Posts Tagged ‘social media’


25 Ways to use your blog and social media to create change

March 2, 2009

Last week I wrote about something that has been on my mind lately: Gen Y blogging and whether we are self-absorbed or not.

Do we blog about ourselves a lot? I think we do. We’re all guilty of it at times. And why wouldn’t you? Everyone’s interested in themselves, their lives, their careers. That’s human nature and you would be abnormal if you weren’t.

But no matter what the topic or ‘niche’ of your blog, if you have an audience, you can use your blog to create social change just by spreading the word and doing something. It doesn’t have to be all the time. And it doesn’t matter how big your audience is. Even if you have 1 reader (who may or may not be your mom), that will be one more person who is more educated about an issue and who may take action. 

The simple act of informing people about problems in society can go a long way towards creating action. Change has to start with education and information. And bloggers are in a fantastic place to provide that.

So here is a list of 25 ways I think bloggers can do just that, and create real change. Many thanks to Raven who helped brainstorm a good portion of the ideas on this list.

If you think of more to add, leave a comment. And if you do any of these things, let me know (and maybe link back here :)… I will be thrilled. 

1. Start simple: write a post on an issue you care about. Chances are, most people don’t know much about it. Inform them.

2. Join Bloggers Unite and agree to blog about issues you care about on a certain day with hundreds of other bloggers.

3. Or if you don’t see the issue you care about, create your own and get other bloggers to support it by writing posts too.

4. Videoblog an interview with someone who has been affected by an issue you care about: disease, poverty, war, genocide…

5. Share someone’s story who would never have a chance to be heard otherwise. 

6. Has someone you love been affected by cancer or other disease? Share your story and raise awareness.

7. Highlight nonprofits that are creating change, like this one, the Fresh Air Fund

8. Circulate a petition. Ask your readers to participate. Like this one, sent to me by a CJP reader whose daughter is fighting the disease Spinal Muscular Atrophy:

9. Vlog an event related to social change/human rights issues

10. Twitterfeed posts from groups like Human Rights Watch

11. Write about your experiences with volunteer or nonprofit work.

12. Write your own ideas on how global human rights issues can be alleviated. 

13. Participate in Blog Action Day

14. Invite someone who typically blogs about social change or political issues to write a guest post for your blog. 

15. Discuss how social media plays a role in the non-profit community.

16. Write about advocacy in digestable ways for would-be donors, supporters: Ex. Explaining how donating to Save Darfur will help fund portable stoves for Darfur so young girls and women do not have to leave the camps (thus putting themselves at risk to be attacked while gathering firewood) or the Visual petition at

17. Highlight events related to advocacy efforts of charities, advocacy organizations, or other philanthropic groups in your area.

18. Interview or profile someone involved in social justice/human rights efforts

19. Research how a person or group is using interesting or unusual means to educate others on social justice

20. Discuss how social change is being implemented in school curricula and how schools are creating the idea of “global citizenship”

21. Interview a veteran. 

22. Ask your readers to donate to a cause you care about. Even if it’s small — a few dollars still goes a long way.

23. Highlight other bloggers, especially ones who need attention in volatile areas.

24. Participate in an event like Twestival to raise money for charity. Better yet: organize one. 

25. Include a link in your blog to great websites that allow you to make a difference with just a click, like The Hunger Site.

I hope this is only a start. What else would you add to the list?

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Journalists start to get Twitter…about time!

February 23, 2009

Last week, it seems like Twitter finally hit the Washington press on the head with an anvil and they all finally got with it. Why most journalists are so far behind the curve is kind of mystifying to me. Millions of normal people use Twitter everyday, but when you look up major journalists on Twitter the vast majority of them don’t *get* it.

Just look at Anderson Cooper or Gawker or CNN. This is not how you use Twitter. These guys follow no one, and only post a stream of posts from Twitterfeed trying to get you to their blogs or websites. That’s not the point of Twitter. If you’re going to do that, why bother?

Recently, this is a topic I’ve seen discussed in other places. Luke Russert didn’t have a Twitter account even though he is supposed to be covering youth issues. And then last week  I noticed an interesting trend…journalists started to get it. Russert started his own account. George Stephanopoulos, whose Twitter account previously until February 18th was just a stream of ads for his blog, suddenly started posting updates like a real person. David Gregory and Mike Allen both joined Twitter and started posting real updates, and both garnered a huge following within days. Gregory even went so far as to start his own TypePad blog.

