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.
As 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:
In 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:
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.
Today’s Photo365 Challenge is a movie made for
tn liberty – “where the liberty-minded go for news” titled:
“One state defies the status quo and embarks on the fight for liberty”
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!
Don’t forget to come back everyday during this Photo365 Challenge in order to see more of our crazy life!
Reflections of a Picture Taker & Movie Maker
Personal reflection on your experiences creating and sharing the video should include thoughts on: How can you continue to use video to enhance your blog? How do you think professionals in your future desired career – journalism, public relations, advertising, or any other could best utilize these sites?
In reflecting on the blog on your experiences this week, consider: What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of the sites you’ve used for your topic area? How can you use photos going forward as semester continues to enhance your blog or website? How do you think professionals in your future desired career – journalism, public relations, advertising, or any other – could utilize these sites productively?
Due to how these two assignments are related, I decided to combine them and share my experiences on both in one nifty neat little blog post.
Creating a video for “tn liberty” was an interesting undertaking, to say the least. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure exactly which route to go. If I had been creating a video for this blog, I would have gone the funny route or the “a day in the life of” route – something that shows my personality. However, I was creating a video for “tn liberty,” a topic that is rather hard to define and even harder to show when put on the spot. It’s not like I can head out the front door and take a few photos or shoot some footage of “tn liberty.” It’s not a bird, a plane, a particular event, or even something easily defined. It’s a movement. It’s a cause. It’s a passion. So how do you visually represent a movement, cause, or a passion. My first thought was an event but seeing as it isn’t campaign season and I’m a busy little bee I didn’t have many options, here in Memphis, from which to choose. Then I realized that most indoor events are in a room at Jason’s Deli with beige walls and many people who attend those events are not all that excited about having their picture taken. Libertarians can be a bit odd and most aren’t exactly the #selfie taking type. Apparently, I’m an odd duck every where I go.
For the video, I finally decided on asking members of the Liberty Movement and contacts that I have made to explain in a short sentence or phrase What Liberty Means to them. For those who were not located in the Memphis area, I asked that they use their computers or phones to record themselves and email me the footage. It took a bit of begging but in the end, I had numerous clips from which to work. I realized that I also had footage from various events such as campaign rallies, protests, and other types of activism that I had taken in the past couple of years during my extensive travels across the state of Tennessee and that I could document the Tennessee Liberty Movement in a short movie.
As I began to edit the clips and footage, I realized I had embarked on a HUGE project and once I was in the middle of it, there was no turning back. I had to make the mini-documentary as awesome as possible no matter how many hours it took. And by hours – I mean days and days. Next, came the technical difficulties. My MacBook Pro is a very full Mac and even with a 3T external hard drive for all my files, the programs and necessities stores on the computer leave very little room for any temp files created by iMovie. As I was nearing the end of a 30+ hour editing session and could see the light at the end of the tunnel, my computer told me it was full. I moved a few things to the hard drive and added another transition to the movie. Again, my Mac was full. This process of moving, trashing, and adding went on for another hour or so and I finally closed iMovie and decided to rid my computer of all secondary and tertiary files of old emails (WHY does the computer keep multiple copies of emails from days of yore?) and duplicates of all my music (again, WHY does the computer and iTunes make copies of every file you add?). Finally, I had 30Gb of space available and that was enough to complete the video. Thank God!!
I completed the video, uploaded it to YouTube, embedded in to my topic blog, “tn liberty,” and then immediately began sharing it on every Facebook page of which I am an admin, in every Facebook group of which I am a member, by tweeting it on Twitter, and by begging everyone I knew to share it. Within one day of posting the video and sharing like a mad woman, I realized that I had gained hundreds of new followers on my Facebook page “Tennessee and Mississippi Leadership” and on “tn liberty,” as well as almost 200 views on YouTube. I had even gained a few new followers on this blog. As it stands today, the video has approximately 230 views on YouTube.
Next, I had to figure out what I was going to do about the pictures assignment. Capturing “tn liberty” was hard enough with video – how the heck was I going to capture its essence in a still??? So, I actually decided that I would go 2 routes.
First, I was going to take the end of the video I had just made (What Liberty Means) and turn the final section entitled “Faces of Liberty” into a series. I would cut “picture” portion of the video (I put a ton of pictures of people in the movement holding up campaign signs, at events, protesting, and the like at the end of the video in a slideshow-esque montage.) Most of these pictures were ones I had taken during the past two years and some were pictures that other liberty movement friends had given me. I now had several 30 second slideshow montages of “tn liberty” and added the first one to my topic blog. Due to the lack of time, I didn’t promote it all that well. It only has like 10 views on YouTube. However, there is always time to promote it later and I’m sure it’ll gain a great response.
Next, I realized that throughout my travels I had taken an extraordinary amount of tn landscape pictures. I have always said that nothing shows liberty quite like a beautiful mountaintop or bubbling brook in Tennessee. I created another series – this time just stills – called “Landscapes of Liberty” and placed it on “tn liberty” with a call for followers to send me pictures they had taken of TN landscapes. I also created a TN Liberty Flickr account and posted them there, with the hopes of adding to that as time goes on. Fingers crossed that I can get another job traveling the state of TN and organizing groups in the Liberty Movement!!
To conclude, I feel that moving forward, including pictures and videos in posts on this blog and on my topic blog is extremely important. People like pictures and people like movies. It’s a given. It also adds relevance to your topic and can show a “behind the scenes” look at events that I may be privy to and others aren’t. In addition, it can show the non-liberty movement people that we are human and normal – it gives your site a personal touch. I can say that the next video will be much shorter and less complicated. What Liberty Means is a once every couple of years type project!! In the future, I will also start to share the “Faces of Liberty” and “Landscapes of Liberty” series in hopes of gaining new followers and gathering new pictures from others.
Facing the Feedback
- “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”
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.
I 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.
- 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.
Finally, 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.
A Perfectionist Print Designer
and the World Wide Web
- “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.”
- “Set up Google Alerts for your blog topic”
- “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
If 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.
For 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.”
After 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.
Next, 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
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.
Mention & Google Alerts
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.
I 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.
I 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 part – Feedly 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 simple 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.
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.
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.
After 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!