Meet Digital Sisterhood Leader Simone Jacobson


Photo Credit: Simone Jacobson with her fellow actresses as they prepare for the performance of Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai’s play, Say You Heard My Echo, via Google Hangout.

 

Meet Digital Sisterhood Leader Simone Jacobson, blogger, co-founder of Smart Chicks Network, poet, writer, and curator, events coordinator, and social media manager at Busboys and Poets.

Fun Fact: Digital Sisterhood Network (DSN) founder Ananda Leeke met Simone when she participated in the DSN’s DC Women in Social Media Focus Group series featuring creative social media women at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C in August 2010. Ananda became an instant fan of Simone’s amazing work!

 

1) How can people find you online?

2) Why did you start using social media?

I started using social media in my early teens. I remember sitting in front of the computer screen watching AOL chat load with my best friend. It used to be a truly social experience then. My dad, my friends, and my sister would always be involved. We’d all kind of participate together, like watching a movie or something. It was new and we were exploring it together.

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

In my personal life, social media has allowed me to stay connected to friends and family all across the globe, from Morocco to Burma and France. But, I was a letter writer back when people still sent snail mail, so I’ve always been committed to staying connected to the people I love.

As a professional tool, social media has been most useful to me in connecting to what I’d consider “community celebrities” or mid-level thinkers and doers in their respective fields. That is to say, not the level of famous that requires an intermediary, but hard-working and talented enough that they might have missed an e-mail from me, but perhaps responded to a Facebook mention or tweet. I definitely expanded my network of hip-hop scholars via social media, and many of them are digital sisters and brothers, though I’ve never met some in person.

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 refine my writing skills. I’ve written for TheRoot.com, The Pink Line Project, The Couch Sessions, and The Lantern Review online. These platforms were influential in my development as an arts critic, a journalist, and in my creative writing practice, as well. I recently launched a new space for conversations about gender and the role our self-identification as male, female, or “neither” in daily living: http://sim1ontharun.wordpress.com/2012/07/14/dancing-as-gender-performance.

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?

Women definitely lead important conversations in the digital space. Think Arianna Huffington or Dream Hampton. Think of the comical “Texts from Hillary” or Philippa Hughes of The Pinkline Project in DC. Think the co-founders of Hyphen Magazine (http://www.hyphenmagazine.com) or Ruby Verdiano (http://rubyveridiano.com). These women are their own brands. It’s inspiring to see how self-promotion via social media can be leveraged for the greater good, including the benefit of the woman herself, working hard, writing and curating content online. I think a lot of people take for granted how much work it takes to run a successful and active digital space.

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

I think my biggest “leadership role” in social media is as the steward and co-founder of the Smart Chicks Network (SCN). This network is a resource-sharing platform for intelligent, ambitious and generous women in the DC area, and includes postings about jobs and other announcements. SCN has allowed members to get jobs, connect with other similarly minded individuals, and even helped beautiful women (who are not stereotypically wafer-thin models) gain experience modeling for a new kind of forward-looking publication due out this fall, NeonV Magazine (http://www.neonvmag.com).

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

Words matter. Protect yourself, but know that the Internet is very porous and you can only control your own voice. In some cases, there are no “take backs” once you put it out there. The economy of language is a gift (as proven by the ubiquitousness of Twitter), so learn it well!

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

Not at the moment. My new blog, he said // she said // they said, is a relatively humble project, but one I’m enjoying immensely: http://sim1ontharun.wordpress.com/about.

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

I named a few above, but really, YOU! Ananda, you are so dedicated to the digital sisterhood and I’m so happy I met you online and off. You rock!

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

  • Control your image as much as possible. See a video of a performance you were in that you don’t like? Ask to have it taken down. Do a Google search of yourself every now and again. Is there an image on someone else’s Facebook page you want removed? Don’t ever hesitate to ask or “untag”. Protect yourself, but again, you can only control your own output at the end of the day.
  • Articulate your goals and mission, personally and professionally, as succinctly as possible. The way people use the Internets is mostly sporadic and unfocused. Think like an editor or a headlines writer. Would you read about you based on the first 3-5 words you see?
  • Be humble, kind and truthful, yet unafraid to celebrate your successes. I know that may seem contradictory, but consider the purpose of each word you put out into the universe. If you’re trying to get a job, use your LinkedIn profile to shine and don’t hold back. But, if you’re a panelist and they ask you for a SHORT bio, don’t be wordy! Most of all, be a leader because you feel compelled to be one. Don’t be a brand, have one. Who you choose to be should never be defined by perceptions of who you are, especially not by folks online. The Internet can be a cozy wall to hide behind, as well as a wonderful resource and connectivity tool, so don’t take any of it personally.
  • And ladies, if I may offer one final piece of advice, you gotta have a sense of humor about it all at the end of the day.
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