There are some journalists who have been getting it for a long time: Ana Marie Cox, or John Byrne, CEO of Business Week, John Dickerson of Slate, and of course, Rick Sanchez and Don Lemon of CNN. All of these journalists use Twitter to post real updates, information, and insight, and they genuinely interact with people and gather information, rather than simply using Twitter as a self-promotion tool. They connect — which is the point.

There are some great ways Twitter can be used to improve and complement serious journalism — it’s not just a frivolous tool for posting where you’re going every second of the day or what you had for lunch (NOONECARESABOUTYOURLUNCH.Why do I get so many tweets like that?) It’s a great way to discover breaking stories or find interview sources or simply step out from behind your byline, go where the readers are, and talk to them.

Social media is useless if you just use it as a one-way megaphone; it has to be a two-way conversation. I hope more journalists follow suit, because I have to wonder how accurately they can report on issues on behalf of the public if they’re missing a crucial opportunity to see what the public is talking about.

*This post itself was inspired by a Twitter conversation started by one of my favorite bloggers, Jaclyn Schiff. If you’re not already, follow me on Twitter. And Jaclyn!

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eGov: Naperville gets it

December 9, 2008

I am so proud. Not so much of my state

But my hometown of Naperville, IL, has a Twitter account. And I think it’s a sign that local government is starting to get it.

Naperville isn’t known for being cutting-edge. They’re known more for being a happy, family-friendly, booming suburb with great schools and lots of awards racked up for being the “best place to raise your children” or whatever.

I am excited for two reasons:

One, I think it is long overdue that government — local, state, and federal– start using social media to better their communities. The tools are out there. They’ve just been slow to move, as government usually is. But many towns, cities, and states are starting to embrace social media as a new form of communication, and even the White House, House, and Senate have Twitter accounts.

Two, politicians have clearly embraced social media as a strategy to get elected, but it can’t end on election day. Creating engaged and informed communities lasts well beyond election day, and so using new media can’t just be a political strategy, but should be a part of government strategy. Joe Trippi gets it when he talks about the idea of “MyWhiteHouse.Gov” — an interactive way for government officials, rather than just political candidates, to interact with the constituents they serve, and for the population to get involved in government affairs. There is so much potential to use these tools to increase civic engagement. Obama gets it when he emailed his 3 million supporters on election night promising that “the work has just begun.” This guy definitely gets it too. Instead of using blogs, Twitter, and social media purely for the sake of getting people to pay attention to an election long enough to vote for you and then dropping it, government officials can continue to use it once in office, having already created a connection with their supporters — and now, hopefully, their constituents will choose to be more aware and more involved.

Last week Chris Brogan wrote about what twitter might look like once it’s no longer dominated by tech geeks and others start to use social media in large numbers. I think we’re reaching that point. Twitter has the ability to bend to the will of its users — so it will be interesting to see how local governments can use Twitter and other social media to enhance and engage their communities in the future.

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Why I Love Blogging

December 2, 2008

There. I said it. I love blogging. I know to many people that will invoke images of pajama-clad anonymous online journallers in cyberspace, posting their innermost thoughts, or oversharing to the max a la Julia Allison. I know some people won’t like it. And guess what? I don’t care. Because blogging is awesome.

Since I started blogging, and like actually blogging, I’ve gotten to know some of the most interesting people — authors, writers, entrepreneurs, and above all, leaders. All in their 20s, too, and yet they’ve accomplished so much. Imagine where all these people will be in 10 or 20 years: they’ll be the most successful people of our generation.

Anyways, it’s because I love blogging that I don’t feel guilty at all about the two hours I spent tonight moving my blog from Blogger (hosted on to WordPress. If anything I feel like making the big switch to WordPress somehow makes me a more legitimate blogger.

There are many reasons I am blogging. One, I obviously like to write, a lot. Two, everyone from Loren Feldman to Penelope Trunk to Mitch Joel — tons of successful people at the top of their industries — are heralding the benefits of blogging. It’ll enhance your career, your personal brand, your reputation, your goals, your network, blah blah, all the experts are saying it. Yet the vast majority of us are still too scared to actually give in and do it, despite all the proven and much-talked about benefits of blogging. People are still scared to really express themselves and say what they mean.

And that’s a shame, because social technology really has the power to enhance your life, if you let it. But most of this stuff, even blogging, is far from mainstream yet. Particularly among college students, which is unfortunate and is something I gripe about every once in a while. But blogging can open up a wealth of resources if you can put in the work and patience it demands. The rewards are certainly worth it, though.


Does anyone read print newspapers anymore?

