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Social Media | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother
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7 Steps To Finding Your Pet Via Facebook

The giant sucking sound you hear is the hole that opens in your heart when you realize your pet is missing.

If you are well connected on social media, Facebook and Twitter can help you look for your pet.  Here’s how to look on Facebook:

Digit's FB photo helped his owners find him!

  1. Have a digital picture of your pet on your computer.  Make it a shot where your pet is easily recognizable. I don’t recommend including people or kids in the shot. You want people to see the pet, not the people. Especially don’t recommend kids in the photo to protect their privacy.

  2. Make sure your Facebook friend lists includes some neighbors who live in your area.
  3. Find Facebook pages of media outlets in your area. WIKY in Evansville, Indiana, posts lost pet photos as a service to its fans. “Like” them. If none in your area offer this service, ask your favorite one if they will.
  4. If your pet disappears, post the picture of your missing pet on your wall.  Do this directly in Facebook, not from Hootsuite. You want the link to be sharable.
  5. In the caption area, tell the pet’s name, breed if it helps, any special characteristics, where the pet was lost, and contact info to reach you. If you have a landline and a cell, I would post the landline phone # as you don’t know where this will go.
  6. If a media outlet helps with this in your area, send the photo of your missing pet to them. 
  7. Ask your friends to share your photo with their friends, and pray the right person sees the photo. Be sure to ask them to show the picture to everyone in their family at home.

My Facebook friends had a Saturday night drama with a missing dog last night.  Digit’s owner posted this photo and the situation.  Her drama had a happy ending. 

 The daughter of a mutual friend of ours, who lives nearby, took her kids in a walk, hoping to see Digit.  They spotted Digit, cowering in the doorway of a nearby college fraternity.  Digit was terrified, but my friend’s resourceful daughter acted like a Dog Whisperer to calm him and coax him to their home.

Because our friend’s family had seen Digit’s photo on FB, they knew who he was and where he belonged.  They, and other friends began posting details of his find on different Facebook walls.  By this time, people who knew neither the owner nor Digit were part of the story.  We were all glad to read Digit was back home with his happy family.

Another friend posted on my wall that she had posted a photo on FB when her dog disappeared a month ago.  A friend saw the photo, was visiting the dog pound, and recognized her lost dog at the pound.  Her dog was saved because of a photo on Facebook.

Then a friend shared that she found a lost dog on her porch, posted his photo on FB, and he was returned to his owners. She added, “Facebook saved him.”

If you’re on Twitter, you could do the same with Twitpic and tweets, but that’s another blog.

Tragic Tweets

When I was 16, I leafed through my grandmother’s photo albums. In the trunk bottom, I opened an album of my uncle. The photo on the first page shocked me so much I set it down and cried for an hour.

I knew the story. My uncle died when he was 22, a paratrooper on leave, heading home.  His car hit a bridge embankment 3 miles from home, and he was killed instantly. My mother and her parents watched for 4 hours as they cut his body from the car.

Until that photo, I didn’t realize the horror.  A news photographer happened to stop by and take a graphic shot of the dead soldier in uniform in his car, with blood splattered everywhere. The shot was picked up by AP wires and printed in several newspapers.  My grandmother clipped the picture for the front of the album.

There was no newsworthy need for that graphic photo to be taken or printed. 

Now we see struggles between the immediate news coverage on Twitter and a family’s need for privacy.

I am grateful for real time updates on Twitter.  It’s helped me avoid traffic jams and be alert for problems.   I want to know news first.

I would hate to be in the shoes of a journalist with New Media expectations, when real time means right now.  

Now with Twitter, everyone is a journalist.  Now we can all be first to break the stories around us.

At the same time, I wonder what will be in the scrapbooks made today.  Will a mourning mother not only include a news photo but a Twitter stream of news media commentary?  Will it include screenshots of Facebook posts? Will another niece open up that scrapbook in 30 years and see graphic details that reduce her to tears?

Will that niece search Library of Congress archives and find those tweets posted in heat of the moment, from reporters and spectators? What will she read?

How do we balance real time news coverage with real life tragedies involving families whose lives can be shattered in a single moment?

How do we remember, in the impulse of the moment to post that tragedy or someone’s bad hair day that there’s a person in that photo with friends and relatives?

I have no simple answers but a final thought:

The picture we post could show the worst tragedy a family ever faces.

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Along Came a Spider – Real Time Problem Solving

Case study in how real people solve real problems faster via social media.

One week ago, I attended the Social Media Club of Evansville monthly meeting, where Robby Slaughter of BlogIndiana spoke about building business productivity with social media.  I met a new mom there, Talina, and we began to follow each other on Twitter.

Through Twitter, we learned of common ground as coffee lovers.  Then we learned we both blog, enjoy Excel, and try to be environmentally friendly parents.  She has a baby, and my kids are now teens. We commented on each other’s blogs and became friends via Facebook.

