Getting Your Hands Dirty in Social Media

New York City
Last week I traveled to New York to speak on the Women and Philanthropy panel at NYU’s Heyman Center for Philanthropy. Coordinated by NYU NYU Heyman Centerprofessor, author, and journalist Marcia Stepanek and moderated by NYU professor, journalist, and President of CauseWired, Tom Watson, I was honored to share the panel with author and social media expert Allison Fine, Vanessa Valenti, founder of Feministing, and filmmaker and app developer Nancy Schwartzman. We had a lively discussion about the ways in which women use social networks and their personal, authentic voices as free agents to push agendas, make their voices heard about issues that matter to them, and spur change both online and offline. We talked about some of the bigger issues from last year like the Susan G. Komen debacle and the rise of Malala’s voice through social media.

The audience that cold, wintry night was a mix of students and those working in the nonprofit sector in some capacity. One point that was hammered home, especially by Allison and me, is that in order to reach “real” people nonprofits have to be willing to get their hands dirty a little. They must be willing to try new communication approaches and not be afraid to fail. Everyone who works in social media has been dinged up a bit by trying something new and failing miserably. Oh, yes, we all have cuts and bruises from putting ideas out on social media and they don’t resonate. It’s all a part of the new media landscape. You win some and you lose some, but you’ll never learn if you don’t try.

Social media has democratized conversations on the Web and has completely changed the power structure of online communication. Many organizations especially those that are still used to talking at and down to people  – are now least effective at talking to people. It’s not about over-thinking strategy. It’s about getting down to the basics. That is, going to where people are and talking to them whether that’s on Twitter or Instagram. In this day, walls must come down in order to reach new audiences.

After our panel – which was exhilarating beyond measure – I reminisced on how much I miss talking on panels. I used to speak at all of the major mom blogging conferences and I must say the exchange of ideas was really great. Now I look forward to speaking more about social media for social good, the digital space, and how causes and nonprofits can best utilize new media to open conversations about what they’re doing.

Photos of New York

Going to New York would, of course, be useless without walking the streets and taking a few photos. When I’m in the city I soak in as much of the Big Apple before I’m off again for home.

New York City

New York City

New York

Going Home

And then, like that, the very next day we were on our way home traveling south on 1-81 to take in the scenery. It was gorgeous after a fresh snow.




  1. I can tell how jazzed you were about your experience. Isn’t it great when you get that tingle back of something you enjoy? Sounds like a wonderful time Jennifer.

    When you mentioned the Susan G. Komen debacle I would have loved to have heard the panels thoughts. I came across my post regarding those actions and still can’t believe an organization of that size made such a huge mistake. Even though we’re using technology, we’re still human and the two combined can make for a lot of messes.

    Thank you for the NYC pictures!


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