Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Few Thoughts on Facebook's New Changes

Mark Zuckerberg has done it again. Love him or dislike him, he understands technology and trends, and takes full advantage of them to the benefit of Facebook. He saw that GooglePlus debuted with a roar, and clearly won over a lot of people with interesting new features like “circles” and “the hangout”.

But it is doubtless that Zuckerberg lost any sleep. Here’s why: because he joined GooglePlus, and his status on that site as the most followed (or “circled” person) focused attention back to Facebook. His strategy worked, and worked well.

Personally, I’m a Twitter guy. Yes, I have a bias. Twitter rocks baby! And so does Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. But when something great emerges, I point it out. And Facebook’s new moves are great on so many levels. It’s partnership with Hulu and Spotify - allowing you to view films and listen to music on the site - could turn it into an entertainment hub, and its “subscribe” and "lists" features dramatically improve the overall usability. The amazing Timeline is just icing on the cake.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Photo Courtesy of Facebook.
To be clear, GooglePlus remains as relevant as ever. But Facebook has made changes and tweaks that clearly redirect the conversation. There are lots of people who are uncomfortable with Facebook’s size and reach, and are tired of adjusting their settings. LOL! But the site's numbers aren’t taking a beating: it just passed 800 million users. Solid by any standard.

I’m certain that Mark Zuckerberg laughed himself silly over the wild predictions about Facebook being destroyed by GooglePlus. I didn’t see it in June or July, and I don’t see it now. I just believe we are in a period of robust innovation, and social networking in general will benefit. And that's a good thing.

Twitter is on a different track all together, and will also continue to surge. But...if GooglePlus responds to Facebook's changes with the force, things could get exciting in the short term. We will see. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

39 Inspiring Men and their Passion for Charity

This is the latest post in our series, TwitterPowerhouses, which focuses on the contributions of people who've helped to expand, influence, and redefine how we view social networking. I co-wrote it with fellow Huffington Post bloggers Amy Neumann and Yasamin Beitollahi.

This is cross-posted in the Huffington Post Impact Section.

A life of kindness and gratitude is tremendously powerful. And when applied to the charitable efforts making the world a better place, the results are often extraordinary. From across diverse backgrounds and all ends of the globe, these gentlemen exemplify a global view of sharing and helping others in their daily lives, and through the amazing networked nonprofits they support. They all embody the spirit of Booker T. Washington's famous words: "If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else."

Reluctant to talk about themselves, they deftly shift conversations from themselves to other people, or to one of their many projects. They are dreamers and visionaries. They like to imagine vibrant communities bursting with culture -- music, art, history, theater, film -- and full of people realizing their potential. But they're not only dreamers, they want people to be a part of their dreams.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz, leader of Social Innovation at Twitter Inc., and author of the book Twitter for Good, is brilliant in the international community of philanthropy and is someone all three writers on this post respect. Her ideas, and Twitter, have led countless people toward social good. The Networked Nonprofits we support - 2morrowknight with SeeYourImpact, Amy with United Way, and Yasamin with The 1010Project - are impacted by her work. And by Twitter. As are all of the men highlighted here. In fact, if it weren't for Twitter, we may not have had the honor of talking with all of them and sharing their insights.

In a world that will soon have 7 billion people, these men understand how important it is to engage non-profits that help raise our standard of living, expand our worldview, and give us hope for the future. Indeed, together, we thrive!

Andy Baldwin
Why he rocks:
U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Andrew Baldwin, M.D. is a physician, humanitarian,
U.S. Navy diver and media personality serving as a family medicine resident at the
Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton in Southern California.
On Twitter: @DrAndyBaldwin

His favorite non-profit:
@GotYourBackNet ( As the founder, he makes sure it
provides an avenue for the children of fallen soldiers to learn and be inspired by
the most successful leaders of our generation.

Jeff Rago
Why he rocks:  
Pop Culture Explorer. Belly Laugher. Spirit Seeker. Talent Lover. Red Wine Sipper.
Dessert Eater. Tongue-In-Cheek Talker. On Twitter:  @jeffrago

His favorite non-profit:
  “The NOH8 campaign @NOH8campaign is a grassroots effort which started as a silent 
protest on the passing of proposition 8 in California and  has grown into a national 
campaign for equality, tolerance and love. I am proud to play a small part in this effort as 
I deeply believe ALL human beings deserve the right to love and be loved freely 
and without consequence.”

Clement Yeung
Why he rocks:
A Huffington Post contributor, Clément Yeung is also the founder and co-director of Easisell Ltd.
a digital marketing and conversion optimization consultancy based in the UK. Clément and his team 
provide businesses of all sizes with marketing materials & website real-estate designed to reap the highest returns in today's world wide web.  On Twitter: @ClementYeung

His favorite non-profit:
@KIVA “There's something that feels so right about "investing" in a person that has little money, a big heart and an idea to create something that will have a deep, lasting positive impact for others. As employers, we understand the power that building a profitable business can have on the lives of those in and around it. Kiva's microloans may have a considerable impact many factors greater than serving their initial benefactor alone.”

