Social Media Strategies for Destination Towns

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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.

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 St. Pete Beach, Florida

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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.


 Evaluations: 

  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: 

Residents:

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

Businesses:

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

Visitors:

  • 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
  • 2 Retweets

 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

VisitStPeteClearwater.com

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, VisitFl.com, 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.


Suggestions: 

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 visitstpetebeach.org as it is currently available and goes well with the Florida Convention & Visitors Bureau‘s VisitFlorida.com as well as the St. Petersburg /Clearwater Convention and Visitors Bureaus VisitStPeteClearwater.com.

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.


 Hashtags:

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

  • The local hashtags are:

#VisitStPete
#VisitPAG

  • The tourist hashtags are:

#MyStPete
#MyPAG

  • Some variations for beach life posts are:

#StPeteLife
#PAGLife
#livinthegrille
#thegrillelife

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

#StPetePup
#PAGPup


 Content-Sharing

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:

employee_engagement_strategy

  • 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.

#loveyourcitymore

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.


 VisitStPeteBeach.rentals: 

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.


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

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It’s All About Me:  Branding and Strategy

all-about-me

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 www.robinspielberger.com for this site.  Unhappy with having to use “libertytn” instead of TN Liberty as a WordPress domain name, I also purchased www.tnliberty.com.

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.

shutterstock_134112389-300x200



 

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.



 

Weekly Reading Ramblings – Week 6

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Robin Rambling on Week 6 Readings

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This week’s readings were about solving social dilemmas, new tools to create social capital, how to shoot decent photos, and journalistic uses for Pinterest.  You can even leave a comment at the bottom there.  Yes – see, right there at the bottom where it says to “leave a reply” – feel free to share your insights with me!


Chapters 8 & 9 of Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody

clayshirkyIn Chapter 8, Shirky begins by explaining the Prisoner’s Dilemma in order to show the complicated process of solving social dilemmas and how social tools only amplify this process.  If you haven’t heard of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, it can be explained most simply like this:

Together, you and I commit a crime.  We get arrested.  We, now have 4 options:

  • You and I both keep our mouths shut, spend a night in jail, and go free the next day
  • You spill all when offered a reward to turn on me and I face charges and go to jail for a long time
  • I spill all when offered a reward to turn on you and you face charges and go to jail for a long time
  • We both spill all when offered a reward to turn on each other and we both face charges and go to jail for a long time.

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 5.00.08 AMPersonally, I only see one feasible option – You and I BOTH keep our mouths shut, spend one night in jail, face no charges, and walk free the next day!  Apparently, it isn’t always that easy.  When  two people who may not know each other very well or haven’t developed a level of trust are in this situation, the dilemma gets more complicated.  To me, it shouldn’t – assuming we committed this crime together.  However, not everyone has my values or moral code.  I’m a firm believer in two things.  1.  Always hedge your bets – if they are trying to offer you a reward, then chances are they do not have enough evidence to make their case.  2.  When you “team up” with someone, whether it be to serve food to the poor or to commit a crime, you always have your partner’s back – no matter what!  As time has gone by, I have realized that I may be one of the only people who still hold these values so dearly.  It seems that in today’s world, there is truly no honor among thieves.

Next, Shirky adds what Robert Axelrod, a University of Michigan sociologist who has conducted significant studies on the Prisoner’s Dilemma, calls “the shadow of the future.”  Shirky explains this theory by stating “we all face the Prisoner’s Dilemma when we interact with people who could take advantage of us, yet we actually manage to trust one another often enough to accomplish things in groups.  The shadow of the future makes it possible for me to act on your behalf today, even at some risk or cost to me, on the expectation that you will remember and reciprocate tomorrow.”

To learn more about the Prisoner’s Dilemma or Axelrod’s shadow of the future,  watch the following video or check out the sites below:

Later in Chapter 8, Shirky uses one of my favorite examples to explain how Robert Putnam’s belief that social capital is declining in America, as stated in his article Bowling Alone, is not entirely true. Scott Heiferman, the founder of a successful NYC web business, read Bowling Alone and set out to reinvigorate America’s social capital.  He assumed that people knew what they were missing when it came to their social capital and communal interaction and that if it were easy to increase in today’s world of suburban houses, carpools, two-worker families, and the devaluation of the dollar, people would certainly take steps to do so.  Heiferman also recognized one other key factor that would make his forthcoming business a success – that no longer should the internet be treated as some sort of “other world” or “cyberspace,” when in fact it was simply an extension of the real world.  Shirky explains that Heiferman “realized that if enough people are online, you don’t have to group them solely by affinity  (pug lovers, White Stripes fans, libertarians, whatever).  Instead, you can group them by affinity and proximity (pug lovers in Poughkeepsie, White Stripes fans in Walla Walls).”  Thus, Meetup was born.

