Great aha! moments in social media

by leah on June 13, 2012

As a communications consultant who focuses on web engagement (and loves to play with every shiny new web tool that comes along), I have found that creating aha! moments for colleagues is incredibly valuable. This often happens when I connect my new web tool or strategy to something funny that people have seen or experienced in their life.

I am aware that I have not said anything groundbreaking here, but I’d like to start recording/sharing more of these. My final class at Hopkins is Digital Political Strategy with Alan Rosenblatt, and he has a lot of great aha! moments to share, so here is a great one in a presentation he gave that I’m watching tonight (watch it here on C-SPAN: Here Comes Social Advocacy):

Now, I’ve heard a lot of people say that, ‘oh, Twitter is just… silly. It’s a bunch of people talking about what they had for breakfast, you can’t say anything meaningful in 140 characters. It’s just ridiculous.’ Well… how many people have ever heard of a haiku? Ok, now I have gone through several books of haikus. And I have counted, counted characters and spaces. And, I have yet to find a haiku that has more than 80 characters. And I get 140 of them in a tweet! Now, you can describe the universe in a haiku, so don’t tell me you can’t say something meaningful in 140 characters.

White House comes out against SOPA

by leah on January 14, 2012

This week, the Obama administration released a response to We the People petitions about SOPA.

I think it’s well written and I like that they address not just the potential outcomes of SOPA that have been raised most frequently, that SOPA will end the internet or kill innovation, but also that it could so easily help censor perfectly legal content. I think that would be the most likely outcome, not that I think it has a chance of actually passing.

Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small.

Update: The more I’m reading, I see quite a few flaws in their response. As Jeff Jarvis states in describing Tim O’Reilly’s great response,

Tim O’Reilly quite rightly challenges the White House to prove that piracy is a problem. I thought the same thing as I read the Administration’s SOPA skinback: It’s proving a negative. Who’s to say how much material would be bought if there were no pirates? Who’s to say how much more is bought because piracy spreads products and brands?

Public Diplomacy and the Situation in Libya

by leah on April 4, 2011

I’m in a Public Diplomacy class at Hopkins this semester. Here is my presentation, theoretically as a diplomat who needs to present the issue to a group of foreign nationals. I am explaining how the events transpired and our 2 key reasons for action.

(Update: This would be a back up tool to a presentation, not a stand-alone document. The key in this is to demonstrate how the events unfolded in such a unique way that they led the US to get involved, as President Obama argued. Also, it’s meant to be a presentation, so it reads/looks better in full screen mode.)

Guilt in Fundraising – Is it Effective?

by leah on February 24, 2011

According to the persuasion studies I’ve been reading lately (and am really sick of tonight), guilt is incredibly effective in persuasive messaging (and fundraising), as it can easily be elicited by others when they remind us that we are not meeting our values AND because we are very motivated to mitigate guilt as quickly as possible (Daniel J. O’Keefe, Guilt and Social Influence, 2000). However, when I think of persuasive fundraising, you know what does not come to mind? Those Catholic relief whatever ads with that old guy and pictures of sad kids, where I’m told repeatedly, “For just one dollar a day, you could easily save this little girl’s life. Why are you waiting?” For effective messaging, I think of these videos below, which evoke empathy and are moving, but do not make direct guilt appeals. What do you think? Also, please consider donating. :)


Persuasion and Rationality

by leah on February 19, 2011

One of my classes this semester is Persuasion. In one of my readings this week, we learned about the components of fear appeals. I found this interesting:

“People may choose to perform the adaptive behavior (e.g., use condoms) if perceived response efficacy (e.g., “condoms are effective protectors against AIDS”) and perceived self-efficacy (e.g., “I’m able to use condoms to effectively pervent AIDS”) are greater than response costs (e.g., time, expense, difficulty).” – Kim Witte, Reconciling Fear Appeals, p. 335

This reminded me of a really fascinating and hilarious TED Talk by ELizabeth Pisani, which deconstructed the idea that people act irrationally when not protecting themselves against HIV. In it, she explains that people actually are very rational if you understand the important motivations and limitations in their lives. Check it out: