Social Media

This is awesome! The map of online communities is great not only because I like visuals, but because it is a visual explanation for society’s info overload. Click the map to view the FULL version!

Thanks to the folks over at Cool Infographics and xkcd.

Map of Online Communities


Social media is a great equalizer. It enables us to access people and information previously unknown, and share information with people previously beyond our reach. This can make things easier as well as harder. While social media eases access for journalists, it also increases Internet “noise” and competition for the public’s already taxed attention span.

Gone is the effectiveness of the old news delivery model of pushing information out to an audience. Journalists now have to think about pulling people in — making sure they can be found by the right potential readers.

And while the most well-known social media sources (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) were nearly 100% devoid of people of color at their inception, as more go online, the opportunity for journalists to access and engage diverse audiences has increased.

Successfully tapping into social media to reach diverse audiences and increase diversity in the reporting process requires a multi-faceted, targeted approach. It begins with defining your objectives, determining your audience and thinking differently.

Develop Your Brand and Position Yourself
You want people from diverse populations to pay attention to you? Build your brand presence. Develop an understanding of where you, as a journalist, photographer or editor want to fit in, and then position yourself. Create the demand.

Baratunde Thurston is the host of Popular Science’s “Future of…” on the Science Channel and web and politics editor for the Onion. He is also known on Facebook for his comical, yet insightful posts as the self-proclaimed “Conscious Comic and Vigilante Pundit.”

Facebook is the easiest channel for building a brand, and identifying and reaching diverse communities.

  • Create a fan page and run your articles, photos, videos and interviews on your page.
  • Have a blog? Make sure to run feeds through your fan page.
  • Post commentary on issues you would like people to associate with you.
  • And, of course, invite people to join your fan page.
  • Connect with comparable fan pages and groups. This will give you exposure to people with similar interests.
  • If you work for a news outlet, take into consideration their policies. This is not meant to be an extension of your employer, unless you make such an arrangement. It is instead meant to be an outlet for you to connect with the public.

Identify Your Audience
Readers, viewers and users are not a homogeneous group. The Internet has turned into a conglomeration of niches. Now, there is a network for everything.

Identify the audiences you want to reach. Are you trying to reach a more ethnically diverse population, a wider age range, people who speak a particular language or the LGBT community? Of those communities, are you trying to reach the socially conscious, opinion leaders, or the technologically astute?

Follow the Leader
Identify and reach out to prominent online personalities. They are going to hold some amount of credibility, and network “leaders” can help speed adoption and increase in your readership.

Where to find leaders:

  • Facebook: Check out Facebook fan pages and groups.
  • LinkedIn: Search LinkedIn groups, by topic, for thought leaders and experts.
  • Twitter: Search the topics you want to cover, identify those who are commenting, interacting and sharing resources.
  • Ning: Ning is a network of networks, where people can build online communities of their own around a topic of interest or common cause. Get involved.

Think Beyond the Color Line
When seeking sources and interview subjects, make two lists. First, make a list of the “types” of people you would ordinarily reach out to for a story. Look at the first list, then think about minority groups that might be missing. This will help to create a more inclusive outlook. What next?

Facebook groups and pages, and LinkedIn groups are great places for identifying people of interest. There are groups for everything. Want to reach multicultural women professionals? Check out LinkedIn WomenSuite group. Want to reach out to Asian Americans when doing a community-based sports story? There is a Facebook group for that.

Most importantly, remember that social media is about connecting – with family, friends, colleagues and complete strangers. But connecting successfully requires some amount of trust, even more so when trying to connect and build an audience among members of diverse communities.

When people from diverse communities know you have a genuine interest in them, they will be more willing to become part of your readership.

A few numbers about the Internet and its users

90%+ of young adults and the college-educated population is now online. “We’re reaching the saturation point in the early adopting population.” Susannah Fox, the Pew Internet and American Life Project

2010 Internet usage statistics: 51% of African Americans, 76% of Asian Americans, 52.4% of Hispanics (of any race) and 67.8% of Whites use the Internet. eMarketer

In a survey of 80,000 African Americans, 50% regularly update and access a social networking account. Black Entertainment Television

…it’s time to go on a diet.

