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If you'd rather Twist than Tweet ...

PR Pros must embrace social media. This blog is a supplement to my June 2009 Update newsletter, which is devoted to social media. Since "old fashioned" E-mail newsletters don't allow the space for much storytelling, I'm telling a few here to make the point that even old dogs like me can learn new tricks and to share some insights into how I learned them.

For example, I have been doing some very intensive research on Web-site structures and optimization recently. In the process, I acquired an analytic tool that allowed me to study several of my own Web sites to learn how I could improve their Google search rankings. I was, frankly, surprised to see how highly the Google search algorithm favors incoming links from social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn and to links with sites like YouTube and Google Video. So I made some very minor changes to the sites including improving my links to and from social networks. In the past month, I've increased traffic to my corporate Web site by 15.18% and to one of my other sites by 34.89%.

Another: On Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend, we hosted our best friends for a small gathering, which included the 17 year-old son of one couple. He dutifully appeared and had his burgers but was eager to be with his friends. So mom soon took him home and returned. As we were all engaged in rousing games of Croquet and Dominos, mom silently kept in touch as her son asked permission to change locations through text messages. (Why didn't he just pick up the phone and call? Because kids don't want their peers to know that they're talking to "the 'rents.")

And yet another: last week, I had marked my calendar for 1:00 on May 26, 2009, when the California Supreme Court was to announce its ruling on Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that amended the state constitution to take away the right of same-sex couples to marry. It was a much anticipated ruling that, sadly, allowed the constitutional amendment to stand while, happily but incomprehensibly, also allowed to stand the marriages of the 18,000 same-sex couples who had married after the Supreme Court initially ruled that the majority does not have the right to deny the rights of a minority.

I was hovering over Google News and, shortly after 1:00, read the first reports in national and international press. But then I went to Twitter I was mesmerized by the feed from one guy who was reporting, minute by minute, how street protests in San Jose were forming, how the police were massing in response, how the crowd was reacting and feeling, what they were chanting, what their signs said and what happened when arrests began. The carefully edited and crafted news reports I read conveyed nothing compared with the raw emotion of a guy protesting in the streets for his civil right. Imagine if, twenty years ago, the students massed in Tiananmen Square had the same technology available to them.

We'd be remembering a very different set of events.

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