Episode 46 of The SitePoint Podcast is now available! This week, Patrick O’Keefe (@iFroggy) is joined by social media strategist Jim Turner (@Genuine) to discuss supporting good causes through social media.
Listen in your Browser
Play this episode directly in your browser! Just click the orange “play” button below:
A complete transcript of the interviews is provided below.
Download this Episode
You can also download this episode as a standalone MP3 file. Here’s the link:
Subscribe to the Podcast
Patrick: January 29th, 2010. Social media strategist Jim Turner stops by to chat about supporting good causes through social media. This is the SitePoint Podcast #46: Using the Internet for Good with Jim Turner.
Hello and welcome to another episode of the SitePoint Podcast. This is Patrick O’Keefe and it’s interview time yet again; today, we’re speaking with Jim Turner. Jim is the man behind One By One Media, which specializes in getting the most out of blogging and social media. He runs Bloggers For Hire, a service dedicated to matching professional bloggers with companies in need of their skills. He served as the conference director and social media director for Blog World and New Media Expo held last October. On Twitter, he’s @Genuine.
The reason that I wanted to bring Jim on today was so that we could talk about using the Internet for good. Jim is no stranger to this, and he recently completed a 24 hour telethon to benefit Haiti. He raised money and awareness with a number of guests stopping by including myself during his 24 consecutive hours on the mic. In this interview he shares his experiences putting together this endeavor, and offers advice that you can apply to help the causes that matter to you most.
Patrick: Hey Jim, it’s great to have you on the show.
Jim: Thanks for having me.
Patrick: First of all, congratulations on the telethon. It was an honor to be a part of it.
Jim: Well, we really had a great response from all the different people that called in and were guests, and certainly, Patrick, you stepped up and actually I think you were at 1 o’clock in the morning or something by your clock and having done it 24 hours, it’s all a blur to me now. I have to kind of go back and recreate the wheel and figure out all the different guests that I had, but it was great having you too.
Patrick: Well thank you. Let’s go backwards a little bit. How did you first have the idea to do the telethon?
Jim: I was sitting down watching the Haiti relief efforts and certainly, a lot of the first images that were coming out of Haiti on Thursday, obviously that was a couple of days after the first quake that had caused most of the damage. I was watching, and all of the different images that were coming were on video from CNN and from NBC and a few of the other places that I was watching, and I just happened to see a small child and being a father of four—of a 10-year-old, a soon to be 9-year-old, a 5-year-old, and a 4-year-old—I really kind of had an outpouring for the children that were part of the destruction and the mayhem that was going on down there. I was especially paying attention to those smaller children because they really don’t have an idea of what the destruction has really caused them in their lives and what it’s going to cause. So I just wanted to do something.
I had the idea that I would look at my bank account and say, “Gosh, what can I give?” I didn’t have what I wanted to give. So I tried to think of other ways that I could give to the Haiti relief effort. I thought, “Gosh, why don’t you try to use social media. That seems to be your bailey wig, so why don’t you try to use that?”
I quickly got on the phone and I said, “What can we do?” Chris Noble, who is the CEO of WhatGives!? and Causemedia Group—he’s my non-profit guy and does a lot of causes—and he said, “I’m in, whatever you want to do.” So that’s when we came up with the idea of doing the telethon and wsRadio jumped into helping us. It was just one of those things where it was just a small idea that just jumped off the page at me and away we went.
Patrick: Okay, so you have the idea, let’s talk about the actual execution of the idea. So you reach out to some partners, you share ideas, you get things going. How quickly did this come together as far as— I know you took a flight, you were in the studio. Talk about that a little bit, kind of a logistics behind accomplishing the idea.
Jim: Well, I first had to figure out what vehicle we were going to use for this telethon – was I going to do it on USTREAM, was I going to do it on Skype, was I going to do it as just a part of my own webcam here at my office in front of my computer? How were we going to communicate what we were trying to do and how are we going to try to do it? I’ve been doing internet radio now for about three years and one of the companies that I’ve been working with recently is wsRadio and they’ve been around on internet TV for … gosh, nearly I guess 10 years now or something like that. They were the first people that I reached out to and actually asked if it was possible because they would need to set aside studio time and also set aside time on the Internet itself because they have a lot of different shows that are ongoing at present. They would need to set aside a place and a vehicle for that to happen.
