Get Over Your Fear of Critics, and Learn To Appreciate Them

For some, social media is a bit scary because it empowers the public to voice their thoughts. While hopefully in the vast majority of circumstances this means engaging in more meaningful conversations, learning about new supports, and amplifying your message through valuable networks, it also means that critics can make their rants public. This is scary, and threatening. Partially because of the potential content of those rants, and largely because it represents a loss of control.

I often remind those concerned that control is largely an illusion — those rants and conversations happen in the parking lot, the dinner table, via email and on Facebook. The companies that have done a great job of turning around their brands (Comcast, Dell) have done so not be trying to shut down the conversation or ignoring it, but by listening, acknowledging, and learning from it. (For stories about what they’ve done, read Twitterville.)

Chris Brogan, a widely known and well respects new media marketing specialist, writes a very prolific (and insightful) blog and weekly e-newsletter. This week he talks about critics, and offers some advice :

If you are fortunate enough to have critics, you’re doing something right … I want to share with you how I deal with critics, and what you might learn from the gifts they give you.

Thank them. No matter what a critic says, say “Thanks for your thoughts,” or a variation. They have taken the time to offer their opinions, however invalid or unhelpful, with you. Say thanks. It’s the only good response to a criticism.
Don’t defend yourself. The person giving you the opinion probably doesn’t care what you have to say about it. They just wanted to share their take. You can reply and reflect back what they’ve said, but try not to defend. It only comes off as making you look defensive and it just goes nowhere fast.
Decide for yourself, in private, if you agree. You don’t have to take every critic’s opinion, but listen to whether there’s any grain of truth in what they say. I learn when my critics are my friends, but I learn LOTS when they are people who don’t much like me. Sometimes, I’m able to adapt their mean words into something of great value to myself.
Don’t just throw it out, is my point. Criticism can be helpful, even non-constructive criticism, if you are willing to hear a bit of it and throw away the junk. Thing is, don’t necessarily run around seeking it, either. It can build up like toxin in our veins, and if we’re only hearing a stream of icky things, that doesn’t help us at all.

… It took me a long while to believe in myself enough to not believe in critics. There’s a great bit from an interview (and I forget who the subject was), where she said something about really loving her positive reviews, but then her agent said, if you believe all the positive reviews, you have to believe all the negative critics. That’s stuck with me.

Personally, I’ve found most of the criticism we receive on the blog is really helpful — it teaches me where I can improve, adds value to the conversation, and often helps me identify knowledgeable folks who are invested in our mission.

How do you think about critics and criticism, whether it be on or offline? How do you use it as a productive feedback loop? How to you respond to critics? What have you learned?

A Rose is Not Just as Sweet in the Information Age: Choosing a Facebook Page Name

(This is the second of five posts on creating a Fan Page for your Jewish Organization. The first part can be found here. Subsequent posts will cover your Page’s picture, what information to include, what content to create and which applications to use.)

Unlike Abraham, Moses and Madonna, our organizations cannot simply go by just a one-word name. With all of the information on the Internet, it is helpful to be more exact.

In the organized Jewish community in particular, in which names often include similar terms, such as United, Jewish, American, Israel, Friends and Community, it is easy for organizations to be confused with one another.

For example, check out this search for “Temple Sinai” on Facebook:

Between Fan Pages, People and Groups, Temple Sinai yields more than 200 results! Imagine a member or prospect looking for you on Facebookthey are not going to sort through 500 possibilities hunting for the right one, so plan your name so they can find you with ease. Take a look at the results for groups with Temple Sinai in the name:

Screen shot 2009-10-12 at 5.56.06 PM

Try “Jewish, Boston.” Again, there are more than 200 results.

American, Jewish” yields more than 2,000 results!

Because so many people and institutions are on Facebook, it is so sticky and thus so useful. But you have to be strategic to be successful in this crowded space. Choosing the right name is a critical first step.

Tips for Choosing a Name

Keep it Simple, Sorta

A name should be specific, but it should also be simple. When picking the name for your Page, make sure to balance the simple (Temple Sinai) with the specific (Temple Sinai of Brookline).

Acronyms and the ABCs of Jewish Organizations

Sometimes when you are working at your organization, things seem really obvious, like going by your acronym. Do people know you by your acronym or by your full name? Consider how people might search for you. Perhaps using your full name, followed by your acronym after a dash or in parentheses. This way the organization can be found by name and by acronym.

