I spent the weekend in Newcastle as a guest of the inaugural Newcastle Writer's Festival. It wasn't all networking and indulgence, I had a job to do.
The panel I was on was called How Women Are Changing Social Media. Alongside me were author and speaker Jane Caro and bloggers Kerri Sackville and Rebecca Olive. ABC Newcastle radio host Carol Duncan was our moderator.
To be honest we didn't really nail the topic, as one audience member pointed out at the end of the session. We spent an hour discussing how we used social media, and why we believed it was providing women with a powerful voice. The twitterverse consensus was that it was a compelling discussion anyway. However I thought I would attempt to address the question here for those who were hoping we would do so in Newcastle.
The thing is, women are not alone in the shaping of social media but as its an unedited media platform where anyone with a view can share it, the equitable balance feels lopsided towards women when compared with mainstream media. So four ways that women are shaping social media include:
- Authenticity. Women are good at sharing their honest and raw opinions. The most engaging conversations that I have been a part of, or privy to as a follower of the live discussion in 140 words or less, have been between women. Most of those conversations involve Jane Caro, who says it like it is every time, even if some of her opinions are not pretty or popular.
- Diversity. We don't feel the need to agree with each other just because we are women. The fiery stouches often involve the witty Helen Razer and someone else. She took journalism professor Jenna Price to task on what it is to be a feminist and vigorously questioned Jane Caro's views on what it is to be an atheist, for example. Thought-provoking stuff.
- Humour. The women in my twitterfeed include the fabulous Julia Morris. There are also a number of women without celebrity profiles, who refuse to take themselves seriously and can be especially self-deprecating. I am usually guaranteed a laugh.
- Insight. There are so many women bloggers who share their regular take on politics, relationships, feminism, parenting via social media. They are not bound by a code of conduct or concern for the interests of a media organisation so they often add a different perspective to the news cycle. Their insight adds much to the discourse that can otherwise be heavy with agendas.
Do you agree that women are shaping social media? What else would you add to this list?
Marina Go is GM of Hearst-Bauer, publisher of Harper's Bazaar, ELLE and Cosmopolitan. She is also chair of the Wests Tigers, a director of Odyssey House McGrath Foundation and a member of the advisory boards of the Walkley Foundation, The Remarkables Group and Women's Agenda. She has an MBA from The AGSM and is a member of the AICD. Her new book is Break Through: 20 Success Strategies for Female Leaders.