Category Archives: Events

Will LGBT Losses Lead to Social Action?

For many of us, we’ve been waiting for the day that something, somewhere will change. However, we’ve been let down more times than we’ve rejoiced.

This weekend, I went to see the Secretariat (ps it was good), and as we’re sitting in the theater the first preview (The Dilemma) opens up with this line, “Smart cars are gay … like your parents chaperoning your dance…” My first thought was “That’s appalling,” followed by, “wait a second, this is a family movie and this theatre is filled with children.” My next thought was, “Are you kidding me!?! When was it okay to put this type of hateful language in a family-oriented movie? Kids are laughing because they now think it’s okay, since everything Vince Vaughn says and does is acceptable!” followed by lots of curse words.

In light of the four suicides and New York hate crimes, and then this preview, should cause some sort of uproar. So I can’t help but ask myself, will these senseless deaths bring collective social action?

I’ve seen videos for “It Gets Better,” a confrontational interview by Anderson Cooper, and more participation in NoH8. In September, I shared an article by Malcom Gladwell about how social media will not be the catalyst for social action. To be honest, I may or may not agree with this when it comes to support for a segmented group, the LGBT community. Together, local grassroots movements accompanied by online tactics, will help reach more people – to spread the message that enough is enough.

Photograph of last night's "die-in" at Grand Central Terminal by Gay City News


Last Friday, 400 gay rights activists hosted a flash mob against homophobia in New York’s Grand Central Terminal. Rallies were hosted across the nation (in San Francisco, Chicago and Fresno to name a few). However, it’s more than these events that will lead us to change. We need a recipe that includes political support and action, general education and awareness, allies across all political parties, and platform that will be difficult to turn away from – the premise that “everyone is created equal.” Maybe this time we’ll do more than talk.

By the way, the gay slur was removed from “The Dilemma” after pressure from GLAAD.


The Buzz: I Like It On

So by now you might have seen friends’ Facebook status updates starting with “I like it on …”, but your question is WTH is this? Well, October is Breast Awareness Month and the attempt is to unite women around the cause.  The movement mirrors the bra color status update that went viral in January, but I feel like this social media initiative, if I can loosely call it that, doesn’t really achieves anything. By the way, the “it” is their purse. Not a sexual innuendo, but you can see how it can be confusing.

This trend, which I am not partaking in, unlike Twilight fanatics and self-serve frozen yogurt, really does nothing. For me, the bra-color postings didn’t achieve much either, but at least it was tied to breasts and it made me think for a second about that region of my body, then I slowly lingered to the new bras or semi-annual sale at Victoria’s Secret. There were no causes or organizations associated, no real message and absolutely no call to action. What was I supposed to do after I posted my bra color? How about get examined or donate to help find the cure or to support survivors? Nope, none of that.

What honestly bugs me, aside from the obvious disconnect, is that the sexual innuendo here is so blatant that it’s immature. And breast cancer is no laughing matter. Was the point to get online outlets to write about it so that people could go look it up and then have an ah-ha moment? God I hope not. I think that what could have more meaningful impact is having us share the awkward stories of our first examine maybe through a “dislike.” Who knows – the possibilities are there! Whatever it is, it needs to connect us to a clear message with a clear call to action.

I understand that this is a touchy subject. My grandmother died of breast cancer. I get examined yearly and urge my mom and her sisters to get examined and actually talk about their risks. Please don’t take my words as being insensitive to breast cancer. It comes from two places – wishing we did more to raise awareness and raise funds for research and what I do on a daily basis – social media strategy. We have the ability to truly create change, impact behavior and generate meaningful awareness. I just don’t think “I like it on” does that.

What are your thoughts?

Social Media for Social Good

Yesterday, Susan Smith Ellis, CEO of (RED), shared her thoughts on how social media can dramatically impact cause-related efforts. RED has gained support from celebrities, companies and retailers and yes – us, the general public. On Sept. 23, they are launching “Social Good Day,” in collaboration with Mashable. The premise is that social media can make the world a better place.  At first, I immediately jumped up saying, “YES, it does!” But the reality is that social media isn’t what makes social good possible, rather, it’s just another channel to allow people to donate, volunteer and spread awareness. Social good requires ground level action first and foremost. The key is getting people there.

Social media does, however, allow anyone and everyone to show their support for a number of causes. One increasingly popular means for cause-related support is celebrity endorsements.  From Ashton Kutcher to P!nk to Justin Bieber, celebrities who push issues they believe in – enlisting fans to take action. Through celeb support and their tweets and Facebook posts, more people are aware of issues that need our support, celebs aside.  The key again is to take action, not just awareness.

For someone who uses her star power for good, let’s look at Lady Gaga’s message to the Senate to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

The video has gained nearly 1 million views in a matter of 2 days. Since Gaga has entered the world (yes, I said world), she has urged her fans and non-fans to do something. At last week’s VMA’s, Gaga shared her support for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). Within 72 hours of her announcement, SLDN has more than 107K visitors, 93% of which were new visitors (via Politics Daily). Gaga also posted messages on Facebook and Twitter, revamped her site and urged Ellen viewers to call their senator. The call to action is timely, since the vote is this coming Tuesday. I’m interested to see how many people actually called their senator. Or if the number would have increased if the call to action was to sign an online petition.

