Posts Tagged ‘sysomos’

Social Media Beefs up its Membership

collage4The world loves social media. Very few people in the western world have been able to resist its allure. Those who have resisted seems to eventually come around. It’s just that big of a deal.

Social media has been able to attract two very notable and historic people into its fold recently. These people are Stephen Hawking and Queen Elizabeth II. I would say that this represents a fairly big feather in the social media cap.

Stephen Hawking joined Facebook and Queen Elizabeth II sent out her very first tweet, and the networks got pretty excited about the prospect of their presence.

What was their first order of business? Well Stephen Hawkings made a joke about his robot voice and Queen Elizabeth II tweeted from the British Monarchy account to open the Information Age Exhibit at London’s Science Museum.

This might seem inconsequential but can you remember another medium that could boast that the greatest mind of our time and the Queen were both members.

Granted, their activity level might not be that engaging going forward, but that’s not really the point.

Social media is a beast hat has a life of its own, people from all walks of life gravitate towards social media, once they find a network that suits them. We all know there’s a forum for everyone in the digital world.

Every celebrity, the majority of great writers and artists and also many members of academia have some kind of social footprint. Stephen Hawking and Queen Elizabeth II are further proof of the draw and appeal of social media.

It’s a wake up call to brands that you have to be on social media, but it also should make the average user wonder about someone they know who has refuted social media.

It truly is a brave new world, one that even Stephen Hawking could not have even see coming in all his infinite wisdom.

IHOP Delivers Fat Stacks to its Young Audience

828o-OYq_400x400In the world of social media, a brand can be whatever it wants. The onus is on the brand to find its voice and from there find the opportunity within its audience.

The key is to brand (or in many cases rebrand) in a way that will grow your audience, not alienate your current one. To do this you have to understand your audience and create a plan that will engage them.

IHOP quietly rebranded itself through Twitter by adopting what it calls a “hip hop” tone. The agency who manages the account knew that its audience skewers young and that it needed to alter its voice to grow that audience.

This is a unique case. Can you think of another brand that changed it’s entire social voice, not just as part of a campaign?

Several of IHOP’s hip hop tweets have been shared relentlessly and its new voice has been discussed quite a bit. They have also seen their audience increase by 18%, while drawing some mockery from competitors.

Utilizing the jargon that most associate with hip hop, IHOP was determined to talk the talk and ensure that they came across as genuine.

The danger was in alienating users of their fan base who didn’t understand the lingo and found the tweets to confusing or obnoxious. It’s always a smart idea to grow your most prominent demographic, but you don’t want to break even on the total number.

As of now, this appears to be a win for IHOP, and also as a win for brands who want to shift gears and change their voice. This comes with some much inherent risk, so they might not be in the clear just yet.

IHOP did it strategically and only after they had amassed enough information and data to know that this was the right way to go. The growth of IHOP’s online audience will be further evidence that this risk can come with great reward.

Have you ever considered changing the voice of your social presence?

  

#GamerGate: Lots of Noise, Not A Lot of Clear Direction

man_yelling_at_computerThere’s a not-so-secret war happening online as we speak.

A lot of people can say that they’ve heard of or seen the #GamerGate hashtag, but not too many people can say for certain what it’s about anymore.

To be fair, there was a clear set of events that set off #GamerGate, long before the movement even started using the hashtag. However, the war has grown and mutated since then in so many directions. People entrenched in #GamerGate have a good idea of what they’re fighting over, but those outside don’t seem to have a clue.

While the intent of this post is to look at how #GamerGate has spread across social media, it’s important to explain some of the background, which I will attempt to do without upsetting either side of the argument.

Around the middle of August, the ex-boyfriend of a female game developer wrote a blog post about how his ex had cheated on him while they were together. In the post he named some names of some men that he believed she had cheated on him with. Usually, a post like this would mostly go unnoticed on the internet. However, of the names named in the post many were notable names in the gaming world, such as game journalists and game award judges, and they had all been known to say good things and/or promote the female game developers games.

This brought light to the gaming industry that maybe they weren’t getting the un-biased judgement they thought they were around game reviews and awards. This started an uprising within the gaming world where average gamers started calling people out and demanding for some ethics from the gaming journalists.

At this point, there started to become two factions of this fight. The first faction was just fighting others and calling for a reasonable standard of ethics in the industry so regular consumers felt that they were getting fair reviews of games they wanted to spend money on. The second faction was saying that gamers were just upset because women had become part of gaming culture and that people were attacking them trying to keep it a “boys only club.”