For example:

  • The Jewish National Fund, popularly known as JNF, goes by “Jewish National Fund” on its Page.
  • BBYO goes only by its acronym on its Page. Notice that regional affiliates of BBYO each have a more specific name; for instance, Boulder BBYO.
  • AIPAC goes by both its acronym and its full name, “AIPAC – The American Israel Public Affairs Committee,” on its Page.

Let Your Fans Know What You Are Doing

Even with a specific name, you will want to make sure your name reflects who your Page is for. If your Page is a hub for all your members, then a simple name followed by the community name might be perfect. But if your Page is for a specific aspect of your organization, like the social action division or the young leadership committee, you may want to incorporate that into the name as well.

Examples of Pages with specific names:

Broadcasting Your Name in Big, Shining Light

Bonus! Facebook now allows you to have a distinct URL for your Page. For example, will take you directly to Darims Page. After you have your Page set up, you can register your direct address under the settings. Direct URLs for Pages, however, is limited to Pages with at least 100 fans. When you create your page, you cannot transfer ownership, and you can only post as the PAGE, not as YOU personally. Read more here at Tech for Luddites.
What did you decide to name your Page? Leave us a comment with a link to your Page as an example for the JewPoint0 community.

Free “How to Make Online Video” Webinars

Picture 3ReadWriteWeb is reporting that YouTube and their partners are offering a series of free webinars to teach how to make successful online video.

The mega-video site is partnering with Videomaker magazine to offer free webinars on topics of interest to the would-be iJustines and Ask A Ninjas of the world. Topics will cover how to shop for a video camera, microphone techniques, lighting and all the basics of shooting palatable online video content.

According to the See3 blog, See What’s Out There, online video’ experienced a rapid rise in popularityand use because:

1. US broadband penetration has now grown to 63%.

2. As the medium has evolved, support has come forth to stabilize online video formats.

3. The low cost Flip video camera and other new technology is democratizing video making.

While a picture might be worth 1000 words, a 3 minute video is worth (at least 30 frames per secondx 60 seconds x 3 minutes =) 5,400,000 words. Now that’s impact. Potentially.

A lot can go wrong with your seemingly powerful online video. And crappy videos are, well crappy. And don’t hold a viewer’s attention, and don’t usually translate into action or support for your organization. To help you do it right, YouTube is partnering with Videomaker magazine to offer a series of free skill building webinars on topics such as CHoosing the right camera,lighting andfiltering, microphone techniques, the art of composition and handheld camera techniques. You can vote on the topics you want to have offered, and submit your own ideas and discuss common issues.

The first seminar will focus on “Basic Shooting Techniques” and is scheduled for October 27, 2009, at 2 p.m. PT / 5 p.m. ET. Click here to register.

You can also learn more about online video from See3’s Guide to Online Video, presented in, what else? Online video:

Darim Online has a Facebook Page and You Can Too

Facebook is growing up.

While you might have thought Facebook users are mostly 18 and 22 years old, the fastest growing population segment on Facebook is women 55 and older!Furthermore according to, nearly a quarter of all users on Facebook are 35 years old and up.

These facts may be surprising at first, but it what it tells us is important: Facebook users are of all ages and include the people that you want to engage with your organization.

To tap into this demographic shift, many nonprofit organizations have created Fan Pages, or popularly referred to as just “Pages,” to interact with their constituents on Facebook.

While individuals on Facebook create personal profiles, the analogous feature on Facebook for organizations is a Page. Organizational pages provide many of the same features as a profile page such as:
  • A name
  • A Picture
  • Basic Information
  • A Wall where you or others (if you allow them) can post notes, photos, links, comments and more
  • Applications to your page including the Causes App, which directs fans to make a donation directly to your charity, and
  • A News Feed

The news feed is really important because it allows the followers of your page to keep up with you without having to come to your page over and over. This is one of the key differences between pages and Facebook groups. In other words, the information in a page’s news feed goes directly to your fans rather than waits for your fans to come to it.

Example of a Temple Emanu-El’s news feed from its page:

Notice how Darim’s most recent post shows up on the home page of a follower mixed in with updates from other friends:

Because on a user’s homepage your organization is appearing among friends and other pages, it’s important your posts stand out with compelling and valuable content. For example, your organization can use its news feed to post interesting articles on the web, events that are happening in the community, etc., in addition to promoting yourself.