Now, let me just take a minute to jump for joy and squeal like a little girl because for the first time a Journalist and author mentioned libertarians in a non-negative light!  If i’m going to be 100% correct, this is the second time it has happened, as Shirky positively mentioned libertarians in Chapter 3, when discussing the infamous Trent Lott birthday wish to Strom Thurmond.  You can read about it here.   Okay, back to Meetup.

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 4.52.04 AMWhat Heiferman was able to recognize and Meetup was able to show through the popularity of groups for virtual contacts was that “even online communication that emulates face-to-face interaction still leaves people wanting human contact.”  Meetup’s success also showed that people weren’t simply recreating the “old model of community, because it provided a different set of capabilities” and the groups that first took advantage of these new tools were groups of people who had a great desire in finding like-minded persons but due to factors such as geography, topical specificity, or social approval the previous costs of locating and coordinating were too high.  Meetup was able to solve the “locating” problem and by doing so created outlets for hundreds of new groups to form – many of which had never been able to gather before, which had left their members yearning for bonding connectivity.

Finally, I found Shirky’s explanation for why the early assumption that communication tools were (or would be) a good substitute for travel was dead wrong, to be enlightening.  I knew based on personal experiences and those of the people around me that these assumptions were incorrect but I didn’t have any sort of evidence to back up that claim.  Shirky did, as usual.  He noted that in 1978, President Carter deregulated the airlines, significantly lowering travel prices, but telecommunications stocks didn’t fail.  Instead, they rose.  In 1984 Judge Harold Greene broke up AT&T leading to rapidly decreasing long-distance phone call costs.  That year, airlines customers increased.  I know it isn’t scientific evidence but it’s good enough for those of us who find credibility in what some would call a coincidence.  Two separate incidences and 6 years apart – same outcome.   I never thought that online communication could replace travel – it’s absurd, but interesting tidbits of information such as this, is still rather interesting.  Shirky states “communication and travel are complements, not substitutes,” and I couldn’t agree more!

To hear Meetup CEO Scott Heiferman speak about Startups, another interest of mine, check out this article.

Now, for your viewing pleasure:

Scott Heifferman speaking to Startup Grind* on what constitutes a good Meetup Community:

Scott Heifferman On Meetup and Dumb Ideas:

*The Startup Grind is an event series and website designed to help educate, inspire, and connect local entrepreneurs. Each month they welcome an amazing speaker who shares their story with our community and tells about what worked, what didn’t, and what they’ll do differently next time. The Startup Grins says ‘”It’s an amazing opportunity to learn from the best, network with other members of the startup community, and improve your chances of entrepreneurial success.”


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In Chapter 9 Shirky begins by explaining the difference in large and small groups and how these groups are connected using the Small World network pattern.

Small World networks have two main characteristics which allows messages to move through groups effectively when they are balanced properly.

The first characteristic of Small World networks is that small groups are densely connected and formed with the everyone knows everyone communication pattern.  The second characteristic is that large groups are loosely connected and with a larger collection of members, each would have many more potential connections.  By adopting both strategies – dense and loose connections, at different scales – each tight group is connected by “connector” members in each groups.  These “connectors” “function like ambassadors, creating links between disparate populations in larger networks.”

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 5.11.11 AMOkay at this point if you are at all like me, you are about to re-read this paragraph to see if it makes any more sense.  I know, when people begin speaking or writing in this manner, my brain automatically begins playing Charlie Brown’s teacher on repeat.  However, in this case, if you think about the social networking tool, Klout, this will make much more sense.  In Klout, those people who have the higher scores are the “connectors.”  They have more social influence because they have a large number of friends who are spread across many groups.   Those people with moderate to low scores are simply members of small groups.  Within these small groups, you are bound to find one or two high score members, or “connector members” who are likely a “connector” in another small group or good friends with a “connector member” in other small groups.

You can also think back to when you were a child.  Chances are you had your neighborhood friends, your church friends, and your school friends.  Each set of friends serves as a densely connected small group.  When your parent’s threw you a birthday party, it is likely that each group of friends were invited.  At the party, you served as the “connector member” of each group, hopefully making the groups feel more like one large network of friends.  This never actually worked for me.  I am a high score Klout member but as a child, mixing sets of friends never seemed to work out well. A good friend from one or two groups would get their feelings hurt because in a typical situation, where they were the only group present,  they didn’t have to compete for my attention.  In this situation, I had to play the role of host and ambassador causing me to spread my attention across all groups and ultimately, I was a child who was not adept at such complicated dilemmas.  But, hopefully my examples caused the Small Work network to make a bit more sense.

