Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Shaun Robinson's Passion for the Social Good

This post was co-written by bloggers Ann Tran and Glen Gilmore. It's cross-posted in the Huffington Post Celebrity Section.

The words, "believe in yourself", have always played a strong part in the character and essence of celebrity journalist Shaun Robinson. The phrase infuses her professional pursuits, which have taken her around the world, and anchors her charitable activities that help engender a greater sense of self among a new generation of girls and young women. Needless to say, we're awed and impressed by the way she uses her status as a journalist to the stars to help encourage women of all ages to love themselves just the way they are.

 Her best-selling book, Exactly As I Am, provides readers with empowering advice about developing a positive self-image. Robinson reinforces the concepts of personal empowerment and developing a strong feeling of self-worth through her multi-media messages and fundraisers for organizations, such as Girls, Inc. 

Robinson recently allowed us to ask her some questions about her wonderful charitable endeavors and commitment to helping girls and women accept themselves without compromise:

Picture Courtesy of Shaun Robinson
You launched your "One Girl, One Voice -- A Million Ways to Make a Difference" campaign earlier this year. Please tell us a little bit about what inspired your book and video, Exactly As I Am? 

I was inspired to write my book, Exactly As I Am, because I wanted girls to know that everything they need to believe in themselves and develop a strong self-esteem is right inside of them. It doesn't come from being popular, being skinny, being rich, or having a certain skin color. It comes from, as Oprah says in my book, "... knowing that you are valuable because you were born."

 Because I interview celebrities for a living, so many girls ask me about the stars they see on TV, in the movies, or on the covers of magazines. They want to know if "so and so" is as beautiful in person as she is on TV, or if their lives are as perfect as they seem. I wanted girls to know that nobody is perfect and that everyone -- no matter how rich or famous -- has feelings of self-doubt now and then, just like you and me. I wrote, produced and directed the video, Ten Rules for Girls with Strong Self-Esteem as a mini rulebook for girls to follow. All the "rules" came from the dozens and dozens of teen girls I interviewed for Exactly As I Am. I love it because it's girls giving girls advice like, "I will never stay in a relationship with a guy who disrespects me." That is so important!

Your job is so glamorous. How do you convey your message to these young girls? With so many negative media images of young women today, please tell our readers about how you're using your media influence to bring awareness to girls and their families? 

My mom has always told me to use my platform for good -- never make it about me -- but to make my mission about helping others. And that's what I've always tried to do. I am well aware that the media, in general, must take responsibility for the many images girls see that make them question their own self-worth. Being in the entertainment industry, it's a constant balancing act for me and I try never to compromise my integrity. Reporting on entertainment and your favorite stars is definitely fun, but it's when girls internalize those images and use them as a measuring stick for their own value and how they should act -- that's where the danger comes in.

As a celebrity, do you find it's easier, or more difficult, to effectively impact the lives of your target audience?

Certainly as a celebrity, I have a voice that is easier heard than if I wasn't in this position. I want to make sure I use that voice for positive change. That's why I started the One Girl, One Voice: A Million Ways to Make a Difference movement. In my book, we talk a lot about "giving back" and that one of the quickest ways to true self-esteem involves taking the attention away from yourself and putting it on someone less fortunate. We want to get one million girls to pledge that they'll use their voices to "change the world." I want to inspire girls to volunteer their time to various causes and pledge to make the lives of others better.

With the advent and popularity of social media versus traditional media, have you seen a tremendous, monumental change, regarding effecting positive change in the world?

Social media can be a wonderful thing and a not-so-wonderful thing. Cyber-bullying is on the rise and we must find a way to stop it and make people responsible for the things they put online that can hurt others. But, social media can be a powerfully positive force in helping others. When we all band together and promise to change the world, nothing can stop us.

Where do you see your campaign, say, five years from now? 

Five years from now, I see the One Girl, One Voice movement five million girls strong! We want to thank Shaun Robinson for her generosity and for taking the time to share a little about her world-changing pursuits with us and our readers. What an inspiration she is and what a magnificent gift her campaign is to the next generation of young women. Thank you Shaun, from the bottom of our hearts, for using your voice for change.

Writer's Note: This video, courtesy of Shaun Robinson, captures her passion for positive and empowering self-images. 