It was during this initial uprising the actor Adam Baldwin (from Firefly and Chuck) tweeted the hashtag #GamerGate on August 27th referring to the controversy and the hashtag took off from there.

After this point in the story the water becomes a bit murky. The hashtag #GamerGate grew into a larger thing with many fights happening on many sides. Some are using the hashtag to fight the fight of ethics in gaming journalism. Some are using it to fight against what they believe is misogyny in the world of video games. Some are fighting for what they believe are feminists trying to ruin their gaming culture. And some are fighting just to fight.

It actually has gotten very messy with some people getting personally threatened or attacked and a lot of name calling on either side. I’d prefer not to go in further details. However, if you’d like a good look at what else has happened in the #GamerGate saga, I’ve found this article on Know Your Meme seems to have a fairly unbiased timeline you can follow.

Now, back to the original point of this article….

With so much of the #GamerGate war happening online, I thought it would be interesting to use MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software, to look at just how big it’s gotten.

As I stated above, the hashtag #GamerGate didn’t exist until the end of August, despite the whole controversy starting two weeks before that. However, since the time the hashtag came into play it’s been used almost 4 million times across social media channels. I was able to find 5,130 blog posts, 3,414 online news articles, 38,606 forum postings and 3,842,346 tweets all making mention of #GamerGate.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary

In addition to those channels, there has also been 11,165 videos created in this time that make mention of #GamerGate in their title or description.

Sysomos MAP - Summary of Video Activity

While some movements start out strong and then start to fade, the opposite has been true for #GamerGate. A look at our popularity graph, which plots out all of those mentions over time, shows that the #GamerGate hashtag has actually gained popularity since the end of August when it started being used. This seems to be due to two main factors. The first is that more people are starting to hear about the movement and are trying to get in on the action on all sides of the fight. The second, which correlates to the largest spike we can see in the chart below came when a well known feminist speaker had her life threatened by someone claiming to be part of the #GamerGate movement, which garnered a lot of attention from mainstream sources. The second large spike came from another threat that was aimed at a woman speaking about looking for social equality, which again spiked more main stream sources to look at the #GamerGate controversy.

Sysomos MAP - Popularity Chart

Interestingly, when I looked for the most retweeted tweets about #GamerGate, I found that the majority of them had to do with the fight of the sexes going on within #GamerGate. However, the second most retweeted tweet was a plea from someone asking that #GamerGate be used only to talk about the initial cause of the whole thing, ethics in gaming in journalism. Unfortunately, it’s the fighting and few bad things that have happened in the sex war faction of #GamerGate that has garnered the most attention around the whole issue.

Sysomos MAP - Most Retweeted Tweets

When I looked at some text analytics around the #GamerGate controversy, I found that you can actually see all of the different kinds of fights going on within. Both our buzzgraph and word cloud reveal that there is a lot of talk about both the journalism aspect that started the whole thing and the sexism (on both sides of sexism) that is coming to the forefront. I won’t comment on either, but see the word cloud and buzzgraph below to see for yourself.

Sysomos MAP - Buzzgraph

Sysomos MAP - Word Cloud

While it’s hard to know what #GamerGate is really all about anymore, and I’ll let you make up your mind about this, one thing is for sure; no one is happy about any of it. A look at the sentiment from all of the #GamerGate conversations across social media shows that an overwhelming 40% of all conversations is negative.

Sysomos MAP - Overall Sentiment

Again, my intention of this post was not to be in support of any side of this, but simply to show the world how big #GamerGate actually is despite many people not even knowing what it is about.

2014 World Series Social Prediction

2014 World SeriesWhile baseball may be known as the sport of the summer, everyone knows that the real excitement doesn’t even start until October.

In October the top teams play and vie for their chance to be in the MLB World Series.

Well, those teams have all played and starting tonight we will all bare witness to the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals kick off their best of seven series to see who will be crowned the 2014 World Series champions.

It promises to be an incredibly exciting series. The Giants have been a powerhouse team for the past few years. This will be their third trip to the World Series since 2010 and they won both of their previous times here. On the other side, the Royals haven’t even made it into the MLB playoffs in 29 years, but battled their way through this year and now have a chance to take it all.

It’s really very exciting.

As we’ve done in previous years, we thought it would be fun to take a look at both of these teams and how they’ve appeared in social media over the 2014 season using MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software, to see if that data can predict a World Series winner.