Shirky spent most of this chapter explaining the networks and how information was shared among members and across groups.  He also spent some time explaining bridging and bonding and how that pertains to social capital.  Due to the fact that my next point deals with the difference between bridging and bonding, I will take a minute to give those of you who might have never heard of these theories a little background.

Social Capital:  

  • “the store of behaviors and norms in any large group that lets its members support one another”
  • The term is evocative because it connotes an increase in power, similar to financial capital.
  • “In economic terms, capital is a store of wealth and assets.”

Bonding Capital:

  • “an increase in the depth of connections and trust within a relatively homogenous group”

Bridging Capital: 

  • “an increase in connections among relatively heterogenous groups”

Now that we defined the terms, Shirky explains the public illustration of the difference in bridging and bonding capital in the form of 2004 Howard Dean Presidential Campaign.  I am not a Howard Dean fan by any means but the similarities in the 2004 Howard Dean Campaign and the 2008 and 2012 Ron Paul Campaigns are striking.  No, Ron Paul was never nationally recognized as “in the lead” but but both campaigns were able to draw huge crowds of youth and utilize online social tools better than any other Presidential campaigns in history.  Shirky states that the “Dean Campaign was unequaled in creating bonding capital among its most ardent supporters,” which is also true of the 2008 and 2012 Ron Paul Presidential Campaigns.  The next paragraph written by Shirky is so true of my experiences and those of other Ron Paul supporters and staff that it could’ve been written about the Ron Paul Campaign and not the Howard Dean Campaign.  Shirky writes:

“They gained a sense of value just from participating; and in the end the participation came to matter more than the goal (a pretty serious weakness for a vote-getting operation).  The pleasure in working on the Dean campaign was in knowing that you were on the right side of history; the campaign’s brilliant use of social tools to gather the like-minded further fed that feeling.  It is natural for a campaign attracting so many eager young people to oversell them on the effect they’ll have, when the truth is so rough; you’ll work eighty-hour weeks while sleeping on someone’s sofa, and in the end your heroic contribution will be a drop in the bucket of what’s needed.”

Wow!  That is a very true statement.

IMAG0402The only difference is that the Ron Paul campaign had learned from the mistakes of the past and we never took our eyes off the prize, making sure to stay focused on the vote gathering activities of the campaign.  However, the liberty movement is a tight-knit group who are more passionate about Ron Paul and the movement than almost any other group I have ever seen.  Unfortunately the last sentence is true as well…our heroic contributions were not enough and they were barely recognized if you’re only counting the votes.  I, am not just counting the votes.  The contributions of those who served on the right side of history are significant because words such as “liberty” and “the constitution” are no longer pushed under the rug or blatantly ignored by ALL politicians and MOST citizens.  We were able to stir the pot and bring issues to the forefront through our work for Ron Paul.  We didn’t accomplish our ultimate goal, just as the Howard Dean campaign did not accomplish theirs.  However, we can move forward with our heads held high because we may have been able to achieve much more than an election.  Only time will tell.


How Journalists and Newsrooms Can Use Pinterest by Steve Buttry

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Confession:  I’m addicted to Pinterest.  Some people have found themselves addicted to Twitter and are owed thousands upon thousands of dollars from Twitter for their time.  Twitter would only owe me $$1,696.67 @ $50 per hour.  You can calculate yours here.  No one has created a “How Much Does Pinterest Owe Me” app yet and I’m glad.  I have logged significant hours pinning recipes, cleaning tips, and DIY outdoor, painting, and art projects, as well as event ideas, quotes, clothing, graphic design inspirations, and the like.  In fact, last summer I began refinishing ALL the furniture in my house and creating my own decor after realizing that I didn’t have to pay the outrageous prices charged by Pier One, Hayneedle, Artsy, Crate and Barrell, and others for stuff that I could easily create.  I also started painting the inside of my house and revisioning my living space – a project that has only just begun.  The Grad School start date snuck up on me and has been a continuous whirlwind, so there is still painter’s tape lining my living room windows.  Don’t judge, just pray that it comes off!

That being said, I was interested to find out how Steve Buttry thought Pinterest  could be used by Journalists and businesses.  I was surprised to find that Buttry had compiled a list full of magnificent ideas!   Many of them seemed obvious once I read them but honestly, I never would have thought of some of these ideas without help from Buttry’s article.  Since most of the week’s readings involved sharing information among groups and communities, I am going to focus on the ways Pinterest can be used to increase community involvement and garner good PR from the community.

