Welcome to Part 2 of the ‘Joining the Conversation’ Series. Here I will explore some of the great places you can join this online conversation.
Ok, so I promise that from now on I will be a little less formal with my writing in this series. I just re-read Part 1, and felt like I was reading an academic report But, online security is a serious subject, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. So I hope you forgive me for my stuffy approach in Part 1, and bear with me as I lighten the mood a little.
Now lets get on to the fun stuff.
What excites me about the Internet is its diversity and uniqueness. It has something to offer all of us, and there is always a place we can express ourselves in our own unique way. But for lots of us it doesn’t come naturally, and may take a bit more courage and determination than others.
Widgets, Gadgets, and Blogs…are you tech savvy?
I love how our leaders are embracing new media (You are probably tired of hearing me go on about it). But, before going any further, have a look at this really quick video (1.20mins) about the importance of being brave and courageous when using technology (go Elder Perry!).
A Flitter or a Homebody?
To help you decide the best place to share your story, think about the kinds of face-to-face social experiences you enjoy the most.
1. Are you a flitter who likes to move from place to place, chatting and interacting with dozens and dozens of new and interesting people (I have a daughter like this)?
2. Are you a homebody who really loves the comfort of familiar people and places – happy to keep coming back to the familiar (this is definitely me in face-to-face situations)?
Online conversation and interaction is similar. When sharing your story, you want to feel comfortable doing it. If you’re feeling comfortable in a situation then you’re more likely to come across as genuine, and you will enjoy it far more.
Now let’s take a look at some of the online platforms available that can help us join the conversation and share our stories, whether you are a flitter or a homebody:
Social Network Sites
If you can express yourself in 140 characters or less (that’s characters, not words), then you’ll love this. Twitter is a social messaging platform where you can communicate and share with multiple people in real time.
There are currently around 100 million Twitter users in the world. Don’t let this scare you off tho’, because it’s very easy to locate an audience to share your message with.
Young people love this technology. It’s fast, viral and immediate. But surprisingly, many of my generation (baby boomers) are using it too, and using it very effectively. If you own any kind of smart phone (Blackberry, Android or iPhone) then it will fit right into your lifestyle – it can be used anywhere, anytime, and any place.
It’s perfect as a means of joining the conversation socially, and it’s a great way to connect with people who have similar interests.
For me, the jury is still out on this one. I use Twitter, but I know I’m not using it to its full potential. Not owning a smart phone myself, I can’t get the full benefit of it.
What I do use it for is to broadcast any blog posts I publish, and any requests I might have for comments or contributions. It’s a great support application if you are a blogger.
If you are a flitter, then you will love tweeting. As a homebody, it is better used as a support application.
Here are a couple of quick tutorials on how to set up and use a Twitter account:
One of the most popular social networking platforms, Facebook has grown to over 900 million users since its inception in 2004.
This platform would have to be one of the easiest and least threatening places to join the online conversation. You can begin by adding just family and close friends if you are new to online technologies. And there are several different privacy settings, so if you don’t feel comfortable being too public you can control who does and doesn’t see your profile.
As you become more comfortable with it, you can expand your friend base, and make some great connections along the way. It’s a non-threatening way to share your story.
It’s also another tool that bloggers can use as a support application to their blog. Pages, events and other group settings are there to help direct traffic to your primary source of conversation.
If you are a homebody, then Facebook is a great place to put your feet up and relax amongst friends.
If you like to flitter, then the sky is the limit when it comes to friends (well, actually I think there is a limit). It certainly offers the chance to connect with dozens and dozens of people.
These are all social networking sites where you can publicise information and share your ideas. They are similar to Facebook in that users can post statuses and comments to incite discussion, but are often more centralised within a particular interest group.
For me, the value of these platforms is found more in their supportive nature. Through them I can announce new blog posts and create interest in my primary source of conversation.
Blogs are for those who love to write and express themselves, who want to share experiences, and who feel confident about having a broad, long-term presence online.
They are a fantastic way to extend the conversation around your beliefs, and make lasting connections with people. They offer opportunities to tell your story, in a unique way, which is probably the most effective way of making a connection with like-minded people.
Blog topics can be as diverse as the world we live in. If you have a passion for something then a blog is the place where you can share that passion and connect with other people who have the same passion.
Even if you are not a blogger yourself, there is always the opportunity to leave comments on other blogs, which is a less time-consuming way to join the conversation.
Blogs suit both flitters and homebodies. They are so versatile that you can set them up to suit either social approach.
Tools for getting started with a blog
- Blogger – A very easy platform for first-time bloggers, and it’s free.
- WordPress – Similar to Blogger, but for the more advanced blogger. Wholly free to use, but there is also an option to purchase specific templates, and upload your own template, which allows greater design freedom.
- Tumblr – A cross between Blogger and Twitter. For people who like to micro-blog. It is also free.
Tapping Into Online Conversations
You might not be very interested in beginning a conversation online right away, but you may like to find ways of keeping up with the conversation. Most blogs and websites will offer multiple ways to follow them without having to contribute:
- RSS Feeds – Stands for ‘Really Simple Syndication’. These feeds bring new content, from any chosen blog or website, to your desktop. The feed compiles a list of updates from multiple sites of your choosing. Feeds are most often represented by this clickable symbol:
Generally, to receive feeds you need to download an RSS aggregator. But you may find that services like Yahoo! and Google offer internet based aggregators that don’t need to be downloaded.
Here is a simple video on how to set up your RSS Feeds (just skip the ad at the beginning):
Videojug – How to use RSS Feeds
- Subscriptions –Subscribing to specific sites means you will receive a notification to your chosen email account every time the blog or website is updated.
- Forums and Email Groups – Most email clients (Yahoo!, Gmail, MSN) offer forums and email groups – either public or private – that cover an endless assortment of interest groups.
- Editorials – Who needs traditional forms of a newspapers when you can get online, read the latest story, and enter the conversation immediately? The Internet offers interaction in anything from your local rag right up to the New York Times.
Feeds, subscriptions, forums, email groups and editorials are all great for flitters. It is here that you can find multiple networks, and connect to the flow of conversations that weave in and out of the Internet.
However, they are also good for the homebody. They allow you to track conversations within the places you feel most comfortable, without having to make your presence known until you are ready to.
Soooo, are you still with me? Lots here to digest, but I hope you have been able to get something from my discussion on places you can join the conversation.
Next week we get into the meat of it all, and discuss the ways we can enter the conversation: Looking at what kinds of things we can share, and what is the most effective way of conveying our story. Hope you can join me then…