I reached out to them and they said, “Gosh, Jim, what you’re undertaking has not been done before by us and we really are not sure we have that ability. Let us call you back.” Within a half hour, they called back and they said, “We’re going to make it work. We’re not quite sure of all the logistics yet, but we’re going to make it work. When you get off that plane, you’ll have a place to have your 24-hour telethon.”
I hopped on the plane and flew out there to the studios out in San Diego and when I showed up, they said, “We’re ready to roll. You’re in studio B. You have 24 hours beginning at 6 o’clock this evening.” It was really kind of crazy. It took about 40 hours/48 hours for all the things to come together. It was Thursday morning when I had the idea and then by Sunday morning when I jumped on the plane, we were pretty close to having all of our guests lined up and a pretty good idea of how we were going to be able to donate the money and what charities we would be talking about and some of those kinds of things.
It really took the efforts of everyone to put it all together.
Patrick: “You have the studio for 24 hours, there’s the restroom, here’s a coffeemaker. Good luck.”
Jim: Exactly. They took me to the store beforehand and said, “Well, you better stock up on what supplies you need,” and I asked, “Do you have coffee?” They said, “We’ve got the coffee covered,” and so I bought some energy drinks and some caffeinated sodas and away we went. Actually, I bought some chocolate, too, because I figured I’m going to have to keep my blood sugar up to do this for 24 hours. There were a couple of moments when I thought there’s no way I’m going to make it another 10 minutes doing this without taking a break and going to sleep. We had one 15-minute break and each time that I finished a segment, we had about 4 minutes between segments.
Patrick: The next time that you do this, you have to go out and actually have Red Bull, 5-Hour Energy on speed dial as sponsors. There you go.
Jim: That’s exactly right. We frankly, are actually planning another 24-hour telethon coming up here March 25th or 26th—I’m not quite sure of the date yet. Because it was such a success and because we were able to pull it off with a little bit of help from our friends, so to speak, they want to do it again for Twestival coming up here at the end of March. I don’t know if you know about Twestival, but it’s a very large charitable party basically. Each city hosts their own Twestival, if you will, and it’s a 24-hour period and they raise money for water safety and charitable organizations. So we’re going to be doing it again, coming up here in March.
Patrick: So you said you have the idea Thursday, hopped on a plane on Sunday and at that point, you had most of the guests lined up. Obviously, you’re well versed in streaming, web business, social media, and all those things and well connected. At the same time, talk about how you— I know how much— I wanted to talk about how you went about getting the guests, how you collected those people and how someone who maybe doesn’t have as large a following could do so.
Jim: Certainly, we all have our networks, whether it be at our church, whether it be the PTA at school, or even just your local neighbors. We all have kind of our communities and our networks that we reach out to. I particularly had a large number of followers on Twitter. I have a lot of people that follow me on Facebook and certainly, I belong to communities of social media people and that’s my business, so I make my business to know those people in my business.
I had a lot of different friends that I reach out to and said, “Can I rely on you to come on the show? This is something crazy that I’ve tried to put together,” and most of the responses were, “Gosh Jim, I can’t believe you’re going to do this. I certainly want to be a part of it.”
So what I did is I sent out some emails to those folks that I thought could also ask their community, places that maybe I couldn’t reach to, so I could cast a further net from that standpoint and they reached out to some people. Because of the fact that I follow most of my friends and people here in the United States, I didn’t have a big following over in Europe and in that area because I’m not awake during the time that they’re awake and it’s just kind of— Well, actually, I am awake when they’re awake, but that’s a whole different story. But from what I was trying to accomplish, I needed to have guests from each one of the time zones to kind of help carry the show through the time zones that we had available in 24 hours because other than that, we would be talking to dead air online and nobody would be able to talk to us.
I wanted to reach out to all those different places, and Chris Garrett over in UK reached out to his network of people in the UK. I had Ewan Spence from Edinburgh, Scotland on, and he reached out to a few of his folks and it just kind of started that butterfly effect. I used that in the show itself, was that a beat of wings in South America can start a Texas tornado, and that’s really kind of what it did is it just became a little bit viral within my own community. I didn’t have to reach out to that many people. We had 24 hours and I scheduled an hour for each guest and then we had call-ins and special guests that I didn’t hear from before that wanted to join and we were able to fit them in.