Steve Buttry writes (formatting altered):

“…community Pinboards should be fun, not just informative.  If I were still at the Omaha World-Herald, we’d do boards on funky Nebraska attractions such as the Kearney ArchCarhenge and Ole’s (I checked; they don’t have such a board yet).”

“At the Iowa news organizations where I used to work, I’d suggest separate boards for the covered bridges of Madison County and the Field of Dreams. (Again, not yet, but the Register’s Unique Iowa board is along those lines.)”

“I’ve noted before that news organizations need to develop multimedia directories of community businesses and organizations, a place for the community to come for information and a place for businesses and organizations to advertise (paying to add their own content to the directory and news-archive content you provide on every business). You could do a separate community-directory Pinterest account, with boards for various business categories (restaurants, auto repair, landscaping, etc.). You would pin logos, building photos, product photos, etc….”

“You could have a board for each of your major community attractions and perhaps types of attractions (if I were still at TBD, covering Washington D.C., we might be doing a Pinboard of Washington statues).”

  • “The Daily Freeman has an extensive Hudson Valley Pinboard featuring attractions, activities and news of the region.”
  • “The Berkshire Eagle has one for the Berkshires.”
  • “The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio, features local wineries. “
  • “Diane Hoffman of The Mercury in Pottstown, Pa., launched a Mother’s Day board well in advance of the holiday, featuring photos of mothers, children’s art work for Mom and gift ideas.”
  • “Pets are another area of great potential for Pinterest. The Mercury (611 followers) and the San Jose Mercury News (236 followers) have made popular boards of pet photos.”
  • “St. Paul Pioneer Press Social Media Editor Jen Westpfahl created a Pinboard for a series on kid-friendly dining.”
  • “One of the best opportunities Pinterest might present is to highlight archival content. You could have Pinboards of historic front pages, photos from annual community events and big events in your community’s history.”
  • “The Salt Lake Tribune, which runs weekly photo galleries of community history, has a popular Pinboard of historic photos (below) with 899 followers.”
  • “You can and should use Pinboards to tell people about your newsroom.  I like the Daily Freeman’s staff board, which includes email links and phone numbers (you might add links to Twitter, Facebook or other social accounts or a staff member’s blog).  Buffy Andrews has a board for her colleagues on the York Daily Record’s features staff.”

Aren’t those some fabulous ideas?  It’s amazing how people figure out the various ways to use a social medium to their advantage.

In the comments section following Buttry’s blog post, I found a comment that seemed extremely helpful.  Jen Westpfahl offered some advice as to the best time to Pin and a new Pinterest Metrics site:

Jen WestpfahlTwinCities.com and the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

You’ll get the most traction from things pinned in the evening because that’s when most people use pinterest. It’s not at the check-at-my-desk level of Facebook yet. It’s something people do while watching TV at night or after the kids are in bed.

I’ve posted lots of really good baseball photos and the one with the most response so far was one I posted around 9 p.m. It’s a great photo but no better than the others I’ve pinned (in my opinion) so I really think the timing is the difference.

If you haven’t signed up for pinerly.com yet, do that. It’s in its infancy but I think it’s going to offer great metrics (and later scheduling for those of you who don’t work during prime pinning time). It’s in beta so you have to put in your email address and wait for an invitation. And it’s only one account per email so I’m still waiting for my work one.

I never thought Pinterest would be very useful for businesses but after reading this article, I realized that I had already used some of Buttry’s ideas.  As the Co-General Manager and Director of Special Events, PR and Marketing for Equestria Restaurant and Lounge in Germantown, TN (it closed in November of 2011), I began posting Pins of each night’s dinner specials, event pictures, and general staff camaraderie.  Since the restaurant closed, I have since deleted the board so I cannot embed the pictures.  However, I will post a couple of them below.  Who knew I was ahead of my time?

Last summer, during the height of my Pinterest addiction, I also started a board for Liberty and pinned images that pertained to the subject such as Ron Paul pins, quotes, knick knacks, DIY decor, etc.

I suppose I should probably beginning pinning more items to the R3VOLUTION Board, especially anything to do with Liberty in Tennessee, such as pictures from the Libertarian Party of Tennessee State Convention that ended today, to use in conjunction with my tn liberty blog.  Thanks Steve Buttry and Carrie Brown for being enablers!

Why hello Pinterest, my old friend, how i’ve missed you!!!!

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RGMP7:  Learn How to Shoot Decent Photos by Mindy McAdams

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 5.36.15 AMMindy McAdams 7th post in a series titled “Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency” shares ways to improve your photojournalism skills.

