27 January 2009

Educating the Masses

Egad, I missed working on social media. It's been too long.

Today was great fun and (I hope) a valuable learning experience for my colleagues. In addition to a nuts & bolts presentation on social media to some of my "issues management" and "grassroots" colleagues, I helped arrange and moderated a blogger panel to help my colleagues understand some of the do's and don'ts of social media in practice.

I like to take a community-based approach to social media - it's not about the tools you use, it's about the relationships you build with opinion leaders in online communities. Many online communities, however, are reasonably isolated from one another. So what I really loved about this panel was the participants were not only smart and accomplished, they also arguably had influence in more than one online community. They're the type of people you can't define with a single term. I've described before how these are the people who can help bridge cultural gaps and build broad, diverse coalitions of support around particular issues or causes.

Joanne Bamberger is a mom who's seriously into the meat and potatoes of policy and politics - she's comfortable discussing the horse race of campaigns, but is more interested in the nitty-gritty and discusses the real issues at PunditMom. Dr. Val Jones is doing an incredible job bridging the gap between doctors and parents - she moves about both communities effectively, and they come together on her blog, Better Health. Lynn Anne Miller builds relationships with parents and environmentalists and can even discuss marketing at her blog, Organic Mania. Jerome Armstrong is a legend in the liberal blogosphere and has written MyDD since 2001, and he's also a co-founder of SB Nation, a network of sports blogs.

I thoroughly enjoyed bringing together people from different walks of life to discuss the one thing they had in common - social media. It was clear to me how important community was to each of them and how much we all still have to learn.

I hope we can do it again sometime soon. My sincere thanks to this impressive group.

I'm still working on that traditional communications project, and I think the experience is quite valuable, but I'm also looking forward to resuming my full-time social media gig and to blogging a bit more regularly.

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