At a time when many of us are trying to eat healthier, buy local and think / operate sustainably, engaging in social media is like being on a high fat, high carb diet. It just leaves you bloated, tired and ripe for diabetes or ADD.

Personally, I have a history of trying out anything that screams BETA! It’s like a shopohalic seeing a $$Sale$$ sign.

Time for a social media diet?

Still, I’m learning to be more selective with what I try, download and test. I’m weaning myself off the BETAs — and sorting, repurposing or recycling all the “tools” I’ve tried; I’m testing social media in a more responsible manner.

So, not very long ago I was listening to a “This Week in Asia” podcast. I thought it would be very cool to be clued in to what’s hot over there. Well, someone has come up with a Foursquare for Asia. No surprise right? It was all very fascinating until one of the guest hosts jokingly said the new tool could be used to “stalk” a guy you like. She suggested that’s how many people are meeting each other these days.

Ok. Reality is, with the kind of information people share via Foursquare, Twitter, facebook, LinkedIn [reader insert your favorite here], it would unfortunately be pretty easy to pickup a few stalkers.

In fact, as I was writing this post, MSNBC was reporting on a National Center for Victim’s Rights stat that 1 out of 4 victims of stalking are stalked on the Internet! So, it is a real problem.

There are people out there who have lost their sense of boundaries.

Enter…mobile marketing.

What does mobile marketing have to do with social media? Well, according to The Washington Post article, Mobile coupons help retailers track customers,” when you sign up to use mobile coupons, some companies are then pulling your personal information and “relevant” details shared online to create profiles about you: age, gender, income, buying history, websites you’ve visited… current location, geographic routine. Did you know you had a geographic routine?

Did I scare you away from social media, piss you off or confirm what you already knew? Good.

Am I advocating that everyone delete all their accounts and become neo-luddites? Not really.

I am suggesting now is probably a good time to go on a social media diet and be more selective about what we make readily available — or at the very least understand that someone “out there” is just waiting to take advantage of that information.

It’s so easy to get carried away with the desire to be at the forefront of innovation, but sometimes the trade-offs go a little too far… at least for me.


Employers …  may face liability under federal, state and local law for using any information learned from social media about an applicant’s protected class status — race, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, etc. — in a hiring decision.  It may be hard for the employer to prove in later litigation that it only viewed, but didn’t actually use, the information obtained in a social medium when making its hiring decision.  For more visit The National Law Journal

12/24/08 An article by Tresa Baldas of The National Law Journal, Beware: Your ‘tweet’ on Twitter Could be Trouble, suggests that twittering could get you and your employer into trouble.

Here are the NLJ fine points, and my thoughts. Feel free to chime in…

Potential Problem 1 – Users posting tweets from corporate networks could expose company secrets. These conversations, lawyers note, are legally binding and subject to the legal rules of electronic discovery, which means tweets could be subpoenaed in a lawsuit.

Suggestion 1 – Don’t Twitter from your corporate network OR as a matter of company policy, establish a set of guidelines under which employees will be permitted to Twitter from the corporate network.

Potential Problem 2 – Twitter also raises invasion of privacy and defamation issues. Trademark violations could also be alleged if Twitter users appear to have a relationship with a company or product when one does not exist or post tweets to dilute a trademarked name.

Suggestion 2 – The worlds of Twitter, and similar sources, are part of a new frontier. Rules of engagement are created by users and creators everyday. Twitter user @danmartell recently suggested not following anyone who doesn’t have a url associated with their Twitter profile. I see that as a matter “guaranteeing” legitimacy. It’s such an informal world at this time that a simple cease and desist to someone who appears to be misrepresenting themselves would seem to be enough. In regards to watering down a trademarked name… companies would be better served by bringing those folks who are talking about them into the fold than trying to silence them.

Potential Problem 3 – Twitter could also trigger more workplace retaliation and wrongful termination claims, whereby users will claim that they were retaliated against or fired over protected information they tweeted, such as being harassed at work or disclosing a safety violation.

Suggestion 3 – This one is tricky in that workplace retaliation and wrongful termination can be so difficult to prove. Are there any HR people or inside counsel with thoughts on this one?