She begins the article by squashing the number one excuse for not being able to take decent photos – the lack of expensive camera equipment.  McAdams explains that “it’s the person who gets a great shot – not the device.”  Every journalist should be able to capture a decent photo in breaking news situations and every blogger should be able to capture great photos in order to enhance their blog’s esthetics. McAdams’ advice on camera settings, the rule of thirds, lines, balance, framing, and avoiding mergers will help any beginner, novice, or intermediate level photographer improve their techniques and subsequently their shots.  Even I, the daughter of a photographer who has been taking pictures her whole life, learned a few things as digital cameras have changed quite a few things.  Give it a read – you will walk away more informed and that is always a good thing!


What’s #JOscar Wearing on the Red Carpet? – Storified

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What’s #JOscar Wearing on the Red Carpet?

Don’t forget tonight is #joscar night. Most of you don’t really need extra credit, but hey, if you want I’ll give some if you want to participate and create a Storify. Mostly this is for fun and for community building. 

View the Story as a website:

Weekly Reading Ramblings – Week 5

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Robin Rambling on Week 5 Readings

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This week’s readings were about solving social dilemmas, new tools to create social capital, how to shoot decent photos, and journalistic uses for Pinterest.  You can even leave a comment at the bottom there.  Yes – see, right there at the bottom where it says to “leave a reply” – feel free to share your insights with me!


Chapters 8 & 9 of Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody

clayshirkyIn Chapter 8, Shirky begins by explaining the Prisoner’s Dilemma in order to show the complicated process of solving social dilemmas and how social tools only amplify this process.  If you haven’t heard of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, it can be explained most simply like this:

Together, you and I commit a crime.  We get arrested.  We, now have 4 options:

  • You and I both keep our mouths shut, spend a night in jail, and go free the next day
  • You spill all when offered a reward to turn on me and I face charges and go to jail for a long time
  • I spill all when offered a reward to turn on you and you face charges and go to jail for a long time
  • We both spill all when offered a reward to turn on each other and we both face charges and go to jail for a long time.

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 5.00.08 AMPersonally, I only see one feasible option – You and I BOTH keep our mouths shut, spend one night in jail, face no charges, and walk free the next day!  Apparently, it isn’t always that easy.  When  two people who may not know each other very well or haven’t developed a level of trust are in this situation, the dilemma gets more complicated.  To me, it shouldn’t – assuming we committed this crime together.  However, not everyone has my values or moral code.  I’m a firm believer in two things.  1.  Always hedge your bets – if they are trying to offer you a reward, then chances are they do not have enough evidence to make their case.  2.  When you “team up” with someone, whether it be to serve food to the poor or to commit a crime, you always have your partner’s back – no matter what!  As time has gone by, I have realized that I may be one of the only people who still hold these values so dearly.  It seems that in today’s world, there is truly no honor among thieves.

Next, Shirky adds what Robert Axelrod, a University of Michigan sociologist who has conducted significant studies on the Prisoner’s Dilemma, calls “the shadow of the future.”  Shirky explains this theory by stating “we all face the Prisoner’s Dilemma when we interact with people who could take advantage of us, yet we actually manage to trust one another often enough to accomplish things in groups.  The shadow of the future makes it possible for me to act on your behalf today, even at some risk or cost to me, on the expectation that you will remember and reciprocate tomorrow.”

To learn more about the Prisoner’s Dilemma or Axelrod’s shadow of the future,  watch the following video or check out the sites below:

Later in Chapter 8, Shirky uses one of my favorite examples to explain how Robert Putnam’s belief that social capital is declining in America, as stated in his article Bowling Alone, is not entirely true. Scott Heiferman, the founder of a successful NYC web business, read Bowling Alone and set out to reinvigorate America’s social capital.  He assumed that people knew what they were missing when it came to their social capital and communal interaction and that if it were easy to increase in today’s world of suburban houses, carpools, two-worker families, and the devaluation of the dollar, people would certainly take steps to do so.  Heiferman also recognized one other key factor that would make his forthcoming business a success – that no longer should the internet be treated as some sort of “other world” or “cyberspace,” when in fact it was simply an extension of the real world.  Shirky explains that Heiferman “realized that if enough people are online, you don’t have to group them solely by affinity  (pug lovers, White Stripes fans, libertarians, whatever).  Instead, you can group them by affinity and proximity (pug lovers in Poughkeepsie, White Stripes fans in Walla Walls).”  Thus, Meetup was born.

Now, let me just take a minute to jump for joy and squeal like a little girl because for the first time a Journalist and author mentioned libertarians in a non-negative light!  If i’m going to be 100% correct, this is the second time it has happened, as Shirky positively mentioned libertarians in Chapter 3, when discussing the infamous Trent Lott birthday wish to Strom Thurmond.  You can read about it here.   Okay, back to Meetup.

