The paradox of smartphones and sparking conversations

Ever noticed how we have phones to talk, but sometimes they are the very thing that keep us from sparking conversations in real life?

Early this year, I kicked off with publicly sharing my simple 2016 resolution: Less social media. More socializing. I’m writing now to hold myself accountable and share a fun project to help you turn small talk into bigger conversations!

But first, a smartphone story …

A couple weeks ago I glanced down at my phone to see purple ooze beneath the screen. The LED went out, and I was phoneless for nearly a week. (Oh the horror!) While I was fairly calm about it, the inconvenience was eye-opening and a bit embarrassing, showing me how terribly dependent I am on that piece of plastic and glass. In some ways I felt liberated, but also felt I’d lost a piece of my hand … indeed, I did lose my “digits!”

You mean, I actually to use my brain or print paper to figure out directions on the road? I missed a meeting because I didn’t have my calendar pop-up, couldn’t take pictures of my kids with Santa at the family Christmas party, and had no way of telling the time since I don’t wear a watch. (Talk about #firstworldproblems!) For better or worse, I sidestepped 57 text messages that were waiting when my phone was fixed.

The point? As this Fortune article says, “heavy reliance on our gadgets seems to make us vulnerable” and I realized how addicted I was, withdrawal pangs included. In this fabulous interview with Simon Sinek, he says smartphone updates can become a dopamine-producing addiction. Other addictive habits (smoking, gambling, etc.) have age-restrictions, but an addiction to social media is still socially acceptable, possibly even encouraged. The unsavory results? A generation that struggles to focus longer than a goldfish, hold meaningful conversations, and navigate the ups and downs of real relationships.

Does any of that strike you? It does me!

Ok, so back to my resolution: Did I spend less time on social media and more time socializing in 2016 than I did the year before? Yes! I have room to improve, but I met new clients and expanded my professional connections. I hiked with new friends, biked with a triathlon group, ran mountains with go-getter mamas, cruised in Alaska with my mom, sister, and husband, and went on not one … but TWO trips with my best girl friend. Most important, I enjoyed many in-the-present moments with my little family.

conversation sparksI also “played” with friends, working together on a communication project that lives at the intersection of smartphones and socializing. Two talented friends (Hey, Adam … hi, Julie!) from my communication graduate program and I have created several videos with tips, tricks, and funny insights about talking in real life, which we’re calling “Conversation Sparks.” They’re now live on our shiny new Youtube channel. We’re exploring ways you (and we) can turn small talk into bigger conversations:

See anything that helps you spark conversations in that first video?

Please let me know … and a very happy new year to you! Let’s make 2017 our best yet.

My takeaways from Twitter’s Lisa Wang

twitter image
“Brands don’t have target markets, but target moments,” said Lisa Wang, of Twitter’s Sales Operations in Singapore. It seems to fly in the face of traditional marketing and PR, but it makes total sense. Communication, at lightning-fast social speed, has changed drastically in a handful of years. Make that the past few months.

Lisa spoke as a keynote speaker the final day of the CCI Conference on Corporate Communication last month. As I listened to her talk, “The Power of #Moments: Redefining Marketing in the Age of Real-Time,” I couldn’t take notes fast enough.

Sense of Universal Connectivity

We live in a big world, but all ultimately want the same three things in life. What are they? Find out in this captivating video Lisa shared – see if you can watch without getting the chills. It gets me every time:

See what I mean? On our universal wish list, we all want to 1) feel connected 2) feel relevant, and 3) be an active participant. Social media grants us the ability to do all three, and isn’t it amazing how the whole globe feels within reach as we scroll through to see what others are up to? Each social network has it’s own twist on how to engage users, but Twitter’s ability to hold live, public conversations makes it a unique place for clever companies. Those who think quick and make the most of those “target moments” when they know users are watching will be rewarded.

“Digital Campfires,” #Gather Roundarbys

Within the Twitter organization, they refer to hashtags as “digital campfires” because they gather folks with similar interests around a certain topic. As you know, there are hashtags for almost anything. (Surprised to see the non-word redline under “hashtag” as I type this. Guess it’s not in the dictionary yet?) Lisa shared a number of clever company examples, like Arby’s calling for Pharrell Williams to give back their hat during the Grammy’s, and Kit Kat posting a tic-tac-toe game for Oreo to compete for the heart of #chocolate fan. With a little creativity, companies can hone in on the right times (target moments) to tell their story.

I’ll be sharing more on social media in the coming posts. In the meantime, give Lisa Wang a follow on Twitter at @ldubs.

Image is a screen shot from the video “The Most Astonishing Fact.”

20 standout writers with creative Twitter bios

20 standout writers with creative Twitter bios

February 4, 2013 |  by  |  Social media exploration  |  , ,  |  9 Comments

Last year I shared a list of writers with eye-catching Twitter bios. Since then, I've discovered many more writer gems who grace us with their 140-character presence. I can't help myself. I'm sharing these 2013 standout writers because their Twitter bios caused me to nod my head, laugh aloud, or wish I could jump through the computer screen and meet them in person. Yes, they're that awesome.

