Social Media Strategies for Destination Towns


Social Media Strategies for Destination Towns

mountainIt wasn’t so long ago that beach towns, mountain resorts, family destinations, historical sites and bustling cities had to spend hundreds of dollars and hours of time creating and distributing four-color brochures, vacation guides, and destination and convention packets in order to show singles, couples, families, and organizations or businesses everything that they had to offer.

Businessmen would rely on travel agents and families would head triptikto AAA to get information and “TripTiks” for upcoming trips and vacations.  Once they arrived at their destination, eating and activity options were limited to previously scheduled agendas, places they passed on the road, or whatever could be seen from their accommodations or recommended by the concierge.  However, times have changed.

Today, thanks to the widespread access to the Internet and the pervasiveness of social media, people are presented with a plethora of options from where to travel and where to stay, to where to shop and where to eat and what to do.  Beach towns, mountain resorts, family destinations, historical sites, and bustling cities can now reach millions of potential travelers with the free and instant click of a button.

family-vacation-packing-list-resize1For all the good that has come to businesses and destinations from this change, it has also caused new challenges.  No longer can a destination rely on a polished picture presented in a guide book or brochure to be the only representation that potential travelers see.  Restaurants and retailers in those destinations are no longer able to attract diners solely because they have been there for years.  Travelers are no longer solely at the mercy of friends and family recommendations, hotel accommodation’s “chosen” reviewers, or the concierge’s pre-planned dining options.  People can go anywhere, do anything, and eat whatever and wherever they want.

But what does this change mean for businesses, cities, or destinations?

Locations and the attractions, restaurants, and retailers therein must now execute strategic plans for their social media presence not only to thrive, but to survive.


 St. Pete Beach, Florida


In the last fifty years, St. Pete Beach, Florida has developed its own identity and become a vastly popular vacation destination.  Kick back on sandy white beaches as the balmy waters of the Gulf of Mexico lap at your toes. With an average of 361 days of sunshine per year, this strip of beach is guaranteed to please. Close to attractions in Orlando and even closer to the cultural and cosmopolitan attractions of St. PetersburgClearwater and Tampa, St. Pete Beach strikes the perfect balance for the casual, laid-back beach bum and the active attraction seeker.

North_Chennel_Pass_A_Grille_3_18_111  01a2 St. Pete Beach as we know it was formed in 1957 when the four tiny towns of Long Key, Pass-A-Grille Beach, Don CeSar Place, Belle Vista Beach and St. Pete Beach voted to consolidate. Today, visitors can relive some of the area’s rich heritage at the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum, which traces the history of Pinellas County’s barrier islands all the way back to when Ponce de Leon first encountered them in the 14th century.

Minutes from St. Pete Beach is Ft. De Soto Park, where Ponce de Leon once anchored in search of the Fountain of Youth. This 900-acre park, once an outpost during the Spanish-American War, is now a peaceful refuge where visitors can walk, swim, or picnic amidst Florida’s unspoiled natural beauty.

St.Pete-Beach-Florida don

A Pinellas County destination and home of award-winning beaches, St. Pete Beach is where you can also find the architecturally and historically grand Don CeSar resort. This is a historic landmark once used as a hospital and rehabilitation center, the area’s first hurricane shelter for residents and pets, and in 1945 as the Regional Office of Veterans Administration and painted army green. Also known as the “Pink Lady,” this structure is one of only eight hotels in Florida that is listed on the National Trust for Historical Preservation, Historic Hotels of America.
St. Pete Beach plays host to many activities that the entire family can enjoy.  Art festivals, dance performances and musical events are sure to keep spirits high, while tropical boutiques, seafood restaurants and nightclubs offer a taste of Florida’s fun-loving beach town lifestyle.

st.pete_1Visitors can watch awe-inspiring sunsets and enjoy great weather and pristine white sands, all within a short drive of world-famous attractions.  Conveniently located just a few miles from St. Petersburg’s restaurants and entertainment, a quick drive from Tampa’s professional sporting events and Busch Gardens, and less than 100 miles away from the Orlando attractions, St. Pete Beach is the best of both worlds.

Here is a short video of Pass-a-Grille and St. Pete Beach by the Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce:

Social Media Strategy: 

Hand holding a Social Media 3d Sphere

In order to evaluate the social media presence of St. Pete Beach, one must first research the existing social media accounts for St. Pete Beach.  In today’s world of publish then filter, one must discern which accounts are active, who manages each account, the purpose of the account, and so on.  Once the accounts have been filtered, you can begin evaluating the “official” social media of St. Pete Beach.  For this process, I examined 2 separate entities that represent the area in order assess the overall social media strategy for informing and attracting locals and tourists.

    1. Website
    2. Twitter (@spb_gov)
            1.  Website
            2. Twitter (@VSPC)
            3. Facebook (Supplemental Information for Metrics)

No one entity fully represented the social media presence of St. Pete Beach.  Each showed some strengths and some weaknesses.


  1.  The City of St. Pete Beach

The website and corresponding Twitter account are maintained by the City of St. Pete Beach.  It became obvious that the city does not have a full-time media staff to maintain and regularly update these accounts.

  •  Website:

front page 1 GOVThis site provides a lot of information for the residents of the City.  Although some of this information may not be the kind that locals are frequently searching for, it is helpful for the City of St. Pete Beach  to have it located on their website and clearly marked and linked.

Content Overview & Summary:

Home Page: 

  • District plans
  • Roadways Closures
  • Current city projects
  • City Initiatives such as library fundraising campaigns
  • upcoming meetings for the Commission and the Police and Fire Pension Boards
  • City Events
  • History of St. Pete Beach
  • Virtual Video Tour of St. Pete Beach

The 4 Headings of the Site: 


  • City Codes
  • Contact information for the Mayor’s Office and the Court Clerk
  • New Resident Information and links to the proper sites and forms


  • Building & Zoning Information as well as links to the proper forms


  • A Beach Cam
  • Recreation Division
  • Library
  • Parks
  • Historical Information

City Government:

  • City Commission
  • Board and Committees and their purposes as well as links
  • A list of all the City Departments and their functions as well as links

 Metrics related to this Website:

There were not enough traffic to evaluate this site on any analytic software available to me.

  •   Twitter (@sbv-gov):

GOV twitter main box only

This Twitter account’s description says: “Information on City Project, Planning Efforts, Events, & Other News.”

Content Overview & Summary: 

  • Updates to the Project information on the website
  • City Event notifications and reminders

 Metrics related to this Twitter Account:  

Summary of Strategy: 

With this information, it is easy to conclude that both the website and especially the Twitter account are significantly underused by the City of St. Pete Beach.  The website appears to show that they are trying to portray themselves as “fun” and “eventful” but their execution fell short in engaging the citizens of the city as well as reaching the visitors and providing them with up to date information on where to stay, eat, drink, shop, and play.  The City is only following 4 Twitter accounts and not one of them is the St. Pete Beach/Clearwater Convention and Visitors Bureau—which they mention on the website but do not provide the correct link to reach them.  The event information is frequently past date and the Virtual Video Tour is most definitely out-of-date.  Overall, the City of St. Pete Beach is providing the bare minimum to its residents, hardly anything to its visitors, and is missing out on many opportunities to do both.