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 4.52.04 AMWhat Heiferman was able to recognize and Meetup was able to show through the popularity of groups for virtual contacts was that “even online communication that emulates face-to-face interaction still leaves people wanting human contact.”  Meetup’s success also showed that people weren’t simply recreating the “old model of community, because it provided a different set of capabilities” and the groups that first took advantage of these new tools were groups of people who had a great desire in finding like-minded persons but due to factors such as geography, topical specificity, or social approval the previous costs of locating and coordinating were too high.  Meetup was able to solve the “locating” problem and by doing so created outlets for hundreds of new groups to form – many of which had never been able to gather before, which had left their members yearning for bonding connectivity.

Finally, I found Shirky’s explanation for why the early assumption that communication tools were (or would be) a good substitute for travel was dead wrong, to be enlightening.  I knew based on personal experiences and those of the people around me that these assumptions were incorrect but I didn’t have any sort of evidence to back up that claim.  Shirky did, as usual.  He noted that in 1978, President Carter deregulated the airlines, significantly lowering travel prices, but telecommunications stocks didn’t fail.  Instead, they rose.  In 1984 Judge Harold Greene broke up AT&T leading to rapidly decreasing long-distance phone call costs.  That year, airlines customers increased.  I know it isn’t scientific evidence but it’s good enough for those of us who find credibility in what some would call a coincidence.  Two separate incidences and 6 years apart – same outcome.   I never thought that online communication could replace travel – it’s absurd, but interesting tidbits of information such as this, is still rather interesting.  Shirky states “communication and travel are complements, not substitutes,” and I couldn’t agree more!

To hear Meetup CEO Scott Heiferman speak about Startups, another interest of mine, check out this article.

Now, for your viewing pleasure:

Scott Heifferman speaking to Startup Grind* on what constitutes a good Meetup Community:

Scott Heifferman On Meetup and Dumb Ideas:

*The Startup Grind is an event series and website designed to help educate, inspire, and connect local entrepreneurs. Each month they welcome an amazing speaker who shares their story with our community and tells about what worked, what didn’t, and what they’ll do differently next time. The Startup Grins says ‘”It’s an amazing opportunity to learn from the best, network with other members of the startup community, and improve your chances of entrepreneurial success.”


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In Chapter 9 Shirky begins by explaining the difference in large and small groups and how these groups are connected using the Small World network pattern.

Small World networks have two main characteristics which allows messages to move through groups effectively when they are balanced properly.

The first characteristic of Small World networks is that small groups are densely connected and formed with the everyone knows everyone communication pattern.  The second characteristic is that large groups are loosely connected and with a larger collection of members, each would have many more potential connections.  By adopting both strategies – dense and loose connections, at different scales – each tight group is connected by “connector” members in each groups.  These “connectors” “function like ambassadors, creating links between disparate populations in larger networks.”

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 5.11.11 AMOkay at this point if you are at all like me, you are about to re-read this paragraph to see if it makes any more sense.  I know, when people begin speaking or writing in this manner, my brain automatically begins playing Charlie Brown’s teacher on repeat.  However, in this case, if you think about the social networking tool, Klout, this will make much more sense.  In Klout, those people who have the higher scores are the “connectors.”  They have more social influence because they have a large number of friends who are spread across many groups.   Those people with moderate to low scores are simply members of small groups.  Within these small groups, you are bound to find one or two high score members, or “connector members” who are likely a “connector” in another small group or good friends with a “connector member” in other small groups.

You can also think back to when you were a child.  Chances are you had your neighborhood friends, your church friends, and your school friends.  Each set of friends serves as a densely connected small group.  When your parent’s threw you a birthday party, it is likely that each group of friends were invited.  At the party, you served as the “connector member” of each group, hopefully making the groups feel more like one large network of friends.  This never actually worked for me.  I am a high score Klout member but as a child, mixing sets of friends never seemed to work out well. A good friend from one or two groups would get their feelings hurt because in a typical situation, where they were the only group present,  they didn’t have to compete for my attention.  In this situation, I had to play the role of host and ambassador causing me to spread my attention across all groups and ultimately, I was a child who was not adept at such complicated dilemmas.  But, hopefully my examples caused the Small Work network to make a bit more sense.

Shirky spent most of this chapter explaining the networks and how information was shared among members and across groups.  He also spent some time explaining bridging and bonding and how that pertains to social capital.  Due to the fact that my next point deals with the difference between bridging and bonding, I will take a minute to give those of you who might have never heard of these theories a little background.

Social Capital:  

  • “the store of behaviors and norms in any large group that lets its members support one another”
  • The term is evocative because it connotes an increase in power, similar to financial capital.
  • “In economic terms, capital is a store of wealth and assets.”