If you’re really trying to reach out to that network, start with your close friends – they have two friends and they have two friends and it’s really that type of what I call virality that we use in order to get a message from one place to the next. It’s kind of like, maybe I’ll get a little geeky here, but in the Twin Towers [Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers —Ed.] movie when they wanted to get people across the other side of the mountains, they just kept lighting fires on each mountaintop until they could say the signal is here kind of thing. That’s all I did – was I just started a fire in a few of my friends and the fire ended up across the other side of the planet.
Patrick: I think part of the message is just not to be intimidated. I know hosts of small podcasts that have maybe ten listeners. But, hey, they reach out to people and they secure guests that have followings of thousands, tens of thousands of people—major television, radio personalities will hop on a small show. I think part of this trouble, part of the problem is always the commitment of asking and the fear of rejection, but I think that at the end of the day, you’d probably be surprised by how much people in general are willing to help.
Jim: Absolutely. Certainly, I was very surprised at the end of the broadcast there, as we were beginning to start to wrap up and things is even the people locally there in San Diego got wind of what we were doing and the local television station had called up and said, “Gosh, we’ve got a crew over at the airport. Can we come over and see what you guys are doing?” They’d never made it because of the rain that is going on out there in San Diego right now, but people like LaDainian Tomlinson’s mother called me and because she’s interested in what we were doing… I think once you get a couple of people that are influencers within a certain organization, those influencers will reach out and say somebody is doing something fun here, they’re doing something good, or they’re talking about something interesting.
It only takes a couple of influencers to really reach out to a few people that really grow that audience and grow your message to the size that you’re looking for. So it really was an instance where the influencer in a group—and it can be a group of 5, it can be a group of 5,000—but that one person that says, “Hey, pay attention to what’s going on over here”—it’s kind of like when someone speaks, other people listen. That’s the saying is when someone speaks, a certain person will listen and that’s person that’s listening can speak again and it just grows in that ripple effect, throwing a pebble in a pond.
If you cast your pebbles in the right places, those pond ripples will certainly reach those that you’re looking for.
Patrick: In producing the show, what do you think were the biggest challenges that you faced or what were the things that presented themselves as roadblocks along the way?
Jim: Well, you mean besides staying awake for 24 hours?
Patrick: Yeah, besides that.
Jim: I think that was the difficult part for myself. Reaching out and talking to folks at wsRadio was great. They already knew all of the technology and they had all the ability with the recording that they were doing. They did some voiceover work to begin the first part of that, so a lot of the ground work had already been laid.
I think part of some of our technology problems is we tried to bite off more than we could chew this first time by live-streaming it via USTREAM. We had some limited abilities there from the technology standpoint. Because it was in a radio station studio itself, it didn’t have the ability to put that out on internet live video because we didn’t have the necessary equipment to run the audio out into USTREAM’s live stream.
So you could hear me talking to my computer screen, which is what we were using for a webcam was just my basic laptop. You could hear me speaking into my laptop, but you couldn’t hear the guest that was calling in or the guest that we were speaking to on the phone or whatever the vehicle was that they were using.
Those were some of the challenges that we had were technology. We can try to act like CNN or MSNBC or FOX News or whatever the case is and it’s difficult for us as just technologists and geeky types to make all of that work with the limited budgets that we have that we’re doing. Everything that we did was basically free or supported by people that we’re giving us their time and using that for pay. They had all of the equipment. They were using their airtime. Our guests were all volunteer guests they weren’t paid guests in any respect.
The challenges, I think, were mostly technology-related. The other thing, again, like I said, we had a lot of challenges trying to find people in time zones that could help us talk during those dead hours of where we were. Certainly, having someone call in from the Canary Islands and having someone call in from Scotland and the UK made it a lot easier from that standpoint and then being in San Diego, it was a 3-hour time difference from the East Coast. As people began to wake up on the East Coast, people were still in the middle of slumber where we were in San Diego. So just having the challenges of creating a time clock for all of the different places that we had to have speak – that was part of the challenging things, too.
Patrick: Yeah, I mean it went pretty smoothly even with that said. I think the one thing I noticed was keyboard cat kept sneaking in and playing people off in a surprising manner.
