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Archive for July, 2010

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Social networking doesn’t work. Crowdsourcing doesn’t work. Nobody cares.
Most of the folks who come to these conclusions don’t even bother to post them publicly (although plenty do). It’s enough that they posted a question, asked for help in a topical forum, or tried to build a community online. And nothing happened.
Perhaps nothing happened despite a firm belief that something would happen. Heck, ‘thought leaders’ are making thousands a day in speaking fees and making the best-seller list preaching that it will happen. Even if sometimes we’re not on the same page about what it is.
The power of the crowd. Collective consciousness. Socialized business processes. Social media. The gift economy. Personal brand. Somebody is making it off of all this stuff.
Got a question? Just post it on Twitter and you’ll get an answer. Need a government job? Join LinkedIn and GovLoop. You write and need an income? Google Adwords.
Maybe no one says it exactly like that, but that is what is conveyed. And it doesn’t work.

What Does Work
Social networking is perhaps best simply described as community building on the Web. It’s not terribly different than networking offline really, although it’s now much easier to get a message out to more people. But when it looks easy, it usually isn’t. Some of it is luck – the million-view YouTube video is a rare phenomenon among millions of lame self-produced videos. Social media? Blogging is really just a simple publishing platform, and, like many a poet and an artist throughout history, not many are making a living off of it.
Most of this is just hard, hard work, training and consistency, just like traditional activism and political and cause campaigning, just like other modes of self-employment.
Some of us do get our questions answered on Twitter, usually because we’ve answered literally hundreds of other people’s questions first. And the folks making a living at building online communities are generally making that living because they work really, really hard.
Hard work, and perhaps a little luck. It’s always been what leads to things working out, and it’s the same today.

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Did you know that you can blog any public photo right from Flickr? Until very recently, I didn’t. Now I’m happily populating two personal blogs (Adriel Hampton and Travel Tokyo) and my Twitter account with fresh and archived shots from my photostream.
It’s dead simple to link your blogs and Twitter account to Flickr. One you do, it’s a few clicks to posting new content. Flickr’s blog integration allows you to write your blog or edit a tweet right from the site and the native formatting is sound.
Flickr supports:
  • Atom Enabled Blogs
  • Blogger
  • LiveJournal
  • Manila
  • Meta Weblog API Enabled Blogs
  • Movable Type
  • Typepad
  • Vox
  • WordPress
  • Twitter

Aside from fun personal use, this is a great tool for government communicators, as documenting events can quickly turn into a whole range of content for your social media efforts, from photo sets to a week’s worth of tweets to a great blog post with key context or the event press release. You can also use others’ photos to populate social media streams, just be sure to check for appropriate licensing.
I’d long used Flickr for research, and admired the work of many fine professional photographers. But it’s only upon recent experimentation that I realized how foundational it can be for social Web content creation efforts.
Dan Slee, a UK local government communicator and avid blogger and photographer, recently wrote a great post about 11 ways local government can use Flickr, calling it “a Cinderella social media platform without a Stephen Fry to champion it.”
Without a celebrity champion, Flickr’s great qualities are just going to have to stand for themselves. Check it out, and if you do, be sure to add me as a contact. I’d love to see what you’re up to.

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