First, we started our assessment by looking up mentions of both teams over the course of the season (March 22 to October 20). In that time, we found the Giants mentioned in over 10 million social media conversations. They appeared in 191,057 blog posts, 563,685 online news articles, 279,624 forum postings and 9,737,47 tweets.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for the San Francisco Giants

Meanwhile, the Royals were mentioned in almost 7 million conversations. We found the Royals appear in 80,985 blog posts, 280,674 online news articles, 242,175 forum postings and 6,287,126 tweets.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for the Kansas City Royals

For perspective, we’ve also brought those numbers up as a pie chart for side by side comparison. This shows that out of both teams the Giants lead the way of social mentions with 61% of the conversation while the Royals make up the remaining 39%.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Comparison

As well, side by side in a channel breakdown, you can see that the Giants clearly got more mentions in each individual medium.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Comparison by Source

A look at mentions of both teams shows that throughout the entire season the Giants had a more vocal fan base. The Giants saw more volume of conversation throughout the entire season aside from when the Royals found that they were moving on past the regular season. When the Royals moved into the playoffs there was a huge spike in mentions of the team due to the fact this was the first time they had been in the post-season in 29 years.

Sysomos MAP - Popularity Comparison Over Time

The number of mentions don’t mean everything though. Because of this, we also dove into the sentiment around each team… and actually found some interesting results.

Throughout the season the Royals showed a 83% favourable rating. We found that 27% of the talk about the Royals was positive while 17% was negative.

Sysomos MAP - Overall Sentiment of the Kansas City Royals

When we looked at the sentiment around the Giants though, we found that most of it seemed to be in the neutral range (which was strange, so we ran the query multiple times but always came to the same results). The Giants showed a 96% favourable rating. There was an odd 1% of positive sentiment around the Giants and only 4% negative chatter.

Sysomos MAP - Overall Sentiment of the San Francisco Giants

What does this all mean though?

Well, technically all it means is that the San Francisco Giants have a much more vocal fan base than the Kansas City Royals. In fact, earlier in the season the Royals coach called out the fans for not showing enough support for their team.

However, if we want to use this data to try and predict a World Series winner, we would have to crown the Giants to take it all. Their fans have been more vocal about the team both in terms of volume and favourable talk.

So, our prediction is that the San Francisco Giants will take the World Series over the Kansas City Royals.

But since this isn’t a real science around actual player performance, only time will tell who will really walk away as the 2014 World Series champions.

Who do you think is going to take the World Series this year?

Did JetBlue Boot a Passenger Because of a Tweet?

140602172212-jetblue-plane-story-topWhile social media is a powerful asset to both brands and users, it has a folly which can sometimes undermine its capabilities. This folly is that it is meant to share opinions in real time but those opinions can come back to haunt you in an instant.

This was proven recently when JetBlue kicked a passenger off of a flight, believed to be because of a series of tweets that the pilot felt were accusatory. The accusation was that he was intoxicated.

A delayed flight, this time from Boston to Philadelphia, tends to lend itself to Twitter coverage. In general, Twitter has become a hub for complaints about delayed flights, unruly passengers and bad experiences with airlines.

This time was no different, but it seemed to reiterate the point of accountability and how brands view tweets in a very serious light, one that prompts immediate action or reaction.

The comment by the passenger seemed rather innocent. It involved the passengers saying it had been a long night and he hoped there was a fully stocked bar on the airplane.

JetBlue like any organization had to decide how to handle that situation which best protected its image and reputation. It’s tough to fault them for acting so swiftly, regardless of how you interpret the tweet.

Social media has changed so many aspects of brands and how they do business, and the fallout seems to be that so many are on constant high alert.

In fairness to those who believe JetBlue overreacted, it did administer a sobriety test for the pilot. They claimed afterwards that the passenger was removed due to unruly behaviour, and that they would never remove a passenger for expressing criticism on any medium.

This might be one of those social media tales where the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Sysomos Stability and What You Need To Know

A message from our CEO, Jim Delaney:

If you’re a Sysomos customer, you’ve probably noticed we’ve had some downtime lately.

First and foremost, you need to know that we don’t find this any more acceptable than you do. We understand that you rely on Sysomos to get business done, to deliver reports and analytics, and to keep tabs on the real-time world of the social web. When it’s not working, you’re losing productivity and information.

We’re committed to making this right.

Second, we’d like to explain what we’re doing to fix the problem so we can deliver the Sysomos reliability you’ve come to expect and deserve.

These recent issues have three main root cause: some migration issues with our ongoing move to grid server architecture, a lack of redundancy for some of our social data feeds and inputs, and data input growth requiring rapid increases to our network capacity.