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12 like-worthy Facebook pages for writers

12 like-worthy Facebook pages for writers

September 26, 2012 |  by  |  Social media exploration  |  , ,  |  4 Comments


Let’s admit it. We spend ridiculous amounts of time on Facebook. Mashable declared “Facebook” the most searched term last year, and the ubiquitous ‘Like’ button sets a widely accepted standard of, well, likeability. What does that mean for writers?

With oodles of author/writing/word Facebook pages out there, it’s surprisingly difficult to find a consolidated list. Thus, I hunted. I’ve sought them out based on a few criteria: Do I literally ‘Like’ it myself? Is the page content uplifting and educational, tidbits I’m happy to see in my stream? Is it beneficial for those of us who love wrangling words?

After searching, here’s my curation of like-worthy pages for writers. While I could rank them most-liked, I decided to give underdogs/newbies the spotlight and put them at the top. My comments are in italics, and each page has handy hyperlinks so you can give them some ‘Like’ love too. Ready, go!

Good People of Earth

“The world is full of good people. We’re introducing you to them, one interview at a time.” Filled with uplifting content, this page has made me smile many times. I featured Amy, the lovely founder of GPOE, here.



Writing Tips Daily

“We provide writing tips daily for aspiring writers looking to increase their knowledge and writing skills.”




American Writers Museum

Leaders, Readers, Writers. I love the “Power of the Word” concept they’re sharing.


Words Done Write

Amber shares insightful posts on communication and social media. She’s a wordmeister. I’m a fan.


The World Needs More Love Letters

Doesn’t it, though? I love this concept and they share inspiring, happy notes.


The Book Whisperer

Anyone who can teach kids to love books gets a gold star in my eyes.


Go, See, Write

Travel the world with this guy! He’s sharing words and images as a full-time traveler. What a rad way to live.



Freelance Writing Jobs

They often share humorous grammar memes. You know I’m a sucker for those.


WanderNot Communications

What beautiful pictures! They share great thoughts too. It’s a celebration in your Facebook stream to follow this page.



The Writer’s Circle

I often see quotes from wise writers here. If you dig quotes, this page will definitely brighten your day.



Freelancers Union

It’s always nice to learn about writing gigs and connect with a large network of writers. Thank you, Freelancers Union.



Grammar Girl

With 80,000+ Likes already, here’s a page every word lover needs to see. Grammar Girl will keep you in line, with a little bit of sass!


delighted to write

Let’s make it an even baker’s dozen, shall we? My page is a meant to be a celebration of words.

Like this post? Let me know by giving my page a thumbs up!







Multimedia journalist and his 40,000 tweets

Multimedia journalist and his 40,000 tweets


I started my own Twitter journey a year ago on the quest to manage @MarketStar‘s corporate account. While I’d been a skeptic, I soon preferred the 140-character platform. That’s where I meet brilliant folks like @nicknewman801, today’s featured writer. Nick Newman rocks the Twittersphere, and you’ll soon see why he’s so passionate about it. #GoNick!

Q. You’ve managed social media platforms for a major regional bank in the past. How do you see social media changing the scope of business?

I think in this “I need it now” age we’re in, it’s no longer good enough to advertise in traditional ways and just have a customer service number. You’ve gotta be involved in the conversation about you and your company’s products. It has to be a conversation, no matter what it’s about. And you have to get to customer service fast. Those that do this will find higher customer loyalty and possibly better sales.

Q. In your waking hours, you tweet every 20 minutes (or more). What about Twitter is so appealing to you?

Yup, that’s a funny story. When Twitter first came out, I didn’t see the appeal. I was one of those stodgy, old-school journalists, and refused to even try it. It wasn’t until I was forced to be on Twitter as part of my Grad program at Arizona State that I really “got it.” So since August 2010, I’ve tweeted over 40,000 times. It’s crazy.

What I like about it is the immediacy of it all. Whether you’re just following breaking news locally or on the other side of the word, or tweeting during a game, it’s happening NOW. I know what’s going on without having to wait for the news or anything else. I also like that, for the most part, the twitter crowd is a little more intelligent than what you get on Facebook. Whether you think so or not, it takes intelligence to form a coherent thought in less than 140 characters.

I also like what it’s done to barriers — those put up by “famous” people, as well as those that are put up by businesses. Seriously, there are none. I’ve been able to have conversations with NY Times editors, celebrities, athletes, all sorts of people. And if they want, they can talk back. I know a friend who got her internship at the Washington Post merely because she was brave enough to talk to an editor on twitter. They ended up bumping into each other at a conference, and she got the internship!

Q. You’re on the job hunt. (Companies, listen up!) What would be the ideal position for you?

I’m not sure if I have an “ideal” position. While I’d love to work in social media for a company or university, my skills in multimedia journalism, editing, design (web & print), photography, writing, and social media branding make it so that I can work in a lot of different fields. I just really want to make a difference to people by using my talents to communicate or tell stories.