Jim: That’s exactly right.
Patrick: I remember I—and speaking of the time clock—my segment, which was 12 to 1 a.m. my time and then I stayed up and kind of hung around the channel for a half hour, 1:30, 1:45, got to bed around there, and Dave Taylor who came in when I was on – this is Dave Taylor, AskDaveTaylor.com – and he came in, re-Tweeted me or whatever, was in the chat room while I was on for a few minutes and then he said he’s going to be on at, I think, it was 7 a.m. his time, so it’s 9 a.m. my time. So I went to bed at 2, I got up 9, 9:15, and popped the computer and hey, still going strong, Dave is on the air, and now I was in the chat room for a while to support that. It’s also giving, but it’s also a fun thing when we get a chance to talk to each other and when we all get a chance to – meeting in person, obviously, we have a lot of fun. Well, it’s nice if you’re working at the conference then you’re kind of running around.
Other than that, this is fun for us to talk to each other and hopefully along the way, I guess, you generate awareness and some money and then help some people out.
Jim: Absolutely, and the other thing is that even the people that were guests – were people that may not have been known in other social media circles or other circles that I reach out to, so some of the people even within our own industry got to meet each other for the first time. You used Dave Taylor as an example and Dave was one of my original people that I had reached out to because Dave is an influencer within my own community. I said, “Dave, would you be able to come on and help?” He was very much right in the mix right then and said, “I’m in, count me for whatever you need. If you need a break, I can help co-host. I can do whatever you want to do.” Those were the people that were great.
But at the same time, Alex Carvajal from Miami across the country—he and Dave got to meet the very first time and speak to each other, but yet they maybe in the same industry and the same—maybe colleagues—and that really helped introduce some of those people. Some of the people that we’re on the show actually, for the first time, were discovered by other people that might also be in our industry, but they just never had an opportunity to see them.
They got to see each other on Twitter and now we’ve made other friends just as a result of opening up the technology to those people that wouldn’t otherwise have that ability.
Patrick: So when you do something like this, it’s not just about money, it’s not just about numbers, it’s about awareness and that really can’t always be measured, but do you have any ideas as far as the traffic that was generated to the sites that were being promoted? Have you heard any kind of information as far as the number of people that were driven to the stream or to wsRadio?
Jim: Within the 24-hour period, I know that we had some retweets of the HART hashtag – that’s #HART, which is the hashtag that we used for the event so that we could help track it and help get an idea of who was listening and who was doing their participation in it. We have a little over a thousand of retweets of that particular hashtag, which within the 24-hour period is pretty good reach. We had 27 guests on and I’m trying to compile the numbers now, but to give you an idea, their readership of just a couple of people combined; they had readers of their blogs that reached over a million readers.
It takes just a small amount of people to get together and that’s part of what the message was in trying to get the telethon together is even if you’re just donating a dollar to the cause, if a million people donate a dollar—that’s huge. What we were trying to accomplish is just again, make some awareness, but also help our charities out and getting them some exposure.
When the 27—let’s just call it 20, there was probably 27 or 28 guests, I think that we had online—but if each one of them just Tweeted out and said, “Come check out the page here or come check out this donated page.” If they Tweeted that out to all of their different followers, I think if I counted it up correctly, we had a little over a million people that could have had access to that. And then of course, the next day, sites like Mashable had covered it and again, linked to the site. Mashable has 500,000 RSS subscribers. Those kinds of numbers we’re still trying to compile and get all of an idea.
I’m going to actually come up with a blog post that will recap all of those numbers and the people that we reached and the people that we touched, if you will, and then try to wrap our head around what that might look like in a graph form or certainly within a return on investment form is the big thing that we’re trying to come up with in social media these days, but that’s what it is that the charities need. Quite frankly, it’s something that individuals that donated money – what they would love to see is, “Did my dollar help? Where did it go? How much of a shadow did it cast?”
Patrick: We’ve talked a fair amount about strategy and about the people behind this sort of effort, but let’s talk about the tools, I guess. Again, we talked about this a little bit too, but the tools that you used to accomplish this—you mentioned USTREAM—to stream and have a chat room. What are the tools that people need to utilize as far as technology, as far as social media tools that were really invaluable to you and that would be invaluable to someone who was tackling an effort like this?
