Photo365 Challenge – Day 95

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For today’s Photo365 Challenge you have a picture of the International Man of Liberty, Teh Collinz (Matt Collins) and me.

Don’t forget to come back everyday during this Photo365 Challenge in order to see more of our crazy life!



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

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Do You Like Me? Check Yes or No

Do-You-Like-Me

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 http://tweepdash.com/ 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.comhttp://www.tweetlevel.com, and http://www.topsy.com as well as http://www.followerwork.comhttp://www.tweeple.comhttp://www.Twitonomy.comhttp://www.tweept.com and http://www.FriendorFollow.com  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 http://www.Followerwonk.com and http://www.Topsy.com in addition to http://www.Klout.com  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 http://www.Tweetreach.com and http://www.twtrland.com.

7.  I will also use the Google AnalyticsGoogle Alerts, and the WordPress.com 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.

 

Challenge: 

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.



 

Photo365 Challenge – Day 68

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Today’s Photo365 Challenge is a movie made for

tn liberty – “where the liberty-minded go for news” titled:

What Liberty Means: tn liberty

“One state defies the status quo and embarks on the fight for liberty” 

In What Liberty Means: tn liberty, activists share their personal meaning of liberty before tn liberty takes you behind the scenes for a firsthand look at the grassroots movement in Tennessee.

 

 

Don’t forget to check out tn liberty on the web at:  tn liberty.   In Tennessee, it’s “where the liberty-minded go for news” and where you can get information about how to get involved in upcoming events.

You can also “like” us on Facebook at: Tennessee and Mississippi Leadership
Here, you can get up-to-the-minute reports on everything affecting the liberty of all those who reside in Tennessee and Mississippi.

Make sure you share “What Liberty Means: tn liberty with all of your friends, family, and co-workers — liberty is in all of us and the movement is constantly growing as people wake up!

We also wouldn’t mind if you gave a thumbs up on this video on YouTube!  Go ahead, you know you want to make liberty popular!

All copyrighted material is used under 17 U.S.C. § 107, the Fair Use provision of the US Copyright Law for educational, nonprofit, or political commentary purposes.


Don’t forget to come back everyday during this Photo365 Challenge in order to see more of our crazy life!



Journal #6 – Facing the Feedback

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Facing the Feedback

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  • “Show your blog (essentially a prototype at this point) and explain your topic of focus to at least one potential member of your blog’s community/audience. Ask them for early feedback on your idea. What kinds of content or features would they be looking for in a blog like yours? What kinds of things do they NEED or WANT to know? Do they have any problems or needs within your topic area you could solve for them? For example, perhaps a potential reader of your niche food blog has a specific allergy and could use some information on how to avoid that ingredient, or similar. Write up what you learned from this person. This could be posted on either one of your blogs, depending on what you think is best. Ideally, talk to more than one person about this. NOTE: THIS IS A COMBO OF MINI-CROWDSOURCING/ALSO CUSTOMER DISCOVERY/DESIGN THINKING”


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After spending hours upon hours designing my topic blog, it was time to gather some feedback. I, of course, was a little worried.  After all, I had spent hundreds of hours making this blog beautiful – in my mind – and carefully crafting what I considered to be just what the Tennessee Liberty Movement needed – a centralized location for all news liberty in Tennessee.  Then, I realized that I am my harshest critic and I really had nothing to lose.  Well, people could snicker and decide I wasn’t worth the keyboard I typed on and the trackpad I design with but that has yet to happen to this day.  34 years and no one has ever told me (to my face or that I know of) that my completed project was utter garbage and I was void of talent.  So, I figured it wasn’t going to happen now.  Still shaking from fear and afraid of negative feedback, I decided to put myself out there and seek the opinion of the people that mattered most – those involved in the Liberty Movement in Tennessee.

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 5.27.09 PMI braced myself for the feedback, dead set that I would soon be hearing what I feared the most – a resounding “that’s terrible” or “why would you do that?” or “it could be better” and so on and so forth.  I poured myself a glass of wine and waited.

