote about this very thing in a guest post on Chris Brogan’s blog today. His message was about making sure your conversations don’t turn into broadcasts. A broadcast would be a one-way message. Did you read it @FortuneCookie? Maybe you should. I will gladly provide the link, which is more than I can say for you, buddy!

Social media makes all of us expect more. With so much instant information at our fingertips and a vast network of providers across numerous social media platforms, we don’t want for much in that department and it is clearly affecting my life.

I learned an interesting lesson about myself today: I can no longer read a simple text message on a fortune cookie without getting myself all riled up.

Thanks, Twitter. That’s just what I needed.

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There’s a fine line between the verb “flaunt” and it’s more docile and giving half-sister: the verb “share.” Some of us need to revisit that little fact.
By us, I mean the early adopters, the bold bloggers, the talented twitterers, frantic friendfeeder’s and facebooker’s, courageous community managers, die-hard digg’ers, excellent evangelists and super-sized social media saints!

Forgive me if you’re none of the above, but you get my drift and I’m betting that at least one of the above descriptions fits you to a tee!

I’ve written a few posts lately where I seemed to go on and on about the lack of social media knowledge that exists among specific industries and the resistance that we all deem futile. In many cases, it isn’t resistance at all. It’s simply a lack of understanding, coupled with preconceived notions of unreasonable time commitments and technological prowess, neither of which are requirements to get in the game.

I attended one conference where we were all discussing Social Media 3.0 just 24 hours after giving a presentation to a large group that didn’t even understand Social Media 0.5. I’m convinced there
are plenty more where they came from and I fear that we could be leaving behind the very people who need us most.

That conference changed me. It made me think very hard about my purpose and the more I think through it, I see an amazing opportunity to teach. As I reach out to those in my various networks who are much savvier than I am, my main goal is to extrapolate every piece of knowledge and wisdom they have to offer to better myself and increase my personal knowledge. I know that we all do. That’s the power of vast networks.
I ask you to turn the tables for a minute and think of all of the people who want to extrapolate your knowledge on the most basic level. Can you give it to them, and in a way they will understand?

If you are a leader of the pack, consider stepping down a notch or two and getting back to basics. Share yourself and what you know. The key word is share. There will be time to flaunt later and that vast network of yours will be waiting for you to do just that.
Remember, if you give a man to fish, he’ll eat for a day. But if you teach a man to fish……

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I’ve been an assignment manager at numerous TV stations throughout my career, and that involved making hard decisions about news coverage. There was always more than we needed and the day file was typically flooded with news releases.

Unfortunately, most of them found a home in the bottom of the recycling bin. I know that’s not what you want to hear if you are the one who poured over the document with the goal of creating a masterpiece, but it’s true. The good news is you have the power to change that.

Here is what you can do to keep your press release out of the recycling bin and the deleted items folder of Outlook.

  • Make them shorter! A press release is not a novel. Remember that.
  • Stop burying the lead. If the reader has to read through three paragraphs to find the most pertinent information, he never will.
  • Write a snappy headline. Try headlines that are five words or less, and make it descriptive. Avoid long company names. I don’t need to read the company’s name in the headline unless its a major news maker.
  • Experiment with different layouts. Are the words”for immediate release” a necessity? Think about it.
  • Stop using the phrase “for immediate release.” I know it’s customary but isn’t that assumed in most cases?
  • Ditch the history lesson and provide links. Is it necessary to provide such lengthy paragraphs about the history of each company mentioned? Try using “for more information” and providing links to additional information.

I suggest playing around with your press releases with the goal of making them mean and lean. And now for something fun. I will transform a press releases (into a mean, lean informational machine, (free of charge, of course) for the first two people who send me an e-mail with “Make me mean and lean” as the subject.

I will contact you later requesting the press release of your choice and we will go from there. All you have to do is give me permission to display the original and the new version in a future blog post.

Send it to

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Just yesterday, I posted a blog indicating that nonprofits need to decrease their dependency on traditional media organizations and utilize social media as a mean to promote and increase awareness about their organizations.

Well, it isn’t just nonprofits that need to do this. Anyone who is still depending solely on the news media, particularly print to tell their stories, here’s a list to digest, as posted by Mark Potts.

I’ll share five of the 25 here.

  1. Newark Star-Ledger — 316,280 -10.40%
  2. Chicago Sun-Times — 313,176 -3.94%
  3. Cleveland Plain Dealer — 305,529 -8.58%
  4. Philadelphia Inquirer — 300,674 -11.06%
  5. Detroit Free Press — 298,243 – 6.84%

The common belief is that these numbers will only continue to deteriorate. Need any more convincing?

Again, here’s the full list.

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One of the messages I tried hard to drive home during a session I held at the NC Center for Non-profits Statewide Conference two weeks ago, was this: Stop depending on the news media to tell your story!