Bonding Capital:

  • “an increase in the depth of connections and trust within a relatively homogenous group”

Bridging Capital: 

  • “an increase in connections among relatively heterogenous groups”

Now that we defined the terms, Shirky explains the public illustration of the difference in bridging and bonding capital in the form of 2004 Howard Dean Presidential Campaign.  I am not a Howard Dean fan by any means but the similarities in the 2004 Howard Dean Campaign and the 2008 and 2012 Ron Paul Campaigns are striking.  No, Ron Paul was never nationally recognized as “in the lead” but but both campaigns were able to draw huge crowds of youth and utilize online social tools better than any other Presidential campaigns in history.  Shirky states that the “Dean Campaign was unequaled in creating bonding capital among its most ardent supporters,” which is also true of the 2008 and 2012 Ron Paul Presidential Campaigns.  The next paragraph written by Shirky is so true of my experiences and those of other Ron Paul supporters and staff that it could’ve been written about the Ron Paul Campaign and not the Howard Dean Campaign.  Shirky writes:

“They gained a sense of value just from participating; and in the end the participation came to matter more than the goal (a pretty serious weakness for a vote-getting operation).  The pleasure in working on the Dean campaign was in knowing that you were on the right side of history; the campaign’s brilliant use of social tools to gather the like-minded further fed that feeling.  It is natural for a campaign attracting so many eager young people to oversell them on the effect they’ll have, when the truth is so rough; you’ll work eighty-hour weeks while sleeping on someone’s sofa, and in the end your heroic contribution will be a drop in the bucket of what’s needed.”

Wow!  That is a very true statement.

IMAG0402The only difference is that the Ron Paul campaign had learned from the mistakes of the past and we never took our eyes off the prize, making sure to stay focused on the vote gathering activities of the campaign.  However, the liberty movement is a tight-knit group who are more passionate about Ron Paul and the movement than almost any other group I have ever seen.  Unfortunately the last sentence is true as well…our heroic contributions were not enough and they were barely recognized if you’re only counting the votes.  I, am not just counting the votes.  The contributions of those who served on the right side of history are significant because words such as “liberty” and “the constitution” are no longer pushed under the rug or blatantly ignored by ALL politicians and MOST citizens.  We were able to stir the pot and bring issues to the forefront through our work for Ron Paul.  We didn’t accomplish our ultimate goal, just as the Howard Dean campaign did not accomplish theirs.  However, we can move forward with our heads held high because we may have been able to achieve much more than an election.  Only time will tell.


How Journalists and Newsrooms Can Use Pinterest by Steve Buttry

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Confession:  I’m addicted to Pinterest.  Some people have found themselves addicted to Twitter and are owed thousands upon thousands of dollars from Twitter for their time.  Twitter would only owe me $$1,696.67 @ $50 per hour.  You can calculate yours here.  No one has created a “How Much Does Pinterest Owe Me” app yet and I’m glad.  I have logged significant hours pinning recipes, cleaning tips, and DIY outdoor, painting, and art projects, as well as event ideas, quotes, clothing, graphic design inspirations, and the like.  In fact, last summer I began refinishing ALL the furniture in my house and creating my own decor after realizing that I didn’t have to pay the outrageous prices charged by Pier One, Hayneedle, Artsy, Crate and Barrell, and others for stuff that I could easily create.  I also started painting the inside of my house and revisioning my living space – a project that has only just begun.  The Grad School start date snuck up on me and has been a continuous whirlwind, so there is still painter’s tape lining my living room windows.  Don’t judge, just pray that it comes off!

That being said, I was interested to find out how Steve Buttry thought Pinterest  could be used by Journalists and businesses.  I was surprised to find that Buttry had compiled a list full of magnificent ideas!   Many of them seemed obvious once I read them but honestly, I never would have thought of some of these ideas without help from Buttry’s article.  Since most of the week’s readings involved sharing information among groups and communities, I am going to focus on the ways Pinterest can be used to increase community involvement and garner good PR from the community.

Steve Buttry writes (formatting altered):

“…community Pinboards should be fun, not just informative.  If I were still at the Omaha World-Herald, we’d do boards on funky Nebraska attractions such as the Kearney ArchCarhenge and Ole’s (I checked; they don’t have such a board yet).”

“At the Iowa news organizations where I used to work, I’d suggest separate boards for the covered bridges of Madison County and the Field of Dreams. (Again, not yet, but the Register’s Unique Iowa board is along those lines.)”

