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A new tradition to mark the holidays: Sunday Roundups will be me writing a few lines about the tweeters I think you should follow on Twitter.
In honor of the Islamic New Year, this week’s round up is about Muslim Tweeters who have something to tweet, and are rarely uncreative.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. If you want to know all the people I suggest you follow, #FF’s are the best way to find out.
@Mashouf is probably Islam’s first b-boy to party it up with Iranian religious-martial-arts specialists who train through dance. He documented his quest for Iranian b-boying in the documentary “Warring Factions”, and just got profiled by @elanthemag (mentioned later) about his unique form of inter-cultural communication through modern dance. His tweets are bound to be interesting, and he’s one of the humblest documentary-makers out there. Follow him.
@illumethemag has been described by more than one conservative (GOP) Muslim leader as “communist”, “unacceptable”, and “flat-out dangerous”. While their content and tweets can sometimes be explosive (FBI: relax, I’m talking about literary style, not bombs), I appreciate the look into a part of the Muslim intelligentsia where I haver never belonged: the Muslim intelligentsia. Follow it, read it, squeeze your stress ball. We don’t have to agree with everyone, but we should know what they’re thinking: it helps us understand how we ourselves think in the process.
@elanthemag has been on my radar for a while now. A not-too-shabby attempt at creating a serious Muslim lifestyle magazine, elan is growing and insiders tell me there are major changes afoot, including a beefed up social media team. While the twitter handle is used mainly to tweet about new leading articles, I’ve been noticing a few conversations and honorable mentions of fellow tweeters lately. Not to mention, I randomly convince their editorial staff to publish me (shameless self-promotion should always be disclosed honorably!) here and there. That being said, @elanthemag knows what it’s doing and gives great insight into what “the rest of us” Muslims outside @illumethemag’s intellectual circle are thinking: and a lot of the articles are pretty funny to boot.
@NadiaSN is a rising expert in radicalism and a wealth of knowledge on #Pakistan. @NadiaSN’s tweets show a depth of interest in South Asia from a mainstream perspective rarely considered mainstream: not all #Muslims from #Pakistan are terrorists. She has a bit of sass at times, and is one of the people I hold in the highest regard. Follow her to experience “the other Khyber Pass”, and possibly pick up a recipe or two for Lamb Biryani. #mmmtastesogood
@ShaziaKamal is an American of #Pakistani descent whose tweets are the stuff of #wunderkind. “There is always one amongst us who makes us ‘kvell” my Yiddish-minded Fraternity brother once told me. @ShaziaKamal is that Tweeter for me. A brilliant feminist and gender-issue advocate, @ShaziaKamal tweets her @altmuslimah articles, retweets fellow feminists’ tweets and posts, and throws in humor and lifestyle tweets along with. Expect a nice sizzling mix of samosas and roo-afzah when reading her tweets, along with a gentle breeze pungent with the sound of Sufis whirling to distinctly Pakistani devotional melodies—that’s the kind of writing @ShaziaKamal does. Follow her or you’re missing out.
A few months ago, during the height of the Park51 crisis, I wrote on my other blog “the Modern Rumi” about ways to better the PR for the embattled Islamic Center and the weary Muslim American community. A few days later, a media group just south of where I live in Northern Virginia seemed to run with the idea and launch it as their own. I don’t know if great minds think alike or (more likely) if this company of Muslim professionals desperately wanted to raise their profile, and decided to just steal the show. Either way, the project has been a huge flop, with no real impact being made, though I’m sure the organizers would argue otherwise.
Here’s why it failed:
1) Wrong audience.
It shouldn’t be rocket science to realize the real audience for this project should have been non-Muslims. Muslims already know we’re not all insane terrorists with plans to destroy the world. However, the external relations aspect of the project was/is pitiful. There seemed to be no plans to directly engage or seek partners in non-Muslim communities at the organizational or grassroots level via social media, or any other means. This alone makes me question why anyone would hire the media team behind this for any PR ventures.
2) Twitterverse presence a joke.
Look, as a person who gets offers and interacts with Ambassadors, top analysts and PR geniuses over Twitter all the time: I can tell you the development of an organic network on Twitter is the key to success for any public relations campaign in America today. So why is it the geniuses behind My Faith My Voice only have nine followers on Twitter? And have only tweeted a total of three times? And on top of that have no avatar of customized background to go with the site? Seriously? Fail.
3) Who was promoting this behind the scenes? Ed Wood?
If you don’t get the reference, neither do I. I just stole it from Toby on the West Wing. The average video views for this largely YouTube based campaign are about 250. After spending all that hype jazzing up the intro video on the website, the best these media masters could manage was a meager 250 views for the hundreds if not thousands of 30 second self-recorded contributions made by Muslims across America? Really? I’m beginning to feel there something deeply flawed in the people who came up with this project, which leads me to….
4) DO NOT TRADE MY RELIGION FOR 40 PIECES OF SILVER
The architects behind My Faith My Voice never had even the slightest intention to be helping better Muslim PR. The last Press update is dated for late September, and there is strangely publicist-contractual language attached to the site when you try upload a video to them. The language essentially says this: we own your material, and will use it how we see fit, and possibly in other ventures the sponsors of this project might have. Interesting.
The strangely legalistic language and intellectual rights ownership claims for a “grassroots project”, the abandonment of updates on the website months ago, and of course an at best half hearted attempted to promote any of the user-created content on YouTube through crowd-sourcing and word of mouth leads to one clear conclusion: that the organizers of My Faith My Voice had no interest in promoting a better image for the Islamic faith, and were instead interested in promoting themselves through free publicity surrounding their launch.
Took a random quiz on my knowledge of social media at this website: http://socialmediaexam.com | Apparently I know what I’m talking about.
Okay no. It is not rocket science.
How is it that social media-launched projects with no design budget and definitely no sense of finesse like http://whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.com end up doing so well whereas brilliant captains of industry, MBA’s and marketing professionals all are burning out trying to connect to their respective markets?
It’s because the former connects to their audience, whereas the latter dictates what the audience should connect to.
Simplicity isn’t the only key here, folks. It takes common sense, and an innate ability to communicate charisma through the impersonal screen you’re reading this blog post through right now.
This week, I’ve been bombarded here in D.C. with half a dozen seminars about social media run by pretty shady people with really legitimate sounding degrees. First of all, if you’re so good at what you’re doing: why are you giving it away for free? Second of all: why does your website and logo look like my little sister made it using Microsoft Paint?
There is no social media expert. Just media and communications experts. If you want to be good at connecting with your intended audience: pick up a book by Dale Carnegie. Or call me. I promise you two things if you do call me: I won’t lie to you, and it will cost you 40 bucks an hour, not 400.