To address that, we are:

  • Immediately and rapidly replacing hardware we’ve outgrown with new, high-capacity servers. You’ll see a big difference in performance by early next week.
  • We’ve already installed additional and more sensitive alerting systems on our server infrastructure to ensure we fix issues before they impact you.
  • Backfilling data from sources like Twitter that were unavailable last week, which will be complete by the end of tomorrow (Thursday).
  • Continuing our move to a grid server architecture, which will provide better stability, capacity, and 99.9% uptime once finished. That migration will be complete early 2015, but we’re moving things continuously to this new structure.

We’re also hiring like crazy on our grid, systems and engineering teams (know anyone great? Check out our career opportunities) to make sure we continue to have the smartest, most capable minds building and maintaining our infrastructure and products.

We’re evangelists for the power of social intelligence. But we also know that having the information and the social data you need to drive your strategies isn’t optional, it’s essential. And it has to be reliably available when you need it.

We’ve let you down there recently, and we’re hard at work around the clock to make it better.

If you’ve got questions, concerns, or need a hand, here’s how you can reach a human, directly and quickly:

  • Tweet us at @Sysomos
  • Call our support line at 1.866.483.3338 between 8:30a ET and 8p ET
  • Email our support team directly at clientsupport@sysomos.com or email your dedicated Social Media Specialist

The exponential growth of social data is only matched by the sheer capacity for social intelligence to help our enterprises grow and thrive.

We absolutely believe in that potential. We’ve made more investments in our infrastructure in the last three months than we have in the three years before that, precisely because of the growth, opportunity, and power of social for business.

And while roadbumps like this are not a fun part of that evolution, we appreciate your support and patience as we navigate them.

We promise it will be worth it, and that it’s all in the name of delivering the world-class social intelligence platform that you need for your business.

Thanks, as always, for being part of our journey.

Feuding Movies Go Social

gcpd-batman-movie-jack-snyderThere’s a crossover war happening between Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and the new Star Wars film. The battleground is social media and fans seem to be eating it up.

It all started when the director of the next instalment of Star Wars, J.J. Abrams, sent the man donning the cape and cowl as the Dark Knight, Ben Affleck, a photo of he and his camera operator wearing cheap Batman masks.

Affleck then showed the photo to Zack Snyder, Director of Batman v. Superman, and then all bets were off.

From there, Snyder posted an image of storm troopers being pushed into a police cruiser by Gotham City police officers. Abrams responded with a video teasing the Millennium Falcon where underneath the Batmobile was camouflaged and hidden.

Something so simple escalated then exploded into an elaborate and fun exercise in buzz building across multiple social networks.

All of the images were shared over and over again, and it even created a social war of words between fans of Star Wars and those of DC. Anticipation for both films (Star Wars in 2015 and Batman v. Superman in 2016) is sky high and these stunts have only heightened their appeal.

It has also quelled the disgruntled fans who are upset about the Affleck casting or that the Star Trek director is helming another iconic sci-fi franchise. This might have been the greatest gift of this spontaneous social media campaign.

The lesson for brands is to have fun and leverage your competitors in playful and creative ways.

Social Media Sneers at Subway Ads

subway-halloween-eat-light-hed-2014Another week and another brand feels the not so gentle lash of social media outrage.

This time the brand in question is Subway, who recently ran a series of ads about how Subway sandwiches can help women fit into their halloween costumes.

Both men and women took to Twitter and Facebook to label the commercials as sexist and old fashioned. Now, this post is in no way to pass judgement on Subway, it is merely to look at the swift hand of justice that belongs to social media.

The ads were slammed. There’s no way to sugarcoat that. Whether you think they were sexist or not, the social media activity reflected a very negative tone.

Many users were not kind to Subway, wondering what was going through the minds of those who produced the ads.

Social media reflects the pulse of our times. We are currently in a zeitgeist of questioning gender equality. This is a constant streaming conversation on many social media platforms.

like any brand that has encountered this trial by digital fire, Subway will rebound from this and best of all they will learn many valuable lessons.

One of these lessons is that regardless of the medium in which it airs, social media will judge your content. In 2014 and going forward, mediums are interlocked with social media. Even billboards are not a safe haven.

Another lesson is that you have to be aware of the important topics that are being discussed in the world. Before brainstorming ideas, check out social media and see what users are interested in and figure out what to put forward and what to avoid.

Social media expects brands to be modern and conscientious, respectful of both customers and non-customers. It’s not an easy job but it’s now the cost of doing business.

