Categories
artificial intelligence technology women writing

Clubhouse v Greenroom: Tuesday AM Beef

Where two or more humans are gathered on a social media platform, there will be beef. And, on Tuesday morning, social audio delivered two servings of beef to me before I even got out of bed.

It started when I woke up at 1 AM to have some water. I checked my phone and noticed an invitation to join a Greenroom networking session. The room looked like an exploded space ship. Avatars were floating about, and all mics were muted. In the notifications was a hyperlink to an adjacent Clubhouse networking session, so I beamed myself in. After saying hello to the group, I bid everyone a good night and promised to visit again.

Five hours later, I was awake. Now, I checked new messages in a Discord server for creators. Almost all of the members were posting screen captures of notifications showing that they had been blocked from entering one particular room on Greenroom. These individuals were all button-down suburban types, and not ratchet gang-gang Crips v Blood folk. The person accused of starting the drama was a new member of the server. I thought that for sure, the server was under attack (!) so I sent a message to the administrator.

Seconds later, I was back in the Clubhouse room from earlier that morning because I wanted to see if the group was still active. I noticed that the room had a different title, and that the host was discussing the blocking incident. He explained how groups worked to “steal networks” from influencers. The app is only three weeks old, but Evil never rests. I turned off my phone, put it on my desk, and went to work.

As I reflected on the storm that was swirling in my phone, it occurred to me that burnout on social media is caused by emotional attachments to vanity metrics. In the end, these metrics are a rendering of specific data points in virtual space. Many of us do not have a clear purpose for using social media applications. Too often, we misuse them and then blame “social media” for dampening our creative spirit.

I reminded myself that I should focus on communicating with the smart technology that runs these platforms. And how do I define effective communication on each platform? Knowing that they have different functions, learning what they require for sustenance, and feeding them.

On Sunday, for example, I practised a focused detachment on Twitter. Applying a formula to composing my tweets, I noticed that each one was retweeted. Then, I focused on networking on Greenroom. In a short time, I got a dozen new follows. These individuals searched for my profile on Clubhouse and followed me there, too. Stress level? Zero.

Yesterday, I took a break from my tested formulae to whine about “rude people”. My tweet was ignored. I allowed myself to get irritated by a creepy person leering at an attractive woman posing in underwear. I was taking things personally, and not being purposeful about promoting my business. No-one followed me. I promised to manage my time better.

To be honest, Tuesday’s incidents were nonstarters and quite boring. But I could see how people get addicted to feelings and then lose sight of their objectives. On Wednesday morning, everyone had moved on, so Tuesday’s energy expenditure was nullifed.

There is nothing I can do to convince anyone to feel less possessive over imaginary fiefdoms populated by the digital imprints of purported people. Perhaps my scepticism is based on the understanding that anything existing in electronic form can be made up, invented, copied, duplicated, forged, faked and reproduced. And it goes without saying that given how easy it is to do all of that, beefing over vanity metrics means next to nothing if you cannot convince your followers to show up for you when and where it matters.

Categories
opinion technology women

Social Audio Etiquette

Are you a writer, artist or creative professional using social audio for marketing? Do you wonder if there is a chapter in Debrett’s Handbook on social audio etiquette? If you are networking on Greenroom, Twitter Spaces, and Clubhouse, you will need good conversation skills. And until they update the Handbook, I will offer you some tips. Put them into practice and reap the rewards of branding through social audio.

I have been on Clubhouse for two weeks, and just over a week on Greenroom. Occasionally, Spaces show up on my Twitter timeline, and I drop in to listen as often as I can. And as I observed conversations in each space, I noticed that branded influencers had excellent social audio etiquette.

Before I present my list, I should point out that boundaries are important online. Your conversations are public, and rooms may be recorded without your knowledge or consent. Refrain from sharing private information to satisfy a listener’s curiosity.

On Sunday, I dropped in on a Greenroom conversation with a well-known podcaster. A voice without an avatar started asking me personal questions. Imagine hearing your name called out over the PA system at a crowded coffee shop, as someone asks you to say your street address and read out details from your driver’s license. It felt like that to me.

This kind of nosy question-asking is quite common, unfortunately, even offline. It happens because many people do not realise that you can learn good conversation skills. Which is why, when you practice these skills, you will grow your audience in a relatively short time. 

Interruption as strategy 
You may be surprised at how often people interrupt speakers on stage to ask an unrelated question. One reason for these kinds of questions is that the person wants to quickly form an opinion of you. Another reason is that they do not want to hear what you have to say. The distracting question serves to start a new topic or allow the person to become the focus of the conversation.