WATCH:

   

 A Story for Inspiration and Ann Tran's Final Thoughts 

Twitter represents a powerful medium that anyone can use to inspire, inform and educate. I shared Shaun Robinson's video, Exactly As I Am, on Twitter and one of my followers shared it. He sent me a direct message and thanked me for the link to the video; informing me that he intended to share it with his daughter. I suggested he share part of our conversation with Ms. Robinson as well, since she is very engaging. He did. And the next thing I knew, I saw a picture of a signed book held up proudly by his daughter from Ms. Robinson displayed on John Feskorn's page.

With social media becoming such a pervasive force in our culture, it presents an awe-inspiring, powerful way to change the world -- one tweet at a time. How are you using Twitter, or other social media platforms, to change the world? Share your stories below. For more information on Shaun Robinson and her charitable activities, visit her website and follow her on Twitter.

For more information in Shaun Robinson and her charitable activities, visit her website and follow her on Twitter.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

TweetMyJobs and Social Recruiting

This is my new post. I collaborated with writers Ann Tran and Glen Gilmore to profile the social recruiting phenomenon TweetMyJobs. It's cross-posted in the Huffington Post Business Section.

As America climbs out of its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, many platforms are being created that connect businesses with the prospective employees who can complement and enhance their workforce. One such platform is TweetMyJobs, a successful firm that has fundamentally changed the way jobs are searched online. Named by PC Magazine as one of the "10 Best Job Search Websites," they are what you would call a true pioneer in "social recruiting."

 "Social recruitment," the practice of using social networks as a platform for matching job openings to job seekers, is a phrase of relatively recent vintage, though it as a practice that many companies are working hard to tap into. Panero, Tiffany & Co., Radio Shack and Verizon, among others, are ahead of the curve, and use TweetMyJobs' services to recruit employees.

TweetMyJobs' impressive online infrastructure has also caught the eye of the White House, local politicians and even tech enthusiasts. These contacts have helped enhance its ability to employ Americans workers using the ever-increasing power of social networking. Its groundbreaking agreement with the City of Atlanta further illustrates this point. Its Twitter profile proudly proclaims, "We're the leading social recruitment and job distribution network, working hard to match job seekers with employers." From its tweets and its activities, it seems that it just may be. TweetMyJobs' visionary CEO Robin D. Richards granted us an exclusive interview.
TweetMyJobs had more than 2 million interactions on Twitter with job seekers and businesses last year. That's a tremendous number, confirming just how popular social recruiting has become. Social recruiting is all about distribution in real time. Job seekers not only want highly relevant job matches, which we provide, but they want them wherever they are (on any device -- be it e-mail, text message or on social networks like Twitter) and whenever they please -- instantaneously, daily, weekly, etc. That's the power of social recruiting. Great job matches, where you want them, when you want them.  

Your firm was asked by the Obama Administration to help with its jobs initiative for military and young adults. How did that come about? We were very proud and honored to be selected as one of the partner technology companies for the Joining Forces Initiative. We were introduced to the CTO of the United States through our contacts at Twitter and made a commitment, along with a number of other technology companies including Simply Hired, LinkedIn and Google, to help the initiative. We contributed by making job listings easier for veterans of the armed forces to find through TweetMyJobs, as well as establishing veteran-specific job channels on Twitter for every state and major metropolitan area, a special landing page for veterans to find and follow these job channels, and custom notification alerts for veteran committed jobs.  

Explain how the TweetMyJobs ground-breaking agreement with the City of Atlanta came about, and what it entails. We have embarked on a public-private partnership with Mayor Kasim Reed and the City of Atlanta, focused on connecting local businesses with city residents seeking employment. The initiative is ground-breaking, as Atlanta is showcasing its role as an early adopter and forward-thinking city by leveraging the power of social networks and mobile distribution to help combat unemployment -- as well as to help employers and job seekers use a new platform, at no cost to either the job seeker or the employer. In addition, the City of Atlanta Jobs Platform will deliver robust analytics to city officials. This data will provide government leaders with hyper-local insights that can help steer key strategic decisions to foster future job growth and enhance relations among the government, employers and citizens. It's a win-win for all involved.  

