Week 5 Readings

When I was reading through Betancourt’s 10 Rules for Increasing Community Engagement, it amazed me how useful it is to what I’m working on right now. Meeman 901 Strategies, the student run PR firm of which I am the director of visual media, has been tasked with discerning new ways of driving people to donate to MLGW’s Plus-1 campaign. A charity that they have run for longer than I have been alive and yet so many have no idea what it is. So our idea was to brand the Plus-1 campaign with visuals and personal content and to spread the word through social media. We came up with the idea to post a call to action for anyone contributing to or receiving aid from the program to post photos of themselves holding up one finger and using the hashtag #Iamplus1. MLGW really liked our idea but after meeting with them several times it has become apparent that they are unsure how to direct this community driven effort. So now with this article I have some rich information to process and present new ideas to the board. By making the site more easily navigated and adding calls to action people will be more likely to join, interacting with the conversation will make contributors feel more involved, and profiling the people who are involved in aid will foster more involvement.

I have no affinity for Twitter, I know that is a huge weakness and am trying to work on it, but that is the hard truth. I have difficulty keeping up with the pace of things and remembering to stay on task with my direction so that I can begin to build a following. I will admit that this article is helpful, but the few chats that I’ve tried to do haven’t ended well. I kind of sit there with a helpless feeling as tweet upon tweet refresh on my feed and I feel like I have nothing to offer… I will continue to try to be more involved in order to practice my interaction skills.

As I have said many times in class, I attribute some of my crazy nerdiness to the fact that I am able to connect with so many different networks in order to organize people of similar passions. I would never have been able to walk around asking random people in the City of Memphis if they were Whovians or Potterheads…. instead I have the amazing powers of social media and online organization. Shirky describes the way people became so invested in changing the Catholic church because they were offered the outlet to do it easily and with people of similar ideas. In the same way a mass of dedicated Sci-Fi fans made it possible for a little, one season show called Firefly to be made into a blockbuster movie. When the show was cancelled after one season by Fox, the fans were furious. Here was this amazing storyline mixture of space and old westerns with a helping of Chinese swear words that so many grew to love over 14 episodes that was suddenly cancelled. No wrap-up, no explanation, people were slavering for an end to the tale. And so the fans took it upon themselves to write emails, sign petitions, donate money, tell people what they wanted, and it worked. Serenity was a full scale, action packed Universal movie put out in 2005 that told the end of the story. The community engagement from the fandom was the only reason this happened, in fact a documentary was made chronicling the events and applauding the people who worked so hard and Done the Impossible.

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