The polite response to this is silence. Mute your microphone, and allow some of the awkwardness to revert back to the speaker. It is polite to let the host start a new topic. Learn from my mistakes: You will never control another person’s inappropriate behaviour by raising an objection to it. They receive the attention they want by diverting you from the topic of discussion. And you may find that your response will irritate listeners.

For your part, be considerate by first observing the room dynamics (read the room), and then decide if you want to participate in the discussion. Focus on the topic of conversation and avoid questions that will start an unrelated topic thread. If you wish to do that, ask to connect with the speaker outside of the room, and continue your discussions there.

Even with the best of intentions, it is possible to say something that makes someone uncomfortable in your audio space. You can avoid this by limiting the meeting time, preparing open-ended questions, and having a list of topics ready before hosting a room.

Below, I have compiled five habits that will help you in social audio spaces. Your objective, as you practice them, is to maintain a positive atmosphere around yourself. When you send out invites to your own audio spaces in future, your guests should remember how they felt whenever they were on stage with you and be happy to support you. 


Ask after objectives
Take a cue from hosts with large followings. They ask fellow speakers why they are participating in the conversation. They do this because they want to know how best to include the person in discussions. If you must, must, must ask an off-topic question, explain why you need to know this information. Again, be mindful that you are in a recorded conversation in a public forum.

Ask about experiences 
If you want to play FBI, try asking someone to demonstrate their skills. They can do this by explaining something complex, or by rephrasing a statement. Be indirect and open-ended to elicit quality answers. Whereas, questions that require a one-word answer will leave the conversation dry. You will soon run out of things to talk about. Your audience will remember that.  

Verbalise your offer to let someone speak first 
With some platforms, if you would like to speak, you may interrupt another speaker. After a few seconds of silence, say, “I would like someone else to go first,” or something similar, and wait. That usually breaks the deadlock and gives you time to prepare. Remember that you want to be the last person to offer an opinion. 

Explain any interruptions
At times, I am listening to a conversation while getting ready for work. For that reason, I may want to say something before the moderator moves on to the next topic. In that situation, I will say, “It’s six in the morning, and because I am getting ready for work, allow me to interject here so you can get on with the discussion?” Then, I speak for a very short time. Every time I do this, I get new follows and because of that, I will keep it up. 

Follow through immediately 
Whenever you receive invitations to collaborate or converse privately,  follow through immediately. This shows that you are interested in hearing what the other person has to say. Conversations disappear into the memory’s ether, which is why collaborations are more likely to happen when you are responsive. Here are seven ways to follow up: 

1. Save, share or comment on social media posts.  
2. Post conversation notes with mentions to Instagram stories.
3. Quote tweets with a thank-you note. 
4. Retweet a post relevant to the topic. 
5. Subscribe to newsletters.
6. Send direct messages.
7. Send email. 

Then, it is up to the speaker to show that they are equally interested in collaborating with you. My preferred method of following up is to tweet out from the room immediately after the offer has been made. I am noticing engagement on these kinds of tweets, even from people not in the conversation, and I will continue doing that. 

Summary
It has only been two short weeks but so far, I can say that social audio feels like a casual chat at your local coffee shop. The connections you make tend to be fleeting. And because of that, you should work to build upon them so that your networking efforts become meaningful in retrospect.

When hosting, allow people to freely drop in and out of the room. But make them so comfortable they will apologise for leaving. Maybe you are not hoping to become a branded influencer, and that is okay. But if you cultivate good conversation skills for social audio, you will remain at the top of everyone’s VIP invitation list. And that is where you belong. Hang in there, and good luck with networking.

Categories
People women writing

Rinse, repeat …

Collage with postage stamps

So far, the new WordPress editor is driving me bonkers and is about to get slapped upside the head with my pimp hand after trying to stitch me up via Siri. 

Warning! Rant …

I spent the last four days trying to delete my Instagram account, which I started four days ago. Before that, I was forced to shred my Twitter posts, all 202 of them and delete my account. Long story short, Twitter is Babylon.

I have sworn that I would never use Facebook products ever. I had to go back on my word because I’m not able to travel overseas this year. 

Instagram’s software decided that my photos were professional-looking. I was prompted to upgrade to a professional account and pay for advertising. They then said that I needed a Facebook page (so they can mine my data and sell me ads). I declined because I wasn’t going to sell my artwork anyway, and their analytics are irrelevant. I was planning to post photos from my archives to establish some credentials. I wanted other artists to pay attention to me when I engaged with them. Instead, from the fourth post in, my photos started vanishing. Soon after, I was not allowed to react to stories, or comment on more than four consecutive posts. So I said, I’m done. Four days later, after several thwarted attempts, I finally did it.