The facebook messenger began to buzz and fully expecting  to hear people’s shout of horror, I slowly clicked on each one.  I was ready to Face the Feedback.

To my surprise, I had nothing to worry about.  The problems with my topic blog were the problems I already knew existed.  Each person had great things to say about the design of the blog and the purpose for its existence.

  • They agreed that Tennessee lacked a centralized location for liberty news and information.
  • They agreed that the design and theme fit the topic quite nicely and it was one of the more professional looking blogs or websites out there.
  • They liked the fact that it wasn’t cluttered with unnecessary information on the front page and that the topic categories were sorted well – making searching for each particular “need” simple and quick.
  • They all agreed that I had enough categories to be the “go-to” site for resources, event information, and news.
  • And many mentioned that they liked the addition of the student liberty in Tennessee because due to the fact that because students are in charge of creating and maintaining their own sites and facebook pages – they aren’t always easy to locate.

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 5.23.34 PMAfter hearing such positive feedback, I began to feel better about asking for people’s thoughts on the existing content.

  • Everyone liked the design of the blog posts
  • They loved the fact that there were posts about upcoming bills that not only explained the bill itself but gave contact information for the state representatives or state senators responsible for it.
  • They felt the event information sorted by county was a great addition and would help people more easily find ways to get involved in their area.  They also like the fact that anyone could see it so that people from all over the state would be aware of each county’s events and could gather event ideas for their county.
  • They also really liked the “weekly” forum discussion category but noted that there was only been one.
  • Some wondered why the site was called tn liberty but the web address was “liberty tn” and others noted that I really should purchase the domain name tn liberty.

The name tn liberty was already taken when the dot wordpress was after it in the web address and “liberty tn” was as close as i could get.  Also, purchasing the domain name is already something I had planned to do – once I could afford it and it would be a worthwhile purchase.

  • They reminded me that I had not completed the State Representative and State Senator pages.

I know, I know.  I’ve been a bit busy.  I also nicely reminded them that this was still a work in progress but I appreciated the reminder.  These pages will contain the contact information for each State Representative and Senator as well as how many terms they have held their position and during election time if they are running unopposed, opposed in their own party, or opposed in other parties.  I will also be adding information about liberty candidates and if they are endorsed by any organizations such as FreedomWorks or Young Americans for Liberty.

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 6.34.31 PMFinally, I was able to ask if they had any ideas for new categories or if there was anything that could be done better.  This question was the only resounding negative comment that I received.  Great. However, to my surprise, it was exactly the problem that I existed:

  • There was not enough content and the posts were frequent enough.  All feedback givers mentioned that there was enough liberty news to make 10 to 20 posts a day on average plus the county event posts and student event posts.

I was afraid I was right.  I simply do not have the time at this point in my life to run a blog of this caliber and make it one that I can be proud to host.  To make tn liberty be all that it can be – excuse the army quote – I would need a significant amount of time each day to devote to finding, creating, and posting stories.  That, or I would have to acquire a staff to help me.  Running this page would be a full-time job for one person and unfortunately, I don’t have the time while in grad school or the resources to do it for free.  Even though I have a donation widget installed on the blog – not a penny has been donated and nor should it have been – there isn’t anything to donate to at this point. Something will have to change before tn liberty can take off.  Maybe I will be able to think of something this summer.

Overall, Facing the Feedback was not a terrible ordeal.



Journal # 5 – A Perfectionist Print Designer and the World Wide Web

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A Perfectionist Print Designer 

and the World Wide Web 

web design print design

  • “Set up new WordPress blog for your topic of focus/beat. This is SEPARATE from your journal blog. I know, two blogs, crazy! Choose a name for it carefully, and a theme. If you’ve already done this, bully for you. Send me the URL and I’ll create a new blogroll.”
  • “Create about page for this topic blog”
  • “Set up blogroll on your topic blog with at least five sites related to your topic. Here’s how to do it.”
  • “Sign up for at least one email newsletter and/or an RSS feed reader related to your beat (you might want to sign up for some related to our profession more generally, too). There are many possible feed readers out there – do some research to see which one you think best suits you. For example, here are some possibilities, including Feedly.”
  • “If you are already a blogging whiz, or have a topic blog set up already, are there any new features or widgets you could add? If your blog is pre-existing, be sure you do at least one new thing to spruce it up. Describe what you did in your journal blog”