You've expressed a strong interest in taking the framework of the Atlanta partnership to a national level. Any recent developments that you can share that are moving this one step closer to reality? We'll be making another announcement very soon. Governments, on a local and national level, truly have enormous power to help bridge the gap between the jobs their residents are seeking and the positions available in their regions. We're proud to power these initiatives as the technology platform that puts these great policy ideas into action. Watch this space for more announcements soon.  

How can social media in general embrace this type of jobs-and-recruiting platform? The key to making any technology platform a success is continued engagement and awareness. Whether that's an influential politician like Kasim Reed tweeting to his constituents or spreading the word at his annual State of the City address to thousands of attendees, an e-mail campaign to job seekers, or posts on Facebook and Twitter, when there's such an important cause at stake -- jobs in this country -- then it's up to us as a social media community to spread the word and make sure that employers and job seekers don't miss out on these innovative, new social platforms in the career space.

This infographic video below, courtesy of TweetMyJobs, illustrates their commitment. WATCH:

 

For more information on TweetMyJobs, friend them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

9 People Who Have Influenced My Social Media Style

Image Courtesy of Buzzom
This is cross-posted on the Smedio blog.

When I joined Twitter and Facebook in January 2009, I had no idea what I was doing. Zero. Zelch. Nada. I didn’t know how to build a following, the importance of third-party apps, and the various ways to drive hits for my then new blog. It took months – six months to be exact – before “tweeting” became a language I fully understood.

Nobody achieves success in social media without some assistance. I’m no different. I have learned from social media veterans who have helped to established the foundation upon which we all stand, and from the newbies who have emerged on the scene and built impressive reputations in a relatively short period. It has been one exciting thrill ride.

It is a full time effort staying on top of the trends, forecasts, and shifts, as well as major changes to major sites like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, GooglePlus, and Chime.in. Without the retweets, likes, +1’s, blog comments, and recommendations, I would not be where I am today. So let me single out 9 people (among so many) who have given me great perspective in five crucial areas:

Digital Listening – This is truly an art. And Glen Gilmore and Sung Lee do it exceedingly well. Twitter is perhaps one of the best “listening post” ever created, and understanding the chatter about relationships and events behind the scene takes skill. Gilmore, the advisor to my Twitter Powerhouses Series, is keenly aware of literally every major development and online discussion about disaster preparedness. Lee, whose recent venture I profiled in Huffington Post last Summer, is one of the leading voices regarding the online, Asian-American presence. Both men monitor hashtags, and make extraordinary use of Twitter lists.

Sharing Other Bloggers’ Content – One of the things I always advocate is sharing the content of other bloggers. No, not simply your friends, but, others outside of your immediate circle. Ann Tran and Amy Neumann are pros at it. To them, millions of bloggers around the world simply provide “millions of opportunities for fresh’ content”. Those who understand this, and do this, often thrive in the social space. Besides, it’s fantastic networking.

Connect and Engage – People always ask me why I recommend the names of people in a particular field or city to someone noticeably new to social media. Well, in late 2009, my first year on Twitter, director and artist Kim Sherrell included my name in a tweet, recommending me to some of her friends. It was the first time someone had done that for me outside of a Follow Friday context. It showed me just how creative I could be in bringing people together. Indeed, tweets are most effective when used to inspire, inform, empower...and connect great people.

Make Your Enthusiasm Consistent – I am continually inspired by bloggers Kelly Clay and Christel Quek, two geekettes who live and breathe all facets of social media. Their success is powered not just by the substance of their posts, but also by the boundless, infectious they express about their work. There isn't one conversation I've had with them (not one) where they weren't very excited about their next projects. Indeed, enthusiasm is great fuel for confidence.

Have a Sense of Humor – No matter how nice and non-controversial I have tried to be, there are people who challenge my ideas, and my reasons for profiling certain people. Always! So it pays to laugh at it sometimes. And who has a better sense of humor about being challenged in social media than Brett Petersel and Khayyam Wakil? They are so funny, so hilarious that they deserve a show in prime time TV. So when someone is questioning your retweet mojo (LOL!), call these guys up, and just laugh at it.

To be clear, these are not the only tips, just the ones that have worked for me. Social media is not just an activity; it is an investment of valuable time and resources. Surround yourself with people who not only support you and stay with you, but inform your thinking about ways to WOW your online presence.