Social Media Mess

Being a Woman with a Voice on the Internet

It’s all the more disturbing because this behavior has become the template for attacks on women who “dare” speak their minds online.

Just before reading this article I had the following exchange:

Him: "Why was he doing that to you?"

Me: "Because I am a woman who speaks out online."

That's all that has to happen in order to be targeted. 

Fantastic New Music I Discovered Today Thanks to Rdio's Heavy Rotation Feature

Rdio might be my favorite internet thing right now. Best $10 I spend every month.

The "heavy rotation" feature highlights what your Rdio network is listening to most. Today I just went to clicking and discovered new music. Delightful new music that makes me giddy.

Today I discovered:

What else should I be listening to?

The Result at the End of Sesame Street's Genius Twitter Updates

My pal Teresa is right. Whomever runs the social media accounts for Sesame Street is a WIZARD. 

Why is that? Because today this happened on Twitter

And why is what happened on the Sesame Street Twitter feed so fucking awesome? Because they had fun, took a chance (clogging up followers' streams) and executed the whole thing flawlessly. Result? Sesame Street gets a crapload more followers. 

Conservative companies with conservative social media rules that don't allow for experimentation are missing the bigger, more valuable picture. And lots of fun.

Life Update

Oh, hi.

Look at this, I've had time to come up for air.  And it's bright up here.

So, I don't plan to write about work too much here on Sparkwood & 21, as I'd like to keep my job. Sometimes my judgement about what is good to share with the world at large and what isn't is skewed. I'm an oversharer. I love to tell a good story. But lately I'm becoming striving to be more strategic and logical and less reactionary and emotional, while still always trusting my gut. Always. Every time on that last point. Speaking of points, mine is that I've decided it's logical to just omit the work stories and avoid any pitfalls.

That said! Hoo boy, I've been busy. "My plate," as they say in office lingo, is overflowing. 

I am currently running twelve (12) social media accounts for six different CBS Local properties: CBS 5, KCBS, CW Bay Area, Alice Radio, Live 105 and 997 Now. Singlehandedly. I post literally hudreds of times a day, everything from breaking news to "meet Carly Rae Jepsen." Additionally, I am doing social media relations/coaching with on-air staff. 


It's a handful, and I still haven't quite gotten a handle on it yet. I need better time management skills yesterday. Always feeling behind at work is why there hasn't been much activity here.

Which is sad.

But! I read a blog post from my friend's girlfriend about how she uses her blog as a record, a way to remember what has happened, and that's such a wonderful reason to have a blog. My goal is to record more things here starting now.

Goodbye Apron, Hello (Again) HootSuite

You either make time to write or you don't. It's a priority or it's not. Having an excess of time one one's hands does not compel one to write. I still don't have it narrowed down exactly what compels people to write, but I'm highly suspect that an excess of free time is a motivator to sit down and put words down.

Several months ago I gave up my media job in San Jose and began waiting tables. The goal was to spend a couple of years carving out a career as a freelance writer. I was going to go back to my roots to put that magazine journalism degree to good use. I was taking a leap of faith in my own abilities, discipline and drive. I was prepared to be poor. I was asked what I wanted to do, decided, then threw myself into it whole-hog. I was going to write.

I've published nothing since. In 7 months I've earned not a single byline. It's not for lack of writing. There has been lots and lots of writing. But when I began to explore what I wanted out of this endeavor, what I was best at, where my strengths were, I discovered I didn't want to write articles for newspapers, websites and magazines. I didn't want to be a freelance journalist.

I want to tell my own stories.

Whether in raw essay form or barely hidden behind the veil of fabricated characters, the power of my voice exists within the stories I have accumulated. Telling you what happened, secrets and all, is what I'm best at. Telling my tales is where all the impetus lies, the real reason I sit down to write most days. Everything else distracts from this best goal.

Of course, coming to terms with what I am supposed to be writing meant coming to terms with the knowledge that people will be hurt. Telling one's stories means being brave and taking huge interpersonal risks. It means pushing down the voice inside you that demands, "This is off-limits. Stop your story." And that voice is very loud.

Deciding to tell my stories also means finding myself in tears on a regular basis. Or as angry as hot lava as writing a passage reveals more about that incident than I had previously recalled. Or dripping in self-doubt. Telling one's stories is a constant therapy session. It's exhausting.

Much like waiting tables is exhausting. I had forgotten how much it takes out of you.



I just remembered that I waited tables and tended bar while going to college. Surely, I could do that again and write on the side. Waiting tables would free me up to carve out that freelancer writer life I thought I wanted. Waiting tables would pay the bills while I created a sustainable income for myself doing what I love.

But waiting tables is fucking hard! Even working part-time, the work leaves me both mentally and physically worn out. It's stressful, high-impact and it leaves this nearly 35-year-old beat and with a backache. And it's certainly not as lucrative as I had imagined. You don't get to come back to the restaurant industry after a decade away, now living in one of the most acclaimed dining cities in the world, and get primo shifts at Michelin-star rated restaurants. I have friends who pull 80 grand a year waiting tables, but they have been working their way into these choice positions all along, and they are absolutely phenomenal at their trade.

Truth be told, I'm just a mediocre server. I was told by my dear friend Leo, a friend I made at the restaurant where I work now, "you're not a restaurant person." At the time I was offended. He refused to go into detail; that's how Leos do. But I thought about it for days: "How am I not a restaurant person?"

One beer-soaked evening (for those in the industry there are many), Leo indulged me and expounded further: "You care too much. You let people get to you. I can see you standing at your tables with Pissed Off written all over your face. If you let your tables get under your skin, you are not a great server."