Final thoughts from the article:

“Be careful what you say,” warned attorney Douglas E. Winter, who heads the electronic discovery unit at Bryan Cave and advises companies about emerging technologies. “Twitter, like any electronic communication tool, is subject to a wide range of potential liability,” he said. “I basically tell people that, yes, it’s a new tool, and it’s very trendy. But no electronic tool should be treated any differently as they emerge.”

Winter stressed that tweets are no different from letters, e-mails or text messages. They can be damaging and discoverable, he said, which could be especially problematic for companies that are heavily regulated and required to preserve and maintain electronic records, such as the securities industry and federal contractors. Twitter records would be one more compliance headache for these companies, he said, not to mention the possibility of privileged information getting out.

And the shorter tweets can be more vulnerable to misinterpretation, said Nolan Goldberg of Proskauer Rose, who sits on the firm’s e-discovery task force, known as the “E-squad.” “You can get yourself in a lot of trouble in 140-character [worth of] words,” he said. “You say it, and you don’t realize that it’s creating a permanent record on the Internet. It can go anywhere.”

Rod Sorensen, a management-side lawyer at San Francisco’s Payne & Fears who counsels employers on technology procedures, agreed.

“They’re quick sound bites and instantaneous, and as we know, instantaneous messages aren’t the most well-thought out,” Sorensen said of Twitter messages. “Someone could, for example, say something when they’re angry or frustrated. It opens the door to poor judgment. And, of course, as with other technology, once it’s released you’re not going to get it back.”

Twitter terms of service can be found here.

Seen on the DreamGrow Digital blog…a world map of social networks created by Italian writer, blogger and photographer Vincenzo Cosenza.

world map of social networks

The article provides the following rundown of the largest social networks in the world:

Facebook is still strong and on the rise. It is dominating most of the western world, together with Africa, Middle-East and the Pacific region.

Russia, it is still dominated by Odnoklassniki and V Kontakte.

Mixi is mainly dominant in Japan.

China’s QQ, when only usernames are concerned, is the biggest social network in the world.

The UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen was about more than reaching for a new, globally accepted climate change accord.  Two weeks of talks have demonstrated how far we’ve come in terms of technology.

The last time global talks received such attention from all sectors of society was during the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting, in Seattle. I recall relying on television coverage for nightly updates on the talks, agreements, disagreements, protests and issues at hand.

blue - developed nations / red - developing nations (Wikipedia)

Copenhagen, aka COP15, was an entirely difference animal. From live blogging and streaming video, to second-by-second Twitter updates and the flood of easily downloadable photos – we have come a long way!

The digital divide appears to be narrowing and mobile devices are becoming a great equalizer.

Urban high school students, President of Maldives, African youth, island nation of Tuvalu, everyday concerned citizens – communities that have historically been significantly impacted by global talks without any influence – now have easily accessible tools with which to share information, mobilize and exert a voice that might otherwise go unheard.

What do you call 54 hours, 200 or so folks, 3 dogs and the emergence of 23 awesome startups?

 Startup Weekend San Francisco 2009, aka #SWSF09 on Twitter!

It was a one-of-a-kind experience where I had the opportunity to meet and work with some awesome people, learn from seasoned VCs, and bask in the ingenuity and community that abounds in the Bay Area!

Team Democlarity

Team Democlarity




Back  l-r Robert, Marcus, Julian, Hillary, Tyrone, Conor

Front l-r Phillip, me (Sherbeam), Mariam, Aris

It was an awesome event in more ways than I could have imagined.  Julian traveled from San Diego with the idea of making the legislative process, and the opportunity to take action, more accessible to people. The folks above gravitated to his idea, and team Democlarity was born.  

Thank you to the following people for capturing the weekend in words and photos!

Photos and coverage can be found on the Startup Weekend San Franciso site. 

Anand Iyer,  Microsoft’s ambassador to Northern California, wrote an article which he made available using one of the startups from this weekend,  Anand, big thanks to you and Microsoft for hosting us!

George Su of Tech Rant and Rave offers his take on the startups that were developed this weekend, as well as photos.  Thanks for capturing the weekend George!

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