Q. As a multimedia journalist, what do you want your career legacy to be?

That’s a hard question to answer, but it’s something I’ve put a lot of thinking into: What I want to do is use my talents to tell people’s stories somehow. And for most of my life, that’s been through journalism. But I’m finding that you can do that same thing with companies. Call it humanizing corporate America. So I don’t know what’s going to happen. I just know I can’t write my life in pen. It’s gotta be in pencil.

Religious Weigh God’s Law Against Country’s Law

Cronkite Borderlands Initiative

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – It’s a call to serve the poor. And for many of Christian faith, Matthew 25:40 is a mandate to do as Jesus would do.

But in the Dominican Republic – where birthright citizenship has been outlawed and left thousands of Dominican-born residents of Haitian descent without a country to call their own – doing so has fueled a conflict between this country’s law and what some see as God’s law. Read the rest of Nick’s story in full color here.

 Connect with Nick

Twitter: @nicknewman801



20 clever writers with eye-catching Twitter bios

20 clever writers with eye-catching Twitter bios


I’ve become such an advocate of Twitter. As a word-based social platform, sweet tweets simply speak to me. You can use Twitter to curate knowledge, instant news, and professional content. As my colleague and mentor @adamcgunn likes to say, “Facebook is where you share silly stuff with the people closest to you. Twitter is where you share your best, professional content with people you hardly know.”

The more I use it, the more I #loveit.

Even if you’re not on Twitter, you can still appreciate creative word wrangling in 140 characters or less. On Twitter, your bio is your key tool to share who you are, what you’re about, attract a following, and find new friends.  Naturally, writers have an edge in this space. The following are impressive writers I’ve found in my Twitter explorations over the past year. They’ve inspired me in unique ways, and I appreciate their love of words. Mind you, these are NOT ranked – each writer has their own unique flavor, so I opted for ABC order. Gander through, and you’ll see some wordbliss! For your convenience, I’ve hyperlinked so you can easily follow them too. And without further ado…

@AnnieGreen14   A wannabe writer trying to write that novel I’m sure is in me. 

@ArchangelAnders   I wrote a book. It has vampires that don’t sparkle, redneck zombies, jinn pimps and a normal guy caught in the middle. Further, I have a cat, Mr. Hate.

@BareFoot_Writer  And the words, they flow through my finger tips, covering the white pages with black. Creator of adult fairy tales with a heathy dose of magical realism.

@Brenna_Lauren I’m a writer. There’s a serenade being sung, a stranger just smiled at his soul-mate and somewhere, someone just fell in love.

@HLGonzalez00  Writer, actor & minder of plenty of things that are none of my business. Author of a little humor book, The Lone Finger, on &

 @jghellum  Multimedia journalist, soc med specialist, crowdsourcing enthusiast. Left my ad career behind to tell people’s stories. I blog about branding for journalists.

@JHouston89  Always on, word-struck storyteller, chaser of 4 great kids and one linear husband, passionate life embracer 

@JodyNeilRuth  I write. I drive. I get in trouble                

@K8Ehawkes @skyhookmktg Creative Writer. Blogger. Frisbee addict. Mormon. BYU grad. Millennial. Thrifter. Suns/Dbacks fan. Eater. Singer. Runner. Wiggler. 

@JohnMc_Lpool  Once an engineering lecturer, I am now an actor and writer who does lots of other things to keep the wolf from the door. Oh, and I often coach people in writing

@LouisaMawsoI’m a writer. I spank sentences into shape. I also make artisan jewellery.

@natalienorton   Passionately in love with real life and the words and photographs that capture it. Blogging at

@NoMeatballs   Wordologist. Artisanal message maker. Pixie dust sneezer. Dog lover. Wine drinker. Lead Copywriter @brainsonfire. Not a fan of meatballs.

@reagankreynolds  seeker of truth, writer, avid reader, designer of Glory Tree Flowers. challenged to write a tweet story a day (8/2/12-…)

@RichardLouden  I’m a journalist. My first novel, out soon, is The Girl with the Haunting Smile. Okay, you guessed it’s a love story. But that’s all you’ll guess right.

@thewritermama Christina Katz. Writer of books. Coach to many. Platform whisperer. Task-master. Social artist. Media magician. Feminista. Happy wife. Proud mama. Pet servant. 

@TiaDobi   Copywriter. Marketer. P.T. Barnum in a skirt producing intelligent creative to sell your stuff.  

@TravisErwin   A big hairy Texan, unafraid to read or write a good love story. Or a rum swilling carnivore with a story to tell. You choose.

@WildeAtmosphere   I feel words all day long. They reach inside me. Tug at my heart. Make me think. Want to share. My Atmosphere. Would like an agent for my memoir, White Bees.

 @wordsdonewrite   Blogger, former broadcast journalist & book/mag editor, winner of 8th grade Best English Student award, Slurpee fan, & sucker for a good adjective. #NMX Editor.

Encore, you say? Don’t mind if I do. I’ll throw my bio in the mix as No. 21. If you’re on Twitter, let’s connect!

@delighted2write   Writer celebrating words at @marketstar marketer by day, Comms grad student by night. Gluten-free traveler. Tweets & spunk are my own.

Now you’ve browsed through these bios, I’d love to hear: What are your thoughts on Twitter?