Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How Not To Suck at Twitter

Before you read further, this is not a professional step-by-step guide on how to use Twitter. It's more of a list of grievances based on some particularly peevish Tweets that have graced my stream recently. It is by no means comprehensive, but rather a few tips I feel the need to share.

So, that said, here are few word of wisdom from Yours no particular order:

1. Stop Selling
Look at your Twitter stream. How many of your past Tweets refer to something that puts money in your pocket or in your drinking buddy's pocket? I get that you are proud of your accomplishments. Kudos. And don't get me wrong, I want to hear about them. Just not not all the time.

2. Use Your Words
This includes vowels. While I understand that your infinite genius is hard to contain in a mere 140 characters, I suggest you consider a blog post. Because, to be honest, nothing trumps your pithy insight and intellect more than a string of nonsensical third grade abbreviations.

3. Don't Tweet Angry. Or Drunk.
We all get fired up and trust me, I am guilty of my own social media rants. But, before you hastily dash off that seething Tweet, stop. Breathe.

As my co-worker other person sagely pointed out:

Put. The Twitter. Down.

4. Stop the Exploitation of Hashtags
Now before you get all "But you are the Queen of #insertwittysubtexthere.", that's not what I mean. I mean attaching a trending hashtag to a completely unrelated Tweet just to leverage its popularity. It's like riding coattails, but geekier. It's riding hashtags, which is really just embarrassing.

5. Just Be You
I might be guilty of one or all of the above at times. There are no rules. Except maybe one, which is be authentic.

So, these are a just few of my most recent pet peeves. What are yours?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fat Harry's Full Circle (Shop Local Day 5)

A few days ago I met Hubby for Happy Hour at a local high school bar called Fat Harry's. Yes, I said "high school bar." For those not familiar with this phenomenon, New Orleans was late to implement the 21 year old drinking age and it was pretty normal for 16 year olds to frequent drinking establishment brandishing 18 year old fake IDs. Now, seeing as I am far from my high school days, I can't say that this type of behavior is still prevalent...but nonetheless, Fat Harry's remains in my brain a "high school bar."

In fact, it was my high school bar. It was the last stop before curfew on our regular crawl. So, sitting outside on a balmy summer evening, sipping a beer and watching the streetcars roll down St. Charles, I was suddenly struck by a strong sense of nostalgia. I texted my high school partner in crime in North Carolina. To which she replied with horror "WHAT ARE YOU DOING THERE?" She proceeded to ask if there were white hats and khaki shorts...the ultimate frat boy uniform. I looked around and there was not a single white hat. But what should I spy? A pair of khaki shorts. Sitting next to me. On Hubby.

Gasp. Had I made the transformation from high school delinquent to Uptown yuppie? Was I that sweet doddering couple that I used to see with their AARP friends sitting outside the bar before sunset?

And there it is. That weird moment, having moved back to my hometown, where my past self meets my future self on the same stomping grounds, when I am suddenly slapped in the face by my 16 year old assumptions. Luckily, my 30 something self finds it charming. So, I sit back with my khaki-wearing husband, drink my beer and clear out before curfew.

And luckily, there are New Orleans high school bars institutions where my past, present and future self can mingle with generations before me and to those come. And hopefully, one day I will sit with my doddering partner in crime, back home from North Carolina.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sheet Rock Star

Last week the St. Bernard Project had a Women's Rebuild Week and the FSC gals traded our keyboards for power tools. It was empowering to get filthy dirty and covered in insulation, knowing that my small effort would help a family return home...after 5 long years.

Turns out, I am also quite the sheet rock expert. Yep. Don't believe me? See for yourself:

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day Can #suckit

To begin with, let me state for the record things I do not want to do on Mother's Day. Or any other day for that matter:

1. Wake up at 6:45am. (Not a morning person)
2. Eat at Olive Garden (Goes without saying)
3. Install a carseat (while running an hour an a half late to an event)

So, this Mother's Day wasn't all bubble baths and breakfast in bed. But, to be honest Hubby and I have never really been big on the Hallmark Holidays. Nonetheless, I was just a wee bit bitter at 7am as he rested peacefully in bed* while I fed Danger (read: got cottage cheese thrown in my hair). My bitterness quickly evaporated as it always does after a strong cup of coffee. And Mother's Day evolved into a comedy of errors that ultimately ended in a wonderful evening with close friends.

But, this is less about my Mother's Day. This is about another mother whom I have never met. Never spoken to. Never had even the slightest contact with other than a stream in my Twitter feed for the past many years.

