The sandbox has been fun, but I’ll be moving on. The new test site is HERE, and I hope to unveil it as the new DCGrrl.com on Drupal soon. I’ll be interested to hear your feedback as I move through this process. Thanks to everyone who is supporting me on this venture!
It’s the spring semester, and a new year, so I’m hitting the books!
Actually I’ll be hitting the keyboard and peering into the screen, learning some more about interactive web at the Corcoran continuing education program. I took an earlier class there a few years ago, which helped me redesign this here blog, and it’s time to kick it up a notch. So please bear with me while I play around a bit, make a few adjustments, and learn new tricks.
More exciting new experiments will be going on in my designated play area, my new SANDBOX.
Off to do my homework….
Music has been a guiding force for me since I was a kid. I got the opportunity to be a part of musical theater performances in high school. As a part of the cast, I found a place to belong, a gang to hang with. Since then, I’ve found leadership positions in college radio, local music zines, and a record store.
Now I’m volunteering with Girls Rock! DC — a rock camp for Washington-area girls — and though I joined to donate my time and talents, I have found that after volunteering for a couple of years, I have gotten back as much as I’ve given, especially in the form of leadership experience. I have a few tips I can share, which apply to more than just musical organizations:
- Share the microphone. Leaders aren’t responsible for providing ALL the solutions, but for guiding the team towards one. Don’t shy away from leadership because you don’t know all the answers.
- Audition your band members carefully. Better teams make better leaders. When you have a good group working for you, it’s easier to communicate, to reach goals together, and eventually succeed.
- Write lyrics as a group. Seek solutions from the people you are leading, and help them organize a path to the best solution.
- Enunciate. Especially when you are delegating, be clear with expectations.
- Go wild on stage! …to a degree. Leaders take risks, but that doesn’t mean doing things haphazardly. Risks can be taken after looking at the necessary considerations, and then moving forward in an educated manner.
- Now, with feeling! Passion is contagious. Gratitude is rewarding. These tools are free and if they are genuine, they can brighten up a workspace more than changing the wallpaper.
- Practice, practice, practice! Don’t ever stop learning. The world is changing around us. People learn and work in different ways, and effective leaders must be willing to adapt. Keep on your toes. Take a class, or volunteer somewhere like Girls Rock! DC, where you can energize your leadership batteries.
As much as non-profit organizations like Girls Rock! DC can benefit from your time and talents, you can often use your volunteer experience on the job. For instance, I kept my website and design skills sharp at Girls Rock! DC, talents I’ve been able to take back to work with me. Groups like Girls Rock! DC are real résumé-building opportunities.
This year, Girls Rock! DC is planning their fifth annual camp for girls 8-18 years old. If you have some time to donate, especially if music is one of your passions, visit girlsrockdc.org for more information. No musical talent is necessary. If you are interested in being a role model for these young people, we’d like to hear from you!
*This post originally ran on Sisarina Speaks! a blog from Sisarina, under Melanie’s Be a Leader series. Check out their awesome branding, marketing and web design services.
I took part in the third annual Women Who Tech Telesummit yesterday. (Thanks to winning a free pass, thanks Allyson!) I must confess I was multitasking, but nevertheless, I got a lot out of this day-long web conference. I’m looking forward to listening to the recorded sessions that I wasn’t able to attend, and already looking forward to next year!
Topics ranged from diversity to self promotion to social media ROI to launching your own business. We talked about building the ultimate user experience and discussed how to get more women in leadership roles in the tech industry.
My quick little brain-dump of my top ten takeaways from the day:
- You get the best ideas when you are listening, not speaking.
- Women tend to be perfectionists about their expertise. Allow yourself some room to fail.
- Interested in doing public speaking? Practice. In your car, in your shower, on video or audio recordings, to gain confidence.
- Foursquare is a public relations tool. It’s free, so use it. Manage your organization’s presence there.
- Google Analytics: also free, so use it. Even if you’re just getting data on your Facebook or Linked In pages.
- User Experience is every department’s responsibility.
- To attain the Ultimate User Experience, you need to watch/listen how your customer is engaging with your products.
- Risk is an abstract element. If you’re afraid of taking a step, ask yourself, “What happens if I fail?” and really answer the question.
- I need to find the source of this mash-up: it’s not “Rocket Surgery” – I just love that!
- All-girl events are fun/empowering.
If you have some others, including links you might want to share, please add them in the comments! For more great nuggets, look for the hashtag #WWT on Twitter, follow @WomenWhoTech, and be on the lookout for next year’s conference.
I’m looking forward to embarking on a new adventure as a corporate tweeter. As such, I’ve taken a good deal of time accumulating best practices for corporate accounts. Many of these are the same as I would recommend for anyone operating a business Twitter account for themselves:
- Have a mission/message in mind before you post your first tweet.
- Your message should also consider your target audience.
- Twitter directories are a good way to gain some followers initially, but there is no get followers quick solution.
- Be selective in following. There is no need to follow everyone who follows you.
- Be careful of your language. This is even more important for corporations than for individuals.
- Your posts are 100% public. Remember that bad news travels faster than good news and anything your shareholders wouldn’t like will travel out of the Twitterverse and onto TV screens and into newspapers.
- Corporations need to select a voice. It’s best if one person, or a couple of people, man the account, for consistency, and to be sure there’s no redundancy. Most corporations invoke the royal ‘we.’ Other more customer-service oriented Twitter accounts have used an individual speaking from the first person.
