Twitter made me who I am.

Twitter made me who I am

That probably sounds like a loaded claim, right? One more crazy social media obsessor, trying to find overt ways to justify our social media overuse. I know, the title’s a little “extreme.” Twitter isn’t the only thing that’s led me … Continue reading

Eat some Wendy’s. Win $6,000. Sounds like a good day. [Sweepstakes]

Wendy's #6SecondsFlat flatbread #CNCL6

When you work in social media, you find yourself drawn to brands with a dynamic social media presence. I’ve mentioned that Southwest’s social media prowess further solidifies my love for them. Another example of this is Wendy’s. Wendy’s is by far … Continue reading

Why Younger Isn’t Always Better in Social Media Management

Foreword: I am a social media professional, although my title is technically “coordinator.” In many ways, I am a manager of social media, and I am an administrator on several outlets. I’m writing this as an expanded version of a … Continue reading

8 Ways Social Media Has Changed My Life

Some say it’s a fad, that it’ll disappear someday soon. We’ll someday relegate it to the “Remember when” category of conversation, along with things like Rainbow Bright, the Ford Pinto, and parachute pants…at least, according to some people. Personally, I feel that social media is permanently changing the face of communications. The way that we, as humans, interact is forever impacted by this “fad.” I can completely and honestly say that social media has changed my life in remarkable ways. In fact, I’ll list some of them for you.

1.) My career. It didn’t influence my career or alter my career. It gave me my career. Not only is social media a staple of my day-to-day responsibilities (and has been in every job I’ve had since I was 17), but it is the direct reason for four of the six internships I’ve had to date.

From left to right: Libby Hall (Digital Strategist), Dino Giacomazzi (farmer and dairyman), myself, and Josh Lysne (Head of Digital Strategy). Josh and Libby are wonderful members of my working community, and Dino was kind enough to host us and Katie Pinke at his dairy. All of this possible because of social media.

2.) My mentors. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have three outstanding mentors who care a great deal about my personally and professional success. Social media played a major role in all three of these relationships. My boss from my first ever marketing and communications gig, got me hooked on strategic social media implementation. Our shared interest and passion was valuable in building a strong, lasting professional relationship. While I haven’t worked for Matt in some time, I still value his opinion and try to check in with him every time I am in my hometown. The second mentor on my list found me through Twitter. He invited me to experience an internship at his advertising agency in Wisconsin, and even offered me a place to call home while I fulfilled it. He is always supportive, encouraging, and willing to lend an ear or offer advice anytime I ask. Finally, we have my newest mentor, who I also met via Twitter. She took me under her wing during and especially stressful period of life. She coaxed me out of my comfort zone and brought me to my current internship, in California, 2,100 miles (and a large case of culture shock) away from home. There is nothing I could say to properly convey the profound gratitude I have for these people, and others who have offered their guidance and support along the way.

She's not a "mentor," but she is a "role model." This is Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, and I. She was signing books three blocks away from campus, so I had (ditch class) to meet her! I was in heaven! She is one of my heroes. I found PW through social media, and learned about the book signing event through social media.

3.) My friends. Not only is social media a must for maintaining old friendships over long distances, but it is a fantastic means for building new relationships. College meant that my childhood friends split in different directions. My best friend moved to California when we were 19, and social media was the primary means for keeping that strong bond alive. Moreover, many of the newer friendships I’ve gained because of social media are strong. These are the sorts of friendships that blossom despite distance, and remain firm over time. I’ve gained some valuable comrades and metaphorical family members because of social media.

Myself and Amanda Sollman at the 2010 AgChat Foundation Conference. She is my "sister from another mister." She is a recent college graduate. Throughout the last year or so, we've been each other's almost constant comfort through the woes of college and our early careers. We met via Twitter and our friendship has continued to grow.

4. ) My experiences. A perfect example would be my current life situation. I’m doing an internship in California, over two thousand miles from home. In the last month, I have experienced more new and exciting things than I can even begin to list. All of this is possible because of social media. All of this is happening because I dared to try a new communications tool on the Internet.

5.) My outlook. This whole big wide world because a lot smaller thanks to social media. We have access to viewpoints, issues, arguments, and information we would have never had before. Because of the things and people I have been exposed to via social media, my views and perspective regarding both myself and the rest of the world have shifted permanently.

Myself and Mike Haley at the 2010 AgChat Foundation Conference. The John Deere shirts are part of a prank/inside joke. Mike and I met via Twitter in the early days of "agvocacy" and have been great friends since. Nearly every time we talk, Mike challenges me to rethink my perspective and consider my potential. That, and he's a dang funny guy.

