Meet Digital Sisterhood Leader Monica A. Coleman


Photo Credit: Monica A. Coleman

Photo Credit: Monica A. Coleman

Meet Digital Sisterhood Leader Monica A. Coleman, author, founder of Beautiful Mind blog, minister, and professor. Monica was named 2012 Digital Sister of the Year – Enchantista.

Fun Facts: Monica and Digital Sisterhood Network founder Ananda Leeke were introduced via Facebook by their mutual friend, Professor Shayne Lee. Once Ananda started following Monica on Twitter and reading her blog, she became an instant fan. Monica was featured as a guest on Digital Sisterhood Radio’s Feminism Online Project series in 2011.

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Digital Sisterhood Leadership Project (#DSLead) Interview:

1) How can people find you online?

2) Why did you start using social media?

I think I joined Facebook in 2007 and it went from there . . .

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

Personally, it allows me to keep in contact with family and friends across the years and miles. I’ve moved a lot and it helps me to feel connected with people I care about. Professionally, I’ve been able to connect with people I may never meet in person even as we have shared interests. We can share information; I learn a lot from the people I follow on Twitter. When I have marketing decisions to make for my business, I’ll ask my tweeps and Facebook fans and get really great responses. Also, social media spreads the work and writing I do into arenas I would not ordinarily be a part of. The work in social media has not only helped recruit students to my institution (where I teach), but has directly increased my consulting work, writing, features in other media, and speaking engagements. People will literally say, “I read your blog/ follow you on twitter/ watched video on your website . . . and thought you would be great for X or Y.”

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?

My blog on faith and depression has been a real blessing for me and a ministry. I’ve received emails from people in India and Haiti who read my blog and say that particular entries really encouraged them – even in a context so different from my own. My most recent book was titled from an email I received from someone in an inpatient care center who read my blog and said that it helped her to feel like she is not alone. The book is entitled Not Alone: Reflections on Faith and Depression. As I’ve pushed myself to share more of my experiences and struggles, I’ve found many people – men and women (but it seems to be primarily women) who relate, but have not heard their experiences given voice as they should be.

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: A Memoir of Fierce Living Online (2013), 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?

The 12 roles listed here seem fairly thorough.

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

Advocate and educator

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

Social media breaks down barriers that I find in face-to-face encounters such that I connect with people I might meet or choose to befriend in other settings. Thus I’d say that social media activity can really broaden our worlds. Some topics are easier to talk about and learn about online – with a level of anonymity. My work is in sexual and domestic violence and mental health advocacy. There are still stigmas in these areas and being online often gives people spaces to learn about and grow and express in ways that are more comfortable for sensitive topics.

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

My plans include publicizing my recent book primarily online – through Twitter and Facebook campaigns, a virtual book tour, and a book trailer video. I hope to do more classes online – marketed almost completely through social media.

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

  • Melissa Harris-Perry is just a media maven for her website,Twitter, Facebook, and MSNBC.
  • The Crunk Feminist Collective  work together as a collective, and are bold, passionate and vulnerable about a variety of topics related to black feminism.
  • Najeeba Syeed-Miller is committed to interreligious dialogue and brings a lot of insight to her tweets and Facebook status updates.
  • Thema Bryant-Davis has this great Twitter therapy with insightful and pithy truisms that are real inspiration. She also has an online radio program that advocates women’s health.

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

  • Blogging about their commitments – thereby serving as advocates who educate.
  • Twitter is great for growing a circle of friends and followers – expanding one’s market.
  • Through webinars, teleconferences, online classes, blogs, online radio etc. women can establish themselves as experts in their fields and gain a global following that is simply not possible in person.
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