Community needs its own CxO level representation at social tool companies

Facebook As Ferguson Firewall

When protests were erupting in Ferguson, Missouri (and in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, Washington DC and Seattle) after the Darren Wilson Grand Jury ruling in his fatal shooting of unarmed Michael Brown, my Twitter timeline was nothing but Ferguson. (I also had Ferguson-devoted Twitter lists to dip into.) But same as in August, when the shooting spurred protests which were met by a disproportionate show of force from a militarized local police, my Facebook timeline was animal videos.

In his reply, Tobin Davis is referring to the Orwellian scrubbing of the media that occurs in the Facebook newsfeed algorithm, which controls 30% of the news accessed by more than a billion people: 

“As soon as all the corrections which happened to be necessary in any particular number of the Times had been assembled and collated, that number would be reprinted, the original copy destroyed, and the corrected copy placed on the files in it’s stead. This process of continuation alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound tracks, cartoons, photographs–to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance. Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to be correct; nor was any item of news, or expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to be on record.”…George Orwell, “1984″

And it's Facebook's declared intention to become "'the perfect personalized newspaper for every person in the world'." 

Technosociologist Zeynep Tufekci writes: "algorithms have consequences."

Sarah Granger's The Digital Mystique

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 9.39.07 AMSo pleased to support digital life thinker and my fellow Seal Press author Sarah Granger's launch of The Digital Mystique. In The Digital Mystique: How the Culture of Connectivity Can Empower Your Life – Online and Off, Granger shows us how digital media is shaping our lives in real time.

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 9.37.47 AM Long before I moved to SF and met her at TEDx Bay Area's Global Women Entrepreneurs, I was following Sarah on Twitter  (since 2008!) where she was virtually taking me to the conferences and into the conversations I love about how digital life is shaping the way we learn, grow, and thrive. 

Sarah's shared her path to publishing this book and along the way I've been thrilled to share with Sarah my own experiences with the empowerment digital life can bring.

I really appreciate the enriching role she plays in her community, and thank her for recommending me as a speaker for the Exceptional Women in Publishing conference.

The book launch is September 9 in San Francisco at AppDynamics and will feature the viewing of an Emmy-nominated six minute video by Tiffany Shlain, an introduction by BlogHer cofounder Elisa Camahort Page, and remarks by the author.

Check out the book no matter where you are!

Curated By Others

When lots of other people curate the stream of content you create, what image of you emerges?

When other people curate your content for their own specialized communities, what emerges might be a multidimensional snapshot...a picture of your background, your interests, your training, your current activities, and, maybe, where you're headed.

Here's what I saw recently with a variety of online newspapers curations based on what I share on Twitter:

  • My archaeology past
  • my life in women's travel, cultural communications and expat coaching
  • my experience with publishing options
  • my role as a continuing education instructor at Udemy
  • my media past-present-and-future
  • my present in a coworking situation (and I'd add, my interest in the future of work.)

The snapshot is a gift, and I'm pleased and proud to be included in the below and other curations by people like Jeremy Silver,  a digital media investor, entrepreneur, adviser I met at TEDGlobal.

Click on any of the links to visit the daily version of the paper each owner auto-curates from chosen sources for his or her unique and focused community.

Thanks to these newspaper creators and content curators for including me as a source in their custom

SEO Yourself By Filling Out Your GooglePlus Profile

Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 5.28.42 PM

Your G+ profile page is a web-wide cheat sheet for you & everyone else.


And when it’s time to update your avatar, your bio, your tagline, or whenever you’ve got fresh content to share, it'll help you remember where you are online too.

By hot linking all the places you need to update you’ll make your task so much easier. Since your G+ profile is prioritized by the Google search engine, when someone searches for you, they’ll also find all the other places you exist online too.

That's from my latest guest post for Jan Gordon's Curatti: Editors of Chaos.

I've been writing a weekly series about online community building at this social business and marketing site. My posts so far have incorporated aspects of curation, storytelling, branding, content strategy, conversation, cocreation, collaboration, discoverability, persuasion, fascination and engagement -- as well as highlighting best practices and work of industry figures I see leading the way.