The site and corresponding Twitter is SUCCEEDING in the following ways: 

  • Linking & Curation:

Good use of links to help site visitors find relevant information

This site and corresponding Twitter account are LACKING in the following areas: 

  • Social Photography and/or Video:  

No pictures to show visitors one of the most gorgeous places in the country

No pictures or videos of local events, public figures, or interview.

  • Demographics:

Does not provide something for everyone

Missing out on opportunities to inform, reach, engage a broad variety of people

  • Maps & Interactive Databases:

Does not use map to show information about city events, projects, road construction, or crime

Does not use maps to show local businesses

  • Crowdsourcing:

Does not seek photos, videos, or stories from readers or followers

Does not often Retweet others information

  • Reviews:

Does not list local restaurants, retailers, or organizations on their site

Does not offer customer reviews of restaurant or retailers in the area nor does it link to them through external sources such as Yelp

  • Aesthetics:

GOV website page 1 part 4Website looks clean and the upper portion of the Home Page is off to a great start but soon it falls short.  There is no continuance of the colors, the pictures, the scrolling newsfeed, or the bright and fun look.

Has not updated their Virtual Video Tour

The Virtual Video Tour is hidden at the bottom of the page with no mention of it and it isn’t easily recognized as a video.

  • Two-Way Communication:

No place for the residents or visitors to comment on the website

There is no forum for residents to talk to each other, recommend businesses, or share information

The twitter presence is pretty much nonexistent but as of today, no one has tweeted to the City of St. Pete Beach nor has the City of St. Pete Beach tweeted to anyone.

  1.   The St. Petersburg / Clearwater Convention and Visitors Bureau

The website, corresponding Twitter account, and Facebook page are maintained by the St. Petersburg / Clearwater Convention and Visitors Bureau. It is obvious that this organization does employ a full-time staff to maintain and regularly update these accounts as well as a Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Google+ account.

  •  Website: 

This site provides more information than I could possibly explain.  See for yourself:

Content Overview & Summary:

Home Page: 

  • Florida’s Natural Giveaways
  • Interactive Maps and links to Google Earth, Planning Tools, Web Cams, and Weather
  • Best Beach Bars with video and a link to more videos
  • Book a Room
  • Information on CityPass, What’s New, and What’s Happening
  • Connect with St. Pete/Clearwater–“Discover what’s happening in our communities now with live social updates from local experts, residents, visitors and top local businesses”

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 4.37.30 PM

  • Instagram, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube Feed powered by Storify
  • Information for Meetings, Media, Travel Trade, Sports, Film, and Weddings
  • Live Chat
  • Connect to Trip Advisor
  • Newsletter Sign-Up
  • Order a Destination Packet
  • Button Links in multiple places to all of their social media accounts

Main Divisions of the Site: 

  • Deals
  • Hotels & Rentals
  • Beaches & Outdoors
  • Events & Festivals
  • Dining & Entertainment
  • Arts & Culture
  • Cities & Towns
  • Maps & Planning

Metrics related to this Website: 

  •  Twitter

VSPC FB pageTwitter Screenshot @vspc

This Twitter account’s description says: “It’s all about #AmericasBestBeaches

 #StPete #Clearwater features those and some of the best sunsets around. IG:@VSPC

St. Pete/Clearwater, Florida

Joined March 2009

Content Overview & Summary:

  • Event notifications and reminders for the following areas:

o   Belleair Beach
o   Clearwater & Clearwater BeachScreen Shot 2014-05-08 at 5.26.50 PM
o   Dunedin
o   Gulfport
o   Indian Rocks Beach
o   Indian Shores
o   Largo
o   Madeira Beach
o   North Redington Beach
o   Oldsmar
o   Palm Harbor
o   Pass-A-Grille Beach
o   Pinellas Park
o   Redington Shores
o   Safety Harbor
o   Seminole
o   St. Pete Beach
o   St. Petersburg
o   Tarpon Springs

  • Pictures of beautiful beach and water scenes
  • Community Events
  • Road closures
  • Weather updates
  • News updates
  • Website updates
  • Sports events and Information from all teams in the Tampa Bay area
  • ReTweets from Tons of other social media accounts to include Expedia,, and various hotels and sports teams

Metrics related to this Twitter Account: 

Summary of Strategy: 

With this information, it is easy to conclude that both the website and the Twitter account are exhaustive sources of information for visitors.  The website and tweets are centered on the beaches, hotel accommodations, and the many things for people to do while in the St. Pete Beach area.  The St. Petersburg /Clearwater Convention and Visitors Bureau, does a phenomenal job keeping the information and content current and entertaining as well as offering a call to action to their followers on the Twitter account.

With over 7 tweets by 7pm EST, each with a link, a picture, or a video, and a hashtag, they are actively engaging their audience.  However, I have noticed that their use of different hashtags is quite prolific. @VSPC seems to use the following hashtags quite regularly:

#LoveFl, #LiveAmplified, #AmericasBestBeaches, #Clearwater, #ClearwaterBeach, #StPete, #StPeteBeach, #sunset, #LoewsDonCeSar, #iNeedSun, #NTTW14, #TourismGivesBack, #Beer, #TravelEffect, #beachlife, and #SundayFunday,

I find there to be a lack of cohesiveness with the use of hashtags.  You never know which one is for a campaign they are running or a partner organization is running.  I also found the majority of the posts to be about the beer or some sort of sporting event or nightlife activity.  I didn’t see anything that was really meant for family entertainment or those who are beachgoers and drinkers.

The site and corresponding Twitter is SUCCEEDING in the following ways: 

  •  Linking & Curation:

Good use of links to help site visitors find relevant information such as websites of local restaurants and businesses

  • Social Photography and/or Video: 

Tons pictures and videos of local hotspots, restaurants, beaches, parks, shops & activities

  • Maps & Interactive Databases:

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 6.37.29 PMGreat use of maps and interactive databases – they have an entire section for mapping and planning.

The maps allows you to pick the community and what type of activity, dining, shopping, or accommodations that you’re interested in.  They not only map it for you but also allow you to share, download, or print the map. They also give a listing of each of the venues below the map for those who want to scroll

  • Two-Way Communication:

No place for the residents or visitors to comment on the website unless they are interested in chatting with an agent

There is no forum for visitors to share information with each other on the website but they have an extensive presence of most social networking sites

They are quite active on Twitter and respond quickly to those who Message and ReTweet them

This site and corresponding Twitter account are LACKING in the following areas: 

  • Demographics:

Does not provide something for everyone

Missing out on opportunities to inform, reach, engage a broad variety of people – such as those traveling with families and looking for activities that do not involve the beaches or water sports and eating or shopping (with one exception – the home page does include information on City Pass and the Aquarium, however there are many more opportunities and adventures that go unmentioned)

  • Crowdsourcing

Does not seek photos, videos, or stories from readers or followers but does ReTweet them

  • Reviews:

Does not offer customer reviews of restaurant or retailers in the area nor do they link to them through external sources such as Yelp.  They do say that they have Trip Advisor reviews but when you click on it, it is for the actual city of St. Petersburg, Florida (about 15 minutes north and across the Boca Ciega Bay).