Setting up the Topic Blog – tn liberty

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 8.06.26 PMIf you’re reading this, you can see that I am quite capable of setting up a blog.  WordPress makes it fairly easy.  Pick a theme.  Check.  Name your blog.  Check.  Add a tagline. Check.  Decide if you want your home page to be static or a revolving door that showcases your most recent posts and then, mark it as such.  Check Check.   Begin adding pages to your new blog.  Check Check Check.  Add some categories.  Check times ten.  And here is where the beginner user may have begun to get a little confused.  No big deal. WordPress is there to help you with an assortment of support pages, located here.  And if you can’t find the answer you need there, check out the forum for support categorized by simple topics, located here.  “So what’s the big deal,” you ask?  “Obviously, you know enough to make a decently visually appealing and functioning blog.”  Yes, I can make it pretty-ish and functional but you forget, I’m a print designer and….drum roll….a perfectionist.

The print designer with a perfectionist personality disorder is used to being in control of how text appears, the spacing in-between each line and each character, the color of the boxes around words and widgets, and so on, and so forth.  Sure.  I created a blog and matched the color of the fonts to the header that I uploaded – one that I created in Photoshop and InDesign for my Facebook page, Tennessee and Mississippi Leadership.  BUT, now there are appearance problems with my site.

7702900836_0106e4e49a_cFor some reason, I cannot get the Site Title to change colors in order to become visible against my dark header.  I’m not a complete n00b, so I knew a few tricks to try and i refused to be pwned by WordPress.  I knew that I wanted the color to be #ffffff (that’s white, for those of you who don’t know).  I knew that the text size needed to be at least 50px.  I knew that there needed to be extra padding (what spacing is called in HTML) between the Site Title and the Site Description.  I tried everything I could think of but no luck.  My brain started to become mush and I was heading for an all out war with WordPress.  I knew that I had to learn the thing I had been dreading for years…HTML and CSS coding.  

Great.  Just great.

For those of you who do not know what CSS and HTML coding look like – check out the development tools option available in your browser.  If you’re using Chrome, it’s located under View—>>Developer—>>Developer Tools.  You can also right click on any element on a web page and choose “Inspect Element.”  A box will show up on your screen and you can look “behind the scenes” at any webpage.  This will give you an idea of the code necessary to create text, images, boxes, headings, spacing, and everything else on a webpage.  Here is what this one looks like right now.  Check out the white box highlighted at the bottom of this screen shot.  That’s what I was about to “mess with.”

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tagImageDiagramAfter realizing that I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing, I checked out some helpful tips and tricks on several blogs.  These sites gave me the basic code that I needed to change simple text.  I could now make sentences or words bold by adding <strong>PUT WORDS HERE< /strong>, italicized by adding <em>PUT WORDS HERE< /em>, or even bold and italicized by adding <strong><em>PUT WORDS HERE< /em>< /strong>.  I was making headway.

css-tnNext, I investigated the coding needed to change colors, fonts, and sizes in sentences, paragraphs, and words.  I figured out that you can use other coding to make colored background boxes, change the text color, and change the appearance of entire groups of text.  Not just individual posts or pages but you can change how the “default” text appears for different headings 1, 2, 3, and so on.

 I was super excited and throughout the next two days, I filled my mind with every piece of needed code that I could absorb.


tn liberty Blogroll

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Now, that I had spent hours learning advanced brain-frying code, it was time to actually complete the assignments that were required of me for this week.

I gathered the URLs for important website and blogs to add to the sidebar of my tn liberty blog in order to guide people to other sources of information about liberty and liberty in TN.