Reg Saddler
Why he rocks:
For many, there is no need for an introduction here. He’s a tech wizard who is one of the most
humble you’ll ever meet. A social media guy who lives and breathes all aspects of tech,
business and news. On Twitter: @zaibatsu

His favorite non-profit:
Reg suppports the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation  @GatesFoundation because, as Bill puts it,
“Our friend and co-trustee Warren Buffett once gave us some great advice about philanthropy:
‘Don’t just go for safe projects,’ he said. ‘Take on the really tough problems.’”
Those problems include global health concerns, agricultural efficiency, and education.

Sunil Jain
Why he rocks: 
A blogger and WordPress pro, and owns Tech18, an emerging blog about all aspects of Technology. He loves helping friends worldwide, and values education.  On Twitter: @gupshupblog

His favorite non-profit:
“I would like to tell everyone about @Nisha360, a 20 year old girl who is using Social Media
(Twitter) to start "The Water Project,Inc" - an organisation which will provide water to communities
all over the world, suffering needlessly without it. To support her project, you can donate here and
she also updates her blog daily to get the support from everyone and until now
she has reached 70% of her goal.

Click HERE to see all of the 39 inspiring men and the nonprofits they support.

Authors' Note: In case you missed it, here's Part 20 of the series: The Social Media Vision of Jessica Northey.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ending Malaria (Infographic)

I love infographics. And there is no doubt that the Gates Foundation consistently has some of the best ones. On ending polio, boosting nutrition, explaining the benefits of breast feeding, and extolling the virtues of education. This one below on Malaria is equally powerful. This is a must-see. We need even more cause-based infographics to sharpen our focus of what's being done to make a difference in every corner of the world.

GOOD Magazine also has some great ones, including one on the issue of water in developing nations. Nonprofits and charities don't get the kind of attention in social media that they should. So if it take infographics and other tools to create awareness, then that's awesome.

I'm an optimist and a realist. And I know we can put an end to malaria in our lifetime. (CLICK THE IMAGE below to see why millions are enthusiastic about the progress being made.)
  We Can End Malaria

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Style With a Smile: The Fashionable Mollie Ruiz-Hopper

Photos by Chad Coleman
Bold colors. Cutting-edge designs. A sense of adventure with a twist of daring! I love the ideas and energy that infuse the world of fashion. These are also the very things that have come to characterize Twitter's Mollie Ruiz-Hopper, one of the emerging, exciting voices in international style.

As a writer for an ABC News affiliate, and creator and editor of Mollie In Seattle, Ruiz-Hopper has cultivated an impressive fan base that gives her support and feedback. A fan base she keeps rock solid by being approachable, relevant, and gracious.

Like the catwalk itself, she uses the grand stage of social media to express her passion for fashion. She manages to pull all the threads together - the innovators driving her industry and the trends we’ll be talking about. So it was truly an honor to connect with this philanthropist, noted ‘ideas woman’, and fabuloso fashionista.

How do you believe social media has changed your industry? I'm a blogger/writer and I also work in PR. Social media has really revolutionized the way people communicate with one another in such a great way. It kind of puts people on a level playing field where we can now communicate with virtually anyone, anywhere, anytime. News comes to us in real-time. I can watch a live stream of my favorite designer's fashion show and get up to date information on the latest trends in shoes. Information is now endless and available to me all the time whether I'm on my computer, smart phone or iPad. This is all a result of the awesome-ness that is social media.

Photo by Mike Luong
I know you have a love for Nordstrom, which has emerged as one of big companies greatly benefiting from social media. What are they specifically doing right? Nordstrom is doing a terrific job with their social media. They're constantly posting great links about clothes and products new to their stores, information on upcoming events, and are always quick to respond whenever I have a question or comment. There are a lot of other big companies out there who have Twitter and only push information about themselves. What I love about Nordstrom and appreciate as a devoted customer is that they're always talking to people, responding to my tweets, following up on recent purchases and even suggesting things to me that I might not have thought of for myself. I just love that Nordstrom is now a presence that is always with me. If I have a question about mascara, they're there to answer it right away.

You are quite the fashionista. Everything you're doing is just consistently buzz-worthy. And that's hot! How are you managing to thrive in Seattle, which is particularly strong in the fields of technology and sustainability? First, thank you very much! Fashion is something I've been crazy about ever since I can remember, I think it rubbed off on me from my mother and grandmother who were very fashion forward and my style role models. I think the most important element in anything is that you have to be genuinely passionate about what you do, whether it's technology, wine or in my case fashion. I love waking up every morning and dressing up in something that makes me feel good. I also have a smart phone that helps me stay connected with my friends, family and social media all the time. I can update my Twitter feed whenever I need to, take a picture of a pair of shoes I want, or friend someone on Facebook I just met at an event. I attend different networking events, sometimes it's weekly, and sometimes it's monthly. An important part in remaining relevant in any industry is showing up, being an actual body and face that people can shake hands with and relate to. Finally, it's very simple: be a nice and pleasant person to be around, if you're happy and positive others will want to share in that.