  • Aesthetics:

Website is gorgeous.  Functional.  User-Friendly. Well-labeled. Bright colors that feel “beachy”

  • Two-Way Communication:

No place for the residents or visitors to comment on the website unless they are interested in chatting with an agent.


All generations are adopting new social behaviors, taking advantage of social technologies online to interact in unprecedented ways. Debunking the myth that social media is used exclusively by younger generations, multiple studies have highlighted that not only is there a true cross section of age groups regularly using social tools, but also that these tools are seen as an appropriate channel for solicitation. That means each generation of your audience is active in social spaces, and considers social media on par with email when it comes to engaging with them and soliciting their help

personal_branding_social_mediaIn an increasingly wired world, supporters are deciding how they want to communicate and receive messages in accordance to their personal preferences.  While email, direct mail and traditional websites will continue to play an important role in marketing, social media is now a preferred channel of communication for many people. By “fishing where the fish are,” cities and destinations can reach their audience through their preferred means of communication.

Multi-channel marketing is not a new concept, but as cities, destinations, and advocacy organizations are now witnessing, limiting the scope of communication activities to traditional channels is becoming increasingly risky.  In addition to the changing preferences of the current audience, new visitors will be more challenging to reach if social media is left out of the marketing mix.  By incorporating social elements into communication plans, a broader audience can be reached, thus impacting the awareness of your destination and opportunities for engagement

Social media isn’t a silver bullet that can instantly make your destination’s communications more effective, but it does provide you with the ability to extend the reach of those communications.

Moving forward, I believe that the City of St. Pete and the “official” Pass-a-Grille website and Facebook page (not evaluated in this critique) should combine their efforts in order to provide a unique destination site for locals and visitors alike. I would suggest using as it is currently available and goes well with the Florida Convention & Visitors Bureau‘s as well as the St. Petersburg /Clearwater Convention and Visitors Bureaus

This site should employ many of the tactics used by the St. Petersburg /Clearwater Convention and Visitors Bureau, such as interactive maps, streaming pictures, video posts, links, and multiple social networking sites.

 Interactive Map 

Provide an interactive map on your new site that allows visitors to see all the local dining, entertainment, and shopping options.  For each location, provide the web address, phone number, hours, and link to the restaurant or retailer’s web address. You will also want to link each location to Yelp so that your audience gets honest views, 100 % of the time.


I would also suggest using 2 specific hashtags for each location, one for local and one for tourists.

  • The local hashtags are:


  • The tourist hashtags are:


  • Some variations for beach life posts are:


  • Since St Pete Beach is known for being dog friendly, we don’t want to leave the fur-babies out:



shutterstock_134112389-300x200One of the main reasons so many people have flocked to social media and made it their primary online activity is that they seek out information and find value in what they find shared in social channels from friends and colleagues. As a destination, to be successful in your efforts, never forget that value has to be at the root of the content you share.

Basic Content-Sharing Tips: 
  • Create a branded Twitter account and start sharing updates about your city through at least two tweets a day.
  • Expand your footprint to third party communities by posting to social media accounts such as the St. Petersburg /Clearwater Convention and Visitors Bureau – where you will find a pre-existing base of supporters on relevant topics.
  • Create a branded Facebook page and distribute newsworthy links it as timely events occur.
  • Share relevant images from your city’s events, functions and supporters on photosharing sites such as Flickr and Instagram.  You can even enable social sharing on your website to make it easier for your audience to distribute information upon your behalf.
  • Create a branded YouTube account, leveraging video on your blog and website(s) in various capacities.
  • Cover your city’s live events in real-time using social media tools with updates and news

Basic Tips for Engagement:


  • Respond to and retweet Twitter updates that support communication objectives.
  • Post photos from past years’ events on Facebook to better market the event and share experiences with users.
  • Comment on blogs, forums and online communities to build awareness of your city’s social media presence.  Share links to your website(s) within your comment.
  • Add “Connect with Us” links on your city’s website(s) to build awareness of your social media presence.  Do your best to always be promoting your social presence online.
  • Interact with event and conference attendees in person at events and encourage them to spread news about your activities within their network. After all, they are enjoying your city and you want them to tell their friends.
  • Add Facebook’s “like” feature and Twitter’s “tweet” feature on your city’s website(s) to allow wider range of social sharing capabilities and thus increase engagement across the Web.
  • Create a meme using hashtags that are relevant to your audience, allowing them to engage with you and your city in an ongoing, fun manner.
  • Encourage locals and visitors to share video and images to use for marketing purposes.

 Here are some other Objectives & Tips for the “new” St. Pete Beach site:

Objective #1: Building Awareness: 

  • Gain a better understanding of the perception of your city or destination among locals and visitors.
  • Be more responsive to your audience on a regional, local, or individual level.
  • Build a more meaningful relationship with locals and visitors by providing them with useful information online.
  • Establish your city or destination as an expert resource and information provider without relying on a partner organization such as a Convention and Visitors Bureau

tumblr_lihuqf8FVb1qf449sObjective #2: Driving Action: 

  • Empower your audience to create content for your site.
  • Drive traffic to your city/destination’s various web entities—website, blog, social media instances, etc.
  • Gain more exposure online by leveraging the peer-to-peer nature of social media.
  • Grow your email list by driving people through social media to online sign-ups.

Objective #3: Advancing Engagement: 

• Enable your most passionate locals to distribute information on your behalf and amplify the impact of your marketing efforts.
• Leverage influential users online to drive action around timely campaigns. Passionate people want to contribute to your city’s success.
• Mobilize locals to take a specified action in times of crisis or timely issues.
• Organize local volunteer efforts in emergency situations.

 Social Media-Specific Campaigns

Once you are able to get this accomplished it will be time for the City of St. Pete to Graduate and create a campaign of your own, complete with a campaign-specific hashtag.

social-media-and-relationships-500pGraduate from the Basics and Create Social Media-Specific Campaigns 

Once social media has proven itself as a viable communication channel for your city, the next step is to get creative with the campaigns you develop, making sure you maximize the potential of social media. This is a chance to experiment and use creative ways to leverage the social nature of the new tools. From asking supporters to change their avatars on social networks to reflect your campaign to empowering social sharing of personal stories and experiences, the potential for campaigns that stand out are endless.