Just How Popular Is Ello?

ElloEllo seems to be the favourite new kid on the social media block as of the past few weeks. Yesterday on the blog Mark even wrote about how many users are claiming they’re moving over to Ello to “escape” Facebook.

But is it really possible for Ello to replace Facebook?

In my personal opinion, I’d say not quite. For one thing (and this is my personal thought), I think that Ello feels a lot more like Twitter currently than Facebook. And secondly, and probably most importantly, in order for Ello to actually replace Facebook in people’s lives, the exodus over to the new network would have to be enormous. The only way that Ello could replace Facebook is if all of your friends and contacts that you’ve connected with over the years all moved there. That will take a very long time… if it happens at all.

But even with my personal thoughts on Ello, I wondered just how popular Ello has actually become in the past few weeks?

On September 26th, just as Ello was starting to go viral, Vox (along with many other sources) reported that the network was receiving 31,000 invite requests an hour. That seems pretty popular to me.

To investigate further, I decided to see what conversations were happening on other social networks about this new social network (very meta, I know).

Using MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software, I looked up mentions of Ello over the past month. One hindrance to my search though was that I could only search for English conversations because “ello” in Spanish translates to “it” making it a very common word. So, please keep that in mind when looking at the information below.

If you follow the big names and outlets that talk a lot about social media, you may feel like you’ve been over hearing about Ello. However, when I conducted my search for conversations about the new network I found less than 350,000 mentions of it. In the past month, Ello only came up in 3,042 blog posts, 3,321 online news articles, 3,716 forum postings and 332,692 tweets.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary

While those numbers may not be as big as people who are hearing about it nonstop may expect, it’s also interesting to note that the majority of those conversations have only happened in the past two weeks.

Sysomos MAP - Popularity Chart

Sysomos MAP - Popularity Chart Without Twitter Data

Since Ello is being dubbed the “anti-Facebook” it made sense for me to also search public Facebook data to see how much it was being talked about there. Again, the number of Ello mentions I found there was not quite as large as I initially thought it was going to be. That said, it has still accounted for 28,598 mentions in public status updates. Also interesting is that if you look at the three examples in the screenshot below, you’ll notice that a lot of the mentions are people posting a link to their new Ello account on Facebook. It’s interesting because people feel the need to use Facebook to tell their friends that they’ve joined the “anti-Facebook.”

Sysomos MAP - Facebook Activity Summary

As with any new social network, people want to understand it and why they should consider grabbing real-estate there. To help with that, there’s already been just over 1,000 videos created that try to explain Ello to others.

Sysomos MAP - Video Activity Summary

So, what are people saying about Ello so far? A look at both our buzzgraph and word clouds around the network show that “Facebook” seems to be one of the most used words when people talk about Ello. There is also a significant talk about Ello’s “manifesto”. This manifesto is what seems to be the appeal behind Ello, as it states that people will have more “privacy” as they will never sell your “data” for “advertising.” However, that’s also making people question how the network will stay in “business” for a sustained amount of time.

Sysomos MAP - Buzzgraph

Sysomos MAP - Word Cloud

The other thing that I found interesting about the apparent popularity of Ello revealed itself when I used our Influencer Community tool to see the groups of people that were talking about it. If you’re anything like me, and I assume you might be since you’re reading this blog, you probably follow a lot of sources online that talk about news and trends in the digital and social media space. Well, those are the types of sources seem to be the ones who are perpetuating the talk of Ello. If you look at the big blue community, it’s filled with popular sources for social media news like Forbes Tech, Gigaom and Medium, but also with social media influencers such as @briansolis and @AmyVernon. So, while it may seem to people who work in and follow the social media space that Ello is all the rage, it may really just be the social media people getting each other excited in a big circle.

Interesting as well is that the second largest community I found, in orange below, is a big group of celebrities (mostly from the music industry). When I investigated that group a bit further it seems that fans are tweeting to find out if their favourite celebrities are on Ello yet and where they can find them there.

Sysomos MAP - Twitter Influencer Communities

While the real fate of Ello is still up in the air, being that it’s only been popular for a bout two weeks now, it does seem to have a lot of fans. A look at the sentiment around the network shows that it’s 86% favourable.

Sysomos MAP - Overall Sentiment Summary

So, what do you think about Ello so far? Is it going to replace Facebook or is it just going to see some hype for a little while and then fall off? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Meet Amber Naslund; Our New SVP of Marketing

Amber NaslundYesterday on the blog we introduced you to one of or new exciting team members, Amber Naslund.