November 24, 2008

Do you? I don’t. As avid of a news reader as I am, I can confess to not reading a single thing in print. I get everything online now, like everyone else. The big media companies are definitely feeling it — and the impending recession is making the situation even worse.

For my dad’s generation, print newspapers were an important part of everyday life. My dad still reads the Wall Street Journal every morning on the train to work and treasures it, but I think he’s of a dying breed. Yesterday he was showing me some stock quotes in the WSJ and I was struck by how long it had been since I had read a print copy of anything to get the news. Especially for something as rapidly changing as stock quotes, it seemed futile to me to look at a print newspaper published only once a day, when those stocks would fluctuate constantly throughout the day and the most up-to-the-minute updates could only be found online.

Last week the New York Times, still my favorite for news, announced that it sharply reduced its dividend — which will save the New York Times Co. about $97.8 million a year. This is after years of increasing its dividend. Some think that page by page, section by section, the NYT’s influence is fading away.

PC Magazine is shutting down its print edition and going completely digital.

And did you know over half the Washington Post company’s revenue comes not from WaPo or Newsweek…but from its Kaplan test prep division?

On the other hand, in July, Gawker Media got twice as many pageviews as the LA Times website. And Huffington Post has supposedly raised $15 million in capital.

AdAge questions whether print can even survive another five years — a little pessimistic if you ask me. But then there’s been so many media layoffs lately, that the blogging giants are trying to seize an opportunity by offering free blog accounts to laid-off journalists. So who knows.

One thing I do know is that mass media is changing. No one wants a one-way message from the media anymore; they want a two-way conversation that they can participate in. They want to be able to comment on news stories, they want to be able to discuss the news as it happens, they want rapid updates every minute, and they want to be environmentally friendly and save paper. I’m taking a mass media course right now, and I’m surprised by how little we have even touched upon the topic of the internet — we’ve studied nearly every kind of old media, but barely even touched upon the effects of the internet on the media establishment.

What I’m interested to see next is: which big media company will actually keep up? Or will they die out and be completely replaced by internet media?



November 24, 2008

I just found this on a blog somewhere, and I love it:


Guess who’s not getting a job in the Obama administration?

November 13, 2008

(Just FYI, this got cross-posted at Brazen Careerist, if any of you want to read it here)

Let’s talk for a second. The application for jobs in the Obama administration is, without a doubt, the most complex piece of work I have ever seen. I wanted to use other words to more accurately describe it, but I can’t. Because, if I ever intend to work in politics, I could kill my career before it has even started. Witness:

“If you have ever sent an electronic communication, including but not limited to an email, text message or instant message, that could suggest a conflict of interest or be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the President-elect if it were made public, please describe.”

“Please provide the URL address of any websites that feature you in either a personal or professional capacity (e.g. Facebook, My Space, etc.)”

“If you keep or have ever kept a diary that contains anything that could suggest a conflict of interest or be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the President-Elect if it were made public, please describe.”

And my favorite:

“Please list, and, if readily available, provide a copy of each book, article, column, or publication (including but not limited to any posts or comments on blogs or other websites) you have authored, individually or with others. Please list all aliases or ‘handles’ you have used to communicate on the internet.”

As Web 2.0-savvy as Obama’s campaign was, his new transition team is not. Maybe the balding middle-aged executives they’re hiring into senior positions in the administration have never “used an electronic communication,” but for anyone under the age of 35 this application is going to be a virtual minefield. What packrat can track down every blog post and blog comment they’ve ever written? People our age have had blogs since they were old enough to say “internet,” for Chrissake. What happens when our generation enters the realm of career public servants and becomes serious candidates for these jobs in two decades?

In 30 years are we going to dredge up Facebook photos, blog comments, text messages, and old emails of the Secretary of State? We will have an electronic paper trail following us everywhere we go, something today’s politicians haven’t had to contend with. Who has even thought about how to deal with this? Seriously, imagine: the 50th President of the United States is probably some random, backward-baseball-cap-wearing, class-ditching, hard-partying frat guy right now, posting drunk pictures of himself on Facebook and writing on his friends’ walls about tomorrow’s barcrawl, oblivious to the fact that modern technology means that this will all resurface when he runs for office. What are you going to do about that, White House?

This vetting process might work for 2008, but it’s not going to work in 2020 when everyone will have an internet footprint that stretches back into cyberspace for years and years. That is, unless the federal government’s HR wants to drive themselves insane. Are you worried about employers googling you while applying for XYZ corporate job?….this is that job application on steroids! There’s no way to win this. Good luck to anyone crazy enough to apply!

Congratulations, President Obama: you’re going to have America’s most boring people in your administration!