During the Imagine stage, we no doubt came up with several ideas for potential social intersections to be explored. Now it’s time to connect. Connecting is the tactical phase of social media engagement where we reach out to key people or even entire communities with our message. We connect with people where they are, not where we think they should be. It’s a bonus if they are participating in communities or networks that we are already involved with, but that’s not always the way it works out. Read more…
If we’ve done our job, we have Listened to the existing conversations, imagined how we can become part of them by providing value to the community, and connected with the people that will benefit from our message. Now for the payoff! We Inspire others to take action, to share our message, and hopefully both.
It is a rare occurrence to truly inspire people with communications. Inspiration occurs when we strike deep emotional chords with others in such a way that they can’t help but share their experience with everyone they know. When this happens through digital media, the results can be staggering. Read more…
In my blog title, Embracing Community is highlighted and is a major part of what I do. Whether it’s online community or physical community – the idea is the same. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has had a major impact on me and I have been on a mission to organize an expedition down to the Gulf to document and bring back stories of the communities and the people impacted, while using social media to propel the message far and wide. If you are not interested in hearing this perspective or would prefer not to get into the touchy subject of oil addiction, feel free to stop reading now. But if you want to hear my perspective on the subject, by all means stick around. I feel that it is my calling to spread this word, and I’ve made it a priority in my life and in my work.
I drove down to the Gulf this past Saturday to see for myself what was going on. I must say, it was very different than anything I was expecting. I didn’t go out on the water and didn’t see any oil firsthand, although there was definitely evidence of the disaster all around. With Tropical Storm Bonnie approaching, the people down there got pretty nervous – mainly because of their experience with Katrina. That came up several times in my talks with the locals. I talked with a homeless man Gary out on the beach at Biloxi – he had ridden Greyhound down from Wisconsin with his bicycle to look for cleanup work. By the time he got there, there were no jobs left. He was riding his bicycle from New Orleans to Florida in search of work. He was happy to have someone to talk to though, so I hung out with him for a while.
I kept driving and pulled off at Bay St. Louis and talked to another homeless man that was ranting and raving about all kinds of stuff and how our country was on the wrong track. I took several pictures around the area – there was orange and yellow boom all over the place, and families and kids were in the water right beside it. It was so bizarre to me – it just didn’t look right. The water was very calm, which seemed strange to me since there was a tropical system offshore.
I drove through the Mississippi bayou and ran across a place called Turtle Landing in Pearlington. The sign outside got me to turn the car around and go back. I went to take a picture and knew that I had to go inside. I sat down at the bar and ordered a beer and a Po’ Boy. I started talking with the guy next to me at the bar and ended up staying for 4 hours just listening to him. He is a school teacher in Slidell and a Katrina survivor. He was telling me the stories of what they went through, which was pretty potent I must say. The people down there are pretty beaten down by it all and are fed up with the government to put it mildly. The handling of Katrina and now the response to the BP spill have them really exasperated by the situation. They don’t understand the moratorium at all – I heard it over and over again. The industry is such a huge part of the economy there, and they just can’t comprehend how we can shut down all drilling indefinitely.
On Sunday after talking with Glenda at the Olde Town Inn I stayed in Saturday night in New Orleans, I decided to drive down to Venice, LA for one more trip to the water before heading home. Glenda was pretty vocal when I asked her about the oil spill and how they had been affected. The first thing out of her mouth was ‘Oh, bullshit!” She went on a rant about how there is nothing to be worried about in terms of health impacts of the oil. She went on to tell me how her father had worked in the Texas oil fields and never had health problems. She did eventually say that the dispersants were another story and there might be some concerns there. It appeared that New Orleans was alive and well, and there was no evidence that tourism had been adversely affected by the spill, which Glenda confirmed.
Anyway, Venice is about 2 hours south of New Orleans, and when you get down there, it’s basically the belly of the beast. Oil company plants, heliports to transport workers out to the rigs, and other evidence of the pervasiveness of the industry on the local economy is everywhere. I went down to the marina and talked with a couple of fishermen. There was very little activity around the marina – all of the ships had come back into port in preparation of the storm that ended up fizzling out on Saturday. They were getting ready to head back out on Monday to see what had happened over the weekend with the storm. Of course, their main concern was not being able to fish, and they were really nervous about the impact of the dispersant on the fish population. They didn’t expect to be able to fish for at least a year. The guys I talked to were being taken care of financially and were doing cleanup work for BP. One of the guys I talked to though said that there were about 60,000 boats available, but only 40,000 were being used in the cleanup effort. He said some people didn’t get picked – not sure how that is being handled and if those people are just out of luck.
The oil had not made it to Venice – evidently a lot of it was in the Grand Isle area. I didn’t visit Grand Isle on this trip, but definitely plan to when I go back down in August. By mid-afternoon on Sunday, I decided to head back to Atlanta and continue planning the trip later in August. I felt that I had enough information to understand how our expedition could be structured to have the most impact here in Atlanta and beyond.
Several people asked me why I came down and what I was doing there. Honestly, I was there because I care. I care about what is happening down there. I care about the people who have been impacted. I care about the environment and the animals that have been impacted. I care about our future and can’t stand the thought of this type of thing happening again. Most of all, I believe that we are all in this together – we are each a part of a larger community and we can all play a part in moving beyond this disaster.
Stay tuned for the follow-up expedition back to the region. If you’re interested in learning more or getting involved, please drop me a line and let me know. Thanks for being here – I appreciate it very much!