Jim: I think that was part of the other message that I wanted to get across is that the power of social media can actually move mountains. It can help people and it can certainly start something as small as an idea on Thursday morning after seeing a small little girl in Haiti, and reach a worldwide audience in a matter of just hours.
That’s really what I wanted to kind of get that message across, but the tools that really I used, obviously, were email. Everybody says email is dead and I think email is actually the lifeblood or the backbone of social media in and of itself. Being able to email your friends and the people that you’ve reached out to in the past, many of our email applications that we use now kind of will keep tract of who you have emailed in the past, and that’s kind of your database that you can go to and say, “Let’s send this out to as many people as possible so that we can get the best reach.”
Really, email was where I started and I started with just a few friends and then asked them to forward this on to your friends and have them forward it on to as many people. I think email was really kind of what got the spark started from that standpoint, and then I started sending out on Twitter things like “More to come, we’re going to do a telethon, pay attention here, keep track of what we’re doing. We’re going to be using the #HART hashtag”—those kinds of things. We really reached out on the Twitter stream as well and other folks that didn’t know what HART meant or didn’t know what we were talking about would come and they would pay attention and then go, “Oh, yeah, let’s help them with this cause.”
Everybody wants to help where they can and a lot of people just Tweeted. That’s all they did—was they sat back and they said, “Well, anytime Jim Tweets something out that’s of interest, which was obviously not huge, but when he does, let’s retweet it so that that sends it on to our followers.” I tried again with Facebook, sending out updates as to what we were doing and where people could come. Obviously, Facebook is another social network that is being used.
I used Skype – we had Skype, people calling in from Skype. Obviously, a lot of carriers out there are very expensive when you make international calls and so Skype is a more inexpensive option there. That was one of the other technology things I probably could have mentioned is that we didn’t have the ability to do audio-in from Skype directly. We couldn’t talk from Skype user to Skype user and have it come out as audio in the internet radio, but those are lessons learned of things that might be able to work on in the future; obviously with video-to-video type setups with Skype now and tools like ooVoo and tools like USTREAM that we talked about, we can actually have the people come on using their own webcams.
I was using my webcam again because we didn’t have much time to put it together. Something that we want to do for the next telethon is to use actual professional cameras where we can go from camera angle to camera angle and make it more of a newsy look to it. We’re going to plan on using that next time and we are looking for sponsors. Anybody out there that are videographers that want to help out with Twestival, you can certainly do that.
There are a lot of different things—those kinds of tools that we used. Internet radio—anybody can be a radio star. I have no background in broadcasting. I have no background in voiceovers or any other kind of specialized knowledge. I loved podcasting. I love the idea of generating content online just by voice because I hate typing. For the most part, if I could, I suppose, podcast everything it’d be great, but until they come up with search features on podcasting, we’re kind of limited as to how people can find our podcasts, but we used iTunes also because it went out on iTunes as far as the first recorded issue and we put it out over the iTunes.
What other tools did we use? Mobile phones—everybody had a mobile phone that was calling in. I think we’re living in a mobile world. We’re going to be living more in a mobile world. One of our technology problems was the player that they used for internet radio is only available on Windows Mobile Applications or actually Windows Media Player, so it only worked on Microsoft phones that were enabled to listen to Windows Media Player on their phones. So, an iPhone and a BlackBerry and a lot of those couldn’t listen in from that standpoint.
So there’s a lot of technology yet that we still have to conquer, but we had a pretty wide range of audience that we reached and we went global. I got emails from people from other parts of the planet that we never talked to that actually listened in and paid attention to what we were doing. Really, the technology was outstanding and quite frankly, it didn’t cost us anything. We used all of the available stuff that’s either in the Cloud or on Open Source or basically free software.
Patrick: Right, and I think that’s a great point to make is that even though there’s great value in having a newsier setup, as you said, that takes time to plan that, takes some more budget and so on. You can still accomplish something like this, similar, using free or low-cost tools, using USTREAM or other streaming services, using Skype to make calls, using the social media tools—Twitter, Facebook, and so on—which are free to use to talk with your existing community, the people you know already to make them aware of the situation. That’s just one of the examples of the Internet and making something that’s already great even greater.