He was right. And putting it that way made me feel less like a failure at serving. I'm decent at it. But I'm never going to get a gig at The French Laundry. Not happening.

And so, because freelance articles were not where I was focusing my writing efforts and because it became apparent that, for me, waitressing was a dead-end enterprise, I began to panic. OH MY GOD, I thought, I'm going to be a 40-year-old waitress barely scraping rent money together. The idea kept me up at night. How was I going to retire someday? Ever take a vacation? Have adequate health insurance, for fuck's sake?

Lucky for me--I am often lucky for reasons beyond my comprehension--a career angel came knocking at my door. A position for CBS Local Digital Media became available: Social Media Coordinator. And the guy who recruited me to come out from Tennessee in 2007 asked if I wanted to come back to the world of Twittering and Facebooking for the media.

It was an offer too good to refuse. It includes a 401K, sick days (!), vacation time and the most precious thing of all: subsidized health insurance. Mr. Dentist, it's been too long, here I come.

I start next Monday. I'll be back at Broadway and Battery where my tenure in San Francisco began. I'm thrilled. It's the smart, responsible path to take, and I'm so much more secure in my well-being knowing something more financially stable is around the corner. At present I fear a bone break or sudden illness like children fear closet monsters. A hospital visit would put me back so far I'd never recover.

And I'll make time for writing. If I want to get it done, I will. I don't need a part-time job to tell my stories, just the wherewithal to get my ass in the chair and put the words down. John Grisham managed to pump out best-sellers while working 100 hours a week as a practicing attorney. I can tell my tale and also work 40. A media career path does not preclude literary accomplishment. I'm going to prove this theory.

October 1st I'm back to an office job. My desk is huge, my co-workers awesome and my bank account is breathing a sigh of relief. I'm excited. I feel incredibly blessed to have the opportunity.

For now, that's all the life news that is fit to self-publish.

Nodding Furiously Over Here

...the best writers left their websites for jobs with established media companies; established media companies asked these writers—along with many who really shouldn’t be in these jobs—to make content sound blog-ish; cross-site discourse fell off, with the power to shape a conversation aggregated among sites from which so much content now flows down a hierarchy; memes and traffic-generation schemes quickly eroded what had once been innovative ideas; a shared conversational tone predominated, suggesting that certain content was supposed to sound certain ways; a once open and growing system became a series of echo chambers as writers and readers congregated in various places where they could feel good about participating with each other. Websites have grown incredibly stale as a result, and most with passable content have lost differentiating elements.

Worst of all, as these changes crept across the internet and cemented a way to do business, so to speak, they reinforced the notion that everyone can be an expert while staying at home and living life behind a series of screens. [emphasis mine]

-Family Business (read more) [via Ned Hepburn]

Hey, You Wanna Hear a Good Story?

Eve Batey and Justin Beck were very nice to ask me to talk to them about why I decided to leave social media as a career and go back to waiting tables and writing. The conversation was recorded for their media podcast Punching Down. 

Eve and Justin came all the way to me in the Mission, and Justin even brought beer. And not cheap Miller, neither. 

It only took one Day Beer to get my big mouth moving. 

You can listen to me talk Nashville is Talking, what happened after I flounced out of WKRN in a huff, how my work translated in San Francisco, how taking that job in New York was a mistake and why after a short stint in San Jose I said, "Fuck it. I'll just wait tables and write."

Hear all that stuff here.

More is Not Better (Where to Put That Thumb's Up)

"Do you just have a big, numbered list on your desk that says, '1) Get Followers, 2) Get Likes, 3) Money Shoots Out Of Computer Hole'?"

This, my friends. This. This is succinct and hilarious and so dead-on that I'm pissed I didn't write it myself. This is a huge part of why I decided to do this.

Here's more from Jon "@fart" Hendren:

Stop caring about essentially made-up KPIs and terrible metrics that measure nothing but how well your brand games a system that nobody else on earth cares about. The amount of followers, likes, and retweets your brand gets is practically meaningless. Nobody's surfing Facebook to see which major appliance manufacturer has the most likes before selecting a microwave, and No-Fucking-Body is going to go pick your brand of toilet bowl cleaner over anyone else's because you 'engaged the community' by asking if everybody was scrubbing the can for their March Madness party. That's bullshit, and you are a hack. Measure success by whether people are interacting with you or talking about your company in meaningful ways, such as by Real Feedback (the kind you didn't force into the funnel).

SocialmediapadIs it important to have a presence on social media platforms so that you can hear your customers? Yes, it certainly is. But pouring excessive energy into measuring social media engagement is wasted time, since most of these numbers are not only enormously inaccurate, they are, as @fart says, wholly useless.

More is not better. Not on Facebook. Not on Twitter. Not on Instagram. More sales are almost always better and more ratings are almost always better and more foot traffic is almost always better, but not so online. If you want meaningful and rich experiences on social media platforms then MORE MORE MORE (often at the cost of being tacky with ridiculous and gimmicky contests that reek of desperation like some overly pleading OK Cupid profile--"please, for the love of God, pick me!") is not the answer.

More followers and more likes and higher engagement numbers cranked out by Facebook's self-serving Insights analysis. Then what? What's next? How does this help?

More might be better, but there need to be ongoing discussions about what is the goal when interacting as a company online about why. Otherwise those tasked with running social media initiatives for organizations will have to make promises they can't keep, and these organizations will continue to bleed money chasing a high that yields nothing substantial.

Some of the other stuff in this article is overly harsh, but the guy's handle is @fart, so. But the gist of this piece is spot-fucking-on, and I think a good number of companies need a good gut check, a come to Jesus kind of sit-down with themselves about what they really want out of these "social media ventures."