Friday, September 6, 2013

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Taking Risks for Great Social Storytelling



Dan Fletcher was Facebook's managing editor and the co-founder of BEACON, and Tanja Hollander has been traveling the country photographing each of her Facebook friends as part of a photography project, "Are You Really My Friend?" Together, they'll discuss how artists and creatives take social media platforms to interesting limits -- and why brands, artists, musicians, journalists and non profits should follow their lead.

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The story of how I met Dan and how he met me is worth telling:

When I was planning my trip across country to photograph + lecture last fall, I decided that I wanted to talk at Facebook Headquarters. It’s not easy to get anyone who works there to e-mail you back, actually it’s not easy to even find an e-mail address. I spent months doing research on who to contact, uploaded forms, submitted ideas.  I almost applied for jobs, and instead of uploading my resume, I planned to upload my project statement.  All of this to no avail.  One day, I realized I was going at it wrong.  I started following the people who posted on the various official Facebook pages.  Then  I followed them on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, etc.   I noticed they would “check in” at HQ.  So then I went on Foursquare and started following everyone who checked in, and the people they followed.   Somehow, I saw a group holiday party picture that close to 50 people were tagged in.   It was a gold mine. I followed all of them.  I made lists of who everyone was.   Then I started liking all of their posts, re-tweeting them, commenting here and there.   My theory was, at some point, someone will ask the question “who is this woman liking all my posts?”

People who work in social media post a lot.  It got kind of exhausting, because I felt weird liking or re-tweeting something I actually didn’t like or didn’t read.  But I was obsessed.  Talking to my sister one night, I referred to them as my colleagues.   She bluntly said they were not my colleagues and I was super creepy.

As it turns out, my plan was a bit of a failure.   I did end up at Facebook HQ, but it wasn’t because I was stalking their employees on social. It was through the more traditional method, of my friend Kyle introducing me to the right person, Drew, at the right time.   My plan wasn’t a total failure, though.  After my lecture, Dan came up and introduced himself.  “Oh,” I said “so nice to meet you, I think I follow you.”  He looked right at me, and said “Yes you do.”  I realized in that moment, I was busted and slightly embarrassed.  I didn’t have a plan of what to say when someone called me out, let alone in real life.  At Head Quarters. 

Luckily he was amused, and we became real friends, and started a really interesting email/skype/gchat/fb conversation about story telling and social media. At one point in our many back and forths, he dubbed me a "relationship hacker."  I couldn’t be more honored with the title.  He doesn’t like to brag, but he has a pretty spectacular resume and I’m super excited to (hopefully) share the stage at SXSW.  We are continuing our banter publicly on twitter.  Find us at @tanjahollander + @danielfletcher or through the hashtags #heydan + #heytanja.

Dan's version of the story is pretty good too.

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