Notes from Blog School for Activists

So I went to a Blogger Summit this morning in Austin, TX, sponsored by the office of Governor Rick Perry (R-TX). Did I already have a blog? No. Had I ever even visited the blogosphere? Frankly, not really. Why did I go to a summit of bloggers as if I were one of them? Because my husband signed me up. As is so often the case in marriage, my spouse was right in insisting I go (and since he won’t likely get around to actually reading my blog despite his passionate conviction that I should have one, I’m OK with admitting he was right because here I am)

Now I’m not a complete social media moron. I do tweet. I’ve had my @FreemanTweets account for – oh, about a week now? I’m getting the hang of generating 140 character commentary. But I haven’t quite gotten the hang of retweeting and hash-tagging….so off to the Blogger Summit I went, hoping to at least understand more about those two things. And maybe get some inspiration for a blog. Because we all know why tweeters tweet: So everyone will read their blog, right?

But here’s the thing; I definitely did not want to launch my words and thoughts into the blogosphere without shape or form. I’m sure plenty of people are already filling up plenty of blog space with mindlessness. But I want to have a focus and direction. Since my fallback position as a journalist is to interview people when I want find out something, I interviewed myself while driving into town:

Me:  Who are you and what do you have to say to the Blogosphere?

Myself:  I don’t know.

Me:  What do you bring to the table?

Myself: Usually, an appetite. As for focus, I could go in a couple of different directions.

Me: Like what?

Myself: Journalism. Media bias. Conservative women. Surviving the Obama administration?

Me: Just go in there with an open mind and heart. Keep a low profile. Observe, take notes, analyze.

Myself: OK, I’m going in. Wish me luck!

So in I went, to a nicely appointed learning center conference auditorium on the University of Texas campus. A young, attractive black woman introduced herself to me during the pre-mingle. Turns out she’s attending the same grad school I attended a couple of decades ago (she’s studying government; I got my MA in journalism). We sat together. So far, so good!

And it just got better from there. The speaker lineup for the three morning sessions was excellent. They did not disappoint but it was a different experience to see and hear them, rather than just read their twitter bursts (does that mean flesh-and-blood is to social media as brick-and-mortar is to online shopping?).

The morning’s three panel sessions were titled: Turning Ideas Into Action with Jim Eustace and Patrick Ruffini, Setting The Table (aka “Keep ‘Em Coming Back For More”) with Dr. Melissa Clouthier and Matt K. Lewis, and Growing Influence with Roger L. Simon and Andrew Breitbart. In a word, they each said:

Content! – Jim Eustace @VMFounder

Call to action! – Patrick Ruffini @PatrickRuffini

Context! – Melissa Clouthier @MelissaTweets

Cultivation! – Matt Lewis @MattKLewis

Cameras! – Roger Simon @RogerLSimon

Courage! – Andrew Breitbart @AndrewBreitbart

Come and take it! – Gov. Rick Perry @GovernorPerry

Governor Perry was passionate and enaged; his quick Alamo-era frontier Texas history lesson was awesome (could the Alamo ever not be awesome?!). Something I found equally cool – neither the Governor nor I were the oldest people in the room. It was gratifying to see so many “mature” people at a social media conference on a college campus. But whether older or younger, these were all people of substance with a shared passion for Texas, for America, and for genuinely conservative principles and values.

I’m guessing most of those in attendance are already publishing a lot of social media content (except yours truly) and yet there was no evidence of superstar mentalities, not even from Andrew Breitbart – one of the key people behind the 2009 ACORN expose. Breitbart said of himself during his keynote talk that he’s “the only middle class media mogul” he knows. So much for social media big-headedness (and wealth).

My only complaint? The summit wasn’t long enough. But are 140 Twitter characters ever enough from any of these folks? No doubt there will be more summits and, if the response from today’s attendees was any indication, the next one will be longer and provide more opportunities to get either get started in social media usage or refine what you’re already doing. I, for one, left there and just jumped right in here, thanks to the summit.

My task now is to start refining why I’m here. Many thanks to Matt K. Lewis and to Andrew Breitbart for their specific encouragement. Also, special thanks to Will Franklin, Director of New Media and Research for Governor Perry’s campaign. Well done, Will and team!

Also, please take a moment to check out my young, black, conservative new friend, Hannah Bell, at her blog for Young Minority Conservatives:  http://youngminorityconservatives.blogspot.com. I also met an impressive young lady named Kelly Hoag, who’s working for George Morovich, the Republican candidate for Texas 25th US Congressional District. Kelly just returned from her second tour of duty in Iraq, where she served on the front lines. So many impressive people at the Blogger Summit, both participants and speakers. I wish I could have met them all and heard their stories. I’ll bet there’s not a boring one in the bunch!

Before I forget, one more thing – a call to action! See? I was paying attention today. So:

GO HERE: http://rickperry.org/blog/find-your-e

DO THIS: Scroll down for free tickets to the upcoming Sarah Palin rally in Houston, for Gov. Perry.

In the meantime, I’m not yet sure where I’ll go from here.  But wherever I do land in the blogosphere, hope to see you there!

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  1. Welcome to the Blogosphere, Linda.

    I met you briefly this afternoon, remarking that my boss is also named Linda Freeman.

    I’ve been blogging consistently if not religiously for nearly 6 years now at my blog (Urbangrounds.com), and have attended many political campaign events, social media conferences, blogger summits, and other assorted and related events.

    But the energy and the combined heavyweight power in that room today was beyond anything I’ve experienced at previous events.

    Of course, I was still flying high from our Day at the Gun Range with Gov. Perry yesterday…only to have him sit down next to me during lunch while we listened to Breitbart.

    My only advice for now…be yourself, be honest, and don’t worry about your audience (or lack of one) initially. Write good, honest posts about topics that you are genuinely interested in, and people will find you. And then they’ll link you and share that content with their friends.

    • Hi, Robbie. That was a fun moment when you shared that your boss and I have the same name (and that she’s awesome!). Thank you SO much for your kind encouragement in responding to this first effort. Great advice!

      I know today’s event had some profound impacts on me because I’m wiped out on several levels. There are no limits! Sounds like it was an awesome time for you as well. Thank you again for taking a moment to comment here. That’s another thing that struck me today; how genuinely encouraging everyone at every level was to everyone else. Nice!

  2. Howdy, Ma’am!
    I am a contributor at Robbie’s blog, and wish to extend a sincere welcome to the blogoshpere.
    Unlike you and Robbie, I don’t participate in all the social media activities, such as tweeting or facebook.
    I do, however, enjoy learning, reading and writing on topics I find interesting. As an a veteran and sole proprietor of a small business in Dallas, I am an unapologetic conservative that wishes to make and leave a better world for my daughters and grandchildren.
    Stop by some time, the lights are always on.

  3. Howdy, “no2liberals” – Thanks for your comment. I can’t think of a better motivation for being a conservative than to leave a better world for your kids and grandkids. I really appreciate your encouragement!

  1. January 26th, 2010

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