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Correction: Four White Men Exploit Social Media

Thu, Mar 27, 2021

Events, Marketing, Social Media

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note: above video has no sound; animation only

This is an update to my recent post, Five White Men Talk About Social Media. When last we visited the little drama surrounding our local Chamber of Commerce event with a surprising lack of diversity, I had been invited to be on the panel. The following day the invitation was withdrawn because I’m not a member of the Chamber. (Brenda Thompson, part of our Every Dot Connects team, is a Chamber member and the one who originally brought the event to my attention.)

Also, we were in error that “five white men” constituted the panel; there are only four of them.The Chamber’s policy of featuring members at their events is reasonable, even laudable. While it does not excuse the lack of diversity, I certainly have no quibble with their policy. I do have quibbles about the content that will be presented, or at least the way it is described in promotional materials for “Today’s New Marketing Tools.” One of the panelists, a flyer says, “specializes in using new media and viral tactics which leave an indelible impression on a target audience.” Another “advises clients on how they can exploit digital and social media …”

You get the drift. I can’t help thinking it sounds like tacking some new buzzwords over traditional marketing methods.

Of course, my opinion is colored by my immersion in the world of social media. My business partner, Mike Chapman, and I do social media consulting, and I serve as the executive director of the international Social Media Club. I also just agreed to be a contributing author to the 2008 edition of The Age of Conversation, subtitled “Why Don’t People Get It?”

Yes, I am blatantly self-promoting here. That was, after all, the gist of comments to my “Five White Men” post: women are not as likely as men to promote their own work. Advice taken. The comments, by the way, are well worth reading, and I appreciate those who took the time to add their thoughts to mine.

My original post spurred others to write about the topic further. In Everydotconnects Post Ispires Michelle’s First Official Rant, Michelle Greer said:

We’ve never seen a female U.S. President. Great Britain elected Prime Minister in Margaret Thatcher. Indira Gandhi served as Prime Minister of India. Finland, a country with the highest number of scientists per capita in the world, elected Conan O’Brien look-alike Tarja Halonen as president. Although the Catholics in Argentina will not see a female priest, they did elect Cristina Fernandez de Kirschner, who is following in the footsteps of her husband and former president Nestor. Pakistan, a primarily Muslim nation, elected Benazir Bhutto as Prime Minister in 1988 and she was leading another election until she was assassinated last December. This is supposedly the freest place on Earth for women, and yet, a Muslim nation elected a female for a leader 20 years before we even get a viable candidate for President.

One of the men who contributed to the discussion, accessibility consultant and web designer Pat Ramsey, wrote in Gender, Social Media, Why It Matters, OK…I’ll Dive In:

It’s an uncomfortable subject for many. It cuts down to a deeply personal level in us, a group already made up of uncomfortable, fidgety socially awkward nerds, geeks and dweebs. Uncomfortable though it may be, we’ve got to look at this.

Brenda Thompson and I will be attending the Chamber event on April 30. I look forward to learning a thing or two from four white men who are very successful in their respective fields. Seriously. It just won’t be about exploiting social media, because I know just how unsuccessful attempts to manipulate the conversation (buzzword alert) can be.

I also intend to follow up on the tongue-in-cheek recommendation of Jackie Huba, who left this comment on my original post: “Maybe we should do a women-only panel on social media for the Social Media Club. And maybe at the last minute we’ll invite a man to be on the panel.”

Stay tuned for that news, which will be posted on Austin Social Media Club as soon as I can get with Jackie to determine a date. If you want to talk about “Today’s New Marketing Tools,” you couldn’t ask for a better presenter than Jackie.

And in the meantime, if you’re in Austin, plan on attending SMC’s April 17 event featuring Jon Lebkowsky, an authority on social media, online community, technoculture, Web strategy, and Internet trends. Jon helped pioneer both the theories and the software behind many of today’s new marketing tools and technologies.

You might say he is One White Guy Who Really Understands Social Media.

This post was written by:

Connie Reece - who has written 152 posts on Every Dot Connects.


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19 Comments For This Post

  1. Karen Swim Says:

    All hail the Queen of Fierce! Connie, your post really got me fired up too and I looked at a local issue with a new fire in my belly which I blogged about (http://tinyurl.com/ytpwdr). Women should be mad and we need to speak up so that the inequity stops. All too often, we sit in “politically correct” silence and ignorance is allowed to continue. I also agree that women are wonderful at nurturing and supporting but often to polite to self-promote, here too we must open our mouths and share our value. Thank you Queen! I am virtually sending you another diamond for your tiara!

    Karen

    Karen, I feel fierce indeed if my writing got you stirred up to tackle a local issue. Your post is a thoughtful look both at gender disparity and social and economic differences that lead to the way different women are portrayed in the media. Thanks for the additional bling! *sparkle*

  2. Jon Lebkowsky Says:

    Hey, thanks, Connie!