It’s amazing that in this day and age of social media, many organizations and industries are still so heavily reliant on traditional media. I got the feeling during an informational lunch which was hosted by the Marketing Director of a local TV station and attended by several leaders of non-profit organizations, that everyone around the table would give their left arm just to know the magic secret behind getting news coverage.

“How do we get you to come to our events,” one woman asked.
As a former assignment manager at numerous TV stations, I know that there is no magic secret and I told them as much. I even went further to tell them that I was one of many managers in newsrooms across the country, who routinely tossed their well-crafted press releases in the recycling bin.

I saw shock on the faces of many. I went on to discuss the 22 minute news hole and the plight of producers charged with presenting the best and most important news of the day during that time frame. Couple that with a small number of news crews, and throw in a 2-alarm fire, and the chances of your festival or major fund raising event getting coverage are really slim. Actually the chances are pretty much non-existent.

“Have you ever thought about shooting your own video and providing it to the station?” I asked.
“We can do that?”

Yes, but you can also post your own video on YouTube and other video sharing sites. You can post it on your own website, or provide a link. You can submit it to communities that accept user-generated video. And that’s just a start. There’s so much that can be done beforehand to generate buzz that doesn’t involve traditional media.

It’s a brave new world, where you control a lot more than you once did, so learn the ropes and get involved. With social media comes freedom and it’s time for non-profits to break free.

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If you have a product or service that you think most people or a large percentage of the people in an online community would find interesting, I think you should delve right in and give it a shot. After all, isn’t one of the goals behind marketing in online communities to essentially capitalize on the sheer numbers and niche topics?

If done right, it can be quite effective. If done wrong, as it most often is in my opinion, it can backfire in a way that can turn ugly fast. I’ve seen it time and time again. A well-intentioned individual joins the community and casually starts mentioning their travel site or automotive services complete with links in every post and the promise of a discount.

What often happens next is they receive a slew of comments from the natives about the community not being a place to sell their services and it’s all downhill from there.
I once saw a user upload 750 images of wristwatches. Seriously. It was his entire catalog. Need I say what happened to him?

I call it the scarlet letter, “S.” it stands for SPAM. It’s a word you don’t want to be associated with in an online community. Trust me. So, before you jump right in to the next community, here are five things you shouldn’t do. Remember, this isn’t the do list, it’s the don’t list.


  1. Add links to your website in every single blog and comment you post.
  2. Write blogs with titles like: “Great deals on travel” and only mention your organization. It’s the quickest way to illustrate a lack of genuine interest in the community.
  3. Start blogging about your product or service the minute you create a profile. It will be noticed.
  4. Misrepresent yourself as a satisfied customer, just to convince others to get on board.
  5. Disrespect the culture of the community. Take time to see how things work before you jump in and shake things up.


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I know that many of my colleagues and peers will disagree with me here, but I believe there can come a time when you, the community manager have to enforce your guidelines publicly. I am going to go further to say that you may even have to use someone as an example for all to witness.
Not ideal, I know.
But before you balk and get ready to tell me how this will destroy a community, let me tell you that I’ve done it and it didn’t back fire in the way you would think.

Now, keep in mind that it does depend on the type of community you manage. My site is connected to a traditional news organization and it’s also very local, so our topics run the gamut. It’s essentially a free-for-all in terms of content. You never know what to expect, so you just expect it all.

Martin Reed wrote a post a while back called Never forget who is in charge of your online community.

When I read it back in June, I think I was on the verge of doing just that. Our one year anniversary was approaching, as was my review, and I found myself getting so caught up in growing the community and making sure I didn’t offend, that it was getting unwieldy.

Well, that moment has certainly passed. Just yesterday I wrote a blog that was very direct. Here is an excerpt:

If you want to be here, act like it. If not, go somewhere else. The internet is huge. Find your niche. It’s out there. Thanks, and have a great day.

Yes, it sounds harsh but the people it applied to knew it, and so did everyone else.
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In an effort to illustrate just how daunting the job of an online community manager can be, I’ve started sharing selected snippets of some of the e-mails I receive from members, with the members who send them via my editor’s blog.

There seems to be a real interest and it shows the community just how petty some of their peers can be. Many openly express in the comments areas of my posts that they would never want to do my job. Others have indicated that they would “pray for me and my inbox.”

If you’re up for a good laugh, or cry…read through some of these. Have a bottle of aspirin nearby.