I don't know @queenofspain. To confess, I rarely catch her Tweets these days in the onslaught of information. Prior to my first BlogHer in 2006, I signed on to Twitter as a way to understand exactly what this social media thing was really all about. I began by following a handful of smart, snarky and utterly hilarious women. And I got hooked. Throughout the years this handful was a lifeline during a difficult pregnancy and even more difficult 1st year with Danger. These women validated my crazy.

In more recent years, Twitter has morphed into more of a professional resource. The personal interactions I have are largely with the same circle of people and I filtered myself to sanity at the cost of losing touch with some of those early moms that I valued the most. The ones who completely unknowingly held my hand across the world wide web. Now, just to be clear, none of these women can be wrapped us as just "moms." Erin Kotecki Vest is a political power house and I probably subconsciously avoid her stream to protect myself from feelings of civic inadequacy. She is solely responsible for introducing me to one of my most favorite hashtags ever. #suckit But, today, on Mother's Day, she is above all an inspirational mom.

Every so often, while I am waiting for the coffee to brew or stuck in traffic, I'll scroll through my Twitter stream. And this morning I saw this:

What follows throughout the day is a chronicle of a pretty crappy Mother's Day, not to mention a painful and scary health crisis. OK, so, I don't know this person. But I was compelled to follow her narrative. I was inspired by the raw honesty

the mom's protectiveness

the ability to laugh even when stuck in a hospital hall for hours

and mostly by the bond she shares with her husband. As they exchange banter he is at times protective

and witty. (I can sooo see Hubby tweeting this while I am hooked to an IV writhing in pain)

So, there were times when I thought to myself, "Why the hell are you Tweeting??? Put the phone down and rest!" But then I realized that I was fully reading all of these Tweets. So, what the hell is wrong with me that I am following the personal details of a life I know nothing about? Does that make me a freaky voyeur stalker? Her a Twitter addict who shares way too much?

Honestly, some might say so. But, not me. In the midst of my whacky Mother's Day, I found inspiration and humor (and a touch of humility) as another woman's day unfolded in time with mine. Little did this stranger know that hundreds of miles away I was commiserating and laughing and remembering why I got hooked on this Twitter thing in the first place. It connects me to people I've yet to meet who give me a swift kick in the ass for wallowing in my Olive Garden snootiness. And stories that captivate my attention because they inspire, validate and reflect the strong, snarky and honest woman I aspire to be. A woman who in the midst of calamity can find perspective and is brave enough to share it with a gal like me.

Thank you, Erin. Happy Mother's Day.

* Hubby 100% deserved to sleep after pulling a 4:30AM shift, having lunch with my family, soothing our tantrum throwing toddler and then rushing to a tasting for the restaurant he is days away from opening. To hell with Mother's Day and Father's Day. It's Parents' Day every day in our life.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Anti- Authoritarian Management Paradox

What happens when someone who notoriously questions The Man finds themselves becoming The Man...or Woman? Yours Truly is a very important Director of a quickly growing social media department. Yep. It says so on my cards. That's why I command respect. Or do I?

Not long ago my department consisted of just me. Then came the first new hire. As with all new jobs, there is a learning curve. So, when this new hire was faced with a question she couldn't answer she knew exactly where to turn. She looked over at me sitting in my powerful desk where I sat in benevolence, ready to offer my sage wisdom. She asked the caller to please hold while she consulted her..."other person."

Not co-worker. Not colleague. Definitely not manager, much less "My Director." Hey, I've got over 10 years experience with nationally regarded agencies under my belt and I have just doubled my department, so clearly I should expect this recent college graduate to cow-tow to me, the Big Boss Lady, right? Yeah, not so much.

The hierarchy of titles and traditional flow chart management systems doesn't necessarily translate to social media. That is not to say that there isn't process and accountability, but it's a new industry and new rules apply. Social media is in its infancy and nobody has the playbook for success. Even the most "seasoned" social media professionals have only been using Facebook and Twitter for a few years. And success in is not about a two year history of crafting 140 characters or gaining 400 Fans in 10 days. There are bots for that.

Instead of focusing on titles, focus on talent. I came across My Other Person forwarded me a recent post defining the 9 types of of "Social Media Expert." The post identifies several skill sets and competencies that are needed in social media, and also notes:

"You might be tempted to read into this post that there are certain types of experts that are more valid than any others, but except for the first type I strongly believe that each has an important role to play as organizations and businesses of all sizes get smarter about how and when to use social media. "

Wait a minute, this guy is claiming that updating a Facebook status is equally as valid as strategic development? C'mon, maintaining a reputation across the myriad of social networks is tedious work. Much better suited for a lower level employee. It's easy to craft 140 characters. So easy, in fact, that you could relegate it to an intern from your local high school. Or, why not create a bot that could potentially alienate your most loyal customer with 140 characters of offensive or superficial content that can go public with the push of a button.