The keys to leveraging social media for causes and non-profits are collaboration and action. Despite a newer platform, our purpose and goals should not change. Twitter, Facebook and online videos are just other ways to raise awareness to raise funds and volunteers. We still need grassroots advocacy and strategic partnerships (online and offline). So yes, I do believe that social media can lead to social good, but it’s only because it is rooted in “social.” And to me, social equates to people and a community that must first believe in doing that good.

What are your thoughts on social media for social good?

Life in a Day: Contest Update

In July, I shared a few of my favorite social media initiatives, including YouTube’s Life in a Day, a project with Ridley Scott as the executive producer. After a month of being live, the contest received 80,000 submissions! To showcase all of our submissions, YouTube launched a WereAllFan-like gallery that allows us to view and sort videos by tags, both topic specific and geo-tags. Additionally, the site allows us to view video submissions by using a heatmap, comparing and contrasting and even sorting by mood!

There are several things I like about YouTube’s Life in a Day. I love that this documentary will be solely driven by users across the globe. Everyone has a role to play and involvement was high, not only because of the prize, but the opportunity to be a part of something so much larger than yourself. The prize isn’t so bad either! Although not an original concept, I do like WereAllFans, and I also like the presentation of how YouTube showcased everyone’s submissions. I hear there’s more to come, so I’ll continue to share updates, and hopefully share an end of project results report summary.

Did you submit a video for the contest? Tell me about it!

Digital PharmaWest Key Learnings

tb_san_francisco_usa.jpgI wrote this post when I was in route home after three days at the Digital Pharma West Conference in San Francisco. Though the weather was beautiful and the food fantastic, I can’t help but reflect on the people I met, the things I learned and the ideas that I hope to one day execute (that will come at a later date).

The social media community is a unique one – it’s friendly, personal and uninhibited. Maybe this comes from the realization that social media allows us to get rid of the awkward introductions. You somewhat know the person, where they’re from, what they like, and if your views somewhat align. It makes conferences like these easier. Enough with my lovefest for social media folk – here are some key takeaways from the conference, that I think could be applicable to any industry (highly regulated or not).

Social Media Strategy is Needed, No Matter What People Say:

I know that people are tired of hearing that SM Strategy, but the fact is – it’s essential for companies who are in the crawling and even walking stages of social media implementation. Even for companies that are running marathons, a strategy helps to ensure that measureable goals and tactics, not the tools, direct align with that strategy. Plus, when review time comes – don’t you want to say, “Look what we’ve achieved?”

Transparency Authenticity are Key:

At the conference, there was a lot of discussion around transparency, but I’m going to go ahead and add authenticity in there because I feel like they go hand in hand. When we think about blogger outreach we need, we continue to stress the importance of FTC guidelines and disclosure. However, I think brands need to be transparent in their practices and participation in social. For example, if you’re moderating comments – state that. Never assume that something is common practice. Instead, state your purpose of your social media participation.

Authenticity is important for all companies in social media. What I’ve seen in pharma and other regulated industries, like financial, is that there is fear of a two-way dialogue. Social media is all about the conversation. If you don’t want to be a part of that, then maybe we need to think of other tools that align with your needs.

Know Your Audience, Don’t Assume:

While at the conference, I met Doctor Anonymous, who shared that many case studies were focused on orphan disease conditions, leading to high success rates because of a pure monopoly of the disease space. Some great studies were shared at the conference, but one that received great praise was Genentech’s online community for Cystic Fibrosis. This case study was one of them. Let’s set the results aside for now and focus on the research. Genentech provided us with an in-depth look at  their audience research – looking at not only demographics, but also attitudinal segmentation, recognizing how patients identified with their disease.

I think this is something each brand should do – and we never do enough of – look at who your audience is, what motivates them, where are they on their journey or life path, what are their burdens. Only then can we truly provide our audiences with what they truly want. After all, assuming only leads us down a dead-end road.

Define Your Business Objectives and Measure Against Them:

We’re in the middle of planning for 2011, and I had a great mentor who always asked me – “What are their business goals and how do they define success?” She said that if we couldn’t answer these questions, then we weren’t doing the best work for our clients’. After you define your goals, always remember to stay true to them. Especially with social media, we’ll need to make adjustments – but only if they directly align with our goals.

Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate:

I know it sounds silly, but collaboration across all lines and all levels only leads to success. I think that initially, it will be difficult to get everyone signed on, but the day of living in silos is over. PR needs to work with marketing and sales and yes, even your agencies need to talk. Yes, one person can make a difference – but that one person can’t do everything. Effective teamwork and collaboration across departments will lead to success for everyone. At the end of the day, that’s the moment that we’re all looking for.

And my final note – please do NOT hire a newly graduated college student to manage your brand’s social media practices. Yes, it’s great experience for them – but would you leave your brand’s reputation in the hands of someone who has no experience in the workforce, your brand voice, customer service or crisis management? I wouldn’t.

Overall, the conference provided me with opportunities for great discussions and the chance to meet smart people who are passionate about social media. Regardless of what field you’re in, I firmly believe that employees are truly seeking to help – help to connect people to products or services that will ultimately help the consumer.

The photo above was taken by Alistair Watters.