Last night, I saw her tweet she was trying to figure out what kind of spider she found in her house.  I asked her to post the picture on Facebook.  She posted it, and then I shared the photo, asking my friends who are pest control experts to ID the spider.  Within an hour, two competing local pest experts ID’d the spider.

Not only did they ID the spider – they had a civil conversation about spiders in general. By this morning, a 3rd pest pro had posted.  Among the 3 of them, they had ID’d the spider, discussed where it was usually found, assured us it was not poisonous, and given a quick way to get rid of the spider.

What did I learn on Facebook today? This varied color orb spider is large – they are usually this big in the fall.  It is an outdoor spider, usually found in soffets and on porches, spinning large webs by which it catches other insects.  Sometimes they eat so much when they fall to the ground, they are so full they “burst” on impact.

Oh – & what did I learn about social media? Last week, Robby Slaughter asked for a good definition of social media.  I said it’s a tool by which real people build and enhance relationships in the real world. 

Along came a spider and sat down beside her and proved the point.

This could be a case study in how companies on Twitter can be first responders to potential customers. 

But that is another blog altogether…

Caveman Skool

Caveman Skool was the ultimate place for ambitious cavemen.  Their graduates were heavy lifters and great hunters.  As word spread from fire to fire, they expanded to two classes.

One day, something new rolled towards the school fire: a wheel.

Alpha class cavemen had a new toy! They rolled it between each other.  One smashed rocks with it.  They raced it.  Instead of listening in Grunting While Lifting, they painted their wheel.  

Alpha Class Teacher roared and banged his stick: “No more wheels in my class! Back to basics!” He rolled the wheel down the hill and demand his students listen to him.  They did, except when his back was turned and they had farting contests.  Followed by burping contests.  But they were heavy lifters.

Beta class cavemen got a new toy too.  After they played with it awhile, Beta Class teacher looked at what captured the class attention.  He played with it.  Then he asked the class: “How can we use this? What happens if we take 2 wheels and put a stick between them?”

As the students played, they built the first cart.  Their Grunting While Lifting class became the first Mechanical Design class – how to design the best wheeled cart to do the heavy lifting while you push.  Students got more excited, worked together, and honed their design.  Alpha students watched them in between their grunting contests.

After graduation, the Alpha class could lift heavier weights.  But the Beta graduates got all the business because they used wheeled carts.  In time, the Alpha cavemen went to work for those Beta grads who played in class with that wheel.  In their time off, Alpha cavemen still had their farting, grunting, and burping contests.

In the Beta grads’ time off, they still kept playing with that distracting wheel.  They invented better carts, then levers, then pulleys, and changed the world.

If you’re a teacher today, how do you use laptops, the Internet, and Social Media?

Are they a distraction, or are they a tool by which your students are preparing to harness new opportunities in our Information Revolution?

Are you training them to be lifters or thinkers? Or both?

Is Your Social Media Network Disaster Ready?

My grandparents survived the worst tornado in American history on March 18, 1925, when a mile-wide tornado ripped a 219 mile path of destruction across the Midwest, killing 695 people and destroying 15,000 homes.  It took days to learn who had lived or died.

When an F3 tornado struck Evansville on Sunday, November 6, 2005, killing 25 people, I thought of “The Tornado.”  Thank God we had cell phones and Internet access.

Evansville immediately responded.  Brad Gair of FEMA commented, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a community of people come out so quickly to help each other. All communities come together after a disaster, but this one is exceptional.”  

Every church and group sought ways to help. More people wanted to help than there were means for them to do so.

I was part of a homeschool network with an email list of over 200 families in 3 states.  A Yahoo group was our social network of choice; 5 years ago, grownups avoided Facebook.

For 2 weeks, our community turned its email list into Info Central.  Each of our families connected with its own network of faith and family, and we could share information quickly.  One mom was asked one evening to prep 500 sack lunches for relief workers.  Within 2 hours, we had a church kitchen and called for volunteers/donations.  The next morning, food poured in along with volunteers.  We prepped and packed 500 lunches for the Red Cross by 10 a.m.

With our network, we got information before it hit the news.  A dad told us who to call to get listed as a volunteer.  Once areas opened, we used our list to post requests for basic needs.  If someone heard of an elderly couple with a front  yard full of trees to be cleared, we posted it, and someone helped.  I think every call for help we heard was met.

What we did by email in 2005 was an early form of what Twitter and Facebook do today.  In future disasters, I foresee mobile stations arriving to help people charge smartphones and provide emergency wi-fi access for victims.

Facebook can be more than Farmville.  It is a vital link in disaster preparedness.  

Is your social network ready for the next disaster?

(Tornado photo courtesy of Stock Xchng.)