Lately I’ve been putting the foundation in place for some really amazing work that I believe is about to take off, and I have been thinking about how I use this blog. In the past month or so I have shifted my focus toward pursuing consulting opportunities and even partner opportunities with a start-up community, which I’ll talk about as soon as I’m able to. I would like for this blog to be much more about what I’m doing and the business that I’m creating and less about commentary on the social media and marketing field. I hope that’s OK with the readers out there that have been following me. And by the way, I think this will be much more interesting actually!
This doesn’t mean that I won’t be talking about social media, because it is a major part of what I do, but I want to show how I’m using it personally and also for clients. I’ve written about this before, but I want to work with clients that are really trying to have a meaningful impact in the world, and I can’t think of a more important time for this to become a reality. One of the clients that I’m working with is focused on helping people discover themselves through a unique, transformative experience with horses. More on that soon. I’m also working with the Atlanta Community Food Bank (I am also on the Advisory Board) creating a social media strategy, internal policy, and tactical plan for the organization, which is one of the biggest Food Banks in the country and serves over 700 partner agencies in North Georgia. These have been really fun to work on because I can see the difference they are making in the world. This is what I’ve been wanting to do with my career, and it’s turning into reality. I believe it’s because I put my focus squarely in this area, so the opportunities are lining up.
I run across so many blogs from people that are truly living mindfully, and I thought it would be appropriate to highlight some of the people that have inspired me over the last 6 months or so. Perhaps most significantly is Chris Guillebeau. His blog, The Art of Non-Conformity is one of the most inspiring of any I have ever read. Chris has chosen a different path for himself that is far from the mainstream, and he is on his way to achieving his goal of visiting every country in the world by his 35th birthday. Another is Sarah Robinson and her blog Escaping Mediocrity. She has been very transparent with how her journey is unfolding and I find her writing to be quite refreshing. Hildy Gottlieb and her Creating the Future blog is also a big one – she is in the process of renaming the Community-Driven Institute, and she is doing so out by allowing her readers to participate in the renaming process. Very cool! And of course, my good friend Lewis Perkins, who was inspired by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and created a blog called Women Are Saving The World Now. Lewis is very passionate about this topic and has interviewed some amazing women that are doing exceptional work out in the world. These are some of the people that inspire me in my daily life.
So, as 2010 progresses, you can expect to see more of this type of writing on my blog. Especially after I sell my loft! I plan on traveling quite a bit this Summer and meeting some of the people that have inspired me in my own work. My road trip to Alaska that I’ve wanted to do since I was 19 is on the agenda for this year. Who knows what exciting connections I’ll make along the way? Stay tuned if you’re interested in following me on this journey. I promise I’ll be more active with my updates. Thanks for being here!
Photo: ACFB Advisory Board’s annual Kids In Need toy drive
Recently, there have been several devices, applications, technologies, etc. that have been released that were dubbed ‘killers’ in their category, and I wanted to take a moment to analyze this phenomenon. Why must these new tools ‘kill’ the existing tools in order to be relevant? Is this just a case of the media, tech bloggers, etc. gone awry with the hype?
Here are a few examples to demonstrate what I’m talking about:
Google Nexus One, Motorola Droid – ‘iPhone killers’
Facebook Titan – ‘Gmail killer’
Google Buzz – ‘Twitter killer’
and an oldie, but goodie: Facebook – ‘MySpace killer’
For a moment, let’s just imagine that you are one of the millions of happy people that are using the latter mentioned platforms. Do you welcome the thought of your beloved technology, application, etc. being ‘killed’ by a new entrant to the market? If you’re an iPhone user or developer, do you welcome the idea of that platform being trounced by a competitor? Or how about Gmail users? Do you welcome the idea that Facebook Titan could roll in and crush Gmail? In some cases, new entrants enhance the offering that exists and making things better for everyone, but it doesn’t always work that way.
Maybe I’m just growing weary of the constant barrage of new tools that seem to be trying to take down the market leaders that people are happily using currently instead of figuring out ways to incorporate them into their new offering. On the other hand, I welcome tools that help aggregate the vast volume of information that’s floating around out on the social web. Google has the potential to provide some real value here if they play nice. I was encouraged by an article I read this morning on the Salmon Protocol that Google is developing currently that would allow comments to flow in real time between the original source out to aggregators, thereby reducing redundant data and allowing a more seamless experience for users. Right on! That sounds like a step in the right direction. I’d love to see more of this kind of improvements to the social graph for everyone.
The reality is that companies don’t always have to kill off a ‘competitor’ to be successful, but they do have to offer something of value that doesn’t exist already. It’s not enough to just build a ‘me-too’ app and pressure people into using it. Frankly, that’s what Google Buzz felt like to many people due to the way it was released. Looking back at some old rivalries such as Microsoft vs. Apple, which has been going on for decades, history teaches us that there is room for multiple profitable players in the market. In fact, competition is the main driver of progress, so let’s celebrate this competitive spirit!
Think about it – do we really want any of the tools or applications that we use today to be killed off by a big monolithic corporation? Personally, I like my iPhone, I like Facebook, I like Twitter, and I like MySpace (although I don’t use it as much anymore). I’ll keep an open mind about any new technology, but I’m much more apt to be receptive if the new tools help me with the volume of social data I’m already processing and not try to pry me away onto another platform or service or abandon the tools that are working for me today.
What do you think? Is this just media hype or are there underlying motives behind some of these moves?
photo credit: iStock Photo