I put the sites into several categories such as Liberty Folk to Follow, Liberty Organizations, Liberty in Tennessee, Liberty Resources, and TN Student Liberty.  Under each category, I added links to some of the most popular sites.

 


Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 7.50.15 PMMention & Google Alerts

Next, I decided to go ahead and set up an alert system for my blog topic of liberty in Tennessee. I have used several different “alert” systems in the past and decided to set up Mention, first.

I created several alerts such as “Tennessee” AND “Liberty,”  “Tennessee” and “Politics,” “Memphis” AND “Council” OR “Commission” OR “laws” OR “government,” and “Knoxville” AND “politics“.  I added an alert for each major area of Tennessee and used several different search options in order to get a more comprehensive collection of news stories.

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 7.57.37 PMI did the same thing for Google Alerts.  It is a much less visually appealing system, as you can see on the left. It also doesn’t provide you the option to sort and set tasks for your “alerts.”  For example, Mention allows several users to work with the same “alerts” and share them with each other – assigning tasks such as “post this to the blog” or “verify this information.”  Google Alerts are sent to your email address either daily or once a week, depending on your settings.

 I also set up Google Alerts and Mention to inform me if anyone in the interwebs happens to mention either one of my blogs specifically.  As I learned in PR Management last semester – there are numerous tools available in order to know what your audience is saying about you and how they are responding to you.  You have to stay engaged – so I want to know if people are talking about me.  True – it probably has less to do with monitoring my “brand” and more to do with the human nature psychosis of “OMG SOMEONE IS TALKING ABOUT ME?!?!?  WHAT ARE THEY SAYING?!?!”


Feedly & the RSS Reader

So, there is this thing called a RSS feed.  It sounds more complicated than it actually is.  Subscribing to a website RSS removes the need for you to manually check the website for new content.  Instead, their browser constantly monitors the site and informs you of any updates. You can also command the browser to automatically download the new data.

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 3.03.36 AMI first set up the Google Chrome Browser desktop app for Feedly from the Chrome Web Store.  It works quite well, plus it has a visually appealing interface. If you can’t tell by now, I like ALL the things to look pretty, as well as neat and clean.  I used Feedly’s search box to enter terms that were relevant to Tennessee and liberty and politics.  Plus, I also added a few blogs and sites manually.  For the most partFeedly was helpful for major news sites and major blogs.  I also added more journalism influencers, startup kings, and media sites to Feedly, because it seems to be the best bet for actually aggregating my everyday news.

I then found another extension located in the Chrome Browser Web Store.  Yep, that sure sounds a lot like an Apple product but hey, whatever works.  I downloaded the extension for a Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 8.11.05 PMsimple RSS Feed Reader and it loaded itself into my browser bar for easy access.  I really like it a lot for its simple integration directly into my browser space.  I don’t need a desktop app and it doesn’t take up a lot of space or waste space on pretty pictures. I like pretty pictures and when i’m interested in reading a collection of news stories, I’ll probably use Feedly, because it displays a photo and headline in an aggregated news format like most apps would.  This RSS Feed Reader reminds me of something very old school that would run on the very basic operating systems.  

However, it gets a 5 star rating and the other readers barely get 3 stars.  It’s simple and to the point.  I add websites and blogs, put them into folders based on my category creation, and when they get new information, a number appears next to it signifying how many new stories are ready for me to read.  I can easily click the X, if it is not pertinent or click the Check mark once i’ve read it or just to mark it as read and move on.  I’d check it out if you are looking for ways to add content to your Topic blog quickly and simply.  


successUsing Code to Spruce it Up

Using a text widget, I first wanted to add a donation button to my page.  After reading an article about how to do so, I decided to give it a whirl.  Then, I had a thought.  I wonder if I would be able to add a colored box around it so that it stood out and matched by overall design?  I opened the text widget box and began messing with the code.  After moving it piece by piece and saving each time so I didn’t lose anything, I was able to get it close to what I wanted.  I’m sure this won’t be my final result.  Why?  Because as I said earlier, I’m a perfectionist.