Before you create your page, it may be helpful to explore other nonprofit Pages on Facebook. If you have a favorite nonprofit page on Facebook, please leave a link to it in the comments section with why you like it.

While you are looking at the pages consider:

  • Who the organization is trying to reach out to?
  • What are the messages the organization is communicating?
  • How does the Page amplify and support the organizations other media or web presences?
  • How often is the Page updated?

Over the next series of posts on JewPoint0, we will lead you through some of the main opportunities you have in creating a Page. In the meantime you may want to check out Facebooks short tutorial and step-by-step guide on creating a page at Also, if you have any questions or comments feel free to post in the comments section by clicking in the link above. You could also tweet a question to @DarimOnline.

Strut your Stuff

  • Do you have a Fan Page? Feel free to post a link to it in the discussion section so we can all learn from your example!
  • There are many resources on the web about Facebook pages. Here are a few links to get you started. Try visiting Rachel Levy’s blog, Beth Kanter’s or Jeremy Owyang’s for more information about Fan Pages.
  • Stay tuned to JewPoint0, as we post tips on picking a name for your page, choosing a picture, what information to include and how to generate compelling content.

Grab Your Facebook URL Now.

You know those guys who got the URL “”? Yup, they were on it in 1995 (how do I know that? Check out WHOIS). This Saturday, at 12:01am, Facebook is allowing users to grab their Facebook URLs, which may turn about to be of similar value for many Jewish organizations who have common names, or specific acronyms.

Saturday morning Facebook users will be allowed to created personalized usernames for use on Facebook. This means instead of your profile or fan page ending in something like “id=592952074”, you can customize the URL to “”or “”

[Note about eligibility — thanks Rachel and Todd for pointing this out — Your Facebook Page must meet two requirements to claim a username on Saturday: it must have been live on Facebook prior to the May 31, 2009 cut-off date and have had a minimum 1,000 fans at that time. However, this limitation is temporary. All Pages created after May 31, 2009 or that had less than 1,000 fans on that day will be eligible to claim usernames on Sunday, June 28, 2009, so mark your calendar for that day if your Page has fewer than 1000 fans.]

This opportunity makes it much easier to market and promote your Facebook presence, rather than making users look you up in the search and attempt to find the correct “Michael Cohen” or “Temple Israel” (which is increasingly difficult as Facebook growth skyrockets).

Those interested in protecting their BRAND should act quickly to a) make sure you get the most straightforward URL ( instead of, for example); and b) to make sure someone doesn’t grab your name to use it for themselves, or to convince you to buy it off of them. Given that Saturday morning at 12:01 eastern is Shabbat for many of us, you may be asking, “What is a Jew to do?”

Four options:

  1. Get a non Jewish friend to do it for you at 12:01. Make sure they can login to your account, or make them an administrator for that day.
  2. Do it right after Shabbat ends
  3. Proactively protect your name. Facebook has created an online procedure by which trademark owners can prevent their brand names from being registered as Facebook usernames. (more info here). However, your name must be trademarked, and another Temple Israel gets the name, well, it’s legitimate and you’re out of luck. You can proactively fill out the form, which is short and simple. One should be completed for each brand name you wish to protect by Friday June 12, 2009.
  4. Reclaim what’s rightfully yours. If someone illegitimately grabs your name, you may have hope. If you discover one of your brand names has been registered as a Facebook username on or after June 13, 2009, Facebook has reserved the right to remove or reclaim usernames for any reason, and trademark owners can report usernames that infringe intellectual property rights via Facebook’s IP infringement form here.

Be on the ball. Grab what’s rightfully yours. Just don’t take my name. And remember to mark your calendar for Sunday, June 28 if your Page has fewer than 1000 fans.

P.S. — consider getting your own personal name too!

The Reason Your Church [Synagogue / Congregation / Organization] Must Twitter

Readers of JewPoint0 know we are pretty hot on Twitter and its potential for supporting the work of Jewish organizations and community building. You also know that we believe that Twitter is most effective when it is aligned with an organizations overall community strategy and culture.

Some of you may have already taken the plunge; others are still trying to get the hang of it. If you are looking for a good framework from which to consider integrating Twitter into the communications life of your congregation, take a look at Anthony Coppedges ebook, The Reason Your Church Must Twitter.

This highly readable publication lays out reasons for congregations to use Twitter and how it can be integrated into your communications and community building strategies.