    Maybe I’ll show up at the Chamber of Commerce event, too. Started to suggest we convene a panel of our own with more diversity - but then I realized that you’ve been doing that on a regular basis with Social Media Club, and all your sessions have been very informative and effective.

    Jon, thanks for being part of our local Social Media Club since the early days. I’ve been looking forward to hearing you speak again ever since Mike told me he was talking to you about another presentation. And thanks for commenting.

  3. Suki Fuller Says:

    While I did not comment on the last post. I thought it better to do rather than say. So, I forwarded your link to all in my address book & told them to read (specifically the women) also suggested no matter the sector the need for them to self promote as women is strong.

    This past week, I have seen 3 of my peers take some career matters into their hands that they normally would not.

    Many thanks, Connie, many thanks indeed.

    And now onto my Chamber of Commerce.

    Wow! Suki, thanks for sending my post out to all your contacts and for reporting back that three of your peers had been assertive about their careers as a result. That is very encouraging to me as a writer and as a woman.

  4. Ontario Emperor Says:

    I’m sorry to hear that you were disinvited, and the reason that you were disinvited is discouraging on a general level, irrespective of gender issues. If a Chamber of Commerce is only listening to other members of the Chamber of Commerce, there’s certainly the danger of insularity.

    If nothing else, this conversation reminds me of my need to listen, and not just speak.

    I wonder if, after the panel on outputs - targeting an audience and exploiting media - the Chamber will hold a completely separate panel on inputs, entitled “How to Know the Motivations of Your Target Market.”

    Too bad. The Chamber could have addressed both in the same session.

    I see your point about the danger of insularity, and I really like the idea of the second panel you mentioned. It’s not only important to know the motivations of your target market but to give them adequate channels to express their opinions. That’s the game-changing aspect of marketing right now.

  5. hwbproject Says:

    So how come in a blog post about diversity you only address gender issues and don’t talk about the lack of African-American or Latino faces in the social media space? If you want diversity is has to be across the board.

    I agree with you that it needs to be across the board, and it’s an excellent discussion to have. One of the reasons I focused on women in this case is that more than half of small business owners — the audience the panel is trying to reach — is women. That’s what made it such a “d’oh” moment for me.

  6. Paul Walker Says:

    Well, I am one of the “white men.”. Sorry about that. I just said “yes” to the invite and it did not occur to me to check on the diversity of the panel. Next time I will. In the meantime, maybe we can still do something here if the Chamber is willing to consider solutions.

    Paul, thanks for reaching out on the blog. It shouldn’t be up to the panelists to check on the diversity; that was the responsibility of the organizers. But I appreciate your willingness to both look at diversity in the future and your interest in changing the situation. I’ll say it again for the record: my goal in writing was not to try to get an invitation to be on the panel but to point out that as a society we are still facing issues that I had hoped would be moot by now.

    Once, as the only female member on the management team, I threatened to follow all the men into the restroom during a break unless they promised not to make any decisions once inside. Seriously. They had a pattern. They would keep discussing agenda items in the men’s room, reach a consensus on something and then announce it when we regathered around the conference table. When you have to deal with this kind of behavior (and this is only one of many incidents I could recount), you wind up defensive and probably oversensitive when you face apparent inequities in other situations. — Connie

  7. White Male Panelist: Sad to see the rush to judgement Says:

    As one of the “white men” on the panel, I was saddened reading these comments to find out that so many folks leap to the conclusion that the Chamber has a blind spot when it comes to picking females for things. From what I can see, the Chamber does an excellent job of having many events that are headlined by females.

    This panel isn’t even primarily about “Social Media” per se. It’s about the broader panoply of online marketing tools, which includes Social Media as a subset. And they’ve put together quite a lineup, if I do say so myself: the CEO of the largest Search Engine Marketing firm in the Southwest, the CEO of an integrated online marketing firm that is also a large Eloqua reseller, the CEO of a large and growing online/event/guerilla marketing company, and the head of the digital practice and the Texas office of one of the most successful PR firms in the social media space.

    So there didn’t happen to be a female this go-round … that can happen. The odds aren’t crazy any time you get a random sample set of four folks that they could all be men.

    This panel is geared toward helping BUSINESSES grow their revenues. With all due respect to the names mentioned as alternative panelists, 90% of the people mentioned would have a hard time
    pointing to PROVABLE, measurable revenues they have cost-effectively driven for their clients.