I bet there is a bot that would call me boss. Repeatedly. Every time I used a specifically calculated keyword it would replicate an auto-generated message of deference to my superiority. Tempting. But, instead, I will continue to seek out smart, talented and opinionated people who will better my department. People who know that while curiosity killed the cat, satisfaction brought her back. People who get a little bit ga ga about Google. And people who question everything. Especially The Man. Even if that man is me.

Dear Future Employees,
Do not mistake this as a hippie dippy commune BS management style. Yours Truly is a hard ass with extremely high expectations. And so is my Other Person.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What I learned at SXSW...yet another one

Him: (eyeing my SXSW "panelist" badge) I believe I met with your company's European branch on my last trip to London.

Me: (torn between disbelief, laughter or a swift kick to the groin) I think you have me confused with someone else.

No London office. No private jet. No holier than thou attitude. Just little old me...about to kick your VIP self in the groin.

Before leaving for Austin I wrote about being on the fence about SXSW this year. I am seeing this echoed across the blogosphere. Looks like SXSW could be jumping the shark, making room for more intimate focused grassroots conferences to emerge (eh, hem TribeCon, cough cough). But to quote Marc Nathan I'm not jumping on the ‘down with SXSW bandwagon.'

While I wasn't as fulfilled or inspired as last year, it was a valuable learning experience. A few lessons:

1. Intimacy trumps Popularity: Cool cliques are what you make them. Screw the lines and the lists. Find like minds and congregate. The best party I attended was the NOLA party. The second best was when I led our group of 15 peeps into an empty bar- not a popular decision, mind you- and started a pretty spectacular dance party. All we needed was us. Getting wrapped on on finding the party ruins the party.

2. Focus, grasshopper: Crowded management sessions show that more folks are trying to harness creativity and social media in a measurable efficient way. Process is the new black. Forget followers. (There's a bot for that.) Focus on fundamentals like strategy, goals and accountability.

3. Take this job and love it: I love my job. My clients are the bomb. And one of the greatest things about social media is the ability to even the playing field and pin point opportunity for the little guys to win big. And maybe even stick it to the man.

Speaking of which, what happens when you are the man? How does an anti-establishment instigator create an establishment? Now, that's what I want to learn- management skills for people with problems with authority. I hope SXSW is listening.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

SXSW: South By South Wasted?

Confession: I have been on the fence about going back to SXSW this year. Hearing it referred to as SXSpringBreak this afternoon didn't help much. Obviously, it doesn't bolster the matrimonial bliss to have Hubby think I am heading to some hedonistic romp to get crazy naked least not without him. But, more importantly, it makes me question the value proposition that I am sacrificing several days of Danger time for.

Last year was a magical experience. I was on the cusp of a new endeavor and surrounded by a bunch of rabble rousing idealists who felt we were making a difference and leaving our mark. I was also naive and admittedly easy impressed by shiny objects. The past 12 months have taught me some hard lessons in looking past the smoke and mirrors to critically assess the BS hidden beneath some big red bows. And, I am savvy enough to know that I can download recycled presentations from conference circuit keynotes on Slideshare without any travel expenses or hefty entrance fee. I might not get a chance to shake hands with Twitterati. My loss.

Don't get me wrong. I am honored to be a part of the New Orleans tech crew taking the city by storm. And my ego is through the roof at being part of a SXSW panel. Not to mention, my schedule is double and triple booked with panels that I am excited to see. Where I look forward to learning something, multiple new things that I can bring back to enhance FSC. Which brings me to the question- Is SXSW still the place to learn from the best of the best?

I've seen some pretty stellar things happening at small grassroots conferences across the country- Big Omaha, Social South and even my little baby TribeCon. Conference that are low on glitz but big on substance. Low on corporate sponsors but big on community. Low on douchebaggery and big on authenticity.

It's no big secret that I kind of like sticking it to the man and rallying for the little guy. Maybe I am just being jaded. It wouldn't be the first time. I promise not to judge or make assumptions based purely on what could just be a successful growth model. I am hoping to have an incredible and magical experience. In fact, I am betting a lost weekend with my favorite people on it. Not a trifling wager.

What do you think? What are some of the reasons you are or aren't going to SXSW?

PS. Be forewarned, Mr. "un-popular in high school and making up for it on Twitter" douchebag person, what happens at SXSW does not in fact stay at SXSW. It perpetuates a swarmy and silly misrepresentation that discredits the merit of the conference. And if you ruin SXSW for me, and for the hundreds of others who are hoping for more than networking with the beautiful people, I will be angry.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

It's a Very Brady Wednesday

sap·py (sp)
adj. sap·pi·er, sap·pi·est
1. Full of sap; juicy.
2. Slang Excessively sentimental; mawkish.
3. Slang Silly or foolish.

