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I was recently questioned on twitter about the way I described former TV anchor and reporter Tom Tucker in this post.

I referred to him as a social media enthusiast and evangelist. I’ll tell you right now that I simply copied that from his bio and quite honestly, I don’t see anything wrong with that.

I had also spoken with him at length before we recorded this podcast, and he talked about his blog and his history of pushing hard for social media with his employers and his excitement about his new endeavor, Talk Social Media.

It is not his full-time job and does not yet pay the bills, (he’s a corporate trainer by day) but he is passionate as most of us are, and it may pay them one day, if he’s lucky. But someone on twitter wanted to know more, and that’s okay too.

Here’s the @reply:

@communitygirl How can you call Tucker a social media enthusiast and evangelist when he’s only tweeted 7 times since Feb. 2008? Where else?

Now, I don’t think that having only seven tweets in a year disqualifies you from being a social media evangelist. Perhaps it is an account that you decided not to use, or maybe you didn’t “get” twitter at first, much like I didn’t. Maybe you’re active on many other SM platforms. The possibilities are many.

I do recognize that this person only wanted to know more and I did oblige, because that’s what we do on twitter. But it got me thinking.

When can one claim this title without bringing criticism their way? Is it after 500 tweets, 1,000 followers, 2,500 Facebook friends, 348 blogposts? What? Maybe it’s once you’ve explained twitter to 134 people and got your mom active on Friendfeed and Flickr and convinced your company to start a corporate blog.

Here are the definitions of evangelist on dictionary.com:

e⋅van⋅ge⋅list

–noun

1. a Protestant minister or layperson who serves as an itinerant or special preacher, esp. a revivalist.
2. a preacher of the gospel.
3. (initial capital letter) any of the writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) of the four Gospels.
4. (in the primitive church) a person who first brought the gospel to a city or region.
5. (initial capital letter) Mormon Church. a patriarch.
6. a person marked by evangelical enthusiasm for or support of any cause.

So, if we go with those definitions, evangelism can be all word-of-mouth. We can argue that you have to practice to be able to speak about anything with authority and I buy that to a certain extent. But you can also dabble, understand the benefits and spread the word.

Think about it. Aren’t we all evangelists of some sort?

I am a Coach Purse evangelist, a Little Gym evangelist, a lasagna evangelist and a Arm & Hammer Carpet Cleaner evangelist. I am also a PTA evangelist, a Lexus evangelist (don’t have one but I love them and I will get one some day) and an outlet mall evangelist. You could also consider me a Desperate Housewives and Mott’s Applesauce evangelist as well and I don’t think anyone is going to ask me how many bowls of applesauce I’ve eaten to clarify my status as an evangelist.

You may be laughing but it’s true. Anyone can evangelize. Yes, there should be some experience to back it up, but who’s to say how much or how little?

What are your thoughts?

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When Former TV anchor and reporter turned social media enthusiast and evangelist Tom Tucker asked me to be the first guest for the new Talk Social Media to discuss 10 Tips to Growing and Starting an Online Community , I jumped at the chance.

If you’re a regular here, you know how passionate I am about online communities and this gave me an opportunity to share that passion at length.

So please take a few minutes and listen. If you don’t have time now, do come back later. We had a great conversation and toward the end I share a few ideas on getting buy-in from the boss as well as a few details about my upcoming book: 18 Rules of Community Engagement.

Listen to the Podcast: 10 tips to growing and starting an online community!


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This is a question that sparked a great conversation at the inaugural Social Media Breakfast Raleigh that I co-organized with fellow social media enthusiast, Kipp Bodnar.

The conversation centered largely around Twitter, where anyone with an interest can post unlimited 140-character missives at a pace similar to the speed of light.

But can this freedom pose a problem for organizations if their employees are not using common sense or thinking about the fact that they represent a larger entity beyond themselves?

Duke Williams chimed in with this: “If you allow a person to answer the phone, they should be able to have a twitter account.” He doesn’t think guidelines are needed, and allows anyone on his staff to have an account. In fact, he encourages it.

Martin Reed, who was not at the event but answered the question when I posed it on twitter a few days later believes that guidelines are absolutely necessary if an employee is strongly associated with the company. Several people at the social media breakfast shared this sentiment as well.

Robyn Kalda has a different opinion, one that’s very similar to Duke Williams’ and sent me this reply via twitter: “No, they should trust their employees to behave professionally. Do we have guidelines on how to use a telephone?”

So on one hand we have those who view tweeting as they do communicating over the phone, and others who see it as a potential risk to employers who don’t attempt to exert some element of control. Kalda believes that either you trust your people to speak, or you’ve hired the wrong people.