    This panel is NOT about how to twitter your way to prominence amongst of group of folks that in another world might be wearing wookie suits, speaking Klingon, hanging out at Mary Kay parties, camping at Ren Fairs, or playing Myst / Starcraft / Everquest. (environments in which far too many of the social media “professionals” might also be comfortable)

    I’m very much looking forward to the discussion. Bring it on …

    Bill

    Bringing it on, Bill … Only two names were mentioned on my part about possible panelists. (The other commenters who listed names did not pick up on the fact that it was a local event, not a national conference.) So I don’t know where you get your disparaging remarks that 90% of the women suggested would have a hard time proving any measurable success on behalf of their clients. FYI, one of the names I proposed was Jackie Huba. From her bio on the Church of the Customer blog: “As a speaker and business advisor, Jackie has worked with Microsoft, Ulta, Discovery Education, Yahoo and Verio as well as thousands of small and medium businesses at association conferences. Previously, Jackie led B2B marketing efforts for 12 years at IBM in its software division.” I would imagine there are some measurable results tucked in there somewhere.

    About the charge of Twittering your way to prominence … nah, that snarky comment doesn’t deserve an answer.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got cookies in the oven and I have to plan my next Mary Kay party. :-)

    Connie

  8. White Male Panelist: Sad to see the rush to judgement Says:

    For what it’s worth, I probably should add that, though I don’t speak Klingon, and have never attended a Mary Kay event, I do have more than my fair share of experience in some of the environs mentioned where one might expect to see overlap with many of the current crop of social media experts. Yes, I’m a nerd, and I did have a brief Dale Earnhardt type moment at the passing of Gary Gygax. I’d just like us to get beyond having the first thing we do be a melanin and gender count to see if things are balanced … For my part, my first reaction to seeing 4 women speaking isn’t a “gee, why did they overlook the men.”

    “I’d just like us to get beyond having the first thing we do be a melanin and gender count to see if things are balanced.” Hear, hear. I wholeheartedly agree. But you know what? We’re not there yet.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I would have guessed that your reaction to seeing four women speaking on a panel would be, “How did I wind up at a Mary Kay convention?” — Connie

  9. Brenda Thompson Says:

    Thanks for providing some welcome hilarity to this thread-I just snorted Shiner out of my nose at Connie’s replies. That was some quick backpedaling on Bill’s part to add some nerd credentials.

    Call me Pollyanna, but I think this has been a great conversation over the past few days. I know I’ve learned some things and heard some interesting perspectives. I’m also looking forward to the panel and learning more. Some of my best friends are white men (Tim Hayden, I’m talking about you!)

  10. Michelle/chelpixie Says:

    “This panel is NOT about how to twitter your way to prominence amongst of group of folks that in another world might be wearing wookie suits, speaking Klingon, hanging out at Mary Kay parties, camping at Ren Fairs, or playing Myst / Starcraft / Everquest. (environments in which far too many of the social media “professionals” might also be comfortable)”

    FYI, Bill, I have never done ANY of the above. Yet, I’m deeply involved in social media consulting and marketing, plus I twitter. Might want to watch the generalizations and assumptions that you’re making, especially given that your panel is discussion such “important” things as social media. ;)

  11. Karen Swim Says:

    I for one have not only enjoyed the posts and and the comments but was also inspired by them to take action in my little corner of the world. I was clear from the original post that it was a local event and I still believe the larger discussion on gender disparity was a good one. I can’t expect Bill to understand the collective response of women who understand that we still have quite a long way to go. And by the way Bill, Mary Kay was widely recognized by the business community as a top CEO. I was one of those pink case toting sales people who learned a helluva lot about sales and life from smart, savvy business women (including attorneys, CEOs and MBAs) about sales and marketing. I also twitter but don’t speak Klingon. Your remarks were more offensive than anything else that was said in the posts and in response to them.

  12. Laura Thomas Says:

    Wow. I’d meant to chime in on this theme a while back, but just never seemed to get around to it. Even after getting prompted by a remark from James Govenor, Co-founder of RedMonk, the open source industry analyst company, on gender differences in social media.

    But seeing one of the panelists comment first not using his name at all (although he adds [only] his first name at the end) and then leave such snarky and pointless remarks; well, then I just had to say something. But where to start?

    I suppose I mostly feel for those people who are going to attend this event hoping to learn about how to engage people through these new tools. One of the main elements of social media - no matter whether it’s blogging or Twittering or whatever - is transparency. People are tired of being talked at and want to talk with real people not faceless organizations.
    Paul gets this and he came into the conversation with full transparency, but apparently not everyone who will be speaking really knows how to “take advantage of the all there is to offer” as the event summary promises to teach attendees.

  13. Becky McCray Says:

    So pleased to see White Male Panelist’s comment, roughly, “You girls don’t know anything about BUSINESS. Go back and play with your makeup and your Twitter.” A great throwback to an earlier generation of men’s arguments, long since considered discredited.

    But that’s exactly the point. Scratch the surface, and many guys still hold on to these same wrong ideas. It’s good to have something like this in print to show to the men who say they are tired of having to do a “melanin and gender count.” (Although I notice that in this case, it’s the same guy with both complaints! Nice.)