Get started by asking a few key questions: 

  • What new audiences could you reach with social activities? What activities are they
  • drawn to most?
  • Are there current goals that could be achieved sooner with social media platforms,
  • and how can you create or enhance campaigns that help achieve those goals?
  • How can you leverage your city’s current culture and established voice to
  • build a vibrant social presence that creates memorable experiences for audiences?

 #LoveStPeteMore Campaign: 

Locals are also using the power of social media to network and share pertinent information about their town.  Campaigns such as #Choose901  for Memphis, TN or #DallasBIG for Dallas, TX promote each location as the premiere city in the country for someone to invest and enjoy their life as well as help locals connect with each other and share facts and finds about their city.  Over 3,000 local mayors and city councils, performing arts organizations, nonprofit news networks, local newscasters, indie filmmakers, and good causes currently get their word out through the use of strategic hashtag campaigns. Try a campaign of your own.


What about the #LoveStPeteMore campaign?

Ask locals and visitors to submit an original photo of them enjoying everything your city has to offer via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for a chance to win a two-night stay vacation package in St.Pete Beach.  Partner with local businesses and vacation rentals in order to offset the cost.

Using the hashtag #LoveStPeteMore, you can track entries across all three platforms. 

One of the manyColorful chairs at a trpoical beach in Miami Florida hassles of finding accommodations when traveling is the fact that there is no one comprehensive spot to find all the locally owned vacation properties.  Since St. Pete Beach and Pass-a-Grille have a huge number of FRBO properties, I suggest creating your own vacation rental section of your new website.  Many of the other websites that are competing for views with your new website are owned by local inn proprietors.  Why let them get all the visitors?  Create a free listing site at the aforementioned web address (Yes – it’s available) and collect the information from all the owners of vacation properties in your town.  Local businesses can buy ads on the site to supplement the maintenance cost.  You all want the same thing.  More visitors vacationing in St. Pete and more locals promoting the area.


Journal # 13: Finally…Facebook



 In your journal blog, describe what your Facebook strategy and goals might be. Be as specific as possible. If you would like, you can set up a Facebook group or page for your topic area. 


Ah…finally, Facebook.  My buddy, my pal, my go-to social network.  Does that make me old?  Out of touch with the youth?  Boring?  I don’t think so.  In my experience on Facebook, I have been able to reach out to thousands of college students in order to organize liberty groups across the states of Tennessee and Mississippi as well as make connections with thousands of liberty-minded people and organizations.  These connections have afforded me some amazing opportunities and I hope that there will be more to come.  I’ve found that reaching people on Facebook is easy.  Almost everybody has a profile and even if they don’t “use” Facebook as often as others, they check their news feed and inbox semi-regularly.

My personal Facebook strategy started long before my “topic” blog Facebook strategy – in fact, long before my “topic” blog was even a thought.  As a member of the Liberty movement and someone who works in political consulting and grassroots activism/organizing, I am my own brand on Facebook.  The majority of my Facebook time is filled with sharing relevant liberty movement memes, updates, news stories, events, and the like.  The other percent of my time on Facebook is spent catching up with family and friends – and those people who used to be friends or attended high school, church, or something similar at the same time I did.  I find Facebook to serve many purposes in my life.  I use it to make connections, to find people who are liberty-minded college students in order to reach out to them about joining the Young Americans for Liberty chapter at their school, to organize and advertise liberty relevant events, to beg people to participate in phone banking, sign waving, or Get Out the Vote campaigns or to volunteer on a campaign, to arrange meetings with those at campuses and in cities across the state to talk with them about student chapters, adult groups, campaign, and anything else.

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 3.36.06 PMAs part of my personal branding strategy, over two years ago I created a Facebook page called Tennessee and Mississippi Leadership in order to have a more consolidated way to share information relevant to the Liberty movement in Tennessee and Mississippi.   Since then, I have shared at least 2 pieces of relevant information each day – sometimes a lot more– in order to maintain a constant flow of information and engagement with my audience.   By monitoring this page’s metrics, I know that I have a decent reach and engagement as well as a supportive audience.   However, my audience isn’t one that comments on posts unless it is to argue with me or another person.  So, for the liberty-minded, it seems that sharing and reach are the metrics I should continually monitor.    I can also tell that a good number of my blog audience has come from publicizing my posts on Facebook and on my Facebook Page(s).

Here are a few screenshots of my Tennessee and Mississippi Leadership page:

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Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 3.52.51 PMIn addition to that page, I am also the admin for the Young Americans for Liberty at Memphis Page, the Shelby County for Ron Paul Page, the Tennesseans for Liberty of Shelby County Page, and one of the admins for the Libertarian Party of Tennessee Page and the Campaign for Liberty –Shelby County Page.  Although, I used to have time to constantly update and monitor these pages as well as the many groups I am an admin of, admittedly I have just not had the time to keep up lately.  In the future, I would like to work on my reach and engagement through sharing a bit more as well as continuously post relevant information on my Tennessee and Mississippi Leadership Page.

I would also like to have more time to develop the Young Americans for Liberty at the University of Memphis  and hopefully, find a student who has the time, ability, and passion to take over as President of that student organization because god knows that I do not right now.

Here are a few screenshots of my reach and engagement for the uneventful past week on Tennessee and Mississippi Leadership:

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Other than that, my strategy is to keep on keepin’ on.

And since we’re on the topic of Facebook, here is a great blog post about why Sarah Elahi loves Facebook (sort of).  It’s quite witty and I agree with her, down to the bit about the creepy stalkers.  Yes, I said creepy stalkers.  Find out what I’m talking about by reading it for yourself.

UPDATE:  While I am on the topic of Facebook and seriously cool stuff, I wanted to share an amazing analytic software for your personal facebook page with you all.  Okay, so maybe i just nerded out over some analytics but I found it quite awesome.  Check out  Wolfram|Alpha so that you can see all the neat statistics, metrics, and wicked cool information it collects from your profile.  It even gives you a nifty little “report.”  Oh and did I mention there are pictures and charts too?  The best part?  IT’s FREE!!  Check it out!  Below is a slideshow of my report.

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Journal #12: It’s All About Me: Branding & Strategy


It’s All About Me:  Branding and Strategy


Discuss in your journal blog, what are you doing to establish your personal brand online? What could you be doing better? What do you plan to do in the future? What strategies will you employ?  

Personal Brand: 

My personal brand.  What can I say?  I’ve always been one to worry about how I appear to others and online is no different.  My friends thought I was weird when I originally locked down my 6a00d8345275cf69e2014e87df8ad5970dFacebook profile like Fort Knox and then, they soon followed.  Friends also wondered why I made them ask for my approval before they posted a picture of me in any online capacity in the days before there were so many tagging and timeline removal options on Facebook.  I would remove friends’ comments on my wall or take down any picture that portrayed me in a light that I found, or thought someone might find, “unbecoming”.

As time has gone on and employers began social media searches, I have realized how important this is, among other things, to my professional brand.  In addition, my career paths have changed as times have changed and maintaining a positive professional brand, both on and off line is more important than ever before.  In addition to portraying myself in a professional light, I must maintain a public persona and brand that is both knowledgeable and social,  In order to work in the liberty movement, grassroots organizing, political public relations, and digital activism.