I definitely see how there could be cause for concern and am somewhat on the fence. I think that perhaps it depends on the organization. Should CIA operatives spend time divulging strategies on twitter? Of course not, but is there real harm to random employees occasionally talking shop in the twitterverse? Maybe.

What do you think? Should companies be worried about the messages employees are conveying through twitter or trust them to use their best judgment? And what exactly is at risk if they don’t?

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Parking lot It’s snowing in the Raleigh area today, and that’s a big deal for the natives. Schools are closed due to four-six inches of snow. Unheard of for me considering the fact that I was born and raised in Michigan, where it took more than a foot to close the schools as long as the roads weren’t icy.

I grew up just blocks away from the Detroit River and lived in Cleveland as an adult near Lake Erie, where the lake effect snow was fierce.

I am what they call a transplant, here.

Someone from “up North” who is still relatively new to the area and doesn’t think snow cream sounds the least bit appealing. But despite my disconnect from this particular area, the online community I manage is a very local community linked by geography, shared history and tradition and similar beliefs. And they have stacks of snow cream recipes, to boot.

Given my history, four-six inches of snow is no big deal at all.
BUT, if it matters to the community, it matters to me.

So, despite the fact that the snow isn’t a major life event in my book, I am giving it major treatment in the community, because to them it is. I’ve asked for photo submissions and even took a few of my own and shared them with the community. So far we’re up to 111 photos documenting this amazing snow day and I suspect they’ll come in throughout the remainder of the day.

I’ve asked members to share their snow cream recipes and give details about the best places to go sledding and I’m highlighting their content all over the place.
A good community manager knows a big deal when it emerges.
It’s up to you to find out what matters to your community and make it the big deal that it is.
It will further illustrate your commitment as the community manager and make it clear that you care, and what matters to the community, matters to you.

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I just ran across a quick interview with author and marketing expert Seth Godin over on Kipp Bodnar’s blog and the very last sentence stopped me in my tracks, and made me think.

Here it is:

“What I really don’t like online is this superficial networking…all the thousands of people who show up friend-ing everybody else. Why? Right. It doesn’t count for anything it’s just a waste of time.”

Wow.

Now I can see how having thousands of friends on Facebook can be a bit unwieldy and there has been a lot of chatter about all of the “noise” on twitter. And yes, I do have several friends on various platforms who I may never actually contact. AND, some people are on social media sites simply to rack up friend counts and followers.

I get that, and it could very well be a waste of their time.

But there is nothing superficial about the way I use the social web to network, and I’m sure that many of you can make that claim as well.

I’ve already shared that I landed a publishing contract thanks to Twitter and Bryan Person. I did a great podcast with Dick Carlson, just launched the inaugural Social Media Breakfast Raleigh with Kipp Bodnar and had the most amazing conversation with Maren Hogan a few days ago that resulted in a new chapter for my book.

I am calling Connie Bensen this Friday to brainstorm a few ideas and recently gave this Facebook friend a guest post on my blog that will hopefully help him land a job or at least get his great ideas read by some real decision makers in the newspaper industry. (My stats show that folks at newspapers from Ft. Wayne to London England have read his post)

But this was the best comment of all in the 1:18 interview:

“The networking that matters is helping people achieve their goals. Doing it reliably and repeatedly so that over time people have an interest in helping you achieve your goals if they have a stake in it”

Be sure to listen to it in its entirety.

Now tell me about some of your non-superficial networking and give an example or two of how it has helped you, or how you have helped others along the way.

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This post was written by Rod Overton, the recently laid-off web guru who was the subject of this post about the newspaper industry.

Here are 8 things newspapers need to do RIGHT NOW to survive (I wrote these about a month ago, but have been thinking them — and pushing various aspects for a couple of years):

1.) Immediately stop entering ALL contests. Period. They send exactly the WRONG feedback loop to reporters and editors.

2.) STOP hiring people based on their clips. Integrate online cooperation — and REAL — data about their impact on the online product into the hiring process.

3.) Start really looking at analytics and studying what you are doing well and do more of that. You can now use analytics to determine this. Start doing it.

4.) Look at what other aspects of time people use the web for and consider integrating parts of those “news” or information into your site. Weather is a perfect example. It’s the second or third most popular thing people do on the Internet. Yet, this newspaper refuses to expand its weather section to try to capture that group. It would cost about $500-$800 per month to have a completely kick BUTT weather section that would compete with TV sites and weather.com, but no one wants to do it.

5.) Largely centralize the news-gathering efforts. Keep one small group to do “think pieces” or long range investigations. Everyone else needs to report in ONE silo and have everything run through about 2-3 people for decision making. Currently there are TOO MANY silos with information that never makes it to the right people who can determine if that information would be best used (and how) on the online product.