That’s what I always say is that “Internet has made a great stuff greater, but it has made the best stuff worse.” I think that’s pretty true, but one of the tools that I wanted to ask you about was donation tools like, I guess, widgets and things that enable people to more easily and quickly donate. Are there any recommended tools there?
Jim: Well certainly, eBay and PayPal will make it easy and simple from that standpoint. In our case, it just so happened that PayPal stepped up and allowed us to use widgets that they already had in place for the charities that we were using. They have gone through and made it very seamless and very easy from that standpoint. A lot of the nonprofits out there are actually using these types of widgets to make it easy to give to them now, but certainly PayPal is one of them. There’s ChipIn, there’s all kinds of different available and again free services out there where you can actually set up, donate buttons or ChipIn buttons.
We recently as a group in the podcasting world, even. Tee Morris’ wife suddenly passed away unexpectedly and he needed help with some medical bills and the costs related to that, and his community realized that he needed help and they all just pitched in and reached out to their own network and again as a classic example of something that went viral very quickly. He has touched the lives of a lot of people within his own organization and now has touched lives outside of his own community and network. We just started a small widget to donate to his cause in ChipIn and thousands of dollars later, we’ve had a bunch of people that donated a dollar, donated $5—but we got a whole bunch of people to respond to that.
That’s just another classic example of using a widget to help do that and there’s widgets out there for short term, there’s widgets out there for long term, and just a little bit of research and find out what’s the best and what’s the easiest to use, and most of them have just embed codes.
Those of you that are on website or on a blog or whatever it is, it’s just a matter of cut and pasting a little piece of code into the proper place. I don’t get it right every time. I had to set up the widget on our site and messed it up like three times before we go, “Oh, okay that’s where we did wrong and that’s what we were supposed to do,” and get the proper returns in here and returns in there, but it’s very, very simple to get that up on your site.
If you’re trying to monetize your podcast and some of those kinds of things, a donate button—“Donate if you enjoyed what you’ve listened to today. Hit the donate button and give us a buck” kind of thing, and over time, that really adds up.
Patrick: Yeah, and it’s good that you mentioned Tee Morris because that was a case I was thinking of too and another recent one was Liz Strauss who had some health issues and I remember Deb Ng and Lucretia Pruitt and Jenn Fowler put together a little effort in a very short of period of time; they raised thousands of dollars. I think they had a goal of 1000 and 3000, then 5000 and finally it reached $5460.05, can you tell I prepared for this show?
Jim: I’m going to say—“Wow, that’s some memory there!”
Patrick: I knew where this conversation would go, but I think this is such a beautiful thing. It’s such a great thing to see that happen and it’s really the melding of communities. Another example—you’re no stranger to charitable efforts, of course, because at Blog World Expo, which was held in October where you’re the conference director, social media director—you had Beat Cancer, which raised over $70,000 for cancer patient restorations and also set a Guinness World Record for the “distribution of the largest mass message through social media”—that’s according to Mashable. I mean, that was a huge, huge event as well.
Jim: Just as a classic example as well of really using networks. Obviously with Blog World Expo, we had everybody who is anybody in social media and across networks and forums and websites. We had just about everybody there that was anybody and if they were an influencer, they were at our event, and to reach out to those people and say, “Hey, we’d like to break a world record.” They get that ego stroke and they go, “Well, I can have a million people say it right now, so let’s do that,” and that’s really kind of what we were talking about.
Don Lemmon from CNN and those folks were very instrumental in allowing us to put on that kind of campaign and it really did show the power of social media and social networking and really kind of reaching out to your networks and we had the #beatcancer hashtag. It trended on Twitter for almost two days after the fact, so I mean it was just a situation where an idea comes out that people want to latch onto and it’s like watching crazy cats on keyboards. Once it gets started, it doesn’t stop. It just keeps growing and keeps growing, which is kind of a wonderful experience when you’re doing something for good.