Some of my Curatti guest posts:

A Simple Strategy For Building A Global Network Isn't About You. Your Plan Has To Make The Network A No-Brainer For Its Users -- Not Its Builder

Which one of these is a 'simple' strategy for building a global network of people who have a range of digital abilities: a pervasive, cohesive presence with many online doors -- or one room in graveyard of the web?

Which one of these is a ‘simple’ digital strategy (true story!) of an organization that aims to build a global network from a millions-strong list of women it’s loosely associated with:

  • a pervasive, cohesive presence across multiple social networking services, a community with free flow of information -- with windows into other related rooms of your peers and corridors you can go down if and when you are ready, willing, able, that is, when are you motivated and enabled to connect and pursue what appeals to you about this gathered community,
  • OR, one room on a service known for not-loving its group functionality, a service littered with the skeletons of well-intentioned groups, a room that is 'easy' to open?

When you find yourself looking for a simple strategy to connect all your important people so they can finally get off an inert list of names and start to build closer ties, so you can ambiently be aware of your peers on a consistent basis, so you all can see each other and learn what everyone is up to, so you recognize your commonalities and your opportunities to collaborate, and so you can TAKE ACTION on your shared goals using the cost-effective, labor-saving, reach-amplifying online communication tools available in 2013, ask yourself this.

Simple for whom?

Is your plan simple for you, the community builder? Or is it simple for the community waiting to happen?

Mashable Lifestyle Features My Social Media Advice To College Students Applying To Grad School

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 12.47.35 PMThanks Mashable Lifestyle -- part of the Mashable news site for the connected generation, one of the largest blogs on the Internet-- for featuring my social media advice to college students in your new weekly Twitter chat on the digital life! Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 12.52.26 PM

Other guidance for college students applying I shared during the live tweeted #mashadvice column this week:


  • demo via social media (activities, blogs, commentary) strengths you'd include in your application
  • besides showing interest in a topic via social, also show *engagement* (what you DO about it)
  • Twitter, LI, any service: what's findable should reflect you/path you're on, match up w/what you present in applications
  • think about using Pinterest to create portfolios of your work (actual, or imagined-future), curate your vision
  • photos can be used as complement: to create atmosphere, demo aesthetic, show history

Online Self-Loathing & Surveillance

Screen Shot 2013-09-08 at 1.41.41 PM Personal branding online sure gets a bad rap, like this New Yorker post by Tony Tulathimutte, which warns us "You Are What You Tweet".

He's talking about the self-loathing variety of personal branding online -- heavy on the self-censorship with no mention of integrating what matters to you with the vulnerability that actually connects us as people,  both concepts we emphasize at GlobalNiche.

Tulathimutte concludes, "The more immediate threat may be the surrender of private identity: to perfect the total image of an impressive life, we prune off the parts of ourselves that can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t be seen."

Meanwhile, The Guardian writes about the psychological effects of surveillance. Research shows being surveilled fosters distrust, conformity and mediocrity.

I can't help noticing that the most deleterious effects of being watched seem to track with the defensive, inauthentic personal branding approach Tulathimutte writes about. As if when we reveal ourselves voluntarily we're avoiding actually being seen.

"Science can lay claim to a wealth of empirical evidence on the psychological effects of surveillance...indiscriminate intelligence-gathering presents a grave risk to our mental health, productivity, social cohesion, and ultimately our future."

That's serious business not to be taken lightly.

But do we have to approach the online presence we build as if we are being watched against our will? As if all we aim to communicate is 'successful' conformity (which is of course mediocre and gives the rest of us nothing to connect to).

Can we make being seen (when we choose it, that is) a path to our own resilience?


Sarah Kendzior makes a related point in Al Jazeera September 9, "The danger of data: Not the information, but the interpretation".

She writes: "Our online self-expression - selective and self-censored, complicated and contrived - is being mistaken for the summation of our being. The great existential fear is no longer not knowing who we are. It is not getting the chance to find out." 