Coppedge views Twitter as a means of engaging members in conversations; a way of accessing and getting to know congregational membership, clergy, staff, and lay leaders in different ways; exchanging information and putting out calls to action; and, supporting a sense of connection within the community as well as fostering connections with potential new members. In addition, he explains the basics of Twitter culture, how to get set up, and tips and techniques for effective communication.

The book is available online at $5.00 a copy (churches are encouraged to buy a copy for each staff member who would benefit from it, and to share it with volunteers for free).

Other articles and resources about Twitter and congregational life:

Reform Judaism: Cyber Innovations

Twittering in Church, With the Pastors OK, Time Magazine, May 3, 2009

Twitter Church post by Vertizontal

The Networked Congregation: Embracing the Spirit of Experimentation
by Andrea Useem

Twitter Group: Jewish Social Network

Jacob Richman’s Twitter List including Jewish and Israeli Twitterers

Nine Great Reasons Why Teachers Should Use Twitter

Twenty-Three Interesting Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom

Be sure to follow Darim on Twitter!

Mobile Mobile Mobile

I know mobile is the future. To some degree I experience it and participate, for example through Twitter. I use Twitter both personally (@LisaColton) and professionally (@DarimOnline), and use Twitter clients on my iphone to read and post and connect all over the place. The last 48 hours at NTEN have perhaps been the most prolific to date – there’s so many excellent nuggets of wisdom here. (Check out my twitter stream, and the #09NTC steam from all participants).

But as I think about mobile fundraising campaigns, etc. I remain somewhat skeptical. Let me revise that: I feel that the technology is still “in the way”, and as Clay Shirky said this morning, “the tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring.” Mobile technology just isn’t boring yet, but it is moving from awkward to interesting.

My conference session evaluation via SMS, on my iPhone
My conference session evaluation via SMS, on my iPhone

NTEN has engaged Mobile Commons to set up a text message based evaluation system for this conference. That’s right, you TEXT your rating and comments, rather than writing it on paper. Less paper, easier to compile the data, super convenient. I was at first confused how it would work, but then I just went for it — texted the session number NTC189 to the short code they gave us 68966. Half a second later the first questions popped up. I entered my rating and hit send. The next question. IT WAS SO SIMPLE and satisfying. Success. I do expect that it will take some time before the masses are comfortable with such uses of mobile, but the future will be here shortly, and thus it’s useful for us to learn what the early adopters are doing, and start to dip our toes in the water.

Other examples shared here have been integrated with video, advocacy campaigns, fundraising and more. What’s the lesson? Though you may not be using mobile campaigns now, it is the future, and thus you should be collecting your constituents cell phone numbers now. They will come in handy a few months or years down the road.

Twitter Tools and Tips

As Twitter, the microblogging platform we’ve written about here before, gains in popularity, there are more and more people to follow, for personal and professional reasons. As the volume increases, a plenthora of new tools have appeared on the scene to help users sort, categorize and prioritize their Twitter streams.

I use Twitter professionally to learn about useful new tools, blog posts and articles (saving me time, improving quality of the resources I use, and tipping me off to excellent ideas I otherwise would not have known about); to tap into my network to pose questions and get feedback; and to promote events, opportunities and publications. Some examples of these uses are below.

One tool that’s widely used by professional Twitter users (“Tweeples”) is TweetDeck. The blog describes it this way:

You can group your followers in a way that makes it easier to consume the information. In my case, I have a group of people that I follow closely. These are people who dont tweet too frequently and who post updates that I never want to miss. While I follow almost 400 people, this smaller group has just over 100 people. I read this group first, and if I have time, I read the other groups.

TweetDeck also has pop-up smart notifications (assuming that you have configured it to notify you) for @replies, direct messages and dynamic, persistent searches. I configure searches for events I am organizing, companies Im involved with, and more.

If you manage more than on Twitter account (for example, my personal account and my @DarimOnline account), you might consider using Twirl, which displays multiple columns, one for each account.

One of the most convenient and powerful features of Twitter is its mobility. By sending a text message from your phone you can “tweet”, and you can choose to receive tweets from some or all of those you follow by txt as well. Many Twitter tools have mobile versions as well, which are full applications that provide much more functionality than just a text message. On my iphone I use Twitterific, though there are many to choose from.

What Twitter tool do you use? Why do you like it? We’d love to hear from you. Share your experience in the comments!

