This question recently came up in an online group I'm part of (this is an edited version of the ask, keeping the questioner and the group anonymous):
What is the benefit of "Jewish" learning and conversation about social media, online comms or video when the content is arguably secular?
...I wonder if... we aren't collectively imposing a filter on learning from outside the Jewish community. A cognitive tax penalty on useful information that isn't overtly Jewish, from Jews, for Jews, or in a Jewishly convened space. A way of moving slower, on purpose, because a particular useful info-nugget or best practice didn't come from a Jewish authorized source.
The best real world evidence for this might be the proliferation of synagogue membership software that is often more expensive, harder to use, with less features, than what is available to anyone willing to browse the database market...
It was a prescient question. Here's what I wrote in response:
A couple things (and I can't guarantee this is going to be any different than what you've heard elsewhere, but hey)-It's because there is value to learning about social media from/with other Jews because of commonality of language, environment, experience, community, goals, etc. (The same could be argued about the nonprofit community - yes, learning about the ways businesses, governments, individuals, and other kinds of groups are using these tools is valuable, but there's a different set of concerns or values or a worldview that it's also important to address.)
It's because social media isn't about technology (well, it is, but you know), it's about people, and we're all talking about one particular group of people. (Not to suggest that Jews are at all homogeneous.)
It's also because it feels safe. And maybe validating. And it's just what we do.
And I'm sure there are other reasons.
And, to be honest, I think a lot of us are actively learning about these things outside of the Jewish world - individually. I went to NTEN (and the #SM4NP conference, and New York Social Media Week) and can name 10 other "professional Jews" from the area off the top of my head who also went. We're bringing that learning back to our community, and groups like this, and even keeping up ties with those folks we learned from/with in those spaces.
I do think the Jewish community does a lot of "navel-gazing" (not a term I've ever really used, but I keep hearing it). We too often look to ourselves - and only ourselves - for answers and fall behind because of it. And I think many of us who work in an open, social, networked way, and rely on these technologies, and see the benefit in them aren't necessarily the ones deciding which synagogue membership software is best. In that respect, you're touching more on a generational/leadership issue than a social media one.
I'm glad you asked the question; I think it's an important and relevant one. I'd be curious to hear others' responses.
And I'd be curious to hear yours...
A bit of Torah for you, dear readers...
This week's parsha is Miketz, in which, among other things, Joseph (of Technicolor Dreamcoat fame) interprets Pharaoh's dreams, rises to power, saves the nation, and is confronted by his family.
The Haftarah is also amazing - about the wise Solomon and the baby dispute.
But that Haftarah is almost never read because Miketz coincides with Chanukah. So we read a special Haftarah which has to do with lights and menorahs and the Temple and all kinds of fun stuff.
I would like to take a moment and talk about Joseph, dreams, and networks.
Joseph has had his share of ups and downs. He's favored by his father, but scoffed by his brothers; he gets superior treatment, but winds up in an Egyptian jail. But Joseph is a unique, persistent character and doesn't let his confining walls hold in his talent. He begins interpreting dreams for his fellow prisoners and word eventually reaches the Pharaoh that he's got someone very special locked up in his dungeons. And the rest is history... Joseph is called to Pharaoh, interprets his dreams, gets appointed viceroy, and saves the land from famine.
So what does this parsha imply for Jewish professionals working as network weavers in the 21st Century?Well, lots of things...Here are a couple of lessons I've drawn from this text (and I would love to hear yours):Pharaoh found Joseph in jail. So? Your next big idea could come from anywhere, and anyone.
When we talk about social capital (the trust, the things we do that hold us together in relationships, communities, and networks) we can either bridge or bond (or both). In a nutshell, bonding brings together folks with things in common, like a synagogue sisterhood. Bridging brings together more varied perspectives or types of people, like at an interfaith event. Really we're always doing both; bridging and bonding are like a continuum (and it's all a matter of perspective, anyhow - how different are we, really?). When Pharoah found Joseph, that was radical bridging. Where are we building these kinds of bridges? Do we recognize the potential when we see them?Not only that, both Pharaoh and Joseph listened.
Either side could have been completely disregarded for any number of reasons. Joseph could have used his influence to undercut Pharoah. Pharoah could have dismissed Joseph's talents as irrelevant or silly. But somehow they found a way to trust one another. When we bring new voices to the table, are we listening? Are we kicking off our relationships on a foundation of trust AND mutual benefit?They connected, they listened, they acted.
The famine was seven years down the road! But they had a vision, developed their system, and implemented it, step by step, to save the country.Do our partnerships end with words, or do we take action?Finally, there's something juicy in here about the power of dreams and networks.
Network-weavers, cheesy as it may sound, are dream-weavers (cue the 80's soundtrack). Our job is to listen, interpret, connect, and empower our networks to action. We are part-Pharaoh in recognizing the Josephs, part Joseph in listening and interpreting, but mostly we are the shomrim (watchers? keepers? guardians? there's not really an English translation I'm happy with) of the web that allows those players to connect. Those with dreams, those with the power to interpret, those with the drive to action.Here's a quote from the brilliant NetworkWeaving blog:Network weavers do three things.