Numerous Strides:

My personal and professional brand has made numerous strides just by creating and maintaining two blogs this semester.  These blogs have made me more noticeable by encouraging me to branch out from my old Facebook fallback and have given me more things about which to create social media posts.  In order to further establish myself, I have attempted to make frequent posts to both blogs but know that TN liberty will require me to do so on a more consistent basis.  I have also become a more active Twitter user and in doing so, have begun to clean out and balance my “followers” to “following”.  On Twitter, I have chosen to keep my profile public in all forms and now that I’ve learned about what a non-balanced follower to following ratio could portray, I have made steps to remedy the situation.

personal_branding_social_mediaDue to my extreme time limitations and the amount of work it will take to promote and execute TN Liberty in the manner it deserves, I have decided to focus most of my attention on this blog for the time being.  This summer, I will have more time to maintain and promote TN Liberty on a consistent basis.  After graduating with my Master’s in December of 2014, TN Liberty will become my main focus and a larger part of my branding.  However, for the rest of this semester, it will remain a side project.  That being said, after noticing that I have gained for than 650 views on this blog, I purchased my name at .com and .org.  I am now using for this site.  Unhappy with having to use “libertytn” instead of TN Liberty as a WordPress domain name, I also purchased

In order to grow my career and secure a position working within the liberty movement, I have to make sure my social media presence is one that shows knowledge, passion, education, self-control, personality, the ability to unite and connect, and consistency.  In addition to the aforementioned branding , I have outlined the strategy and metrics for my social media presence, designed to make my personal brand more effective in Journal #10:  Do You Like Me?  Check Yes or No.


Engagement Strategy:

As for my engagement strategy, I am working on promoting my posts for this blog and TN Liberty through various social media channels and sites.  I have also begun using Twitter, Tumblr, InstagramFoursquare, and Yelp on a more consistent basis in order to supplement my Facebook profile and professional Tennessee and Mississippi Leadership page.

images_main-image-for-social-media-engagement-strategyI am also keeping track of which blog posts get the most views so that I can see what my audience is most interested in reading or viewing.  So far, It is obvious that my What Liberty Means: TN Liberty video garnered the most engagement, reach, and views but I am interested in seeing what other types of posts could potentially gain new followers and if they same strategy works for all sites or if each site requires a different strategy.

Currently, I am working on garnering a Yelp  following by consistently “checking-in” and writing at least one review a week, so that I can develop my personal brand in a more well-rounded way.

I am also trying to become a more consistent and active Twitter, user and while doing so, I am testing the phrasing of blog promotion to see if just the mention of an interesting post on my blog is enough to gain a new follower or if a direct ask is more productive, as well as monitoring what kinds of tweets are more likely to get retweeted by my following.

On the most basic of levels, I feel that my increased and more consistent social networking activity on both blogs, my Facebook profile and page, Twitter, Yelp, and Foursquare, as well as peripherally on LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest, should allow me to increase my number of followers and make my online brand stronger. It has been shown, that the people with the most popular personal brands are keeping up with their topics and followers and posting with consistency.



Journal #11: Leveraging LinkedIn


Leveraging LinkedIn

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Assignment:  Establish a LinkedIn profile if you don’t have one. Enhance your profile if you do have one; join groups and interact with others. Please describe what you did to enhance your profile in the journal blog.  

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 2.37.26 AMI’ve had a LinkedIn profile for as long as I can remember and last summer I spent a good amount of time updating it.  My profile is now at the All Star Level and I have over 500 connections on LinkedIn.  Each connection is someone that I know personally, have worked with, or is a member of an organization or in a field that I could potentially leverage for a future job, campaign, or a need, such as printing services, catering, banquets, conferences, social media, advertising, press, and so on.

Each month, I get over 50 profile views (not all of which I can see because I have refused to upgrade to the premium version – I just don’t get the point and it hasn’t been a necessity) and over 10 requests to connect each week.

I also have 18 original recommendations for my most recent 4 positions and 147 endorsements for 25 skills.

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In order to enhance my profile for this week’s assignment, even though there wasn’t much that I could do, I reordered my key skills so that the ones in which I am most interested in leveraging for a new job are now displayed at the top.  This will also help me to gather more endorsements for those skills from connections.

I also joined a couple of new groups, removed myself from a couple of restaurant centered groups, followed several companies, added a connection or two that were waiting in my inbox, uploaded some of my recent work to include the StockBoy startup presentation from Entrepreneurial Journalism class and the What Liberty Means: TN Liberty video, changed my headline to a more current description of my skill-set and job-set, added my volunteer work from the Libertarian Party of Tennessee and in the new “Test Scores” area, I added my MAT score, as well as a description of the Miller Analogies test and the percentile in which I scored.

See the slideshow below for the updates and the various sections of my profile.  If you’re interested in seeing my actual resume, click here.


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I would say that my LinkedIn profile is fully complete and ready to be leveraged for an exciting new position in grassroots and digital activism, youth leadership and organization, and campaign management, as well as political and nonprofit public relations.  Fingers crossed.


Journal #10: Do You Like Me? Check Yes or No.


Do You Like Me? Check Yes or No


1. Create a list of specific goals you have for your social media presence, tailored to your needs and what you have learned so far about what works and doesn’t work with your topic area. 

2. Decide what metrics you will be collecting about your blog/social media presence that will measure progress toward those views, using the readings for guidance. Make a specific list or spreadsheet. Begin collecting this info on a regular basis. 

3. Create some kind of challenge for yourself and describe it on your journal blog. Maybe you will try to post a photo on Instagram every day. Maybe you will try a “30 days of blogging” challenge, or similar. Maybe you will try to write a post at least once a week. It’s up to you, but the first step in boosting your metrics is learning to create a regular stream of content. 


Metrics.  Measurement.  The Numbers.  The Scores. The Who’s Who proof that we all seek to obtain. These are the things that a media maven’s online life depends upon and thus, I suppose I will have to start making sure my metrics are towing the line.

I’ve always wanted to be famous.  Popular.  Someone Important.  Anyone, really.  Just as long as everyone knew my name.  At age 6, my parent’s friends would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  My answer was always the same:  “I want to rule the world.”  I may have grown up, changed, and become cynical but deep down the answer remains.  I’m just a girl who wants to rule the world.  My parents were so very pleased (yes…that’s sarcasm) that Madonna was my idol and I dressed in lace and mini skirts, followed by pointy bras each year for Halloween from the age of 6 to 13.  What can I say – I’m a believer in finding a costume that works and sticking with it.  So much for my originality.  I guess my personality was original enough though.