  1. “Please tell me why when I made a decent comment concerning a very real thing …about putting a hex on something that it gets deleted? I see that this person I referanced this to also had his comment deleted? I did not call names, was not rude.”
  2. You accept constant trash, and *I* get a nasty gram. Please……..
  3. Angela – we need the ability to block people off group blogs.
  4. “The sports section is overrun by crazy people and everytime UNC is mentioned all the fools come out and no one can talk about nothing!!”
  5. Dang it Angela….. are you gonna get rid of this jerk or not??????
  6. Ok, Angela here we go again please remove the current cowboy blog this a violation.
  7. Their are currently 2 blogs with half naked men and lewd suggestive comments being made if there is truly NOT a double standard at ____ these must be flagged NOW and warnings issued. Please follow terms and conditions as set out by ____ or not at all. Allow all viewing of the human body or none at all, both genders.
  8. I put a comment on the story about the son killing the father in Lee County- there has been some more about this story in the Sanford Herald and the son is being futher investiaged by Sanford Police about another killing that took place a couple of years ago. Please take my comment off.
  9. I havent disobeyed ANY of the rules so why cant I post anymore?
  10. I live in Florida and come to the ____ website every day because I am from NC and have family–children, mother, etc. in NC. I used to post comments quite frequently. Since you changed to this ____ nightmare it is so cumbersome it is a huge waste of my time. I can’t figure out how to just plain leave a comment on a story. Please, not all of us want to BLOG or whatever. It is not our life work. Sometimes we just want to make a simple comment.
  11. “I think your word filter really sucks. I was trying to post a response to the story of the Eagle and I have a pet bird. She is a Cockatiel and as since I used that word twice, the filter would not let the post go through.
    Now please tell me what is so offensive about the word “Cockatiel” when it is describing a small Parrot from Australia. I ran a dictionary check on the word “cock” and it was listed 10 times and neither definition was in the least bit offensive.
    But I suppose I’ll just get the regular computer response back.”
  12. This morning I was trying to use the word cracker as in I ate crackers this morning and it was blocked. Why? Trying to block this for racial reason???
  13. I frequently go to your sites and look at feed back ref to your news stories. I am sick of this lady. Her abuse of language, non factual statements are discusting. Please take her completely down. I know that you have fixed it where she can’t do it from the story site but she is still on your link. Here is her link.I feel sorry for both familes and I feel that her ranting and raving is not helping the healing of the familes and the communities.
  14. I guess I will have to contact ABC 11 and ask them if they would like to investigate the discrimination of the ____ team in regards to allowing negative comments about gay people but not african american people.
  15. “I didnt realize my actual name was going to show up on a post I had made, it was certainly not a bad post but I’d rather not have my name shown up. I changed my screename however someone responded with my realhame and I was just wondering if you could please edit the thread and remove my full name. Really appreciated it.”

Does your inbox look anything like this? Do tell!

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With all of the kind words and support I received after this post, I thought it would only make sense to provide an update on the relentless community member who is intent on hurling racial slurs my way through various forms of communication.

It’s getting pretty old and pretty sad, and I think I feel sorry for her on some level.

As much as I promote the importance of engaging users online and reaching out to community members to provide them with the best experience, it’s clear that I cannot do that with her.

First it was an e-mail but today it was a complete blog post with paragraph after paragraph of insanity all related to the concept of “Training your n-word.”

Where do people get this stuff? I know that it’s directed at me the managing editor of the community, not me personally (although it IS based on my race) and it’s this persons attempt at ruffling my feathers. I know that.

But as I think about all of the comments I see online on a daily basis and the back and forth about race , particularly as it relates to the Presidential Election, I can’t help but wonder if the cloak of anonymity is providing an outlet for bigots of all races to share their truest, ugliest feelings. Are there some simply welcoming the opportunity to speak their mind without repercussions?

My question is this: Are online forums, communities and comments areas across news websites providing an accurate depiction of our society? Are the things being written representative of what people wish they could actually verbalize? Or is this a phenomenon only taking place online because it’s essentially a free-for-all? What do you think?

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A Korean actress, said to have spent hours reading online comments about herself, was found dead earlier this month. She committed suicide.
Her name is Jin-sil Choi, and this blogger says her death for Koreans, is very similar to Americans waking up tomorrow to learn that Angelina Jolie had died the same way.

She cared about what people thought of her, even if it was in the form of anonymous comments left by people hiding behind that cloak of anonymity that I often write about. In a previous post I mentioned an e-mail I received in which a member of the community I manage called me the “n-word,” followed by the b-word.

I was a bit miffed, but I chose to move on for my own sanity. I also know that I am in a role that sometimes makes people hate me. All community managers are. It comes with the territory. Blogger, Martin Reed wrote recently that the abuse we receive from the public is an indication that we’re actually doing our jobs.

But I don’t think that translates to a famous actress, and I wish that she had not given these comments so much power. It’s disturbing to envision her reading so much negativity in one sitting, and doing it over and over again, if that was indeed the case. It would be akin to reading an entire book of hate mail.

The issue in some circles is whether or not the comments should have been there in the first place, and I do have an opinion about that, but I won’t share it. Not in this post.

My single goal here is to express my sadness and offer condolences to her family and the fans who loved her so. I just hope she read some of their comments along the way.

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October 2008

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This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer. Feel free to challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I’m completely nuts in the comments section of each blog entry.


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