More and more people have been asking me about how I got involved in social media. I usually give them a brief (hopefully) history about my foray into RSS feeds, audio podcasts, YouTube, Twitter and then Facebook. And countless other social media platforms in between.
But, really, social media revved up for me back in May 2008 when I joined Twitter, the social media network where you share 140-character updates with your friends. (And maybe people who have keyword searches set up on topics you tweet — or write — about.)
I had been reading about Twitter in publications by the Public Relations Society of America, Ragan Communications and others. Keven Duran (@prblog on Twitter), a Cincinnati social media powerhouse, was writing about it on his Strategic Public Relations blog. I asked Kevin about it at a PRSA event, and he said something along the lines of: “You’re going to think this is really stupid at times, but just do it.”
So I did.
I set up a Twitter account, using @MikeBoehmer57 as my handle. I used a professionally done photo and described myself as a PR pro, husband and dad.
Next, I began searching for Cincinnati PR and marketing people to follow. And I started following many of the people they followed. This led me to many national experts in PR, marketing, government communications and the like.
Even though I had been active in PRSA for years and knew lots of PR folks, I got to know a many more — people such as @shannanb and @lmdeaton. I also found out about the Cincinnati Social Media Breakfast and began following many of the professionals who attended its gatherings. Next, I started going to New Media Cincinnati meetings and followed some of this group of social media enthusiasts.
Early in my Twitter journey, I set up an account for my employer (@HamiltonCoJFS) and church (@NTUnityCincy). I mainly use these to promote upcoming events.
As an aside, during the workday, I use @mikeboehmer57 to share links to articles of interest to PR and social media folks. I might promote something we’re doing at work or share a link to a job-related site, since my employer offers job services. I retweet, or resent, tweets from friends at times. I occassionally send them a direct message, usually something of encouragement.
Evenings and weekends, I might send a photo via Twitpic, or let people know what we’re doing as a family — if it’s out of the ordinary.
I should mention that I follow many local and national journalists on Twitter, as well as news feeds from TV stations, newspapers and blogs. I get most of my news from these feeds.
And I read most of the tweets on UberTwitter on my BlackBerry Curve by Verizon and Twhirl on my PC or laptop desktops.
Bottom line for Twitter: I’ve met lots of people, ranging from the president of Lance Armstrong’s Foudation (@livestrongceo) to the husband of a woman successfully battling cancer — and have met face-to-face with them. That’s where Twitter is most valuable: Making and maintaining relationships.
I realize that I’ve got a lot more to share about Twitter: Lessons learned along the way. Stay tuned!
I continue to rely on my accreditation training while doing strategic public relations with social media. The four-step process was drilled into my mind while studying for the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) over a decade ago. (Yes, I’m that old, er young!)
With that in mind, we conducted an online survey of fans of the Hamilton County (Ohio) Department of Job and Family Services’ Facebook page. At the writing, the page has 199 fans. (Anxiously awaiting No. 200!!!). Thirty people participated in the survey, giving us much-wanted feedback as we seek to continuously improve the page we launched in late January 2009.
Here are some findings that may be helpful to you.
First, how did we get people to participate? We shared a link on Facebook and Twitter offering a free t-shirt to those who participated. That brought in a few folks. Then, we e-mailed a link to subscribers to our online newsletter. That brought in most. (By the way, the t-shirts were leftovers from our last tax levy campaign. They had been taking up storage space. Don’t tell anyone!)
What did people say? Well, they primarly have become fans to learn about services and upcoming events. One-third also want to use the page to ask questions and offer comments.
Are we hitting the mark? Four in 10 always find our status updates valuable. Six in 10, sometimes. So zero didn’t find them valuable!
What’s most important? Most want information about Medicaid. No surprise. It’s our largest program.
How often? Most want status updates weekly or as-needed, followed closely by daily.
Who? We’re getting visits from our top two strategic external audiences — social service partners and customers.
Don’t give a tweet. Only 14 percent also follow us on Twitter (@HamiltonCoJFS)
Affirmation. Nobody slammed us. Instead, we got comments such as: “I am not always able to read printed information, so it is convenient to have the information available on my facebook when I sign in.”
These are a few highlights culled quickly on a busy Saturday morning. We’ll continue to evaluate the data. Also, I’ve started inviting people to focus groups, luring them with a invite for “free food.” I’ll probably spring for some pizza from my pocketbook. Times are tight, but I really need the info to keep that Four Step Process humming.