6.) Emphasize speed and jobs that people do that no one typically wants to do. For years, the general message from newspapers is that those who do the least real work are those who will not be advanced or rewarded. Change the entire reward process.

7.) Create an assignment desk to handle all work assignments and workflow and center all actions around that. At the end of the day, take what you have and then put it in the paper — and let that be that. What is in the paper is just an afterthought. I have seen this exact model work in TV for a 6 o’clock newscast at perhaps the best local TV station in the nation. Why won’t it work for newspapers?

8.) Make NEW hires. Don’t just shift people around to keep layoffs from happening. Get new blood in the door to make the changes that are NEEDED. Don’t just try to hold on to who you have now because you personally like them. They are great people, but are they really who you need to move forward?

Rod Overton can be reached at rodneyoverton (at) yahoo dot com.


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This post is more of a transcript of a conversation that started on Facebook late last night and ended with a phone call earlier today.
I asked friend and former colleague Rod Overton about his job search and whether or not anything was in the hopper. He’s been out of a job since June and I’d been seeing a lot of his comments on the blog LostRemote. My question opened the door for a really good chat.

He answered with this:

“The real problem now is that media companies simply don’t want the truth or common sense. Sizzle, pizzaz and not examining what is not working (and then cutting that) is what they want (sorry for the double negative, but you get the point — they don’t want anyone to look behind the curtain or say the emperor has no clothes.)”

I then asked Rod to tell me more and indicated that I was interested in posting some of what he was writing on my blog. He was happy to oblige:

“The common thread to most of my messages on Lostremote is that during this upheaval (TRB bankruptcy, Belo bankruptcy and McClatchy at 73 cents) publishers and editors (and to an extent TV GMs) are not taking advantage of the environment to make (what is to them) serious changes.

Instead they seem to hope to skate through it as unchanged as possible not realizing that the situation itself is showing them they need to change.
A selfish case-in-point: Someone with my skills goes unhired while people with skills that are quite easy to come by are retained and — in some pathetic cases — shifted to new media roles they will ruin just as the legacy product was ruined.”

Still with me? There’s more.

I called Rod this morning and we spoke a bit more about some of this. He told me some stories about his interviewing experiences and organizations so resistant to change I thought I was sitting in 1987. I knew it was true though because one of the most profound statements he made was this:

Newspapers are stuck on a singular solution!

He says no one wants to overhaul everything and create systemic change.
What he’s referring to is initiatives like writing shorter stories, or adding more color to the front page or including more photos and a digest of what else can be found inside.

Short-sighted solutions that tackle maybe one issue that are seen as the one solution that will change things for the better.

What are your thoughts on this? Are any other organizations or industries focusing on a singular solution? And is the emperor wearing anything at all? What do you think of Rod’s rant?

Thanks Rod, for the interesting conversation. And I hope you find something soon.

*If you’d like to connect with Rod, you can find him on Facebook and LinkedIn


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I’m always talking about engaging your community. I find it a key aspect of growing an online community. If you don’t show your human side and interact with the people who spend so much of their time in your space, you’re not tapping into its potential.

Blogging about it is good and I hope you find it helpful, but sometimes showing is better. So, here is a list of all of my public exchanges with GOLO members from Monday and Tuesday of this week. It does not include various email exchanges or time spent in the chat area discussing issues and seeking feedback. Some of the comments may be a bit out of context because I was responding to a question or request, but the goal is to give you a few ideas.

