Meet Digital Sisterhood Leader Amy Vernon

Photo Credit: Amy Vernon


Meet Digital Sisterhood Leader Amy Vernon, a freelance writer, digital strategist, and General Manager of Social Marketing for Internet Media Labs. She recently served as a guest expert during’s July Twitter chat.

1) How can people find you online?

2) Why did you start using social media?

I started in 2007, as the newspaper I was working for started launching many blogs. In all, I ended up writing for or administering four of the blogs (besides serving as Metro Editor) and was trying to figure out how to increase traffic to them. I used BlogCatalog, MyBlogLog and, perhaps most importantly,, which eventually became a huge tool in our arsenal. When I was laid off from the newspaper in December 2008, my social media profiles brought consulting work my way immediately.

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

Personally, it’s enabled me to reconnect with friends from many stages of my life: high school, summer camp, college, various newspapers I’ve worked for. Many of the people I’ve reconnected with are extremely dear to me and it makes me so happy to have been able to reconnect. Professionally, it’s enabled me to support my family while working from home. It enabled me to hardly miss a beat after being laid off, immediately transitioning into this new career. I’ve developed a strong online profile and am respected for my opinions, which is very encouraging and humbling.

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?

Social media has allowed me to develop into an authority on certain subjects, and has given me a leadership role in both the social media and journalism communities. Because of the work I’ve done in social, I’ve been asked to speak at conferences including ROFLCon, Affiliate Summit and Columbia University’s Social Media Weekend. I’ve spoken at SXSWi, Internet Week Headquarters and Social Media Week Hub events. This also has drawn me into leadership roles in organizations such as Girls In Tech, helping form the structure for the New York City chapter.

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?

Wow. That’s an excellent list. I keep coming up with things to say, looking back at the list and realizing they’re already there!

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

Community builder, creator, curator, influencer, mentor, promoter, storyteller, and thought leader

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

We all need each other. The more you help others, the more you get out of it as well. I’ve been helped by many, and consider it my duty to continue to help others.  Also, don’t be stupid.

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

I hope. I would like to become more of a mentor to younger women, in particular.  My other goals include working more strategically in social, helping interesting people and organizations learn best practices. Teach them to fish, to to speak.

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

Emily Miethner — I know Emily considers me a mentor, but I consider her a mentor in many ways as well. I’ve learned so much from how Emily conducts herself and how her drive has led her to succeed so well at such a young age.  Shelly Kramer – She is unabashedly herself. She means what she says and says what she means and is incredibly smart.

Amanda Quraishi — She’s a social media honey badger.

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

  • Be true to yourself. You don’t have to agree with everything you share, but there still should be a reason you chose to share it, not just, “She asked me to.” Mindless shares and retweets just muddy the stream – and your personal brand.
  • Support others. Don’t use social to cut others down. Use it to build people and organizations up. If you have a problem with someone, approach them directly; social media should be a last resort to deal with a problem or issue. It should be a first resort when you’re supporting someone.
  • Share knowledge. We all have different skills and knowledge. Share it. Provide insight for others.

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