- A regular stream of content is important to any Twitter feed to maintain followers. Appropriate corporate topics include:
- respond to follower/customer inquiries
- retweet satisfied customer tweets
- link to updated/interesting information on corporate websites/blogs
- retweet updates from affiliated Twitter accounts
- Twitter contests
- advance notice of corporate news
- Twitter discount codes
- stimulate Twitter discussions with product-related questions
- product-related trivia
- run online surveys
- photos of corporate events
Have some other ideas? Please share in the comments!
Bird art by Triax Mills.
I have had so much fun writing for you this year, I wanted to get you a little something. It’s not much. Just a couple of podcasts I think you’ll really like. (It’s hard to send anything really big through the Internet.) So here you go, I hope you’ll love them as much as I do.
- The Bugle – a satirical news show featuring John Oliver of the Daily Show with his friend Andy Zaltzman. Andy operates from the U.K., which adds a nice international flair to the weekly podcast. They have me in stitches on a regular basis. I hope you’ll join us. There’s also a blog.
- Risk! – a collection of truth-telling that will make you laugh, snort, gasp and/or cry, depending on the people you know and how you normally spend your time. Kevin Allison, who I know of from The State, is in charge of this operation and narrates the podcast. I became a fan quickly.
That’s it! They are both free (at this time) on iTunes, so download to your heart’s content and donate to the creators if you love them. I hope they make you smile. Happy holidays!
So, you’ve decided to join Twitter.
Welcome. Anyone can tailor their Twitter experience to something they enjoy. You can make friends, communicate with your family, get the latest news, see behind the scenes on movie sets, get out a marketing message, or look for creative inspiration. All of these objectives can be met with Twitter, if you know that’s what you want to do.
- Twitter is not complicated. Each post can be up to 140 characters long. The site counts the characters for you.
- Twitter addresses are represented with @ – so my Twitter address is @dcgrrl – that will take you to a Twitter profile page, where you can read someone’s tweets and opt to follow or un-follow anyone on Twitter.
- To keep posts short and to the point, Twitter shortens web links and people sometimes use the same SMS text shorthand they use with their phones, like omg & thx alot.
- You only have to read the folks you’ve decided to subscribe to, or follow.
- Choose to follow people that will bring informative or entertaining value to your Twitter stream. Remember you don’t have to follow everyone that follows you. Beware of scam Twitter bots — those that are simply sending links to credit card or adult sites — they’re probably not real people, you should ignore them like spam e-mail.
- Feel free to un-follow someone if they’ve gone off topic or are over-tweeting for your reading schedule. You know when you read your tweets, and how many tweets you’re interested in reading.
- If you especially like someone’s post, or tweet, you can ReTweet it, signified by RT, and share it with your followers. Or save it as a Favorite for later reference. Posts go by in real time from all over the world. That immediacy is part of Twitter’s charm.
- Be careful of your language. Use a word like ‘p0rn’ in one post and you’ll be surprised by the type of followers you’ll gain. On the other hand, try cupcake + baking and you’ll eventually have the entire recipe contingent on your tail. And depending on your motives, that could be a good thing. (There are a lot of good cooks tweeting!)
- Topics that get lots of reference earn a hashtag # — such as #SOTU for State of the Union — as an indexing bookmark, so it’s easier to search everyone’s tweets for comments.
- Your Twitter posts are 100% public and anyone can read them. You can change your privacy: There are options to PROTECT your posts from being seen (under Settings), except from the followers you approve — perfect for kids who want to tweet — and you can BLOCK unwanted followers on individual profile pages. Use these tools to keep the Twittersphere safe for you and your family.
Now for some valuable references…
- http://search.twitter.com/search: You can search for anything on Twitter without having an account.
- Twitter Grader: Here you can find the ‘Elite’ tweeters worldwide and in your area for ideas on whom to start following.
- Localtweeps: Looking for friends? Localtweeps helps you find other folks on Twitter near you geographically, that you can tweet-up with in real life.
- WeFollow: Search for people to follow based on topics you’re interested in.
- Mr. Tweet: Helps by providing personalized recommendations for you.
- Twittervision: It lets you see tweets pop up all over the world, just what’s happening on our planet via Twitter.
- Tagalus: Defines the Hashtags.
- Corporate Avatar: Like Facebook, Linked In and other places, you need an avatar at Twitter. If you’re representing a company, you may want to be a bit strategic about your avatar.
- tinyurl: Twitter automatically shortens many links that people put into their posts. But sometimes you need to shorten your link to make it fit under the 140-character limit. This service is very handy and free (and run by donation).
- SMS language: Another helper in keeping your messages short and to the point is the shorthand you may already be familiar with from text messages. This link will take you to a brief dictionary on Wikipedia in case you get confused.
- #followfriday: This happens every week. Tweeps share some of their favorites with their followers and tag their post #followfriday or #ff. There is also a Wednesday version of this, #women2follow, for the ladies.
- Twitter Guide Book: from Mashable – very comprehensive!
PS: Tweeps I follow, featured in the image above: comedian @MichaelIanBlack, media journalist @HowardKurtz, DC shadow representative @MikePanetta, and homemaker and creative powerhouse @thepioneerwoman. More folks I follow on Twitter on my Tweeps I like page.
UPDATE: You will by default get e-mails from Twitter that notify you when someone starts following you. This includes a link to that person’s Twitter profile. You can turn this notification off at your Twitter settings page under Notices. However, if you take a look at your new followers, you can quickly identify if these folks are obvious spam accounts, and if they are, you can block them. (Actually, you can block anyone.) That helps Twitter keep the Twittersphere clean, and it protects your privacy from these folks.