I was miserable the whole time.

You have to understand, I study programming and machine learning so I know how algorithms work. I don’t believe that their algorithms are even-handed. Machine learning code requires human input and all of that “the algorithm changes constantly” nonsense you see in tech magazines, is shorthand for “our programmers are constantly re-drafting the code so that people who are not buying advertisements will feel compelled to do that”.  

I had zero followers and was getting suppressed. It is a clear sign that Facebook exists to sell advertisements. They don’t cater to anyone who refuses to add to their bottom line. I don’t have access to their servers, so there is nothing I can do to change their policy to help myself.

Please do not ask me about all of the accounts I visited in stealth mode. Oh, I spied on everybody: neighbours all the way to my former teachers, classmates, childhood friends, crushes, crushes’ crushes, uni friends, colleagues. People are so nice when they don’t know it’s me commenting.

One of my cousins, who is a fashion designer, sent me a lovely welcome audio message to thank me for joining her army of fans. In real life, her husband banned her from talking to me because I told my cousin she should not allow her husband to name himself CEO of her multinational fashion brand, which she started on her own. He has no business training, mind you. He claims on his social media accounts that he is naturally better at business because he’s a dude and men are traditionally the provider. It’s a very long story – and you can read about it at that link. 

I woke up on Sunday morning to a face full of the power couple in an Instagram live stream. Their marriage is amazing and perfect and stuff so they were cohosting a marriage counselling session with a very good-looking celebrity singer couple. I had to intervene after a guest complained that her man wasn’t ready to have children. She joked that her friend told her to take a sample of his you-know-what while he was sleeping. I quickly jumped in the chat to say that it was assault and battery. (If I had a partner kinda sorta joke that they would impregnate me in my sleep, there’d be no discussion about it: that would be the very end. Don’t say hi to me, get lost forever).

Of course the power couples ignored me. Because, they don’t have any knowledge about fundamental human rights. And why would they? They’re not really helping anyone, they’re building a brand.

 

Categories
opinion

Hygiene

Hygiene, or a sense of professional decorum, is important when communicating with readers. In this post, I discuss my personal blogging hygiene. I am not the most appropriate person around here, but I have guidelines for being “professional” even while I’m acting out.

The Emperor’s Nude Hose, courtesy The Daily Mail.

Terminology
There’s a follow button around here but I’m not Yeezus. I prefer to say subscribers or readers. Frankly, no-one is hanging on my every word. Everyone visits willingly and this makes feedback immensely valuable.

Calling cards
Right, so when someone gives some feedback on a post, I never assume they’re in love. They’re not getting carried away in the fantasy of us. In return for their kind support, I don’t suddenly post missives about my happy family life, my husband, wife and three point five children, my happy engagement, my hot muscular boyfriend, my busty girlfriend or announce that I am in fact, gay, asexual or bisexual. I don’t conclude that attention from a blogger means they want, you know, a relationship. Like, for real? That’s whack.

Rapport
To begin with, I try to post things that readers might enjoy. If I invite feedback, I look out for it and respond as soon as I see it. If I have objections to post content, I quietly leave. WordPress is not a bistro, so ordering authors around is not on. Conversations and continued attention are the best ways to develop rapport with other bloggers. Self-adulatory messages along these lines don’t count: “Hello, Good on you for recognising my genius. I’m grateful for every minion…”

Taylor Swift needs eye drops
Humblebrag or brag-brag? I can’t decide.

Command prompts
Showing up on blogs like the Supreme Queen of the Universe and commanding bloggers to “read, like and follow” is poor form. Occasionally, I point bloggers to posts I’ve written but when phrasing my requests, I remember how someone snarled at me, “Obviously you didn’t memorise read my (PhD thesis) proposal.” It had taken him six years, on two scholarships, to write four pages. It was a full two minute read. I promised to never talk to anyone like that.

Assumptions
When someone visits my catalog and exclaims that I’m “strange”, I’m reminded of the recording artist (you’ve never heard of him) to whom I was almost engaged. He had spent his career in the tabloids, on stages and in bathtubs with models in a drug induced haze. He called me, “stuck up” because I said that in our future together on Paradise Island, I would like to spend Sunday mornings watching polo. Think about this for a minute. To what was this person’s assessment of “fun” calibrated? Thank you.

Image credit: Behance

Solidarity
I’m not a judging panelist, but a member of a community. So, when commenting on posts, I’ll say how much I enjoyed reading. I’ll read as if I’m watching my favourite Russian pianist live in concert. I call out from the balcony. Brava! Bella! Then, backstage, I shower her with kisses. I offer the same to you.