6.) My self-awareness. When you put yourself in a situation where you may be interacting with any number of strangers at any given time (i.e., Twitter, Google+, etc.) you have to develop a self of tactfulness. You have to be more alert to your own words and actions. Once, I was accused of having no “inner-filter.” Now, I realize I run most of my thoughts through a battery of tests regarding how politically correct, well-worded, and efficient they are. (That’s not to say, I don’t occasionally have a slip-up where I say something awkward, inappropriate, or even slightly offensive…I’m human, and I’m young.)

7.) My critical thinking skills. I am not a digital strategist, by any means. Not in the least. However, I spend a lot of time and effort on the art of successfully conveying a message over social media. This has helped to encourage creativity and an innovative spirit, both of which are valuable to a young professional.

8.) My opportunities. Doors continue to be opened through social media. My life continues to shape and twist due to the new opportunities provided by social media. The entire world is literally at my doorstep, and because of the connections and networks I’ve built, I have infinitely more possibilities than ever before.

This is just skimming the surface. Social media continues to adapt my daily life in little ways. However, the big changes, the big effects, are indisputable proof that social media is a truly and lasting part of society.

So tell me, how has social media influenced your life? How does it continue to change your life?

Mixed Priorities

I’m a busy person.

This is not a secret or mystery, by any means. I work two jobs, I go to school full-time, and I volunteer with the AgChat Foundation. And I’m usually a “grab life by the horns” kind of girl. If there’s an opportunity to get involved, usually I’ll take it.

Tonight, I found myself auditioning for a series of mini-plays that our school’s theatre directing class puts on. These 10-15 minute plays serve as the finals for the students in the directing class. You can audition for as many or as few as you like. It’s been a tradition of mine to do these plays, known as “One-Acts”, and I’ve always enjoyed the experiences and friendships I’ve gained throughout. Two of my best friends were met through One-Acts. I auditioned for seven different One-Acts tonight, which is a fairly normal number.

When I checked the cast lists tonight, I found that my name was not included. I was sad, for a moment. Then I realized something: I’ve been burnt out on the things I’m passionate about lately, how could I possibly imagine taking on something so time-consuming and stressful as a short-term acting gig? I have to consider my priorities, and the things that have normally been at the top of the list have become scattered, unattended-to, and often forgotten. Even this blog, which I have a great emotional attachment to, has got without an update for too long.

This is a nice wake-up call.

I need to find my voice again. I need to find my feet and start walking back into the right direction. I’ve been a poor blogger, agvocate, and social media enthusiast.

It’s time to re-establish my priorities.

Thank you, theatre-disappointment, for reminding me what I’m truly passionate about.

The Impact of an Avatar

Social media is a fantastic way to stand up for what you believe in. I do this everyday through my Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accounts, as well as this blog. You show support for the things that mean something to you.

It’s refreshing to see this happening in regards to #foodthanks on both Twitter and Facebook. Not sure what I’m talking about?  You can see my blog post about it here or go straight to the source, FoodThanks.com. More and more, #foodthanks has gained traction as a social media campaign that people from all walks of life can agree with. People are tweeting about all the reasons why they’re thankful for the food they have and the people who raise, process, and prepare it. The thing that stands out most for me, however, is the unique and bold ways in which people are including #foodthanks graphics in their Twitter avatars.

Why does this stand out to me? Well, there’s a lot of noise on Twitter. According to research from integrated marketing firm Sysomos, the everyday Twitter user follows somewhere in the ballpark of 100 people. Not every 100 of those people really “matter” to the person following them; to say otherwise would be a lie. Yet, glancing through a stream, an avatar can serve as a snapshot of what your account stands for. It’s a glimpse at what you might possibly be tweeting about.

The sheer mass of people using #foodthanks graphics in their Twitter avatars means that the reach of this campaign is huge. As of 2:28 p.m. on Tuesday, November 23 (the day before the official #foodthanks campaign), over 135 people have #foodthanks-related avatars. Whether it’s through a Twibbon, through using the graphics supplied on the official #foodthanks website, or by building customized #foodthanks graphics, that’s a lot of avatars around a unified cause put together last-minute.

So, figure the numbers on that. There are people in the AgChat community with as many as 11,000 followers. Even if the tweets get overlooked initially, there’s that avatar, looking back at them. More than once I’ve clicked on an avatar in curiosity, wondering what it was about. Many of those little journeys led me down paths I didn’t expect, but am glad to have experienced. In many ways, my involvement with the AgChat Foundation is the result of some accidental avatar-following.

So, as the numbers of #foodthanks avatars climb and we approach the big day, consider the impact of an avatar. Does it portray the message you want it to? Does it stand for something you believe in? Mine shows my #foodthanks, and I’m proud of that.