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UPDATE:  And I was right.  After writing this draft, going to eat dinner, and watching The Following, I came back and messed with the code until I was happy. Check it out on my site!!

Next, I wanted to use the text widget and code to create a Title and Tagline that would be located on top of the above donation widget.  I realized that the donation widget used a <div/> code (a type of coding for paragraphs and divisions, if you will) and inside that code the button itself was actually a link URL image code that starts with <irc.  I figured why not use the same type of coding to create the Title and Tagline “widget” that I wanted.

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 8.15.37 PMAfter creating, editing, and saving for approximately 30 minutes, I created something close to perfect.  I’m very happy with it actually but will probably edit it again to make the tagline a little smaller.  However, it is growing on me, as is.

Overall, my site is coming along nicely.  I am still trying to figure out how to edit the CSS on the theme stylesheet in order to make my actual site title the correct color and increase the font size but I have some posts on the CSS Customization Forum and am sure that someone will help me out any day now.

Until then – i’m good.

UPDATE:  An extremely nice guy responded to me on the WordPress CSS Customization forum with some tips on how to go about changing my title and site description to better fit my wants and needs.  He supplied me with a bit of basic CSS code and pointed me in the right direction.  I messed around with it and added some information about margin spacing – had NO idea how to go about it or if it was THE way to nudge the text to the left of the page but what was the worst that could happen?  It didn’t work?!  So, I tried and it worked!  I had noticed that in the sample text a line of code about margins ( margin-bottom:  20px; ).  I wondered if I were to write code on the next line for margin-left if that would move my text closer to the left side of the page.  Low and behold – it worked!  I played around with the spacing and the margins and anything else I could think of and came out with an awesome site title for my tn liberty blog.

Although now, I’m wondering how to move the Site Title and the description to the right side of the header…a perfectionist’s work is never done but that’s okay…i’ll figure it out because I know I can!

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Journal #4 – The Twitter, the Tweet, & Me

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The Twitter, the Tweet, & Me

twitter-list

“Create some lists on Twitter related to your beat and other interests. Find some new people to follow related to your topic of focus and other interests. Start interacting with others in your area of focus. Describe what you did in your journal blog.”


So Twitter, we meet again.  Last week, after reading the Mashable Twitter GuideBook, I was feeling a bit more comfortable with the whole Tweetin’ thing.  It’s not that I don’t know how to tweet or dislike tweeting – it’s that i’m not the most comfortable with tweeting.  I often wonder – why tweet?

I mean, I get it – “live life in 140 characters or less.”  If you haven’t noticed – that’s not exactly MY motto.  In fact, I would feel rather hypocritical even pretending to use it seriously. However, I am a Political Public Relations person – I suppose I should become “twiterate” quickly.

In order to move forward in becoming “twiterate,” there is this thing called organization through list-making that I must attend to.  Great – organization – another term that typically escapes me – especially in the social media world.  I never got into “lists” on Facebook and finding bookmark on my browsers was like searching for a needle in a haystack until recently.  I’m good at organizing and work stuff is always well-organized but my personal life is always lacking in organization.  I have specific places for all my clothes and expensive hangers and drawers on which to put them, but somehow yesterday’s clothes (last week’s clothes) are usually found tossed over a chair and several pairs of shoes are lining the hallways and rooms of my house.  Maybe the word I am in need of here is none other than motivation…or time.  Yes…time.  That’s probably the one.

But…I  figured that not every person who sings the praises of Twitter Lists could be wrong and maybe, just maybe it would make Twitter more Robin-friendly – especially for my new TN Liberty blog.  This way I could easily keep track of each section of Tennessee.  Hopefully, this list-making would keep me from overlooking any current events and grievances, state legislation, and news specifically relevant to the state of Tennessee and the issues of the Liberty Movement.

So in keeping with my new found organizational spirit, I started making those pesky lists.


twitter_bird_follow_me twitter list


The next step was to finally download TweetDeck – a dashboard/app type device that supposedly makes Twitter more organizable and easier to use.  Done.  If you’re interested in using TweetDeck, Google Chrome browser has a nifty free app/extension that you can download, by clicking here.

