Social Media serves as Personal Branding

Underage Entrepreneurs

As my final post for this course (meaning my posts will no longer be limited to course guidelines!), I have chosen to discuss a subject that is of great importance to me.

Tonight, Austin hosted Ignition at Speakeasy. Ignition brought together 20 of the best local start ups to pitch the audience-20 slides, 20 seconds each slide. “2020” was an incredible event, hosted by Microsoft’s Bizspark and Techset. In attendance were tech enthusiasts such as Brian Solis, Stephanie Agresta, and our own Austin tech celebrities such as the Conjunctured crew.


So, how was my experience at Ignition? Well, unfortunately, my experience consisted of following updates from my friends on Twitter. Why? I am not 21. 

This may seem trivial to many of you, but this is not the first event I was not able to attend this year, and it is frustrating. Who is to say that college students under the age of 21 are not interested in their careers, and namely, networking? Aside from the legality issues (which I completely understand), underage students should not be kept away from experiences that will enhance their professional lives. 

Unfortunately, the majority of business events are happy hours or evening parties; And to accommodate large numbers of people in a fun venue, the events are hosted at bars or clubs. 

I do not know what the future holds for this argument, but as a student that will not turn 21 until the end of my senior year, I am disappointed to think that I will be unable to attend events such as these until then. Has anyone had similar experiences or have any advice?


Defining Style: How to Interpret Runway Trends

Working in style and fashion has exposed me to many amazing trends: some beautiful, some extravagant, and some absolutely unnecesary. However, I am continuously enamored with runway shows and the styles that grace those raised platforms.

But, what do those styles mean for you? Is runway fashion really meant for everyday wear? Generally, no. Prompted by a class assignment to create a short web video, I have created the following examination of everyday fashion and style:

Obama Banned From Technology?

President Elect Obama has already set the stage for what is going to become the most technological Presidency in history. However, he may have to break down a few political barriers before proceeding.

According to an article from MSNBC, Obama is quite the Blackberry enthusiast:

“Mr. Obama’s memorandums and briefing books were seldom printed out and delivered to his house or hotel room, aides said. They were simply sent to his Blackberry for his review.”

In fact, according to records, Obama would even respond to e-mails and staffers until early in the morning with the convenience of his BB. Throughout the campaign, Obama’s advisers urged him to steer clear of blogs and write-ups on-line, not wanting to jeopardize his focus. However, Obama (true to his savvy form) felt it necessary to stay up to date. 


Unfortunately, the rules have now changed. As incoming President, Obama faces legal jurisdiction surrounding all communication to and from his office:

“For starters, there’s the Presidential Records Act, which requires all official correspondence be made available in the public domain. It means those 3 a.m. Blackberry emails he was known for on the trail will probably have to stop, or at least be curtailed in some way.”

In addition, answering a constant flow of e-mails can be extremely distracting as well as time consuming for a President that will already have an overwhelming agenda. Dina Owen, leader of the American Studies program at Georgetown University suggests that Obama’s e-mail may need to go:

“It’s a time burner. It might be easier for him to say, ‘I can’t be on e-mail.’ ”

However, it appears that Obama plans to work through these concerns. In fact, “…aides to the president-elect said he hopes to be the first president ever to have a laptop at the ready on the historic Oval Office desk.” This would mean that our perception of the Presidential desk and his Oval Office would change forever. 

Can you picture a laptop on the President’s desk? It feels as though this simple addition will illustrate yet another benchmark in this presidency, finally taking politics into the twenty-first century.

What are you thoughts? Do you have concerns about President Elect Obama using technology in his new administration, or do you feel that his using a laptop and trusty BB is a positive movement into the future ?

*Photo credit:

Perspectives of a Professional: Part III

This week, I sat down with one of my closest friends here in Austin to discuss his role in the tech community, as well as what suggestions he has for students entering the work force. I have come to rely on his advice and expertise as I navigate my own career here in Austin, and beyond.