Hope you find this helpful as we forge this social media path together!
In February 2008, we learned that my wife, Tami, had suffered a recurrence of her breast cancer. The cancer had returned after seven years — and had spread. The prognosis wasn’t good.
After the inital shock, anger, sadness, fear and other associated emotions subsided a bit, we turned to social media to help us proactively address this situation.
We set up a blog, Keep the Positive Energy Flowing on http://www.blogger.com to keep family, friends and others facing similar situations updated. We wanted to share our experience, strength and hope as we continue this cancer journey.
Tami reached out to other cancer survivors — people who were thriving despite recurrent cancer. She began to share some of their insights on Keep the Positve Energy flowing. Then, we thought it would be great to compile the stories in a book.
We began reading books about publishing books and speaking with authors of published works.
Tami put out a request for stories of “miracle cancer survivors” — people who were told they were terminal but beat the odds — on a free service called Help A Reporter Out (HARO). Responses came from around the country! She began to tape and transcribe interviews for the book.
I was new to Twitter, playing around with it. Tami told me to see if Lance Armstrong was a tweeter. I noticed LIVESTRONGCEO, Doug Ulman, the CEO of Armstrong’s foundation, had an account and began to follow him. I sent a direct message to Doug with a link to the intro to Tami’s book, basically her story, and he read it and quickly replied.
Well, Tami ended up interviewing Doug for the forward to the book! And, during a family vacation to Houston, we made a trip to Austin and met with Doug. He graciously gave us 90 minutes of his busy schedule. We plan to donate a percentage of the book’s proceeds to Livestrong, which has helped us stay abreast of clinical trials for Tami’s type of cancer. (By the way, it’s in remission!)
Yesterday, Tami launched a professional blog to support her book — which still needs an agent and publisher — and inspire and assist people affected by cancer. Jason Bayer, a very good professional Web developer, created the site. Mark and Cathy Lyons, excellent photographers, took photos. We’re very serious about this.
PLEASE share this blog with others. Here’s the link: www.TamiBoehmer.com.
Along the way, we’ve had help from a number of social media enthusiasts such as Kevin Dugan, Debba Haupert, Daniel Johnson Jr., Shannan Boyer and countless others. I’ve met lots of online contacts in person at events sponsored by Cincinnati Social Media and New Media Cincinnati. In fact, Tami’s going to join me at today’s New Media get-together. She’s also going to start attending Cincinnati Women Bloggers events.
I’ll continue to share updates about this process as the journey continues. Social media is amazing–and has some potentially positive and powerful potential!!!!
Last week, I got the opportunity to see a social media hero up close. We were at the finish line in Athens, Ohio, on Aug. 29 when Lance Armstrong zoomed across in the first Pelotonia fund-raiser for cancer research.
It’s instructive how social media came into play for me related to this event.
First, I snapped a photo with my BlackBerry of Lance crossing the finish line and quickly uploaded it to Twitter and Facebook. I ran across the street to with my daughter (who captured video on a digital camcorder for posting on our family blog) and got more photos and videos of Armstrong as he signed autographs and did media interviews — for sharing with friends and followers. And you.
I posted a link to the blog on Pelotonia’s Facebook fan page, drawing views from people across the state.
And I learned from Lance’s tweets that he loved riding through Ohio’s beautiful Hocking Hills, that Pelotonia had raised $4 million and that he had headed to Colorado to be with family. I also found out that Doug Ulman, president of Armstrong’s Livestrong Foundation, had been in Columbus the previous evening to visit with Pelotonia kickoff speaker Dr. Gee, Ohio State president and a longtime friend of Ulman, by looking at his Twitter stream.
Back home in Cincinnati, after posting pictures and photos on our Keep the Postive Energy Flowing blog, I Googled an article in my hometown paper about my brother riding in Pelotonia and shared the link on Facebook.
Then, I found Armstrong’s inspiring Aug. 28 talk to riders and guests on YouTube. We didn’t get to attend, but felt glad that some kind people had uploaded video shot from their camcorders.
I share this just to give you a small example of how the world of social media has affected my life and, hopefully, the lives of others. I’m really hoping people will be inspired by Armstrong’s work and that of organizations like Pelotonia and keep cancer research on the front burner. And that social media will play a key part in that.
By the way, Livestrong has created an amazing social media campaign to support its new global fight against cancer. It incorporates all kinds of social media. I particularly find the video clips powerful. Check it out.
Lance will appreciate it!
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