Then, as I began to rifle through the 840 people that I’m currently following, I decided that one of my future steps would be to give the ol’ Twitter a good spring cleaning.  Not today – but someday soon.  Before reading the Mashable Twitter GuideBook I really didn’t understand that Twitter was “different’ than other social mediums in terms of the following/follower relationship.  I felt that because some random nutjob followed me that I owed it to him/her/it to follow back.  Does anyone want to take a guess as to what that left me with?  Yep – a whole lot of weirdos, nutjobs, and people I am tired of hearing from every 2 minutes.  But, for now, the  nutjobs would remain.

Once I had TweetDeck up and running and started to use the +Create lists button, I began to remember why I am not a social media organizer.  There are too many crossovers – too many possibilities – nothing is cut and dry!  What is an over-analyzing follow freak to do?

You guessed it!  I made a ton of Twitter Lists.  I’m not sure I’m any more organized now than I was before.  When I think about it, I kind of liked the haphazard Twitter feed.  I would see a tweet about politics or a Young Americans for Liberty meme, right before one about a new journalism startup or a restaurant opening in memphis, followed by a friend posting another story explaining the anti-feminist culture of television or a guy friend explaining how he “leveled up” (whatever it is called these days) on WoW or Skyrim, followed by an album release date by The Dirty Guv’nahs, Jason Isbell (a Tiger alumni by the way), and Lucero, or a neat fact from Pew Internet or UberFacts and the most recent Tiger Basketball score.  It kept me current and well-rounded.

At that moment is when I realized that I would use the Twitter Lists when I needed them to make sure I was getting all the pertinent news for my TN Liberty blog but I would keep my news feed formatted in the way that made me who I am today, for daily viewing.

As I started to put the people into groups, the cross-overs and the decisions about what stockfresh_id322778_shouting-bluebird_sizeXS-300x300type of group they should belong to, began to make me crazy.  I couldn’t decide where these people should go.  Were they a newspaper or a media news organization?  What if they were a friend but also a musician?  How about a member of the Liberty movement and a classmate?  What if they weren’t exactly a Liberty Organization but they weren’t a real person either?  All this classification was unnatural.  Aren’t we taught to not classify people?  I was finding this to be quite challenging.

So, I took a deep breath and did the best I could.  Some people and organizations overlap.  I guess that ‘s life though.  Nothing is ever neat and perfect.  You have gray areas and cross-overs, friends that belong in more than one group, and friends you don’t know what to do with.


Here is a list of my Twitter lists:


use twitter listsFor more about Twitter Lists, check out some of these helpful articles:

The Complete Guide To Using Twitter Lists Like a Pro by 

TWITTER LISTS – A VISUAL BEGINNER’S GUIDE by Dorien Morin van Dam

How to Get Started With New Twitter Lists by Amy-Mae Elliott at Mashable

8 tips for using Twitter Lists by  at Poynter

How to use Twitter lists to replace Google Reader by Allyson Kazmucha

Twitter Lists Explained: How to Create, Find and Get On Them by Amanda MacArthur

Twitter lifts the limits on Lists by Jack Schofield for Jack’s Blog

Twitter Enhances Lists: 4 Ways To Take Advantage by Steve Cooper at Forbes

Twitter Lists – The Complete Guide by Twitter Power Systems Blog

Make the Most of Twitter Lists: Essential Tips and Tricks by  at  GeekSugar

HOW TO MAKE TWITTER LISTS by   at Digital Trends

twitter groups



Journal # 3 – Topic Blog Influencers

Standard

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:

Reason

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.”
  • Reason.com 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, reason.com 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, TheLibertyPaper.org has enjoyed an ever-growing, loyal fan base, which has generated hundreds of thousands of readers in more than 140 countries around the world.”
  •  TheLibertyPaper.org 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.
  • TheLibertyPaper.org 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.
  • TheLibertyPaper.org 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.
  • TheLibertyPaper.org 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.