You've been warned. The following contains excessive sentimental content.

Maybe I am just getting to the New Year's point where you take stock of your life. Between the Superbowl (Who Dat!), Mardi Gras and well, life, there hasn't been whole lot of time to be introspective. But, every once in a while it hits me completely out of the blue...Life is good.

I have a job. More importantly for the first time I feel like I have a career, doing what I love with people and clients that are challenging. And not in the "holy hell what now? Just shoot me." way. In the "holy hell what's next? Just pinch me." way.

I have a family. Sure Grandma is a little crazy and Danger got kicked out isn't quite ready for nursery school. But she said "squirrel", hasn't gotten any more colds and her new nanny misses her on the weekends.

Hubby is about to realize his life long dream of owning his own place. A jazz bar with gourmet food. On Frenchmen. Pretty much the place to be. And is Tweeting about it.

I live in a city that is reinventing the American dream. Where douchebags old white guys bureaucracy, hipsters and feisty instigators can coexist.

My BFF invites me over for homemade pate. 7 different kinds of homemade pate. And two days later I get to return the favor with 40 pounds of boiled crawfish.

Sure, there are issues. My waistline being just one (see above re: pate & crawfish). But who am I to complain?

Who am I kidding? Yours Truly lives to complain. But not right now. Right now I am going to enjoy the silly sappy happy feeling of being pretty damn happy.

PS Eff you laundry. Yes, I see you and the dust bunnies silently plotting my demise. You will not kill my buzz. Same goes for you, Mr. Time Sheet.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

American Apparel Hits Bottom

When I came across the American Apparel "Best Bottom" contest I couldn't shake the wave of utter disgust and disdain that I felt. But I also couldn't pinpoint why.

Sure, there is the blatant objectification of women. And the exploitation of amateur models for commercial gain. There's the unfortunate placement of mostly nude women near the innocent toddler touting the "Expanded Kid's line." And, yeah, Dov Charney sends shivers of nausea down my back, with his smarmy workplace ethics and seedy soft core porn ads (Don't get me started on the facial hair).

But, his unconventional creativity has built an empire and he uses his influence to fight some pretty worthy causes, like immigration and Prop 8. I usually respect and admire most things rogue and anti-establishment. In fact, it's kind of my thing.

So where did this passionate hipster disdain come from? Have I gone the way of the over the hill counter culture crusader turned yuppie? Maybe I'm threatened by the next generation of young idealists. It's not entirely out of the question. Yours Truly is not impervious to the occasional bout of petty jealousy. (Hello, Heidi Klum in a bikini? Bitch.)

Or maybe hipsters are the new teenyboppers. A subculture of superficial skinny jeans searching for the shiniest object.

Whatever the case, I can't shake it. But I don't want to close my mind and become a judgmental old coot. I'm pretty sure some of my friends might in fact be hipsters. Possibly even my own father. (Yes, it's true. He is partial to avant garde art and gold lame tights and I love him dearly for it).

So, here's the deal, I promise not to judge you by your tight fitting ironic tee. But, I will not give up my LATFH addiction.

And, I will do my best to not buy anything retail from American Apparel. While I support their fair wage practices and endorse many of their causes, Charney makes me feel dirty. It will be hard, but I will have to find my mesh unitards somewhere else with a little more class. Like

PS As a special belated Holiday gift, I present to you the American Apparel Christmas ad. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Out With the Old, In With the New

The first time I heard the phrase "Play with a purpose" I scoffed and put into the Dr. Phil mom-ism category right alongside "Use your words." But lately, it's been playing on repeat in my head.

In painfully stereotypical fashion, I find myself introspective on the eve of a new decade. I even have a new mantra...Perspective. And, I find myself asking,

Am I playing with a purpose?

Or more appropriately, living with a purpose. At work. At home. With friends and family. When you think about it, there are so many tasks and obligations that we robotically perform every day. Do they have a purpose? And if not, why bother?

Resolutions aren't really my style. But, I do love a good What's In/What's Out feature. You know, where they trash last years trends and forecast next years- ie Britney is soooo last year. This year is all about Lindsay. (OK, so I clearly haven't picked up a magazine in 5 years, but you get the point.)

Anyway, for me 2010 is all about Perspective. So, if Perspective is In, then what's Out...

*C'mon. Not only is there always a recurring trend, but Yours Truly is nothing if not passionate.

Don't get me wrong, Independence is still hot. Snarky is kind of sexy. And let's face it, sometimes throwing punches feels damn good. I've been around long enough to know that what's old always becomes new again (Hello, leggings?) and what's In and what's Out is merely a matter of opinion. Or perspective.

So, tell me, what's your resolution, mantra or trend for the new year? I know you have one. Go ahead, use your words:)