1. They constantly learn about the assets and opportunities in the network. This includes the tangible and intangible, shared and isolated, well-engaged and unengaged talents, resources, funds, space, expertise, and knowledge available within the network.
2. They constantly learn about the dreams of people in the network. These are the passions inspiring what people are striving to create and pursue.
3. They constantly introduce and connect people with complementary dreams and assets.
We are dream-weavers.
One last thought - the "ketz" bit of Miketz
usually means "end." The opposite of a beginning. But of course the Torah is without beginning and without end... Another word for ketz
is "edge" - a possible ending, something a little scary, but also the potential for beginning something entirely new. I like that.What other lessons can we draw from this parsha?Do you see network weavers as dream-weavers? How has this connection played out for you in your work?
Originally published on Darim Online's blog, JewPoint0
Photo Credit: j&tplaman
Trying to get your community or organization engaged in networking through social media, but running into roadblocks with colleagues who aren’t quite there yet? Instead of getting frustrated over what’s not working, what’s not growing, let’s refocus.
What’s already happening online? Where are seeds just taking root? Where are the fertile areas you can cultivate, and spread from there?
Taking time to tend your social networking garden can be hugely rewarding for everyone, and will help spread the message of the power of online social networking to even the most skeptical colleagues when they see what fruit it can bear!Social Networking Gardening Tips: Step 1:
Seek out the gardeners. Find out who among the people you work with is blogging, tweeting, active on Facebook or LinkedIn, etc., by doing basic searches in those networks and asking around. See which friends you have in common – you may be surprised and delighted at the connections you find! Step 2:
Watch their seeds and shoots. Subscribe to posts and friend these folks in whatever way you feel most comfortable (adjust your privacy settings as needed). Put them in lists you can easily come back to (Twitter
), subscribe to blog posts via RSS
, and bookmark whatever other sites might be relevant. Step 3:
Add sunshine, water, and fertilizer regularly. Schedule a regular time to focus just on networking with these groups. Try taking ten minutes, two days a week, to go through the friend lists and RSS feeds you created and comment, reply, and retweet. Share resources you think might add value to that person’s work and suggest people they may gain from being in touch with. For some cases, it may be best to send a personal email or make a phone call to deepen the connection.Step 4
: Bonus step!
Find the other gardens where your gardeners’ seeds have taken root. Uncover the conversations where your colleagues and their work are being talked about that they might not even know of! Set up a Google Reader
or Google Alerts
. Go to Google Blog Search
. Type in the names of the people and/or institutions you work with and see what comes up. If there are a few meaningful, relevant results in the search, subscribe to that search by scrolling to the bottom of the page and clicking the RSS link. Check in on that RSS feed every now and again and share with those people the (good) news you found about them. Some additional tips:
Be sure to subscribe to comment feeds on the blog posts you reply to so you can see where the conversation goes and easily follow up.
Use a consistent username
across platforms so that folks will begin to recognize your presence and personality. This will also make yourself more searchable in the future.
Put a pause between your fingertips and the keyboard – think about your voice, tone, and the value you’re adding to the conversation. Be consistent. If your organization has one, make sure to adhere to the guidelines of the social media policy
, and develop that document as needed based on your interactions.
Don’t neglect IRL (in real life) and other media. Networks need to flow within and among different platforms to be truly effective. Mentioning a Facebook post in a phone call, or a blog comment in a coffee date, then tying those conversations back to their original host platform can be a great way to weave people and ideas.
Serendipity happens! Being active in social media means you open up all kinds of potential for new connections – whether you plan on it or not. Have an open mind and welcome the unexpected!How have you found and cultivated the fertile areas in your organization? What resulted from these interactions?
Originally published in Darim Online's blog, JewPoint0
Facebook groups have changed a lot
in the past year or so, and they’re more powerful than ever. Here are some helpful hints to make your Facebook group a truly vibrant platform:Maximizing group features for networking and engagement:Tagging individuals in posts.
This is an excellent means of publicly introducing two (or more) folks within your group. Include bragging rights – what makes these members unique? Give them a question to explore together, and encourage the dialogue. This means you have to know your group – who they are, what they’re up to, what they need, etc. Think:
The power of pictures.
- How can I encourage others to use the group in the same way, not just as a means for marketing/broadcasting information?
- How do I go from network weaver to empowering others to weave one another?
Facebook is a “picture economy”
(whereas Twitter is a “link economy”
); pics are the most engaged content, the most in-demand. Pictures are great conversation starters. Tagging folks in pictures and asking them to tag themselves
also increases engagement, puts a face to a name, and humanizes the process by bridging online and on-land worlds.Questions and polling
. Thoughtful, simple, directed questions can be a powerful engagement mechanism. Think about allowing others to add their own options to the poll – when is it appropriate, and when is it unnecessary or confusing. Expect to get answers both in the poll itself and in the comments, and run with both!Group chat.