Today, my idol has changed.  Yes…breathe that deep sigh of relief.  My idol is someone who should be respected – not for the clothes he wears or the songs he sings, but for his passion, his beliefs, his courage, and his dedication.  So, yes.  I still want to rule the world.  Although now, my dream doesn’t involve twerkin’ it to the top, it involves activism and continuing the fight for liberty and freedom.  In order to grow my career and secure a position working within the liberty movement, I have to make sure my social media presence is one that shows knowledge, passion, education, self-control, personality, the ability to unite and connect, and consistency.

From now on, I must begin making realistic goals for my social media presence and measuring them with….consistency.  There’s that word again and as you read on, you will see it a few more times.  I have extensive knowledge in the How-To section of Social Media and Social Networking but have only showed consistency when it came to my personal branding on Facebook.  It’s time that I shared my passion with the other networks with the same….consistency.


My Goals: 

1.  To become an active and consistent Twitter user.

2.  To increase my number of Twitter followers.

3.  To balance my followers to my following on Twitter.  (Every time I say or type “Following” – all I think of is the Joe Carroll cult on the FOX show “The Following” and it creeps me out)

4.  To actively read tweets from Liberty-Minded and digital media professionals in order to remain current on topics pertaining to those fields, to promote myself, and to encourage engagement.  In order to be noticed as someone knowledgeable and serious about these topics, I must make myself known on a consistent and professional basis.

5.  To increase the number of Retweets that I receive on Twitter.

6.  To increase the number of followers on both my personal blog (this one) and my tn liberty blog.

7.  To increase the engagement level of my followers on both blogs.  Currently, I can tell that people are following me through Twittermy Facebook Page, and on both blogs but no one is leaving comments.  This is frustrating and I hope to figure out a way to remedy this situation.  However, I have noticed for years that the liberty-minded typically don’t leave comments or engage unless they want to argue.  So, it may be better to let “sleeping dogs lie.”

8.  To use Foursquare & Yelp with more consistency.  I find that I always “remember” people who appear often on my Foursquare notifications.  They seem to be people always in the know – the ones who have the best patio tables on sunny Saturday afternoons and have already tried the new restaurant or hotspot in town.  This used to be me, before the days of grad school and prior to that, the days of traveling the state for weeks at a time.  I have become accustomed to staying home more often but do go to these places occasionally.  However, when I do, I forget to check-in, leave a tip for others, or write a review.  It’s time I changed that.

9.  To continue to provide a unique point of view for my audience on both blogs, Twitter, and my Facebook page.  I bring something to the table that many who are currently active on social media and in the liberty movement do not – experience organizing and training youth YAL and SFL groups and garnering new support for these groups, candidates, and the movement.

10.  To continue to increase my Klout score.  This positions me as an expert in my field and although I already have a medium high score on Klout, I would theoretically like it to move to the high 70s at a minimum.  Currently, I have a 64.  In this SocialJ7330 class, only Burton Bridges and Carrie Brown have higher scores with a 65 and a 71 respectively.  Other “celebretarians” in my network have scores in the upper 70s to upper 80s.

11.  Finally, for my personal brand – I want to make sure that I show another facet of my personality.  I love liberty, freedom, the Constitution, and Ron Paul but that is NOT all of who I am. I love television, media studies, event planning, traveling, being a foodie, seeing and being seen, fashion, Tiger Basketball, the organic lifestyle, whitewater kayaking, animal rescue, and babysitting my best friend’s 7 yr old boy and that involves knowing some awesome spots in the city for afternoons without mom.  It’s time I began writing stuff on this blog about these topics as well.  I want to show that I am unique and bring a multifaceted personality to every table.


How I am Going to Do This: 

1.  By working to increase my social media presence in general, my followers should increase as will the attention paid to my blogs. This will happen through making a consistent and focused effort to open Twitter every single day and adding new posts to both blogs at least 2-3 times per week.  I would also like to continue the Photo365 Challenge for the entire 365 days as it seems to have helped me gain a good number of followers on my personal blog. (See challenge below),

2.  I will spend some time using in order to clear out some of those erroneous people that I have collected and followed on Twitter, over the years.  This should help me balance my Twitter follower/following numbers, especially if I am able to increase the number of Twitter followers through my other strategies.

3.  Increasing the number of Retweets that I receive on Twitter should come fairly easily when I begin to use Twitter consistently, read more posts on issues pertaining to my aforementioned topics, and begin to write more original tweets.

4.  I also want to spend some time with http://www.Hashtagify.com, and as well as http://www.followerwork.comhttp://www.tweeple.comhttp://www.Twitonomy.com and  to see if I am missing any influential Twitter users in my following list.  Once I am able to spend some time using these free Twitter metrics tools, I will be able to narrow down the list to just the ones that are most helpful.

5.  I will also start to use and in addition to  to make sure that I am and continue to be positioned as an expert in the liberty movement, tn liberty, and digital media.

6.  Next, in order to make sure that my messaging is reaching people beyond my current following on Twitter and thus, helping me gain new followers for Twitter and my blogs, I will use and

7.  I will also use the Google AnalyticsGoogle Alerts, and the Stats to keep watch on my metrics such as acquisition, engagement, reach, growth, CTRs, and new followers.  By watching these stats on my blog, I can figure out where the traffic is coming from – Google, Google+, FacebookTwitter, etc.  I can also make sure that my reach is hitting the numbers that it needs to on Twitter and Facebook so that It can help the blogs grow.

8.  Finally, I will be making a concerted effort to use Klout on a daily basis, along with TwitterFoursquare, and of course, Facebook.  I also hope to begin writing a review for Yelp at least once a week – I don’t want to get too crazy here and theoretically, I would like to begin posting numerous stories to my tn liberty blog on a daily basis.  First, I am going to spend a few days finishing the site and making sure that all important information has been added and is correct.

I am also going to need a lot more time.  I have the passion and the content but the time is my only limitation.  There is just not enough of it in my life.  I have heard some say that if you want to be a hugely popular blogger, you’d almost have to quit your day job and spend all of your time, blogging.  From my experience, this is pretty much true.  Before grad school, I used a good number of hours during the day focusing on my networking and social media presence.  Now, there just isn’t enough time to even say hello to family.  So…many of these things will have to wait.  However, I feel that I have increased the avenues by which I can connect to people and have some good ideas for forthcoming content.  One day I’ll blog by the beach.  One day….just not today.



1.  To continue the Photo365 Challenge for at least through 365 days

2.  To open Twitter at least once every single day for 30 minutes, retweet influential people, and   write at least 2 original tweets on both of my aforementioned topics.

3.  To open Klout each day and share stories from within it’s system to help increase my score

4.  To write at least one short review a week on Yelp and REMEMBER to check-in on Yelp and Foursquare consistently.

5.  Eventually, after this semester of grad school, I would like to post at least 2 stories a day to tn liberty.


Journal # 3 – Topic Blog Influencers


Topic Blog Influencers

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“Develop a list of at LEAST three other blogs or Web sites that meaningfully address your topic of interest.  For professionals, a blog is often a “hub” for other social media activity occurring around the web. Summarize and evaluate some of the key features of each blog or site using bullet points on your journal blog.