Cesar Torres, 24, is one of the co-founders of Conjunctured, a coworking company and Austin’s first coworking space. By day, he’s also a freelance brand designer, art director, graphic and web designer and serves as creative director of TechStyles Apparel. Cesar lives in east Austin with his Mac and his dog, Tumbler.

What role does social media play in your professional life?

Social media played an integral part in the creation and development of Conjunctured, the coworking space I helped create. Since very early on, various social media tools helped us pool together a collection of people who were interested in the development of an Austin coworking space. These same tools helped us keep in contact with the community and gave us a platform to talk about everything we were learning on our journey from the inception of the idea in March to our opening in August and beyond.

Social media helped us attain the right connections to the people that were important to our success, whether that was family, supporters, members, friends outside of Austin, the national tech community and even media and press contacts (we obtained writeups in the Austin American Statesman, two writeups on the Mashable frontpage, I made some guest posts on Dell’s Digital Nomads blog and the Austin360 tech blog and we landed spots on KXAN News and NBC Nightly News as a result of our online contacts!).

How has your use of social media improved your career?

Outside of using social media tools to help promote Conjunctured, coworking and Austin, social media has been a huge help in my personal career as a designer. Through social networks like Facebook and Twitter, I have been able to create a strong presence as a freelance designer and have been contacted many times over for work via these networks. Social media helped me make connections and keep my ear to the ground as to who was in need of services I could provide.

I think people hear the words “social media” and immediately are concerned about privacy issues. I feel that the transparency of social media tools helped people get to know who I was and gave them a better understanding for the kind of work that I liked to do. Once they got a sense for that, they had the communication tools (my blog/portfolio, my Twitter or Facebook accounts, etc.) to contact me regarding work they personally needed done or leads they had.

What has your role been, specifically, in the Austin tech community and where would you like to see it go in the future?

To date, I am called on to provide feedback on branding and design elements for companies and tech starups in town and around the world, which I totally love doing.

A big portion of the membership-base in Austin for coworking is web designers, developers and other tech knowledge workers (naturally, these people have the freedom to work outside an office environment, given their flexibility thanks to technology). I get to meet these creative and talented people and hopefully help them come together and know each other—whether that’s within the walls of Conjunctured or on a one-to-one basis when I’m out at tech events. I’ve even collaborated on some cool projects with a handful of these people.

I feel Austin is at a critical mass where so many things are going on, even outside of the tech landscape, that the city is trying to figure out what kind of place it wants to be when it grows up. While much of the city is still in development, whether that’s figuratively or literally (with the countless highrises going up), I would love to have more of a say in the way the city is portrayed once it gets closer to self-actualization. I’ve been living here since I came to the University of Texas in 2002 to study Advertising and I’ve watched the city evolve right before my eyes. As a result of my background, I’m huge into branding and it would be interesting to officially be in charge of the “branding” of the city, whether that’s indirectly like I’m doing now with Conjunctured, or directly in a more formalized setup. 

As a professional in the tech industry, what would you recommend to students entering the work force in the coming months?

Millennials have the unique situation of being an age group to know life with and without the internet, which puts us in a great place, I think.

I mentioned before the concerns of privacy on the internet—definitely be careful of what you or your online friends upload to the web, but also, don’t compromise who you are either. We hear countless stories of people being fired because of their MySpace profiles. Personally, I wouldn’t want to work for a company that wouldn’t hire me because I had party pictures on my profile, but do remember that once college is over, you have to draw more of a distinct line between your professional life and your party life. Two words: Facebook lists. Learn to love ’em.

Also, I would say, once school is over, you’re at a unique age where you can make mistakes—and it’s okay to make them! Dream big. This is a great time to go out and experience new things to help you gain perspective. Travel, meet everyone you can, talk to people (if you’re willing to listen, older people know what the hell they’re talking about, as it turns out), read a lot, journal your thoughts and ideas about the world and your life, get a mentor or five, learn to look at your folks as peers, surround yourself with the right kind of friends and just come to figure yourself out. Come to learn that anything ever is possible, as long as you work your ass off to get it. It may be hard work, but in the end, it’s better to have tried than to sit around unhappy, wondering “what if.” No regrets!