To find out more about Mollie Ruiz-Hopper and her great insight about the world of fashion, follow her on her Twitter feed and read her work on FacebookThis is cross-posted in Smedio.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Famine in East Africa Moves Mom, Female Bloggers to Act

This is cross-posted in the Huffington Post Impact Section.

I am a huge fan of everyday people who push the boundaries of convention to raise awareness for causes that matter. And few causes are as urgent right now as the deadly famine in east Africa.

 A population equivalent to entire state of Ohio is at risk of starvation in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and other parts of East Africa. Hundreds of thousands refugees have fled the drought-stricken region, and in the past three months, nearly 30,000 children have died.

 Now, one mom is using social tools like video, blogs and an unconventional fundraising platform to change that.

 Blogger Sarah Lenssen decided she had had enough of watching a famine unfold - and get buried - in the news. So she dreamed up a powerful campaign to help people take action, called #Ask5for5. It works like this: you donate $5 to provide food and water in east Africa. Then, you get five of your friends to give $5.

Ask5for5 and help save a life! from Ask 5 for 5 on Vimeo.

Sarah's an inspiring change-maker that models what it means to be a citizen philanthropist. She likes to imagine what would happen if that circle got extended out 9 times (5 x 5 x 5 x 5...). In just nine iterations, the campaign would raise over $2.4 million dollars. 

I had a chance to ask her a few questions about what motivated her to start #Ask5for5 and how female bloggers worldwide have powered her campaign. Here's what she said: 

 Why did you start #Ask5for5? I have two children who were adopted from Ethiopia in 2007 and 2010 respectively, and both of them were born in the regions that are experiencing extreme drought. The situation is very personal for me. It could be my son or daughter suffering. The idea that they would go day after day without food or water is a thought I want to push fromy mind. But the thing is, I have to imagine it -- because although they aren't mine, they are many daughters and sons suffering.
John Harrison, BlueSkyhill Creative.

I knew I couldn't sit by and let the news overwhelm me (although that's hard when you see the grave images of what's happening). It was time for me to do something. But I knew that in order to make an impact, that it couldn't just be me. And that's where #Ask5for5 was born. 

 If you could tell people one thing, what would it be? 

I'd want to tell people about Khaleed. Last week, his mom took him and his siblings on a harrowing 15-day journey through Somalia in search of food. Two of his siblings, ages 2 and 4, died on the way to help. After arriving at a camp for internally displaced people, 6-year old Khaleed was on the verge of death. Jon Warren, a friend and staff member at the development NGO World Vision, has seen too many children die, and he was worried. While Jon left on a two-day assignment elsewhere in Somalia, his colleagues treated Khaleed with rehydration salts and Plumpy Nut, a peanut-based food that rushes nutrients into the body. When Jon saw Khaleed again, just 2 days after he started receiving treatment, he said the difference was night and day.


When Khaleed arrived, he couldn't move. Now, he had the energy to sit up on his own. The vomiting and diarrhea had passed. He had made it through the worst. So if I could tell people one thing, it would be that there is hope. We can make thousands of stories like Khaleed's come true. We have to work together.

What inspired you to recruit female bloggers to your cause? 

I've been blown away by the number of moms who resonate with what's happening, and who want to step in for the forgotten voices of other mothers and children. Blogging is a grassroots way of getting the word out to people that we CAN do something. I've connected with many other adoptive moms who've blogged over the last five years since I began blogging. And over 25 moms (adoptive and non-adoptive) I asked to join me by allowing me to guest post about #Ask5for5 last Thursday, did so with enthusiasm. I think many people are just waiting for the opportunity to do something, and #Ask5for5 has been just that: an easy way to DO something rather than feel overwhelmed. One more reason? Research done by The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reported Wednesday that 4 percent of Americans were primarily following the story of the famine. But five times as many said the stock market was their top story. Bloggers are stepping up and using their influence to spread the word about causes that normal channels of media often struggle with. 

If people can do one thing next with their five minutes, what should it be? 

They should go donate $5. Then, they should email all their friends and ask them to get involved. It's simple, fast and effective. I'm telling everyone I know: we may not be able to change the world on our own, but together, we absolutely can. 

What's next? 

You! Please join us. 

We need your help. Last week, over 30 bloggers joined with me to spread the word about Ask5for5, and it was so successful, we want to get hundreds more! I'm looking for at least 200 bloggers who will allow me to guest post on their blogs during Social Media Week - the week of September 19th- 23rd. If you're willing to use your blog as a medium to spur action and help save lives in East Africa, please email me at this address! And by the way, while it's been mostly women who have jumped at the chance to allow me to guest post, men are equally powerful advocates and we're so grateful for that. 

 For more info, on #Ask5for5, visit