Learn How To Curate Your Various Social Web Networks To Deliver Value

The entrepreneur-turned-venture capitalist Mark Suster tweeted  Why I Unfollowed You On Twitter, a blog post by Ian Rogers of Topspin. "I want Twitter to be for news and information from trusted sources. My dream is that I open Twitter and can quickly consume 15-20 interesting stories from around the Web, curated for me by people who know how to sort the wheat from the chaff. I want high signal, low noise."

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 11.48.38 AM

He plans to follow people he actually knows on Facebook, and professional contacts at LinkedIn.

It's exactly what I've been saying for years: curate your various social web networks to deliver value.

Deriving value is a function of what the network and platform does best, and who you know (of) and who you want to know and what you want to know about.

That includes not following friends or other known entities on Twitter unless what they tweet is justifiably interesting to you.

It's been my policy on Twitter for the past five years. In fact, I rarely follow newcomers on Twitter -- even if they're a personality I find extremely intriguing because I recognize there's a learning curve and it can take a VERY long time before a person starts tweeting value.

I'll follow later since a timeline filled with irrelevancies is not what I'm looking for right now, or ever. I also use Twitter lists to store potential accounts to follow in my main feed.

Becoming Media Literate

Saw someone on Facebook bemoaning how "the entire internet" fell for the claim that the Turkish government was using "agent orange" against its citizens in the Gezi Park uprising.

The spread of mistruths is not a reason to distrust everything you see reported on social media (nor to decry it as a "menace to society"). It's a reason to do better about parsing the information and its sources.

Just like threatening chain letters and Bigfoot hoaxes, we're supposed to grow out of this kind of dupedom.

I see the growth taking place before my eyes in the Turkish use of social media. It helps to have skillful journalistic people covering the news. (Here's a new Twitter list of English language tweeters on Turkish current events by cultural journalist Robyn Eckhardt for a one-click follow of 20+ accounts. Here's my Turkey protests Twitter list with more than 80.)

The first mention of agent orange I saw was associated with the debunking of that claim, on the twitter feed of NPR's Andy Carvin.

Becoming (social) media literate is a process, and especially messy in a crisis.

But many people have already been through major crises while using social media (for instance, Carvin pioneered the crowdsourcing of citizen journalism during the Arab Spring as I, Jillian York of Global Voices and TIME pointed out in April 2011), so to portray us all as rubes -- and social media as "untrustworthy" -- is inaccurate.

Social media is a tool. It's up to us to use it wisely. As web anthropologist Stowe Boyd says, "The single most important decision we make in a connected world is who to follow."


Old School, Part 2: Would You Take Twitter Advice From Someone Who's Never Tweeted?

I wouldn't. Let's get more specific.

How about taking advice on social media best practices -- for something serious with high stakes, like looking for a job, becoming visible to recruiters, re-entering the job market after a hiatus or otherwise attempting a career change  -- from an advisor whose Twitter account is empty?

Existent in name only.

How about if it's April 2013?

How about if it's the same month that the Wall Street Journal declared The New Resume: It's 140 Characters and @WSJCareers held a Twitter chat about using social media to get a job, concluding it's all about LinkedIn & Twitter & a digital footprint that shows your best stuff.

(I participated in this blisteringly-paced and totally on-target chat that featured The Daily Muse's Kate Minshew. Some of the tweets are Storified here. Search for more with the hashtag #WSJchat.)


How about expecting to get guidance on the latest advances in online career development at an event conducted by someone who thinks LinkedIn is exclusively for connecting with people you already know well rather than people you are loosely associated with professionally and want to grow closer to? Someone whose policy lets connection requests go unanswered while, creepily, LinkedIn alerts us she's reviewed our info-rich profile and decided that's a no.

Again, I wouldn't. Yet these are things I have witnessed and experienced recently.

Do you see where I'm going? This is not helpful. This is place holding.

Old-school is occupying the space where actionable help is supposed to go.


And, if you find yourself thinking you don't need up-to-the-minute Twitter advice from a career advisor -- you're wrong.

