5 Social Networking Resolutions for 2013

I really dislike New Year's resolutions. I'll just put that right out there. I haven't made any for years. The last couple of years I've been creating dream boards; twisting and morphing and rephrasing the "lose weight" to "get healthy", and "get on a budget and stick with it" to "save for a dream vacation and kids' college". Let's just say it's been moderately successful and leave it at that.

But social networking resolutions — hey I can do those! I've been thinking about them off and on through 2012, and I'm ready to put a public stake in the ground here, and stop my procrastination in its tracks!
  1. Switch from Tweetdeck to HootSuite, which many of my IBM colleagues are using. I've been happy with Tweetdeck, but it makes sense to follow the crowd in this case, and take advantage of the best practices with the tool.

  2. Put myself on a regular writing schedule. I write for this blog, the IBM Social Business Insights blog, the www.ibm.com/able website, much less frequently on BlogHer. It tends to be hit and miss, because I'm not very disciplined about writing, and do it when I have a deadline or I'm feeling particularly passionate about a subject. (I have a very smart and extremely talented colleague who reserves Friday afternoons for inventing, and it really works for her.)

  3. Cross-post guest blogs with other bloggers. (I know, Blogging 101, but it just didn't happen in 2012.)

  4. Test a new social app once a week, and share my thoughts on them once a quarter.

  5. Do a better job of tying together and writing about my passions: volunteering / making the world a better place, accessibility and social networking. There are so many ways social networking can help galvanize and connect people and ideas, and I'd like to ferret out those connections and possibilities, and share them.

Are you making any social networking New Year's resolutions?  I'd love to hear what they are.

Have a happy and healthy 2013. :-)

Image courtesy of Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sharing the Grief — Connected in Tragedy

My heart breaks and bleeds for the families and friends of the victims of today's elementary school shooting. This is not a political post, even though I certainly have a strong opinion on the topic. This is instead recognition of how social networking is enabling a nation and the world to share prayers and thoughts and news, and ultimately, mourn this tragedy together, regardless of where we're located.

We've seen the power of social networking in the face of natural disasters where traditional communication failed: the March 2011 tsunami in Japan, and more recently Hurricane Sandy on the U.S. Eastern Seaboard.

I've been watching Twitter and Facebook today and feel connected in my grief for the innocent lives lost, and all of the people whose lives have changed forever. 
I've also seen this mindful and helpful quotation today on Facebook:

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world." ~ Mister Rogers

To those in Connecticut whose worlds changed forever today, please know that while we can't feel your pain, we are feeling pain and anger and sorrow that you've lost someone you love in such a brutal and senseless manner  — something no parent, grandparent, sibling, spouse, significant other, aunt, uncle, cousin, friend, neighbor or coworker should ever have to do.

The Huffington Post has some suggestions about what the rest of us can do to help: Connecticut Elementary School Shooting: How To Help.

And hug someone you love.

Update: Honoring those lost by sharing their names:
Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Ana M. Marquez-Greene, Dylan Hockley, Madeleine F. Hsu, Catherine V. Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Benjamin Wheeler, Allison N. Wyatt, Rachel Davino, Dawn Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rosseau, Mary Sherlach, and Victoria Soto

Image courtesy of Darren Robertson / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Word Clouds and Sunday Procrastination

I just created a word cloud graphic for the One Brick Silicon Valley Facebook page, a volunteer organization that I'm deeply committed to and involved with, and I was pleased with how it turned out. Still feeling semi-creative and heavily into procrastinating about all the things I should be doing instead; I decided to create a word cloud for my blog too. A moment to step back and take a look as 2012 is racing to its conclusion and take a semi-analytical look at my blog post themes.

Surprisingly, there were no surprises in the form of subconscious ideas sneaking into my writing.

Social analytics are becoming more sophisticated every day. It's going to be interesting to see where they are in five years, and what your digital footprint will look like then, don't you think?

The word cloud shows words in different size fonts -- the larger the word, the more times it appeared in my blog. The top words in order of size are: social, video, ibm, blog, neworking, media, business, search, captioning, insights and engine.
Add caption

How Social Networking Won an Election and Paid for Cancer Treatment

I've always loved TIME magazine. It's well-designed — lots of action shots, catchy headlines, and insightful and informative articles. Now I follow TIME on Facebook and on Twitter, so I don't always read the hard copy that shows up at my house every week. I do try though. I've been taking it in the car — grabbing a few minutes while I'm waiting for my daughter at school or an appointment.

The December 3 issue — yes, the one with the colorful fruits and vegetables on the covers supporting an article on What to Eat Now by the well-known Dr. Oz — had two articles that grabbed my attention.  Unfortunately, neither article is available online unless you're a subscriber, but they both very matter-of-factly focused on how fast and how much social networking is changing our world. I mean I know this — I'm passionate about it and do it every day — but to see it in black and white next to world news, the AIDs epidemic in South Africa, and an article about the fiscal cliff.... I was immediately pulled in.

The first article, Friend Request. How the Obama campaign connected with young voters appeared in the Nation section: fair enough. If you've read some of the campaign post-mortems that I've read, you've seen that it wasn't the much-publicized Latino vote or female vote that swung the election for President Obama, but the youth vote — voters under 29. And it turns out that over half of the voters in that age group targeted in swing states didn't have landline phones, making the traditional last minute phone calls impossible.

Image of smart phone with the word "Vote" displayed on it
Instead, the Obama campaign, a social-savvy team from day 1, built a Facebook application. (Are you thinking, "Of course they did!"? With the perfect vision hindsight gives us, I don't know why I was surprised.) It was rolled out to the more than one million Obama backers signed up. This app, like all Facebook apps, gave the campaign permission to look at the subscribers' Facebook friends. And communicating with this highly-valued, hard-to-reach target audience was made even easier because who do you trust more than your friends? Not some political campaign or advertiser. More than 5 million contacts were reached by the 600,000 Obama supporters who agreed to share messages. And so the campaign was won.

And the final word from TIME Magazine?
"In 2008, Twitter was a sideshow, and Facebook had about one-sixth its current reach in the U.S. By 2016, this sort of campaign-driven sharing over social networks is almost certain to be the norm. Tell your friends."

The second social-networking article that caught my eye was in the Health section, and titled, Crowdfunding a Cure. The sick are getting strangers to pay their medical bills. A quick glance at the sidebar shows you this headline: How This Cancer patient Raised $144,000.

I've been fascinated with the growth and potential of crowdfunding this year; writing a three-part series on the IBM Social Business Insights blog (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). Instead of people raising money from their social circles for projects such as books, gadgets, CDs, or documentaries, crowdfunding sites such as GoFundMe and GiveForward enable patients and their families to raise thousands of dollars for medical treatments such as surgeries and cancer treatments that would otherwise be out of their reach.

We're on the cusp of the most amazingly creative period in human history. Hyperbole? I don't think so. Worldwide collaboration, powered by social networking platforms, will give everyone a voice. Gender, age, ethnicity, language, location, education, ability — none of this will matter. Innovative companies like IBM will continue to pioneer enterprise-level collaboration platforms, enabling the worldwide, mobile, collaborative, inclusive workforce*. And consumer networking platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter and Kickstarter and GoFundMe and tumblr will continue to enable the collaboration and crowdsourcing that can help build a better world, for all of us.

Now truly, doesn't that just make your day? :-)

*Full disclosure — I am an IBM employee, and totally amazed by the forward-thinking creativity that goes on at my company every single day.
"Vote Button On Mobile Screen" image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
"Financial health" image courtesy of renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
"Social Network" image courtesy of  cooldesign / FreeDigitalPhotos.net