Answer all of the following questions: What kind of problem do these websites/blogs help solve for their audience and/or what needs do they fulfill? What do they do well? What could they improve? Can you identify any gaps in their content or features that a competitor could fill, and how is what you could offer different or better? Look at their social media presence and the comments or interaction they get: Are they cultivating an active community around their site?”

My Topic Blog, TN Liberty, is a forum in which to share information about news, events, politics, and laws concerning our state. All conservative and liberty-minded activists, students, campus and community leaders, and voters, are encouraged to contribute. TN Liberty, is also a location for resources concerning bills up for approval, TN Congressional representative’s contact information, statewide and county events, activism advice, mentorship, and grassroots training, among other issues as needed and requested. TN Liberty serves as an extension of the TN and MS Leadership page on Facebook and may ultimately be followed with a MS Liberty blog. There are contributing writers on topics concerning the Liberty Movement in Tennessee, liberty-minded issues, and various opinion columns.

For this assignment I started by searching for other bloggers who are advancing the liberty movement. I found that many of these sites were highly specialized and a little on the fringe. That is not the type of blog that I want TN Liberty to be. I feel that it should be specialized by pertaining to the state of Tennessee, but it should also contain information about why the Liberty Movement is so important, how our government is violating the Constitution, and what actions a citizen, can take to advocate for Liberty and Freedom.

Next, I found an interesting site that ranked the top libertarian leaning (or liberty-minded so as not to be confused with the Libertarian Party) websites according to Alexa and Compete.

Here I settled on several top ranking and well-known liberty-minded sites to which I could make some comparisons.

They are as follows:


The Liberty Paper

The Liberty Crier

Let’s start with Reason.

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  • Reason is the monthly print magazine of ‘free minds and free markets.'”
  • “It covers politics, culture, and ideas through a provocative mix of news, analysis, commentary, and reviews.”
  • Reason provides a refreshing alternative to right-wing and left-wing opinion magazines by making a principled case for liberty and individual choice in all areas of human activity.”
  • is updated daily with articles and columns on current developments in politics and culture. It also contains the full text of past issues of the print edition of Reason.”
  • At first glance, looks a little messy in terms of visual appearance.  A little cluttered and although I understand that this is because the site’s home page is the first stop for ReasonTV, Reason24/7, the Hit & Run Blog, and stories from the printed magazine, as well as the location for Top News Stories (sortable by Featured and New) and a lot of advertisements.
  • Reason is financially backed by a national non-profit and thus, has the ability to aggregate thousands of news stories as well as employ a staff of over 50 for the website.  However, I believe they could significantly improve their website by maximizing the white space and uncluttering the articles.  It could look much cleaner.  Once you click on the headings for the different sites within the site, they pages get a bit cleaner and more visually appealing.
  • TN Liberty is a more more localized blog/site and will not need to run every single news story and headline that potentially has anything to do with liberty or liberty politics.
  • Reason does enjoy a fabulous social media presence with stories and photos shared through their Facebook  page and on their Twitter each day.  On Twitter, Reason has over 130K followers and on Facebook, over 125K likes.

Next, we examine The Liberty Paper:

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  • The Liberty Paper  is a web-based news site commentating and reporting on legislation and events, which affect the American peoples’ liberty domestic and abroad.”
  • The Liberty Paper was launched in the summer of 2012, by political commentator and legislative lobbyist, Michael Lotfi.”
  • “To date, has enjoyed an ever-growing, loyal fan base, which has generated hundreds of thousands of readers in more than 140 countries around the world.”
  • is updated only semi-regularly with articles and columns on current developments in politics and culture. If you look at the current home page, you will see that the most recent article posted is from January 27th, 2014.
  • is also riddled with advertisements and donate here boxes.  I understand why Michael Lofti would choose to accept advertising and donations – hopefully, someday soon, the TN Liberty blog will also accept advertisements and donations.  However, I feel the visual esthetics of the site could be cleaner and the ad placements more controlled.
  • is run by a friend of mine.  He is a recent graduate of Belmont College in Nashville, TN and a well-known activist in the state.  However, I have mixed opinions of his work, his self-promotion, and his ability as a journalist.  Each story is riddled with grammatical errors to say the least.  He was also given a column at the Washington Post.  On his first article, there were complications and the post was ultimately removed due to his lack of due diligence and his reporting false information.
  • TN Liberty is will certainly provide a more grammatically correct site as well as one that is more visually appealing.  However, it will not focus as heavily on National stories and investigative muckracking.  I hope to provide a forum in which concerned residents of the state can ask for advice as well as receive news – especially that which is most pertinent to their area.
  • does have a social media presence with stories and photos shared through their Facebook  page and but no Twitter as far as I can find.   On Facebook, it has just a little over 4K likes.

Finally, let’s take a look at The Liberty Crier:

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  •  The Liberty Crier is updated daily with articles and columns on current developments in politics and culture. If you look at the current home page, you will see that the a rotating Top Story Box
  • The Liberty Crier is a very visually appealing blog sites with a lot of features.  The masthead is clean and displayed prominently.

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  • Some other interesting aspects that The Liberty Crier features are categories for:

1. Top Headlines

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2.  Member Blog Posts

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3.  Documentaries

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4.  Channels

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  •  The Liberty Crier seems a bit lacking in their social media presence with their Twitter receiving only 1200 followers.  Their Facebook page has only 8.9K likes.  This seems rather odd to me because it is not being a new website.
  •  I envision the TN Liberty blog looking closer to this blog/site than any of the others in this review/comparison.  I also plan to add a forum for discussions among Tennessee residents and allow for contributing writers as well.  The main difference will be that TN Liberty will be localized plus – it will have a much bigger social media presence.

Photo365 Challenge – Day 15


I caught Bonono taking a few selfies to add to this Photo365 Challenge.


Remember:  In the coming weeks, you may see pictures of The Adventures of Bonono and Bones.  Bones, a puppy, is Bonono’s pal and companion in crime.
Currently, Bones is working on his own Photo365 Challenge.  If you’re interested in seeing what he is up to, follow him by clicking here.

Weekly Reading Ramblings – Week 2


Robin Rambling on Week 2 Readings

Social media

I know exactly how Anne Trebek feels. No, i’m not a book editor or a literary critic. I don’t live in Cleveland or mingle among the literary and academic elite. I do, however, use Twitter…and Facebook…and Tumblr…and any other social medium that allows me to connect with people. People who share my passion for liberty, freedom, Ron Paul, education, journalism, animal rescue, travel, and about a million other hobbies and interests. In the past two years, I have been lucky enough to meet people, experience opportunities, and open doors that would have remained closed, if it weren’t for the vast reach and power of the internet’s social networking capabilities.