What social media tools do you find the most useful in both your professional and personal lives?

I was one of the early adopters of Facebook when it launched at UT, so it’s safe to say I’m addicted to that still. I love how it’s transitioned and evolved with me as I’ve gone through school and into a more professional role; I find that it’s definitely a reflection of myself. I’m hopelessly addicted to Twitter (follow me @cesart) and I’ve been blogging for about seven years now. You can find my posts at I have replaced reading the paper on the weekends with Google Reader and I unconditionally love any tech startup that comes out of Austin.

Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes: “No man ever followed his genius till it misled him. … If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal,— that is your success.” -Thoreau, Walden

How I Followed Tuesday’s Election

November 4th marked an historic election. Regardless of political affiliations, millions of Americans and viewers around the world tuned in to see Barack Obama become the President elect. However, election night was also intriguing for reasons other than politics. 

Although I kept my TV tuned to CNN all evening, I also followed election activity and results online. Below are a few tools that I used, but I would love to hear what others followed as well:

Five Thirty Eight

Five Thirty Eight illustrated “citizen journalism” at its finest. By providing insights and statistics, FTE allowed viewers to follow the data as well as make sense of it. Its three-person operation made presidential, senatorial, and house predictions throughout the day and into the evening. 

Video Your Vote

Video Your Vote allowed users to share their voting experiences with the world via personal videos. VYV featured an interactive map indicating where videos had been uploaded and what they pertained to, such as “Voter Intimidation,” “Notable Voter,” “Polling Place Problems,” etc. This access to actual voter experiences created a sense of transparency to the election, knowing that real
people everywhere were experiencing the same things I had.  

Twitter Vote Report

Much like VYV, Twitter Vote Report encouraged Twitter users to tweet their experiences with specific hashtags, such as “#wait:120 meaning that the wait time is 120 minutes.” These tags were then aggregated and mapped, showing users what voting experiences were like in real-time. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, this election utilized social media in a way that was never done before. Therefore, tools such as these come as no surprise. It is exciting and overwhelming to consider the depth to which media can proceed-especially with politics as a catalyst. 

What role do you see social media playing in the political sphere, as this country moves forward?

UPDATE: Per the comments below, check out to see how Obama is already implementing technology into his administration.

Election 2008: Has Social Media Influenced Your Decision?

With only one day until the 2008 Presidential Elections, I am finding it difficult to focus on much else. Yes, I am extremely passionate about politics. However, I am also feeling a great deal of election anxiety simply because of my exposure to it. Due to social networking tools such as Twitter, sites such as Facebook, and blogs such as the Huffington Post, I am continuously flooded with information. ..

…which causes me to wonder just how much social media will influence the outcome of Tuesday’s election. Are others as inundated by technology as I am? Will what users see online affect their decisions? And most importantly, how have the candidates taken advantage of social media to reach voters?

Social Media has changed the political landscape. Sure, we still watch poll coverage on CNN, but what about that SNL video feauturing Palin? Or, how about the last Obama rally? Most likely, we turn to YouTube in cases such as these. 

Dr. Paul Haridakis, an associate professor of Communication Studies at Kent State University insists that YouTube is an integral source of information in this election:

“Many people,” Haridakis says, “will watch videos and use traditional media like TV to acquire political information about the candidates, but they also are going to the Internet and using social networking sites to see who people they know support. The information gleaned from their social networks may be the information they find most credible and persuasive.”

Similarly, Twitter has undoubtedly played an extensive role throughout this election process. I wrote a few weeks ago about the Twitter election page, which allows members to view and tweet a live stream of comments pertaining to the election and candidates. The election page was especially popular during debates, hosting a “play by play” of what the candidates had to say. In fact, as Sarah Wurrey of Media Bullseye discussed earlier this month, Twitter was also used to verify claims made by the candidates:

“Since Twitter has launched an election page, NPR has called for Twitterers to live-fact-check the debates and bloggers are regularly featured in the networks’ election coverage, social media is inescapable in this election season.”