Led Cisco's Connected Women Roundtable on Personal Branding

I was pleased to facilitate a table of women in a discussion about using your online presence to create and sustain your personal brand. Held at Cisco's San Jose campus, the event was  part of Cisco's Connected Women series of professional development gatherings for women from Cisco, Citrix, Intel and EMC. Anastasia Ashman and Tanya Monsef Bunger at Cisco's Connected Women

My top 3 take-aways:

1.  a personal brand is what you want people to know about you to help connect you with the opportunities that are right for you 2.  embody your brand -- show-it-not-tell-it -- on a daily basis, using your online presence at social sites 3.  demonstrate your expertise, your thought leadership, the talents you bring, how you operate by sharing news and information and being helpful

My GlobalNiche team member Tanya Monsef Bunger joined me at the event, pictured here.The roundtable event aimed to provide actionable insights into specific topics while enabling attendees to meet other women who are interested in that particular topic.

There were 10 tables of 10 people, each with their own topic, so the evening was like attending a miniworkshop at a conference. Work-Life Fit. Mentoring. Thinking Big. Developing Cool Designs. Thinking Outside the Box. Career Development. You can imagine I made my table all about Twitter. Twitter is my answer for everything. I’m joking.

I wanted to make personal branding all about Twitter — and social media in general — since it’s the most effective way to form and communicate your brand widely.

But many of the corporate women at my table weren’t on Twitter and had their reasons for not wanting to show themselves and their expertise much online, including in company bulletin boards and chats.

That’s a different blog post for a different time. It’s a serious issue.

I got a lot of questions about stalking and security, but none about the opportunities of being optimally online.


Talking To Cigdem Kobu's Creative Solopreneurs

Anastasia Ashman interviewed by Cigdem KobuExcerpt from a profile in Cigdem Kobu's A Year With Myself program for introverted creative solopreneurs.

Are you location independent by choice, or necessity? Why?


First by necessity when I lived very far from my culture, removed by thousands of miles by people who knew me, who spoke my language, dislocated from my professional fields. Swallowed up by my foreign-to-me surroundings.

Then, as I realized the power of location independence, I became location independent by choice.

I believe that we all can tap into that same power no matter where we happen to be. If you think about it, we’ve all felt like a fish out of water at some point in our lives, and for too many of us, that’s an on-going feeling we have today. It doesn’t have to be that way.

That’s what is about. You could say we teach people how to be globally unbound -- by choice.

Although expats and international types have more reasons than most to find a way to operate independently of where we happen to be physically, I see now that we don’t even have to leave home to do it.

It’s not about being mobile physically (and working on a beach in Thailand, as many in the location independent and lifestyle design movements talk about).

It’s about being okay with where you are, and setting up your life so you can be fufilled and, unlimited by your surroundings.

With today's economic uncertainties no matter who or where we are, we all have to embrace an enterprising view of ourselves -- a way to operate unlimited by the options around us.

We’re really lucky to be part of a trend toward entrepreneuring and indie creative careers, as well as using the social web and mobile devices to help us achieve what I call “psychic location independence”.

We don’t have to be a tech expert or social media guru to build a micro-yet-global base of operations with a professional web platform and virtual network for continuing education, professional development, and a close-knit but world-flung set of friends. We can be digital world citizens and achieve a cutting-edge state of being.

You believe that our metamorphoses choose us. Can you explain that a little?

I said this after a year on Twitter, back in 2009. I noted that the major undertakings of the year hadn’t rated a 2008 resolution. I didn’t plan any of them.

Nilofer Merchant, a cutting-edge entrepreneur I admire and author of The New How and the upcoming book Social Era Rules, recently tweeted, “Once you find your purpose it pulls you effortlessly into the future.” That’s definitely what happened when I opened a Twitter account and followed the trail of my interests out into the world of all possibility.

I was on soul-auto-pilot. Suddenly I took charge of my own web presence, an intention I hadn’t held, a vision I didn’t see, and a plan I don’t recall making.

All it took was that first microblogging step that lead to a curated-webpath to what I now recognize as my specific interests and larger intentions. I was pulled into my future, effortlessly, and without warning!

I was virtually attending conferences on publishing, interactive media, women’s issues, and participating in live webchats on branding, innovation, and literature.

I became a joiner and a beta-tester, signing on for an experimental blogging course before I even had a blog, and volunteering for a life design course for expat women entrepreneurs that helped me hone my vision and introduced me to my present day business partner, Tara Agacayak.

