11 February 2011

How Facebook and Twitter are enriching the conversation at Parent Hacks

I'm not much of a personal Facebook user. But I AM digging the conversational capabilities of the Parent Hacks Facebook page, especially now that Facebook has updated its functionality.

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With PH, it's always been about hacks as jumping-off points for conversation. I've hemmed and hawed for years about adding forums to Parent Hacks so there was a place for you to initiate conversations, but I held off because nothing felt quite right. Many of you have said what you like about Parent Hacks (as opposed to other parenting forums) is the editorial quality control and unified voice.

But social media and the nature of online conversation has changed dramatically since PH's early years. Many people say they love PH because folks here "get it" in a way that mom's group and school drop-off parents don't. PH is a gender-neutral place for moms and dads to talk about parenting. All of that remains true (I'm proud to say) AND Facebook and Twitter let us extend these conversations to a larger group of friends. It used to be that blog comments and the conversations you had with your in-the-flesh parenting friends were separate. Now with so many folks on Facebook and Twitter, that doesn't have to be the case.

</end backstory>

It seems to me that the Parent Hacks Facebook page offers the ideal balance of "post-it-yourself forum" with "let's talk more about that hack." I find myself hopping between the comments, Twitter and Facebook saying "Hey! So-and-so on Twitter/FB/PH said this -- what do you think?" There's something wonderful about doing that myself, as opposed to letting a bot do the aggregating for me, because that's always been my favorite thing about PH...being part of this amazing conversation.

SO. I'm spending some research time on Facebook looking for pages that feel vital and dynamic...not just glorified RSS feeds. I'd love to hear what your favorite Facebook pages are and why. If you're not much into Facebook, feel free to share whatever opinions you have about what I've written here. My ultimate goal is to enrich the conversation, however and wherever that may happen.

Thank you so much. It's a wonderful thing that, even after five years, I learn stuff from you every day.

Your comments

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I don't have any that I LIKE but because of their sheer size you can see a lot of conversation on BabyCenter and Huggies. People post a lot of questions, and I'm not sure if they think there is a Wizard behind the curtain at these brands who has parenting answers for them or if they really get that the community can help them out... but surely the community can.

For Rookie Moms, we don't get much response on our FB page because we do mostly use it as an RSS feed, but if I do post a general question (When did you stop swaddling?), it's amazing.

Interesting about BabyCenter and Huggies. BabyCenter was the first real online parenting community I felt a part of, and I'll always have good feelings for them. Plus, I think they are doing a remarkable job of adapting as the nature of online conversation changes.

What fascinates me about Facebook (and Twitter to some extent) is that you can merge your conversations about blogs/links/parenting with the community at a given site AND your personal social circle. I imagine your friends learn a lot about you by observing your conversations in other spaces. That's really interesting to me...how the very fact of conversing online can affect your relationships with people who aren't even part of the conversation.

I "like" Wholesome Baby Food.com Fan page. It is designed for mothers of infants who are starting solid foods, but also great for parents of toddlers. There is a great, active community with many interesting discussions. The accompanying website is must-have resource for nutrition and great, healthy recipes.

I "LIKE" a lot of local stores/ businesses. I find that they many times advertise (or remind you of) kids activities spur of the moment. But as one of the post'ers above mentioned, we also send a lot of stuff to RSS feed and then I just click on the ones I'm interested in. I would say if you have a lot of "LIKES" that you utilize the "group" settings in FB to organize people/pages... cuz if you're anything like me, some days I just don't have time to go thru the 500+ postings that flow through my FB page.

Interesting suggestion, Tracy. What I like about the FB page is how it enables the conversation about hacks to move back and forth between the comments here and your unique group of online friends.

You're right, though...after a while, it all gets to be too much in one's Facebook page. There's only so much info we can consume. This is why I want to use the FB page for more than just another place to pipe the PH feed. It has much more to offer than that.

The Leaky B@@b is a fantastic resource of mom-to-mom advice on breastfeeding and general parenting of babies. It's one of my favourite places on Facebook.

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