Facebook groups mostly function asynchronously, but a synchronous activity now and again can really rally the troops. (Note: this feature does not function with groups of 250 members or more.
) Consider the following:
- What are the deeper conversations your group seems inclined to have?
- Can you assign someone to host that conversation and empower them to lead the charge?
Docs are like super-simple wikis, and probably the most truly collaborative aspect of a Facebook group. Because they are collaboratively editable, they are great for anything that requires a teasing out a group voice – agendas, statements or announcements, etc.
- Docs live in a designated place within your group and are therefore not as subject to the news feed, which is more timely. Docs are great for posting information that you plan to come back to again and again.
- Conversations will naturally spring up in the comments section of your document. It’s important to manage the flow between what is being written in the doc and what’s happening in the comments.
Creating a group event for actual in-person meetings makes a lot of sense, but there are other ways the events feature can be used – general publicity, announcements, calls to action, booking a time for a group chat, etc.
Other big ideas:Have a goal for the group
- Events need not be restricted to members of the group. Use them when you want to introduce a broader audience to your group’s good work.
- Bear in mind – events can be great, but tend to get lost in the new Facebook layout. Timing is key. Be conscious of who you are reminding of the event and how often. Remember you can also post the event’s unique link to the group or your personal profile page.
- Finally, events, like docs, also have a comment stream attached. Monitor accordingly.
, or at least a project everyone can rally around. Give the group a sense of purpose.No one person “owns” a Facebook group.
It belongs equally to all the members and should be treated as such. (Think about using the Docs to build a group statement of values – decide as a community how you will use the group and treat one another while active in it.)It’s easier to post than to reply. Engagement takes investment.
Try setting aside a specific block of time every day or week to monitor and engage the group. Ask other members to do the same – spread the responsibility around and see what kind of ROE (return on engagement) you get.No medium exists in a vacuum.
Think about the relationships between what happens in the group, on Facebook in general, over email, on the phone, in person, at events, etc. To be truly effective, the online experience should be tied – topically, in culture, in voice, in attitude – to the experience(s) of the group in other spaces.
Groups don’t provide hard analytical data the way Pages do, so it’s up to you to gather both the qualitative and quantitative results.
How have you made Facebook Groups work for you? What are your success stories?
- Who’s posting most often? Who’s replying?
- What topics are folks posting about? What topics are getting the most feedback and engagement?
- What times of day are people posting?
- Are members typically sharing links, photos, videos, event invitations?
- What else can you learn about your members through their activity? What do they care about?
Musician friends! Care to join me in a last-minute undertaking to do some good?
Remember Playing for Change
, that awesome series of videos of people from all over the world playing the same song, spliced together in expertly-edited harmony? It was amazing, right?
So, Playing for Change
is now a foundation that is "dedicated to connecting the world through music by providing resources to musicians and their communities around the world." Yes. Also amazing. Sign me up.
The first Playing for Change Day
is happening this year on Sept. 17th (now you get the whole last-minute part, right?). It is "
a global day of action where musicians of all varieties perform on stages, cafés, city squares, and street corners worldwide and raise money to bring music into the lives of young people." The money raised from events on Playing for Change Day will go to building music schools, establishing music and arts programs, buying instruments, and connecting kids and their communities.
So, I clearly just found out about this, but I'm excited. And I hope you are too. It's late to put together a really effective on-land event, but, dear musician type folks, it is not too late to make something awesome happen online.
Care to join me in putting together an as-yet undefined worldwide music something on Sept. 17th? Get in touch! Email
, leave your thoughts in the comments, whatever. Let's make this happen.
(Insert obligatory, half-hearted "sorry I haven't blogged recently" comment here. Okay, moving on.)
This past Monday and Tuesday I was pleased to be attending the Jewish Outreach Institute's Judaism 2030
conference. It was mostly a fantastic event, full of great networking and thoughtful, exciting presentations. I was tweeting madly the whole time.
After getting back, my head buzzing with big ideas and the thrill of new connections, I decided, what the heck, I'll check my Klout
score. Turns out two days of non-stop Twitter chatter had bumped me up six points.
is a site that measures a person's influence online. They've developed an impressive array of graphs, charts, and other visual paraphernalia to help you break down and analyze your influence, and compare it with others'. Once you've seen your score, you also have the option of sharing it through your social networks.
I, apparently, am "effertively using social media to influence my network across a variety of topics." I am a Networker. It made me proud to hear that - this ridiculous bit of digital validation was kinda cool. Being someone who actively tries to connect cool people, it was nice to see the interwebs recognize and reward those efforts with a tidy little score.
Humans love to measure things. We love to compare. When we have those numbers, those qualifiers, it helps us make sense of the world. We can put things in categories and extract them as needed. But do these measurements really mean anything?
But networking is not about numbers. It's about people, about connections, about making meaning and building enduring, mutually beneficial relationships.
So, what's the relationship between the numbers and the people behind them? Do you tout your Klout? To what end?