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Churches: What’s Your Social Media Footprint?

Last month, Nibby Priest wrote, Are You an Evangelist for Your Community?  

Take that a step further – Are You a Social Media Evangelist for Your Church?  How does your church make use of Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, blogs, and Foursquare to reach out to its congregation and beyond?

How does a church approach with new evangelization?

Reserve your name: Even if you don’t plan to use them now, go to social media sites and reserve your name before someone else does.   You can use them later.

Listen first: Listen to your community and people’s concerns.  How can you best be a beacon of light to the hurting?  St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times.  Use words if necessary.”  Listening and helping people works better on social media than standing on a corner posting Bible verses constantly. Don’t proselytize as people will unfriend and unfollow you.

Be generous: Promote and encourage good people in your area.  Share opportunities and ways to help the poor and serve your community.

Be real: Who you are Sunday morning should not contradict who you are Saturday night on the town or Wednesday morning in the office.  Neither should photos or videos.

Where do you get started? 

If you do social media well, it will boost your search engine optimization and make your church’s website appear higher on Google rankings.

Facebook – begin with a Fan Page.  Fan pages work best for public groups to reach others and share information quickly.  Groups work best for private groups where you select and restrict members.

Twitter – we need more Twittering pastors who can be funny, engage in conversation, and lift people’s spirits. Writing in 140 characters or less makes writing more concise.

Youtube – start a video blog with a simple message and talented musicians in your church.  Keep it short.

Blogs – post blogs of no more than 450 words to encourage people.

Foursquare – make sure your church’s location is listed on Foursquare.  Someone can post a tip of when services are held.  Members who are comfortable doing so can “check in” when they are there, and your church’s location with a map will show on anyone using Foursquare in your area.  Visitors who search Foursquare will see your church and see that it is a congregation with active, welcoming members.

Real life relationships begin and can be made stronger with social media.

For centuries, missionaries ventured to foreign lands and mastered new languages to evangelize.  That is still important.

We have a new way to share.

In the beginning was the Word.  Now the Word can be tweeted, blogged, and YouTubed. 

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If My Grandma Had Had Facebook

Grandma’s four-room house in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains looked small outside but was huge inside.  Born into a fighting Scot-Irish farm family who plowed fields by day as they argued Shakespeare and the Bible by candlelight, Grandma fought daily battles.  A survivor of polio and rheumatic fever, Grandma walked with the aid of a walker more by will than ability.  

Her oldest sister taught her in a one-room log schoolhouse with 60 students, and Grandma was the only one of her sisters not to attend college.  She couldn’t manage the steps into the buildings and stayed home.  The only times I ever knew Grandma to leave her own home were when she went to the doctor and sometimes when she visited us.  Getting her in and out of the car, and up and down stairs, was a whole family effort.  Those were the days before scooters, ramps, and the Americans with Disability Act.

The walls of Grandma’s house contained neither her heart nor her mind.  The sharpest of her sisters, Grandma devoured books and newspapers.  She could debate theological points as well as public policy but preferred arguing with her sister about whether cranberry salad should have lemon or mixed fruit Jell-o.  Though Grandma couldn’t leave home, everyone around her knew of her baking.  Bake sale organizers asked her to make pies and cakes because whatever she made was the first sold.  Those who were homeless and hungry also knew where Grandma lived because she fed anyone who knocked on her door.

Grandma was also known for her sharp temper, wicked tongue, and crack shot.  Once in her 70’s, she was alone in her home as my grandfather hauled produce on a long distance truck route.  When Grandma heard an intruder, she balanced her shotgun on her walker, turned on the porch lights, aimed, and yelled, “Take one step closer and I’ll blow your balls off.”  The intruder left intact. 

I never knew until her funeral how many lives she touched.  People I didn’t know thanked me because Grandma had tutored them so they could pass high school or their GED.  The lady who could barely walk and only graduated from 8th grade, gave other mountain families the tools they needed for a modern world.

How I wish Grandma had had social media so we could have skyped.  She would have devoured Twitter conversations and turned the world on its end with her biting wit.  Maybe I would have mastered her flaky pie crusts through a Youtube demo.  

In my Dickensian childhood, I could always count on Grandma to stand in my corner.  She was and is a huge influence on who I am today.  Had she had social media, then more of the world would have known this incredible woman who shared her heart and her mind with her family.  The Internet would have torn down the walls of her home and the restrictions of her disabilities.

Maybe you do get to know her.  Sometimes when I write, I can almost feel her standing in a cloud, cheering me on to keep going. 

Thanks, Grandma.

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Guest Blogging at Kyle Lacy

Thanks to Kyle Lacy for hosting a guest blog of mine today, Disco is Dead and So is the Lone Ranger. Curious? Want to read more?
Go to: http://ow.ly/1pMgQ

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