In “Only the Literary Elite Can Afford Not to Tweet” in SFGate,  Trubek explores the upside to being a member of a social media community.  She is an avant Twitter user and although, Twitter isn’t my favorite social networking site, it’s in my top three. I can easily see the Twitter appeal and it has helped boost my number of career connections, tenfold. Truth be told, it’s Twitter’s stringent 140 character limit that secures it’s number two spot on my favorite’s list. I know that comes as a shock to those of you who know me, but it’s not all about my lack of brevity. In order to be concise while Tweeting, one must use the “&” symbol and abbreviate words. My academic training rears its ugly head and that voice inside of me screams “NOoooooooo” whenever I begin to substitute symbols and abbreviations for words. I suppose it’s no longer the cardinal sin it once was and that just because I’m able to tweet using symbols and abbreviations doesn’t mean that i’m any closer to losing the ability to spell out words like “love,” “for,” and “you” with the teenage millennial substitutions of “luv,” “4,” and “u”. So far, I’ve managed to keep a significant number of followers while only using the abbreviated syntax sparingly.

Trubek noted that because of social media’s vast reach, she was able to gain an “intellectual community” that she otherwise lacked in her daily life. I can certainly relate. My local friends are by no means stupid, but many do not share my interests or passions – and if they do – there is a significant difference in our intensity levels. Now, that I have made my passion my work, it is nice to live two lives to some degree, as Trubek suggests. At her office, she “mingles” with intellectual equals who are eager to participate in conversations pertaining to her passion – editing, but when she closes her office door and opens her front door every evening, fulfilled by her work and her community, she is comfortable letting her other interests run free.

Growing up without the connectivity of the internet, I didn’t realize how big of a change it could make in one’s life until recently. After obtaining an Advertising degree and struggling to find work that didn’t feel like work, I began to question how I would be able to find happiness in a career for the next 50 years. I hated everything about the day to day and was disturbed about the lack of fulfilling jobs available in this city. One day, that all changed and it wasn’t until I read Anne Trubek’s words that I realized the debt I owed Facebook and Twitter. She is right – with social networking sites people are less judgemental. Even though physical appearance is part of that, I’m not talking about a “catfish” scenario. People of all ages can become friends and colleagues through Facebook and Twitter. In fact, one of my best friends, and fellow activists, lives right here in Memphis but I met her originally on Facebook. Her youngest son is a college student at the University of Memphis and she is 15-20 years my elder. I’ve actually never asked her age specifically, because it mattered so very little. However, I truly believe that without social media being our first connection – we would’ve never gravitated to each other. If meetings and networking events had been our first introduction, the categorical differences would’ve placed us in separate “groups.” Social media can act as a “leveller” in many ways. I have been able to change career paths and have conversations with cutting-edge influencers who give me the same respect as they give a 20-year political campaign veteran.

Next, Trubek addresses social media self-promotion. Many critics, with beliefs similar to Jonathan Franzen’s, consider garnering publicity for oneself through social media channels to be a new form of bragging and boasting – and it can be but it isn’t a cut and dry as they make it sound. I find the methods in which some self-promote to be arrogant and flamboyant. That doesn’t mean that all social media self-promotion is arrogant and flamboyant – in fact, if done correctly and with class – it won’t be a turn off, it will be a turn on – garnering you the attention you deserve. There will always be the “used car salesmen” of the internet but that doesn’t mean you have emulate their actions – there are plenty of ways to promote yourself, without selling yourself.

This week’s readings were very Twitter-ful and helped to give guidance in the art of Twittering. Okay, so you caught me. I’m trying to be cute because it’s easier than going through four articles on different standards and processes for one’s use of Twitter.


In “Storyful’s Validation Process” by Malachy Browne, he walks the reader through a series of steps that could help a journalist in the digital age of information ascertain the verifiable truth. First, he notes the mantra “there is always someone closer to the source,” and goes on to explain that journalist’s you should always try to locate the original source of any videos. Fair enough, you say? Exactly – wouldn’t most people do this? Well, one would think so but honestly, I’ve seen so many incorrect and false posts on Facebook that reliable sources just re-posted without verifying – I have come to realize the answer is No, most people wouldn’t do this. They would assume it was the truth, and we all know what happens when you assume. Browne explains the multitude of techniques that you can use such as examining the embedded data within the images, cross-referencing the video uploader’s social media accounts for location, reliability, bias, and length of existence, as well as consistent video quality and number of close friends, and checking the video descriptions for any telling information such as a date or a specific location or IP address.

Next, Browne gives an example of a video posted to YouTube that shows residents of coastal Meulaboh, Aceh fleeing from the April 11th, 2012 tsunami. Storyful was able to verify the video uploader was from Meulaboh, that he had previously uploaded other videos from Meulaboh in the past six months, and that he was an active Twitter user and blogger, as well as verify the location in the footage through a visible sign that read “Meulaboh Lagoon.” They concluded that this video was in fact truth and because they verified that information, they could feel good about publishing it.

Browne delineates several other techniques that one could use to corroborate the content of a video before assuming its truth. Once the uploader has been assessed, he suggests that you focus on the content.  First, you ask the obvious questions such as does anything in the video look out of place and does it make sense in the filming context.  Then you move to the more detailed questions by examining the background of the video and checking for geo-tagging, landmarks or topographical data. One should also check to ensure that weather conditions in the footage match other reports for that given day including checking to see if the shadows that appear in the videos jive with the time of day that is reported. Next, Browne reminds you to check for accents or dialects that could create a disconnect between the people speaking in the video and the location in which it is supposedly filmed, as well as verifying that other users have mentioned the “event” in local news reports, news wires, twitter feeds and lists, or by posting other videos and images.

At first glance this looks like a lot of work and admittedly, it takes time as Browne suggests. However, as journalists it is our responsibility to gather and report the FACTS – not the potential facts. A few extra minutes spent doing due diligence could ultimately save you a lot of time trying to repair your reputation. The world doesn’t forgive journalists as easy as it forgives Justin Bieber.

Other Articles of Interest for this Week:

Photo365 Challenge – Day 14


Bonono checks out the #hashtag and Instagram options during the #puppybowl on Animal Planet, in order to better complete his Photo365 Challenge.  He wondered if he was considered a “pet” but decided that he wasn’t one so we needed to rescue a puppy.  Great Bonono – I don’t need any help with that one.  



Remember:  In the coming weeks, you may see pictures of The Adventures of Bonono and Bones.  Bones, a puppy, is Bonono’s pal and companion in crime.
Currently, Bones is working on his own Photo365 Challenge.  If you’re interested in seeing what he is up to, follow him by clicking here.

Photo365 Challenge – Day 12


Bonono tempts certain death and tries to hitch a ride on Morgan.

Morgan is not amused…. 

So far, no “monkeys” have been eaten during this Photo365 Challenge.  


Remember:  In the coming weeks, you may see pictures of The Adventures of Bonono and Bones.  Bones, a puppy, is Bonono’s pal and companion in crime.
Currently, Bones is working on his own Photo365 Challenge.  If you’re interested in seeing what he is up to, follow him by clicking here.