I experienced a reawakening of my inner student to learn exactly what I needed to know, and fresh direction on how I might contribute to the future of my communities.

I have seen this same thing happen with other people on Twitter too, so if you’re willing to dive in and let your metamorphosis choose you, that is the first place I’d recommend you go.

How do you help other women change their lives?

By sharing my own journey, and how I’ve combined my talents, interests and experience to create solutions for myself.

The largest solution I have to offer is the power to change our own lives by building a custom platform to operate from.

Also, by seeing in them what they could be, and telling them, which gives them the opportunity to see themselves and build their own place in the world.

The Native American Medicine Wheel card for hummingbird really resonates for me. The hummingbird is an agile creature which withdraws nectar from flowers and pollinates them at the same time, making them productive and viable.

I would love to be that force for the women in my life.

After Four Years, Analyzing My Twitter Audience

This week is my 4th year on Twitter. To "celebrate" I put my account through several of these Twitter measuring tools collected at Social Media Examiner: "ways to discover more about your audience with social media."

I appreciated Followerwonk's details about the longevity of accounts I follow and that follow me. Very few newbies on either score, in fact this was one of the only results that wasn't a bell curve.

This bears out two Twitter behaviors I am aware of.

1) I have always been hesitant to follow accounts that don't provide high value (because, why?) and

2) developing the instinct to provide high value on Twitter doesn't happen overnight for most of us.

Among the information about my overall usage of the service, I liked these piechart details about who I follow (high value users who've been on the service at least 2 years, ppl who follow 500-5k ppl, and are followed by 1k-50k, and have these words in their bios: writer – author – media – creative – life – social – world – editor – global – business – founder – technology – design – women – tweets – entrepreneur – marketing – book – news – ceo – people – blogger – culture – digital – science – ideas).

It was also interesting to see that Tweriod contradicted the info Followerwonk suggested to me about when my followers were most active.

Next up: find a tool that removes inactive follower accounts. That'll give me a better idea of who's actually my audience.

When You Ask For A RT, Give Us Something That Stands On Its Own

I got a message from an organization I am associated with. They want people in their community to retweet their live coverage of an event. Great, I'm all for it.

But then I took a look at the choices. There weren't any original tweets from their official account that made sense to retweet.

One of the keys to sharing and resharing on Twitter is that a tweet has context and verve and clarity. I couldn't find anything like that to RT.

Tweets suitable for retweeting have to stand on their own and include all the information needed to be understood. They need to be in decent, understandable English/whatever language you're using with specifics other than "amazing".

Some suggestions for any organization to deepen impact on Twitter for both live-tweeting of events and general practice:

  • Whoever's dedicated to tweeting can prepare some of the tweets in advance based on preparatory materials so they read well.
  • Any person being tweeted about should be referred to by their Twitter handle, that's how people get found on Twitter. Look up everyone's handle in advance if need be.
  • Use other hashtags besides your own organization's because people may not be looking for that. This is a good way to catch the attention of people who may not have ever heard of your organization. Use a few tag related to what you're about, like #entrepreneurs #women #leadership #inspiration, etc.

Recommended By Top Expat On Twitter In Telegraph UK

Top Expats On Twitter - UK Telegraph Thanks to former banker, veteran expat and expat coach Evelyn Simpson for recommending me and my GlobalNiche partner as top expats on Twitter to readers of The Telegraph UK.

Simpson suggests following me on Twitter if you're interested in knowing more  "about using technology and creativity to get the lifestyle you want wherever you are."


Top Expats On Twitter - Telegraph UK

How Pinterest Is More Like Twitter And Less Like Facebook

A fellow transmedia storyteller I encouraged to try Pinterest just let me know I am "flooding her stream so she has to unfollow".

I imagine an active bout of pinning by anyone you follow will put a flood of images into your timeline. That's the nature of the beast.

If you follow too few people or too few boards, you'll probably be like this woman, wanting people to post less so you don't suddenly see a ton of images of one topic or from one pinner if what you want is more variety in your timeline. (Algorithmically, perhaps, like you might expect at Facebook.)