Social Media serves as the perfect political tool. It increases transparency and increases communication. Both Barack Obama and John McCain have participated in this online forum. But, has it made a difference?

Katelyn D’Eramo of Tech Pr Gems recently asked the very same thing-citing both candidates’ social media expertise. Of Obama, she says:

“Senator Barrack Obama has fully developed social media in his campaign for President. He tweets on twitter, sends text messages, sends daily e-mails , updates his blog, has RSS feeds on his website and has a Facebook page. He is connecting in a multifaceted way to voters…He’s asking for community involvement , asking for registered people on his site to help out whether it be to call three voters in a swing state or dig an article.”

D’Eramo asks whether this increased use of social media will specifically influence younger voters to form an opinion and vote on Tuesday. Does their apparent knowledge of social media prompt your personal support? 

How do you feel about the use of social media in this election? Personally, it has allowed me to gain a greater awareness of the candidates’ professional experience, personal behavior, as well as exclusive views of events that the industrial media did not cover.

Which brings me to the question at hand: Has your online media use influenced your vote in this election?


Perspectives of a Professional: Part II

Since moving to Austin, I have had the pleasure of meeting many amazingly talented individuals in the technology industry. One such individual is Kristine Gloria, an Account Executive at Waggener Edstrom PR Firm. Kristine has pioneered the use of social media within her company and understands the importance of both developing and maintaining an image of professionalism.

This podcast is a collaboration between myself, Sloan Chouest and Adam Raven. Refer to the Show Notes below for an outline of our interview and links mentioned throughout the podcast:

0:00 Intro

0:35 Describe Waggener Edstrom and your role at the firm?

a. Waggener Edstrom (WagEd) specializes in technology and is incredibly relationship oriented. Specifically, WagEd has a long track record with Microsoft.

b. Kristine Gloria is the liaison with account work and digital strategies.

1:17 How has social media evolved and what is your role?

a. Social media has grown from social networks such as Facebook, to micro blogging on Twitter, and has developed into a tool for both personal and professional purposes.

b. WagEd often uses LinkedIn to do bio searches on their clients and future employees.

c. Kristine’s role has been to implement these tools in the business. She is not an early adopter, but watches the space closely.

2:27 How did you gain an initial awareness of social media and how have you implemented it at Waggener Edstrom?

a. SXSW 2007: Sarah Lacy/Mark Zuckerberg Interview and the importance of Twitter

b. Took this momentum to the office.

i. Began a WE Digital Think Tank

4:06 What forms of social media do you use and how does it benefit you as a P.R. firm?

a. Twitter: “Everyday, every hour”

i. Relationships with reporters

b. Facebook

c. LinkedIn: Bio searching specifically

5:11 Commercial


5:41 What is Waggener Edstrom’s involvement with the blogosphere and how do you approach bloggers with pitches?

a. Active bloggers on external side of WagEd as marketing

b. Use of blogs internally

6:13 What do you think the relationship between bloggers and P.R. firms should be?

a. Understanding the avenue of communication is key

b. Building relationships is essential

c. Bloggers write what they want to write-it’s not personal

6:50 What social media tools do you use on an everyday basis and how have these tools expanded your personal and professional relationships?

a. Keep things professional

b. Social media has helped expand Kristine’s network

i. Helps others understand social media tools

7:41 You mentioned social media as a double-edged sword, can you elaborate on this?

a. Blurs personal and professional life

b. Social Media is extremely self-involved

c. You must be in tune to your own personal brand

i. Austin 3.0

9:12 Where do you see social media going in the future in both public relations and personal lives?

a. Kristine does not see blogging as taking over the journalistic venue

b. The public will begin to understand idea of the “double edged sword.”

9:53 Outro