Last weekend was a blur of blog related activity in the ‘real world’. Blogging events with actual bloggers (Digital Parents Conference – DPCON – drinks and Bloggers BBQ) sandwiching an event where I talked to non bloggers about social media (the Australian Public Service Commission ethics meeting). (The Digital Parents Conference was on Friday but I did not attend as I was in Canberra.)
The events left me buzzing and feeling flat at the same time. On the one hand, I could talk about blogging all day – I really do get excited by this. The people I met were lovely. I saw old friends and made new friends – I LOVE meeting people ‘from the internet’. I received such lovely messages of support at all the events (Farmer’s Wifey told me to remember she loves me heaps, which made me teary. Dorothy said some beautiful words to me, and I admire her strength. Lori was so supportive of me. Mrs Woog got me excited about New York and BlogHer. Kirrily and I had a beautiful chat. I finally met Pip from Meet me at Mikes. Bianca from Big Words Blog and I had lunch. And there were so many more.).
Blogging is such a niche activity and community that I don’t think it helps to break down the niches any further. That promotes exclusion, and it’s hard when we’re all trying to find our place, find our voice.
I’ve been wondering if I am doing the wrong thing with blogging. No PR people are interested. A disability/chronic illness/food/fashion/band review blog isn’t sexy. Chronic illness doesn’t sell.
And then I saw this tweet:
“I’m so tired of ‘experts’ lecturing the truly talented. #dpcon12 #noteventhere” – Lisa Lintern
And I felt so strongly about this. We as bloggers know what we’re doing. We do things to suit ourselves, to tell our own stories. We may not know everything there is about blogging, but there are no rules. We are our own editors, our own censors and our own storytellers. Guidance helps, but shouldn’t change how we’re doing things.
Plus, I had SO many wonderful bloggers come to talk to me at the DPCON drinks and Bloggers BBQ, telling me they love my blog, they love my writing, they can relate to it, and they think that my blog posts recently are some of my best work. Wow! Thank you ladies. Thank you. I really want to stay in touch with you. Their comments reassured me I’m not doing anything wrong. In fact, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, and enjoy it, and take pride in knowing others are enjoying my work.
I took this photo of the sunrise from the plane on the way to Canberra. I think it signified the new lease I have on blogging, following the weekend’s events.
Speaking on the discussion panel at the Australian Public Service Commission was a fantastic experience. I was honoured to be a part of it. It was an internal government event, so I don’t want to reveal too much, but these are the points I took away from it:
- There is an assumption that only young people use social media in damaging ways. I don’t believe this is true. I believe that many young people are so digitally literate that they are aware of consequences of misusing social media. I also think the bloggers that I connect with (many in the 35-50 age group) are very social media savvy. Conversely I’ve seen some adults (older than me) make some clangers on social media – public arguments on Facebook and blogs, sharing personal information too freely). We shouldn’t make assumptions that poor social media use is limited to a certain age group.
- As I wrote here, there is a blur of boundaries between social media use outside work vs social media use on work resources. Perhaps the notion of ‘limited personal use of IT equipment’ on work resources applies to the use of social media in and out of work time? It’s so tricky.
- It’s hard to define what’s public and private when it comes to social media. I have the motto – write for the world to see. Even though my personal Facebook page is set to private, is it really private when I have 1400 ‘friends’? And even though bloggers write to the ‘anonymous’ internet, it’s public. People forget this.
- You can control your own use of social media, but what about what others post on your Facebook wall or comment on your blog? I have, in some cases, removed posts on my Facebook page, when people start criticising the organisation I work for. And then I private message them, telling them that I am not comfortable with them criticising my workplace (particularly the service it provides) on my Facebook page.
- It is difficult controlling the way clients criticise the organisation on the organisation’s Facebook page or via Twitter or on a blog. It’s particularly damaging when the attacks are toward an individual staff member. But the organisation should also be open to feedback.
- Perhaps instead of discouraging (young) people from putting potentially damaging photos and statuses online, we should be encouraging people to put all the positive things about themselves online – to give the best impression to future employers!
- It’s also difficult to enforce rules around social media when an organisation does not have a social media policy or it is not circulated.
- I believe that social media policies should be set by policy makers who understand and use social media, and aware of its risks and benefits. Many people are quite closed due to its risks and cannot see its benefits.
The conversation touched on many topics about how to educate staff and the legal implications of social media misuse. To end the conversation, I put my hand up and said that it’s so important to remember the positives of social media. That it can be used to get important messages to staff in times of crisis. That it allows people to connect when they otherwise may be housebound. That brands are really connecting with customers via social media.That it gives bloggers like me a voice. And I am going to the UK to speak at a conference and for work experience, and then to the US, all because I blog. That rocks.
I’d like to thank the Australian Public Service Commission for asking me to be a part of this event. It really made me think about the way social media is perceived, and the ways conservative organisations are approaching it – for the best. I’d also like to thank the Digital Parents and Bloggers BBQ teams for having me, despite not being a parent. I made a joke that I thought about having a baby just to get a product at the BBQ!
To end, I’ll leave you with this tweet (via About a Bugg) of a quote by Nikki Parkinson from Styling You. I think it applies to everyone’s use of social media. Bloggers, Facebookers, Tweeters and organisations that are using social media:
“The whole reason your blog is successful is you”.