“I’ve noted before that news organizations need to develop multimedia directories of community businesses and organizations, a place for the community to come for information and a place for businesses and organizations to advertise (paying to add their own content to the directory and news-archive content you provide on every business). You could do a separate community-directory Pinterest account, with boards for various business categories (restaurants, auto repair, landscaping, etc.). You would pin logos, building photos, product photos, etc….”

“You could have a board for each of your major community attractions and perhaps types of attractions (if I were still at TBD, covering Washington D.C., we might be doing a Pinboard of Washington statues).”

  • “The Daily Freeman has an extensive Hudson Valley Pinboard featuring attractions, activities and news of the region.”
  • “The Berkshire Eagle has one for the Berkshires.”
  • “The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio, features local wineries. “
  • “Diane Hoffman of The Mercury in Pottstown, Pa., launched a Mother’s Day board well in advance of the holiday, featuring photos of mothers, children’s art work for Mom and gift ideas.”
  • “Pets are another area of great potential for Pinterest. The Mercury (611 followers) and the San Jose Mercury News (236 followers) have made popular boards of pet photos.”
  • “St. Paul Pioneer Press Social Media Editor Jen Westpfahl created a Pinboard for a series on kid-friendly dining.”
  • “One of the best opportunities Pinterest might present is to highlight archival content. You could have Pinboards of historic front pages, photos from annual community events and big events in your community’s history.”
  • “The Salt Lake Tribune, which runs weekly photo galleries of community history, has a popular Pinboard of historic photos (below) with 899 followers.”
  • “You can and should use Pinboards to tell people about your newsroom.  I like the Daily Freeman’s staff board, which includes email links and phone numbers (you might add links to Twitter, Facebook or other social accounts or a staff member’s blog).  Buffy Andrews has a board for her colleagues on the York Daily Record’s features staff.”

Aren’t those some fabulous ideas?  It’s amazing how people figure out the various ways to use a social medium to their advantage.

In the comments section following Buttry’s blog post, I found a comment that seemed extremely helpful.  Jen Westpfahl offered some advice as to the best time to Pin and a new Pinterest Metrics site:

Jen WestpfahlTwinCities.com and the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

You’ll get the most traction from things pinned in the evening because that’s when most people use pinterest. It’s not at the check-at-my-desk level of Facebook yet. It’s something people do while watching TV at night or after the kids are in bed.

I’ve posted lots of really good baseball photos and the one with the most response so far was one I posted around 9 p.m. It’s a great photo but no better than the others I’ve pinned (in my opinion) so I really think the timing is the difference.

If you haven’t signed up for pinerly.com yet, do that. It’s in its infancy but I think it’s going to offer great metrics (and later scheduling for those of you who don’t work during prime pinning time). It’s in beta so you have to put in your email address and wait for an invitation. And it’s only one account per email so I’m still waiting for my work one.

I never thought Pinterest would be very useful for businesses but after reading this article, I realized that I had already used some of Buttry’s ideas.  As the Co-General Manager and Director of Special Events, PR and Marketing for Equestria Restaurant and Lounge in Germantown, TN (it closed in November of 2011), I began posting Pins of each night’s dinner specials, event pictures, and general staff camaraderie.  Since the restaurant closed, I have since deleted the board so I cannot embed the pictures.  However, I will post a couple of them below.  Who knew I was ahead of my time?

Last summer, during the height of my Pinterest addiction, I also started a board for Liberty and pinned images that pertained to the subject such as Ron Paul pins, quotes, knick knacks, DIY decor, etc.

I suppose I should probably beginning pinning more items to the R3VOLUTION Board, especially anything to do with Liberty in Tennessee, such as pictures from the Libertarian Party of Tennessee State Convention that ended today, to use in conjunction with my tn liberty blog.  Thanks Steve Buttry and Carrie Brown for being enablers!

Why hello Pinterest, my old friend, how i’ve missed you!!!!

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RGMP7:  Learn How to Shoot Decent Photos by Mindy McAdams

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 5.36.15 AMMindy McAdams 7th post in a series titled “Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency” shares ways to improve your photojournalism skills.

She begins the article by squashing the number one excuse for not being able to take decent photos – the lack of expensive camera equipment.  McAdams explains that “it’s the person who gets a great shot – not the device.”  Every journalist should be able to capture a decent photo in breaking news situations and every blogger should be able to capture great photos in order to enhance their blog’s esthetics. McAdams’ advice on camera settings, the rule of thirds, lines, balance, framing, and avoiding mergers will help any beginner, novice, or intermediate level photographer improve their techniques and subsequently their shots.  Even I, the daughter of a photographer who has been taking pictures her whole life, learned a few things as digital cameras have changed quite a few things.  Give it a read – you will walk away more informed and that is always a good thing!