Patrick: I think in general that speaks to something we’ve talked about a few times today—the power of community and we talked about this on the telethon as well. I think a lot of people don’t think of their … whatever, however they think of it, their Twitter followers, their Facebook friends, their MySpace friends as a community, but don’t get caught up in the terms. Don’t get caught up in the word ‘community.’ Maybe you don’t like that word, but you have people that you know, I mean that’s your community – the people that listen to you, the people that you talk with, and it doesn’t have to be – you don’t have to be someone with 10,000 Twitter followers or 100,000 Twitter followers. You can be someone that has a hundred followers and those followers listen to every word you say and they pass it on and retweet it and then their audiences are exposed to it. Those people have blogs and other presences and it just can catch on like wildfire. Not to discourage people, but there is something to be said for having this community built when you don’t need it, when you don’t want to help someone or when you don’t have an effort you want to help.
Being a part of these tools is maybe—I don’t know, I never really got into this starting out and thinking, well I need to get X number of people so that when I have this effort, we can support it. But it is a nice side benefit that you do have that established base that when you do have something worthwhile, you can share it, and that’s not a reason to start using Twitter or start using any of these tools, but it’s an understanding, I guess, of the fact that you do have an audience and that you can use that audience for good, and it’s not just streaming.
I think that’s what the Tee Morris Fund Raising Show is and Liz Strauss and even Beat Cancer. Yes, maybe there wasn’t streaming in there, but a lot of this is just blog post—Twitter, face to face. We’re talking about streaming today because that’s what Jim did, but it can be anything. You can put together online any piece of content you can put together.
Text-based movements happen. Forums, blogs, Facebook, Twitter—you can raise a lot of money, help a lot of people through these mediums; so maybe you’re not a radio person or a television person. I know neither of us were before doing it. Maybe you don’t want—maybe it’s uncomfortable for you. Maybe you don’t want to get in front of the camera or put a headset on, and I totally respect that. Maybe you’re a good writer and then you can use that skill.
Jim: Right, and for those people that think that you just don’t matter or that I’m just a small fish in a very large pond, you can grow your community without much effort. Quite frankly, all you have to do is sign up a Twitter and I can guarantee that there’s going to be 20 people find you on Twitter that you’ve never met before or never knew before because they’re searching for people just like you that might have the same kind of interests that they have.
If you’re a person that enjoys knitting or if you like to play golf or whatever the case may be—if you have an interest, you can find likeminded people that also have that same interest and your community will grow exponentially before your eyes. If you’re afraid perhaps to go out and participate, I would challenge everybody just to perhaps get on Facebook, get on Twitter, and find out if you belong into a community and how then you can participate and contribute to that community.
There’s a lot of things that I learn from people everyday that just get on Twitter or they just have recently got into social networking and I’ll meet someone that says something very, very smart that, gosh, I’m so glad that I’ve found that person because they’ve enriched my life.
So if you’re afraid to really start a community, don’t be afraid. It will start itself. You’ll find that your community grows exponentially over time and that you’ll really enjoy talking with those people.
Patrick: I think that’s a great way to close this out, but before we leave, I wanted to ask you, what are the secret means of staying awake for 24, probably 30—how many hours were you up? How do you stay awake? Is there some sort of secret, is it pills, is there some miracle drink, how did you do it?
Jim: Well, talking to people obviously is a lot of fun and Patrick, you and I have been out to events where we sit and we talk to each other until 2 o’clock in the morning and then you go back and then you check your email and those kind of things and the reason you get tired is because you stopped swimming. It’s like sharks—if you stop swimming you’re going to drown. You have to just keep going and keep talking and there were a couple of moments there where I was talking to myself and thinking about answering. There was a moment there when I got that whole Jack Nicholson typing on the typewriter—Jack will be a good boy kind of thing, it was strange, but it was kind of out of body experience.
You have to listen. You have to listen and you have to talk. I guess the other secret is, again, lot of energy drinks, some chocolate and good friends—that’s really what it comes down to.
Patrick: Great stuff, Jim. Thanks for joining us today and for doing good things. I look forward to seeing you down in Austin for South by Southwest.
Jim: I’ll see you there.
You can follow SitePoint @sitepointdotcom.
Do you have any thoughts about this interview? Please visit us at sitepoint.com/podcast to leave comments on this show and to subscribe to receive every show automatically. Email email@example.com if you have any questions for us; we’d love to read them out on the show and give you our advice.
This episode of the SitePoint Podcast was produced by Karn Broad. Thank you for listening, and we’ll see you next week!
Theme music by Mike Mella.
Thanks for listening! Feel free to let us know how we’re doing, or to continue the discussion, using the comments field below.