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Corporate communications + Public Relations Adelaide

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April 2010

Mama, don’t let your kids grow up on Facebook …

There’s been a lot of media attention on the subject of cyber bullying and sexting. And some great resources like Cybersmart have been developed to help families and young people manage their presence online.

What I want to blog about today, is the pain of being a teenager in the Facebook generation.

I am so grateful Facebook wasn’t around when I was in my teens.

I was a diary-keeping gal. And a photo-taking gal. I have hundreds of photos of my girlfriends and I, in very bad acid wash jeans, perms and knitted jumpers. Wearing braces, sporting spots, holding up Midnight Oil tickets, reading Dolly magazine, drinking cask wine, and all the things you generally want to forget now …

If Facebook had been around, I would have undoubtedly been growing up online, sharing every painful experience and gauche thought, stumbling through relationships and avowing to the world that I wanted to dedicate myself to saving the seals.

Instead, I’m 40 years old and have reluctantly accepted the friend requests of a few teenagers. And their status updates make me squirm. It’s natural for teenagers to struggle along through puberty, to feel hyper sensitive at times, or like they can’t do anything right. But somebody needs to guide them and advise them: YOU DON’T HAVE TO SHARE IT ALL ON FACEBOOK.

Let’s put together a 101 for teens. A 101 that will save them pain later on. Just as we do with career advice, or relationship advice. My top 3?

1.Less is more. Don’t give us a blow by blow – the highlights will do. Don’t post every photo, just the best one.
2.It CAN happen if it doesn’t happen on Facebook. Make sure you enjoy your time in the real world. Don’t get hung up on recording everything for your Facebook friends. Keep some things to yourself – it makes it more special. And you’ll look cooler. Not desperate.
3.Think of your Page in 10 years time. This is a digital record of your life that your future husband/wife/children/employers might read. Don’t argue with people online. Don’t wail at the world when your boyfriend dumps you. What seems like a disaster today will only be a blip in a few months time. Take a breath before you post. Write it down somewhere else if that makes you feel better.

What do you think? What would you say to the Teenage You?

To Tweet or Not to Tweet? The Journalist’s Dilemma.

I’d find it hard to be a journalist today.

Journalism is a fantastic career. I’ve got a BA in Journalism and played around in a role with the Rural Press for a wee while. Good journalists are inquisitive and energetic, and can be cynical and circumspect (which helps). Quite often, they’re eloquent writers who are passionate about communicating.

In other words, they like to be heard.

The reason I’d find it hard to be a journo, today? I don’t know if I could juggle the tug of social media with the demands of my media managers.

The world is changing for journalists.

In the traditional world of journalism, you get a story, write it up, submit to your editor, and if it’s good enough it’s published or broadcast. There’s a variety of means to distribute the news, and above all you always want to beat the competition.

But now we’ve got Twitter, right? It’s an instant broadcast medium. I’ve written on this blog before, that I’ve often received my newsbreaks on Twitter. Heck, people are taking it into their own hands now: this week Malcolm Turnbull announced his resignation on Twitter and Jim Carrey announced his divorce (not from Turnbull, but from Jenny McCarthey).

How do journalists feel about that?

Pretty darn frustrated and conflicted, is my guess.

How does it feel to sit on a ‘scoop’ while your story is edited, prepared for print or broadcast? You could easily share the news instantly on Twitter. But you have an obligation to your company, right? You need to follow their content model. Even if you have an online presence – say, an AdelaideNow – your story still takes more time to write up and post than a 140 character tweet.

This is just one of many issues facing journalism today – other vexing issues include paid/unpaid content, copyright, relevance and interactivity – all too complex for me to go into today! I don’t know what the answer is, but it seems to me that journalists need more forbearance and nouse than ever before.

Do You Touch Your Tweeps?

What do you do, when you meet a ‘tweet’ pal for the first time In Real Life?

It’s a question that I wrestle with, because I regularly meet people face-to-face after first making a connection with them through Twitter. They’re not blind dates, but they’re pretty close in terms of how awkward you can feel.

In my experience, tweet-ups have been fantastic and I’ve not been disappointed with anyone yet (it’s true!) However I’ve come to recognise a few ‘dance steps’ and wonder if you have, too:

• Nervously wait at assigned meeting point
• Crane your neck, keep look-out for person who will resemble the thumbnail you’ve been communicating with for past weeks/months/years
• See someone vaguely resembling the thumbnail
• Wonder if it’s them
• Realise it IS them
• Wonder if it’s too late to pretend you’re not there
• Awkwardly start moving toward each other
• Think to yourself: do we shake hands? Hug? Cry and hold onto each other like reunited siblings?
• Go for an awkward hand shake
• Settle into warm and relaxed conversation

It’s the physical contact that I find most problematic. @Problogger recounted a story at the recent #cnow social media conference, about a follower who rushed toward him, embraced him fully, and cried onto his neck! She had been following him online for so long, she felt such a strong connection, that she was moved to make physical contact with someone who would ordinarily be a stranger.

I have been tweeting @Jadecraven for quite some time, she’s a fantastic Twitter pal. We met at #cnow for the first time and – knowing we live in separate cities and may not come face to face ever again – I rubbed her arm as we laughed and sighed with relief at finding each other. Later, we hugged goodbye, but when we first met IRL it still felt too forward to hug. (Though I reckon we should have, Jade!)

In many cases, your Twitter pals are your emotional crutches. They listen to you when you vent. They provide helpful information when you tweet a question. They LOL at your mishaps. They endorse your TGIFs. When other friends, or family, are absent or asleep or disinterested, there’s always a tweep available to fill the void.

So it makes sense that they’re pals IRL, right?

Or does it?

Photo by @idrewthis , with @markgamtcheff @missbiancab and @ashsimmonds at a #socadl tweetup.

Goodness & Light of Facebook II – Charities

This is my second blog about the positive power of Facebook.

To me, Facebook isn’t a ‘place of evil’ or ‘destroyer of young minds’ as some traditional media would have us believe. It connects people, resurrects friendships, reminds you of great times and helps you look forward to new ones.

Today I’m blogging about charities on Facebook.

Charities use all sorts of communications channels to tell us about their causes. For years, their efforts have been supported by direct mail, telemarketing, fundraising events, sponsorship and so on.

But Facebook has allowed charities to set up shop in a community environment, where people can connect with them and easily share their favourite charity with their social circle. When was the last time you deliberately set out to visit a charity’s official website? Then consider how often you come across a charity (or cause) on Facebook.

Here’s some good examples:

Australian Red Cross

UNICEF

World Vision Australia

McGrath Foundation

Of course, Facebook application ‘Causes’ has enabled many not-for-profits to share their cause on Facebook. It’s an app specifically designed for mobilising the power of Facebook to support worthy causes, and is used by millions of people around the EVERY MONTH.

Do you have a favourite charity or cause on Facebook? Has Facebook enabled you to learn more about that cause and get involved? Tell me about it – see the Comments link above.

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