  • Oh it will be fine! I’ll e-mail you when I get in so we can coordinate a good time. Good morning, BTW. I’m making lunches. Always like to check in and see what’s happening in the am hours. Later, -Angela…
  • Hi. We need to schedule your profile. My calendar is filling up quickly. How’s tomorrow?
  • If you’re inundated with e-mails–create filters and rules that send them to different mailboxes. That’s the only way I stay sane. -Angela
  • Tomorrow at 2:30. Send me a good number for you to aconnor@cbcnewmedia.com. -Angela
    Jan. 5, 2009
  • Hey there GOLO Animal Lovers group! I just posted two new NCSU pet clinical trials in need of dogs with osteoarthritis. Don’t know if you know any, but thought I’d pass it along. You can find the two latest here: http://www.wral.com/lifestyles/pets/asset_gallery/2427471/ -Angela
  • Powerful post today! -Angela
    Jan. 5 4:32 p.m.
  • Welcome to GOLO, Martin. There are a lot of good people here. We care about our members. Please feel free to blog about your feelings or other issues related to what’s going on. You’ll be surprised by…
  • Congrats on that BEAUTIFUL baby! Thanks for sharing on GOLO! -Angela
    Today at 9:31 a.m.
  • So you’re going to compete with GOLO chat now? Just ask me to open it, mister! 🙂
  • BTW– thanks to ALL of you who do keep it clean in GOLO chat! I greatly appreciate it. Off to a 1030 meeting…
  • Hey Sandra: What’s the latest on your first Blog for hope? Were all the items taken?
  • Welcome back Lady!
  • Welcome to GOLO ! -Angela
  • Hi there Arthur! Your blogs will show up on the short list in a few days. You have to be a member for a little longer before your blogs show up on the most recent list on the homepage, though they do show up on the most recent list on the homepage, though they do show up on the longer list you get by selecting “show more.” Hope that helps. -Angela
  • That is a great gallery of Jayda and Creech. I posted it on the WRAL.com pet page. -Angela
  • I see you’re at the top of the popular list today! Happy New Year. -Angela
  • Done. My best to your uncle! -Angela
  • Hi Gina: Thanks for the compliment! Believe it or not, I do my own hair. I only go to a professional to get it trimmed or cut into a new style.
  • NM-Yes. I second that. LOL!
  • Want me to call her? J/K! Good luck. You know that GOLO will help you do what’s right. I agree with everyone here that you have a good heart.
  • Hi there, I want to tell you personally that I removed your blog. Not because of the content for which you are responsible, but for the comments which you are not. You may not see this as fair so that is why I wanted to reach out to you personally. The comments were way way out of hand and there is no place for all of that on GOLO. -Angela

I hope you found that helpful.

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As I was perusing my feed reader two nights ago looking to see if there was any room to clear before adding some great new voices, I found myself at a loss in terms of determining who, if anyone, I should ditch.

I wasn’t necessarily looking to ditch anyone in particular because I like to have lots of options and throughly enjoy reading and learning from other bloggers, but I figured there had to be a few I could do without at this point.

What I found was there were several who had seemingly abandoned blogging altogether or had perhaps gotten way to busy to post with any regularity. But I still couldn’t bring myself to ditch them.

I thought about various “time-elapsed since posting” criteria to incorporate such as eliminating any blog that hadn’t been updated in, say…three-four weeks, but then I thought: “Well, what if they’re sick or had a family emergency?” “What if they’re working on a project overseas or if life has just gotten them tied up and away from the computer for a while?”

I then became concerned that I’d miss their next gem. What if they write something that could change my life and I miss it? That could be tragic!

I didn’t even want to entertain such a miss, but a few minutes later I did a complete 180 and convinced myself that if it was indeed a gem, surely one of my tweeps would post it and I’d come across the link that way.

Then I thought about how much I miss on twitter, so that took me right back to square one.

Now, two days and one clear head later, I’ve decided that a blog subscription is a privilege. It’s an honor. It’s me saying to you that I value your posts, your insight, your intellect and the time you take to share it all and most importantly I want the opportunity to read everything you write. To me, that’s a pretty big deal.

So shouldn’t that value come back to me, your faithful reader, as well?

Shouldn’t I expect a little more from you? I certainly want my Essence magazine to show up in the mailbox every month, and when it doesn’t I’m unhappy and ultimately due a refund, right?

Now, I do know that I didn’t pay for the blog subscription, at least not in cash.

But I do pay in a different currency, and it’s an ongoing payment: T-I-M-E.
And that is worth it’s weight in gold.

So please, keep blogging. You have readers for a reason. They want to read.

If you can’t deliver, perhaps it’s time to issue a refund.


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Yes, this is a crazy idea.
But after the amazing response on this post about whether or not we’re taking the 140 character limit to the extreme and such varied points of view, I had another idea.

Can we get a good message across with such parameters when it matters most?

I’m talking about the ultimate long-tail piece of prose. Words that will live longer than we ever will. Yep, I’m talking about your tombstone.
This may be morbid on the surface but I bet we can make it fun.

Here’s the task: You have to write a message for your tombstone as if you died this morning, and it must begin with “Here lies (your name…) so you’re really down to even fewer than 140 characters.

And just to be fair, I only took a few minutes to write mine because I know that’s all you’ll have. Here I am, six feet under. 139 characters.

Here lies Angela. Mother of two amazing daughters, eternal optimist, dependable wife and friend. Loved, worked played hard. Missed by many.

Okay, it wasn’t as tough as I thought. It’s not the best, but it’s not all bad either.

Leave yours in the comments section. I’ll pick the top 5 later in the week and post them in a new entry.

Spread the word. This could get interesting!

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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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