More Twitter aggregators, descriptions and suggestions are here:

Webinar Part 3: Developing A Media Library

In our last few postings, we’ve been looking at ways to tell our organizations’ stories through the use of online video. Today, we will explore the basics of creating a media library. This post is based on notes from the Darim Online Learning Network for Synagogues webinar with See3 Communications CEO, Michael Hoffman.

Develop a media library for your congregation. This library should include video, photos, and audio. It is important to organize and annotate materials so that they can be reused and repurposed into many different pieces.

  • Determine what to collect for your media library. As previously suggested, review your program calendar with an eye toward collecting material. Document interesting and important things your institution does; capture what it means to be a member of your community. Collect video, photos, and audio.
  • Ask videographers for the raw footage as well as the edited product. When you hire a vendor, stipulate in the contract that your organizaiton owns the footage.
  • Invest time in watching video footage and logging what is on the tapes. This is a good project for a volunteer or intern.
  • Be aware of privacy issues and implement policies. Ask people for their permission to be included in any video or photographs. Institutions are increasingly including photography/video releases into their membership forms. Allow people to opt out/ opt in. Parents need to provide permission for the filming of children. Be sure to have your legal ducks in a row.

For additional resources, see See3’s Guide to Online Video, especially this segment on “Building a Media Library:”

3. Building A Media Library from See3 Communications on Vimeo.

A huge thank you to Michael Hoffman and to the synagogues who participated in these webinars!

Does your synagogue have a media library? What are other tips and techniques do you have to share?

Archives of the recent webinars, “The Age of YouTube: An Introduction to Online Video for Congregations,” as well as previous webinars are available to members of the Darim Online Learning Network. Access to the archives and other webinar-related material can be found on the Darim Online website in Dirah, under “Learning Network Info.”

Not yet a member of the Darim Online Learning Network? Click here for membership information for your organization and to register.

Navigating the Personal/Professional Line Online

The New York Times’ assistant managing editor, Craig Whitney, is responsible for overseeing the paper’s journalistic standards. As Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools have changed the face of communications, he recently issued policies for New York Times reporters governing their personal use of social networks. As Patrico Robles writes on

“Employees have more influence on the image of the companies they work for than ever before. And with social media and online PR being so important these days, that trend is likely to continue.”

Whitney from the Times believes that these services “can be remarkably useful reporting tools“, but clearly also recognizes their potential impact on how the public views the quality or impartiality of the professional reporting.

I am often asked how these concerns apply to Jewish organizations. One Rabbi told me, for example, that he is often “befriended” by teens in his congregation on Facebook. Thank G-d! Our teens want to be Facebook friends with the Rabbi? Wonderful. But, he told me, he has a personal and professional obligation to take action if he sees inappropriate things on that teen’s Facebook profile, for example, a photo of a 16 year old with a beer bottle in his hand.

This particular Rabbi has developed an informal but consistent policy, which goes something like this: I would love to be your Facebook friend, but I have a responsibility to say something if I see inapprorpiate things you’re doing. Thus, I’ll leave it up to you if you want to give me full access to your profile, limited access, or withdraw your invitation. He reports many give limited access, and some withdraw their invite, but the conversation itself builds stronger relationships, gives an opportunity to talk about ethics and responsibility, and also gives him the chance to extend an invitation for the teens to talk to him privately about more serious things.

Another congregation I’m working with is investing energy in developing their Facebook Page. The staff person who manages the page wanted to provide transparency — including some personal information to make her “real” and not “institutional”, but didn’t want to have to edit her personal life on Facebook because of the professional transparency. Thus, she created a separate profile for her synagogue role, and manages all her synagogue relationships with the casualness of Facebook, but without impinging on her personal life.

Personally, I’ve recently split my personal and professional lives on Twitter, for many reasons. I’ve established @DarimOnline for my professional self (other Darim staff also contribute), where we share tips and news and links. I encourage people I know professionally to follow this both for the content and to see how an organization can use Twitter to further its work. Many people I know professionally also follow me @LisaColton on Twitter, which I welcome, and think is useful to see how people use it on a personal level. However, they know to expect updates about my social life, children and commentary on my lunch, among other things!

What issues have arisen for you in managing the line between your personal and professional lives online? What are you comfortable with, and not comfortable with? What policies or strategies have you developed (informally or formally) to navigate this new territory?