But the beauty of Pinterest is the customizability (for instance, you can follow a pinner's specific pinboard rather than all of that pinner's activity).

And this isn't Facebook where one might be right to worry you're becoming a nuisance (to the limited numbers and strong tie relationships of most people's Facebook accounts) by posting every five minutes.

The reason we're on Pinterest is to pursue our interests -- it's a network of weak ties based on interests -- it's not connect to people we happen to know (nor are we concerned on Pinterest with making people we happen to know think we are behaving non-annoyingly on Pinterest).

The reputation I generate on Twitter or Pinterest is going to be about the quality and subject matter of what I share and interact with. I'm much less inclined at those services than at Facebook about whether what I pin or share pleases the people who follow me. That's for them to decide and adjust as necessary. But telling me not to do it, or do it less, however indirectly? Nope. Just go.

This is the exploration of my interests. You can come along if you want, but I won't be curtailing my pinning because someone who follows me can't figure out how to handle it.

Much like at Twitter, at Pinterest I usually favorite images at a fast pace then add them to my boards/share them with my followers at a much slower rate. And I consume much more than I produce. I still may post more than you can handle. At Twitter, I put high volume accounts on a list I can dip into so they don't overwhelm my feed. Pinterest could certainly use more flexibility in this area.

Social Media Consumption, Filters, and Overcoming The Reluctance To Share

From a discussion at the GlobalNiche LinkedIn group about creatives being reluctant to promote themselves that morphed into a discussion about the opposite issue of dealing with sources who share more than we can handle: This is another reason to use Google+: you can put useful-but-prolific sharers into their very own circle if need be, then dip in when you want. You can also do that with Facebook lists but apparently very few people have exploited their existence. I use mine all the time.

It's why I directly visit NPR reporter @AndyCarvin's Twitter account but don't have him in my main feed. I also have him in a list but cannot see native RTs from him that way.

As Clay Shirky has famously said years ago -- the problem is filter failure, not info overload.

Would I want @AndyCarvin to cut down on what he shares and how he works because I can't figure out how to best access his stuff? No.

Maybe we're not in his position yet, but what would happen if we reframed our challenge to be "how do I become someone whose content and contact-style people will want to find a way to use that works for them"? The tools are there.

On the other hand, the tools are there for us content sharers too. I use SocialOomph to schedule tweets in advance, and an autoresponder series on AWeber. I think I could contact people more than I already do. I know I am leaving tools on the table. We can offer our audience options at various stages of the game: "Do you want more like this? A weekly digest?" via our newsletter provider, etc.

We can take the guessing out of it -- I bet we pull back long before we reach our audience's limit because we don't like to promote ourselves. We can do split-tests and get the stats on our side like Tim Ferriss.

Measuring Social Media Influence: Klout & Empire Avenue

In the GlobalNiche LinkedIn group, designer and writer Catherine Salter Bayar shared this piece from the New York Times -- "Got Twitter? What's Your Influence Score"  -- and asked the group if we've looked at Klout. I said that I took a look this week (actually checked out Klout a while back -- so now I have an OG badge far as I know "OG" stands for "original gangster" so I'm not sure what they could possibly mean by it, ha)

There are strangenesses, like their claim I am influenced by @GigaOm, which is an account I don't even follow.

Most interesting to me is the STYLE matrix: Today I'm a "broadcaster", yesterday I was a "specialist" and I'd like to be a "tastemaker" like @brainpicker. The change in my score (today is 62) must be due to some large retweets I got today on topics other than the narrow ones they ascribe to me). What models do you aspire to on Twitter and where are they in the matrix of your followed accounts?

Writer and artist Rose Deniz said, "My Klout score is erratic, too, so I don't put a lot of emphasis on it in terms of influence, and I do notice that it's fluid based on your activity level - how sensitive it is to daily fluxes, I don't know."

"I've found Empire Avenue to be a better indicator (and more interesting) - it just tracks more stuff," responded global marketing strategist Kirsten Weiss.

"I think any sort of measurement system is bound to be full of flaws," said social media educator Charlene Kingston.

"At first glance, not sure I love Empire Avenue's verbiage - banking terms repel more than attract me," said Catherine Bayar.