Digital Sisterhood Leadership Project Profile – Jeannette Kaplun


Photo Credit: Jeannette Kaplun

Meet Digital Sisterhood Leader Jeannette Kaplun.

1) How can people find you online?

2) Why did you start using social media?

I started blogging in 2000. I was a frequent user of bulletin boards and later began engaging on Facebook, but I did not start using Twitter until early 2009. The reason I started using social media was to fill a need. When Todobebé was born in 1999, content for the Spanish-speaking community was scarce and there was a huge need for people to feel they could connect with others. Our first bulletin board was born in 2000. I became addicted to trying to help others when trying to conceive, being pregnant or raising young children. As social media platforms evolved, my usage has also changed. I engage in different ways according to each platform´s characteristics.  But in the end, I use social media for the same need I have always had: to reach out to others, share and help whenever possible.

3) What has social media allowed you to do in your life (personal, professional, business, nonprofit, community)?

Social Media has completely changed the way I live my everyday life. Personally, I have met so many inspiring people and have learned so much from them. In particular, I have found a true sisterhood that has supported me and encouraged me to grow. Many of my closest friendships began online. Professionally, I have truly spread my wings and have been able to speak at conferences, be interviewed, and make business contacts through social media.

4) In her 2011 Digital Women: from geeks to mainstream presentation that was given at the WIFT International Women Conference for Digital Women, Dr. Taly Weiss, a social psychologist and CEO/Founder of Trendspotting, concluded that “women are dominant digital users – they breathe and live digital.”  Dr. Weiss’ conclusion echoes BlogHer’s 2011 Social Media Matters Study findings.  They include 87 million women (18 to 76 years old) are now online, 69 million women use social media weekly, 80 million women use social media monthly, and 55 million women read blogs monthly. These facts illustrate the power and presence women have in the digital space. Now that’s Digital Sisterhood!

How has social media helped you carve out leadership roles as you interact online and offline?

By engaging online and building relationships through social media, you set the building blocks for growth. You also identify who is doing something well, who is influencing others and can directly reach out to them to collaborate. It´s very interesting to see how you can also serve as a connector between people and brands. For me, social media enabled me to bring together an amazing group of Latina, Spanish-speaking bloggers to blog on Blogs de Mamás, which is very near and dear to my heart.

5) Social media has helped women become Digital Sisterhood Leaders, ambassadors of social expression who share what they are passionate about online.  In her upcoming book, Digital Sisterhood: Fierce Living Online for 25 Years (Fall 2012), Ananda Leeke, founder of the Digital Sisterhood Network, writes, “Without even knowing it, women have become Digital Sisterhood Leaders as they use their social media platforms to advocate causes; to build communities; to create apps, art, books, businesses, products, publications, services, tools, and webisodes; to curate content; to educate and inform; to give voice to their thoughts as subject matter experts, thought leaders, and brand ambassadors; to share information and experiences; to explore and experiment with new technologies as early adopters and trendsetters; to engage in social good; to influence others with their lifestyles and personal interests; to inspire and motivate; to mentor; to network; to tell their personal stories; and to promote and celebrate the expertise, gifts, and talents of others.  Based on my online and offline interactions, I have identified 12 key leadership roles they play: advocate, community builder, creator, curator, educator, influencer, mentor, motivator, promoter, social do gooder, storyteller, and thought leader.”

What other types of leadership roles do women play in social media?

Many women have become extremely effective at setting the agenda for the issues that need to be discussed via social media. Social media gives you a platform to use your voice. Many also have used that platform to support others, to open doors to others and I believe that is extremely powerful and refreshing. Furthermore, I believe women can play the role of nurturer of relationships and are great connectors.

6) What types of leadership roles do you play in social media?

I don´t necessarily see myself as a leader. I´ve just been doing many things for a longer time than most. I do try to welcome newbies to the online world because it can be daunting. I also try to connect people from different backgrounds because we can learn so much from those who have diverse experiences and voices. In addition, I also speak quite often at conferences.

7) What lessons have you learned as a leader in the digital space?

I have learned that there is no real privacy when you want to make a difference and engage actively in social media. If there is anything you need to keep private, then keep it offline. I have also learned that sometimes it is very easy to get caught up in cliques, but in my case, I graduated from high school a long time ago and I have no intention of falling into that trap. And third, I´ve learned that despite the strength of any bond you build online, it´s crucial to meet face to face whenever possible. That´s why I go to so many conferences.

8) Do you have plans to expand your leadership roles in the digital space? If so, what are they?

Yes, I would like to inspire more women in the Latina community to blog and share their voices. Even though many are active in social media, sometimes they feel intimidated by the blogging world. I hope they can take their voices from a microblogging world into a full-blown blog.

9) Who are your favorite social media women leaders and why?

Ana Roca-Castro, she inspires me on so many levels and is always seeking to help others. Catherine Connors, a brilliant writer, blogger and woman who always keeps it real. Ana Flores, an amazing connector that stays true to what she believes in and is not afraid of making things happen. Elianne Ramos, she is the best example of community building through social media. Aside from welcoming me with open arms, she constantly supports others. Jennifer James is not only a pioneer but she is also a constant source of inspiration. She is an advocate for others but also has tremendous integrity. And you, Ananda Leeke, are always trying to bring together so many inspiring women and have an uplifting message.

10) Share three ways women can use social media to define and express their personal leadership brand.

Social media can be your own marketing platform, to share what you are doing, highlight projects you care about, and showcase what you are working on. Just remember to mix it up and not use it solely to promote yourself. It is very boring and tiring to read all the time about only one topic, especially if that topic is you. Social media also enables you to reach a broad audience in different ways across multiple platforms. take advantage of it!

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