Sunday, May 8, 2011

Going Grassroots with Social Media

Recently written on adj-l (Contingent Faculty List):

Hey, I'd like to use Twitter and Facebook to get more support and awareness. What links should I pass around? Let's go Egyptian! It's gotta be grassroots or it won't work.

I've been thinking about blogging a series on just this and intend to recycle my reply by x-posting to one or more of my blogs. The listero's (Spanish for list member) question certainly adds to my motivation, so send questions, suggest topics, etc ~ the more focused and specific the better. 

How to get started?
Homework - reading articles,visiting sites, etc - helps but not unless you spend time in the media, getting familiar with it, actually using it.

What links?
If that were part of a thesis statement, I'd hand it back with your head on a platter: "too vague and general, be more specific." See above.

For starters though, post resource links, links to major adjunct related sites or ones covering adjunct issues, organizations, adjunct blogs, especially ones that represent adjunct groups and/or post regularly on adjunct and related issues (unions, academic labor, temp/precariat labor, higher education, etc).

Going Grassroots:

To build build and expand a online adjunct network, we must support, share, forward, follow, repost and recommend each other ~ even in the absence of reciprocity. That's what "grassroots" is about: not posting just to a closed list of several hundred ~ or even thousands. According to writer, consultant and teacher on the social and economic effects of internet technologies Clay Shirky in his book of the same and Joyce inspired title, social media organizing is "Here comes Everybody. Also, see Shirky's presentation on how social media are changing the way we organizeAnother, obviously Shirky inspired, SlideShare presentation, "There goes everybody," addresses social media and civic engagement. 

Neophyte social media enthusiasts often overlook putting in the time to tend and maintain that Facebook page or Twitter account. You can't just open accounts, announce your presence and wait for lightening to strike. That doesn't work for static web1.0 pages, even less with web 2.0 (a useful if oversimplified distinction). 

Even limited to Facebook and Twitter with a quick aside to blogging and rss, this is a lot to take in. Don't try to do it all at once: start with one to immerse yourself, test the waters. Likewise, using social media to build a grassroots network and eventually organize from it does not mean you have to invest huge amounts of time or even use every single social media network or platform out there. Be honest about how much time you can or want to spare, decide which make the best use of that time and that you are most comfortable with. In time you can consider adding to your repertoire.

After investing time surfing-to-reconnoiter the twittiverse, get started by opening a Twitter account. Post a few comments and, preferably, links with comments. Use a link shortener so as no to waste characters. You have only one 140 to make your point. Run some searches using search blank at the top of the page. Find twitter accounts or twitterers (tweeps) that interest you and are relevant to to your purpose. Follow them. Some will follow you back. You can save searches too. Retweet (RT) interesting/relevant tweets, post new ones (links, brief comments), follow and you are on your way.

You can use your own profile page or create a public issue/topic/organization page. As with Twitter, take the time to look around, search for, visit and "like" (analogous to following) relevant pages. Post comments there. Then create a page, like relevant relevant pages that you want to like you to, share them on your page, post them to your wall, tag them in updates. OK I can see I might be getting ahead of myself here. Facebook, like Twitter deserves its own "Growing Grassroots" post. Both - and others - will get them. 

Use a syndication auto-post app to post notices those to both Twitter and Facebook automatically, as well as tweeting Facebook page updates. Add badges and widgets for feeds to blog sidebar. If not, consider trying blogging lite on one of the super easy blogging platforms and with assistance of feeds and blogging specific apps.

OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA: yes, there many more. Fcbk and Twttr are only the tip of the social media iceberg. As above, more anon. More too about feeds, sources, curating content. 

EMAIL (which includes groups, listservs as well as personal media) still matters, still very effective ~ ranked by many as most effective. Don't short change email: integrate it. DITTO STATIC WEBPAGES

Online or off, networking (social networking predates the internet social media by centuries if not millennia) to build an adjunct grassroots network should be cooperative and complementary not competitive/ exclusionary. We've got the numbers and the means. The rest is up to us. Let not the A stand for Apathy.

Hope this helps... please comment. Share your questions, suggestions, ideas for topics. 

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