I’ve been on a three-year journey, learning Social Media, taught to me initially by social media marketing consultant Linda Sherman, and then venturing into the vast expanding Internet universe alone. Scary. Exciting. Addictive. Alluring. No, those are words for my wife. I’ve learned that interaction must also be in person, live, social interaction, and not just the ease of using your computer! As with much in life, it’s the proper balance of things that generally work so I’m advocating balancing your online life with your offline and outside activities.
It’s been an exciting journey that includes what I call, Brain Exercise, with many stops on the way. At Linda’s urging, I joined a Twitter Chat* called, #blogchat*, and became totally attached to it. It is my Sunday appointment from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m., PST and Mack Collier (referred to as @MackCollier on Twitter) runs it. Just recently, inspired by this Brain Exercise, I began my own Twitter Chat on Thursday evenings, from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m., PST called, #aDadsPov.
Through these chats, which can generate over 5,000 tweets in its one-hour, I met so many people. But, “met” is the operative word as these virtual friends were just that, “virtual.” Social Media and the Internet can both bring the world to you and isolate you at the same time.
The value of Social Media is its reach, not its ability to do it alone. People still need people (where is Barbra when I need her?). And, for this SAHD (stay-at-home-dad), the need to connect directly was literally life-affirming during a hard period in my life, post divorce, pre new career.
Yet, my journey included doing a radio show, too. Swell. Except I’m alone in the KZSB AM1290 studio, in Santa Barbara, with my engineer who is staring at dials and giving me hand signals.
Good Social Media is Social and that means its best served as the avenue to getting off your butt and meeting people!
Linda Sherman strongly advocates that best practices social media is engaged interaction. I am proud to say that my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages are evidence of following that path. Linda also encouraged me to get out and meet my virtual friends, explaining that a supportive and powerful network should include both online and offline elements.
My first MeetUp* took place at a comedy club. I came in, knowing virtually no one in real life, except Linda. Quickly, with the aid of name-tags, I began meeting some of my new online friends IRL (in real life). Later, I listened to the presentations at this particular MeetUp and was especially engaged by Dr. Krupali, an oncologist, who shared moving stories about dying patients who had a last wish. She had been able, via her Social Media relationships, to help many of them.
However, she was stuck on one effort to get a plane ticket for a patient to attend her favorite NFL team’s game. She got the free tickets to the game, but needed a plane ticket as this patient could not get there otherwise. I spontaneously jumped up with a $20 in hand and started the fund-raising. Dr. Krupali left the stage with more than enough money for the ticket.
That taught me a valuable lesson, not only in the power of giving/doing, but in getting off my duff and getting out there. The result of doing that was all of a sudden, I doubled my Twitter friends. I established new and valuable relationships including meeting @JeffPulver who held that MeetUp event and hosts #140conf (Twitter/Social Media) conferences around the world.
I submitted an application to speak at his L.A. #140conf (the 140 refers to the maximum number of characters allowed in a tweet). He accepted me and I spoke at that conference. I attended other such MeetUps, met more people in “real life,” and began expanding my world, for real!
The results were fantastic. Literally, combining the efforts of working Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, I was able to get my radio show, grow my A Dad’s Point-of-View column to over 100 newspapers and websites, and ultimately have the Klout* to publish my first book.
The pinnacle of these recent activities took place when I spoke at the New York #140conf on June 16, 2011. It resulted in a whirlwind of additional contacts, an extreme amount of fun, a once-in-a-lifetime trip with my 14-year-old son, and countless other benefits too numerous to list.
On the plane ride home, I encapsulated it all in a 3000+ word essay called, The 140conf: Speaking, Networking, NEW YORK.
The bottom line and what Boomer Tech Talk is all about is the realization that all these tools are just that, “tools.” They are the avenue to getting work, expanding your knowledge, going places you never imagined, and so much more. But, you also have to physically get out, too! So, where are you going to go?
Boomer Tech Talk Update:
International Mashable Social Media Day
Your next opportunity to socialize in person with the people you socialize with virtually is June 30th. Linda Sherman has organized a Social Media Day in Kauai. There are over 1,000 events planned worldwide for this big event. Just enter your city in the box that says “go” towards the top of the international Mashable Social Media Day MeetUp site. You will need to register for Meetup.com to RSVP. Registration is free and simple.
*Boomer Tech Talk Guide to Technical Words Used in this Article:
# pronounced “hash”: Allows people on Twitter to follow a particular event or discussion. Conferences always assign a # such as the #140conf that Bruce has used above so that tweets about the conference can be gathered into one stream
Twitter Chat: A chat on twitter with a name designated with a # occurring on a regular schedule usually with a regular host or set of hosts. Linda’s recommendation for participation: on Hootsuite, create two search columns, side by side, one for #blogchat and one with your twitter name. Your twitter name will show your sent tweets and your mentions. You will need to manually update but you want to control the speed of the tweets flying by anyway. Other people use different methodologies. We will write more about this in the future.
#blogchat: A Twitter Chat that is held every Sunday night from 9PM to 10PM EST. People on Twitter participate by creating a search for the word #blogchat on Twitter in order to follow the stream. There are hundreds of participants and thousands of tweets.
MeetUp: Meetups are gatherings of people with a common interest. There is also an organization called Meetup.com but meetups are not constrained to meetings using that website. Tweetups are meetings called to gather people on Twitter. The #140conf meetups are announced on their meetup.com. In reality they are also a tweetup because everyone there is on Twitter.
Klout: An organization that measures influence on Twitter. Recently used as a noun to say that someone has “klout”.