[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]
Long before she wrote Share This!: How You Will Change the World with Social Networking, Deanna Zandt was my social networking guru. Of course, I had the benefit of being her friend, so I was privy to her frequent and useful insights on the value of joining Twitter, Foursquare and Facebook, and the most effective ways to use these technologies to promote my ideas and my activism. It was Deanna who convinced me that it benefits your activism to humanize yourself on social networks, and even that you can really spread information far and wide 140 characters at a time. So I have to start off by saying: you rule, Deanna! Your guidance has been invaluable to me.
And now all of you can benefit from Deanna’s wisdom, both by reading her book and by asking her questions right here and now! Share This! is less a book on the nitty-gritty how-to to navigate the interfaces of social networking sites, which you can do on your own, and more a discussion of why social networking matters, and the very human ways to use it to build relationships and spread ideas. If you want to know why it’s good for your activism to talk about the World Cup on Twitter, then this book will make it very clear to you.
But what I really liked about this book is that while it’s good for beginners, it’s also a great book for people who already buy into the idea of social networking, but still need help contextualizing how it works to influence. Right now, you’re seeing many businesses and organizations signing on to the idea of social networking, but they only measure their success in terms of numbers of friends and followers. As Deanna makes it clear in this book, who you get is way more important than how many. A handful of followers who respect your opinion and have the ability to influence the world matters way more than simply having 20,000 followers who have no real interest in what you’re saying or ability to act on it.
Share This! also has some of the best advice I’ve ever read on how to avoid burnout. If you’re like me, and you have a number of listservs, Facebook feeds, Twitter feeds, and other forms of social networking coming in at you all the time, it can sometimes seem like too much information to process. Deanna gives you the mental tools you need not only to keep yourself from burning out, but also look at this stream of information as a way to cull and categorize to make your life easier, instead of just feeling overwhelmed. Hint: part of the strategy is having relationships. If you know where the information is coming from, that brings a great deal of context that can help you use it wisely.
In the end, relationships are what really matter. Activism is nothing without them, but we all know how hard it is to begin and maintain relationships when we’re all so busy in our own worlds. Social networks give us a cheat so we can have it all. And to prove Deanna’s point about this, I can point to my friendship with….Deanna! We became buddies when I was living in Texas and she was living in New York. This would have been unlikely if it weren’t for the fact that we can maintain a casual connection all the time through Twitter and Foursquare. And now I’m here on Firedoglake, introducing her for this book salon. See, social networking works. So, peeps and tweeps, let’s give it up for Deanna Zandt!