I love weekends. I get a chance to luxuriate in long reads on my phone, articles I want to catch up on, scrolling at a slower, more enjoyable pace through my social feeds. I usually float between Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and whatever is on my Nook. During the work week, keeping up with social can feel a little manic when project deadlines demand attention.
Last weekend, two really interesting social things happened.
First, Annie Parker (@annie_parker), Global Head of Startups at Microsoft, tweeted out this request: “Hey twitter peeps, I would like to follow at least another 50 badass women in the tech, accessibility, inclusivity, and just all round fabulous humans. Who should I follow?”
To which fintech influencer Theodora Lau (@psb_dc), responded with a list of recommendations that included me. This list went crazy, and according to Parker, she’s now added 700 more to her list of follows. So far that tweet’s grown my modest Twitter following by 100+, but in addition to being thrilled to be included on that amazing list, it definitely inspired me.
Clearly, the world is hungry for more badass women to follow. But not just that — I think the world of badass women is also eager to support each other. I followed all the women in that Tweetstorm I could find. As Parker pointed out, we’re all ready for our feeds to be full of more awesomeness.
But I worried my feed might get single-topic heavy. I love a good woman-in-tech influencer, but I also really value the insight I get from following all kinds of accounts.
The next inspiring thing happened when I spotted a retweet of Monica Kang’s article, “Why Diversity Onstage Really Matters — and What You Can Do About It” about why representation onstage matters because impact does not end on stage. Kang points out that a lack of diversity on any stage — event, entertainment, and press — is a problem because it becomes our unconscious bar of what is considered normal.
I realized this isn’t just true onstage. This is true for me. What I present to myself on my social feeds becomes my normal.
Now I was really motivated to add some #diversity to my feed. I’m not a social mogul, so I cheated a little. Here’s what I did.
Look for professionals you admire, and follow who they follow.
I checked out the follow list of my company’s Communications Director, Amy Hibbard (@AHAHibbard on Twitter, ahibbard on Instagram), and she has a killer follow list. Smart, insightful, and full of humor. Followed a good many of them.
Look at the follow lists of people who bring a diverse perspective from your usual experience.
I thought about a recent conversation at my local Charlottesville Women in Tech (@CvilleTechWomen) group’s fourth birthday party, where we played networking bingo and did speed networking with a helpful list of insightful questions.
A conversation with two women who immigrated to the U.S. stayed with me about how diversity isn’t just race, gender, age, and how we also need to seek diversity of thought, experience, education. One woman shared that she had interviewed in Silicon Valley with a diverse “looking” team, but “everyone had the backward ball cap and thought the same way.”
I was motivated to look through the follow lists of women from different countries, women of color, artists, professors, journalists, for accounts that represent sexual diversity and orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies, for fresh perspectives to follow.
Don’t forget your Instagram feed.
The thing I love about Twitter and Instagram that’s different from Facebook, is how they give me the ability to step outside my own circle of friends and acquaintances. I cheated big time here and gleaned from Insta Queen Chrissy Teigen’s (@chrissyteigen) follow list, but a lot of others, too.
But do this thoughtfully. I recently watched Ingrid Goes West, the disturbingly funny flick about a young woman who becomes obsessed with her Insta girl crush. Don’t be an Ingrid, seduced into thinking your reality needs to compare to anyone’s carefully cultivated (and often corporate sponsored) Insta story.
Follow your clients, but not just on LinkedIn.
This is a no-brainer and gives you great insight if you follow clients’ corporate accounts and any of their personal accounts on social. You’ll learn what’s really important to them. You’ll see their baby pics, Tough Mudder victories, or vacation snaps on Instagram, and their professional and political discussions on Twitter. They’re telling you what they find meaningful and giving you the opportunity to authentically support them.
Like everything worthwhile, it takes more effort to achieve balance in anything, including your social experience. As a marketer, I try to be particularly thoughtful about how images and messages represent and resonate. If you’re going to build your own news and information gathering experience, do it with intention, even if you have to cheat a little to get where you want to go.
We’re all ready for our feeds to be full of more awesomeness.