    This is exactly why we work on gender, race and rank issues. It’s a real live problem, and it holds back otherwise capable and qualified people from contributing to society, or even to the Chamber of Commerce panel.

    And if you’re harboring thoughts that “we women” are blowing this way out of proportion, it’s absolutely in proportion to the total amount of discriminatory crap that is still going on.

  14. Laura "Pistachio" Fitton Says:

    I learned today about a regional panel on for a group of consultants on using social media to build their brand and practice. Objectively, I’m beyond qualified for that. Objectively, plenty of 3rd parties are referring to me as a case study for precisely that. When I suggested it to the organizer, and mentioned recent exposure/recognition, he cited a desire “to keep the panel diverse.”

    So somehow, diversity means being *sure* to avoid an all-female or predominantly-female (I didn’t stick around to check, it was adequate to be told I would be invited if T___ - a woman I admire - could not make it) panel.

  15. mack collier Says:

    “This panel is geared toward helping BUSINESSES grow their revenues. With all due respect to the names mentioned as alternative panelists, 90% of the people mentioned would have a hard time pointing to PROVABLE, measurable revenues they have cost-effectively driven for their clients.

    This panel is NOT about how to twitter your way to prominence amongst of group of folks that in another world might be wearing wookie suits, speaking Klingon, hanging out at Mary Kay parties, camping at Ren Fairs, or playing Myst / Starcraft / Everquest. (environments in which far too many of the social media “professionals” might also be comfortable)”

    IOW, you aren’t going to tell your audience how to use social media tools effectively, you are going to tell your audience how to ‘use social media to grow their revenue!’

    Yeah that’ll fly like a 50-pound ham.

  16. Search Engine Marketing, Bill Leake, and flying 50 pound hams Says:

    Connie wrote
    “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got cookies in the oven and I have to plan my next Mary Kay party.”
    and
    ” FYI, one of the names I proposed was Jackie Huba”

    Connie, I’d love to share some cookies with you, but cosmetics just aren’t my thing ;-p
    Jackie Huba, BTW, was the one person of all the ones mentioned in the postings that I thought would have been a slam dunk for a panel such as this :-)

    Brenda wrote:
    “Thanks for providing some welcome hilarity to this thread–I just snorted Shiner out of my nose ”

    Too bad you didn’t get that on video. Would have made for some good link-bait and, properly tagged, might have come up on the first page of Google for a search for “Shiner Beer” Glad I could help inject some additional liveliness into the discussion

    All: in the interest of full disclosure, I’m an SEM/ SEO professional, not a social media professional. I’ll not be focusing on social media on the panel, since I don’t hold myself to be an expert. What I do is make my clients money. To the extent we do things (limited things) in social media it’s about making 50-pound hams fly (and we can use social media to achieve Google rankings success, so we can actually get those hams flying). So yes, I’m one of *those* people that that guy Rubel who (hypocritically?) works for the Walmart Flogging PR firm whines about. The commercial world has discovered social media, and that’s not entirely a bad thing. Ultimately, it provides increased opportunities for all of us.

  17. mack collier Says:

    “To the extent we do things (limited things) in social media it’s about making 50-pound hams fly (and we can use social media to achieve Google rankings success, so we can actually get those hams flying).”

    From my experience, many businesses want to hear about how blogging and social media can boost their traffic and pagerank.

    I am happy to tell them all about it, as it usually gets their attention so I can then tell them about the stuff that really matters, which is how to use these tools effectively to better communicate with and understand their customers.

    There’s a reason why companies like Dell are focused on the conversations that are being created by their being involved in social media, and could likely give a rip about their blog’s Pagerank.

  18. Sanjay Nasta Says:

    Connie,

    I am sorry the chamber event worked out that way. I do agree with you about businesses needing to enter conversations and relationships and marketing becoming more honest. It bugs me that most marketing doesn’t return anything to the viewer. It is one sided. Since we last talked I’ve been working more and more with the idea of using learning/training to build conversation and relationship. We’re having great success and a little bit of business has even fallen out (ok ok a lot of business). I just think it is a more honest way of marketing than screaming from the rooftops.

    Good to hear from you, Sanjay. Also glad to hear that you’re having success with using your learning/training capabilities to build relationships. It’s a slower type of marketing, but produces longer-lasting results that are satisfying for both the company and the customer.

  19. zane safrit Says:

    There’s some good content here. I loved the one who snorted shiner out her nose. I would have too, but…my mouth was empty.

    Yeah…you can slap a buzz-word on a campaign and it’s still the same old, same old. It’s no different with people. You can dress ‘em up, but you still can’t take ‘em out. Push just a little bit and the ooze pops out.

    Anyway, I’m glad I added your blog to my feeds. Your content’s spot-on. And you’ve got some lively folks here.

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