While Amber has been a big name in the world of social media for years, we realize that not everyone knows who she is or what she’s accomplished. So, we thought that we’d shed a little more light on her so the entire world can get to know her like we do.

Today, we did a short little Q&A with Amber to find out a little bit more about her past, why she decided to join our team, what she has in store for the future of Sysomos and few more fun things.

So, without further ado, please meet Amber Naslund:

 

What did you do prior to joining the Sysomos team?

For the last four years, I’ve owned a social business consulting firm with my co-founder, Matt Ridings. We work with enterprise companies to improve their social collaboration and adoption to make “social business” truly operational in the real business world.

Prior to that I led social strategy at Radian6 and Salesforce.

What attracted you to Sysomos?

First and foremost was the people. I’ve learned along the way that culture fit is everything when you join a company. I’m encouraged by Jim and the executive team’s leadership, and felt like they were a team that I’d enjoy creating things with. That matters a lot. And I figured they’d be willing to put up with me. I loved absolutely everyone I met in the interview process – fun, enthusiastic people – and the bonus is that I get to be reunited with some former Radian6 colleagues, too.

Second was the potential of the platform itself and the incredible work going on behind the scenes around innovation and tech advancement. There’s a lot going on with the Sysomos platform that just hasn’t gotten much attention out in the world — I had no idea myself! — so it’s a heck of an opportunity to have a killer product just waiting to have its story told and give customers a real advantage.

What are you hoping to accomplish with the Sysomos team?

Like I said above, the Sysomos team and technology are doing great things, and I want people to know that, much more than they have to date! I’m also hoping that we can really work internally to collaborate and make Sysomos customers’ overall experience with us – from product to useful content to customer service – the best in the industry.

This market is in a very unique state right now and I think we have an opportunity to really do something exemplary with our customers. This kind of technology can really change the way people work, and I think we have a great opportunity to make that potential a reality.

Oh, and we have to have some FUN. What good is work if you’re serious all the time?

Where do you see the future of social media heading?

Social is in the normalizing phase right now, which means it’s a lot of grunt work, and the  reality check that ‘social’ is NOT synonymous with tools and tech like Facebook. It’s a behavior and a method of doing business that demands open communication and community focus regardless of the technology involved..

The tools are just enablers of that philosophy, exposing the ability to be more communicative and customer-centric through tech. I think we’re starting to see glimmers of movement in that direction, so I think the future of the industry is all about pushing that forward and improving our businesses, both culturally and operationally, to take advantage of what modern tech allows us to do.

Plus, there will always be cat videos. It’s simply not the internet without cat videos.

You gave a great TED Talk on mental illness in 2012, what inspired it?

I was asked, actually. I have to give credit to my friend Jacqui Chew for that. She wanted me to give a talk at TedX Peachtree, and we were tossing around topic ideas. She knew I’d written about my experiences with depression and anxiety before, and wondered if I’d do a talk about it. At first, I thought “NO WAY!!”.

But the more I considered it, the more I realized that it wasn’t really about me. It was about telling other people out there that they weren’t alone, that many of us suffer too, and that we have to stop being so silent about it. The stigma around mental illness is so awful, and it’s only through talking about it that we change it. So that made it worthwhile.

Who’s your hero?

I have a few,  but most immediately I think of my friend Sara Santiago.

She’s been through more than almost anyone I know living with crazy neurological conditions, and yet she maintains a beautiful sense of humor, optimism, and a strength that you rarely see. I think of her daily, and more than once I’ve said to myself “look, lady, if Sara got up today, you can handle this.” And she’s so open and vulnerable about it all.

Plus, when she reads this, she’ll either cry or swear at me or both. Which is exactly why I love her.

You wrote a book once. How hard was it and would you write another one?

I had a co-author, so I had it easier than many! The writing wasn’t the hard part, that comes pretty naturally to me. But the marketing, the promotion, the book tour…that was the hard part. Getting the book sold is a heck of a lot harder than getting it written in my view. But it’s the kind of hard I love.

Not only would I write another one, but it’s being written as we speak. This one I may self-publish, even, just to try it out. Glutton for punishment, I guess.

What’s your idea of a perfect vacation (despite just starting a new job)?

Cabin. Woods. Near water. Solitude and quiet. A stack of books, no itinerary, campfires and a couple of great bottles of wine. Or a case. Whatever.

Where’s one place that you’ve never been but would love to go?

Spain! It’s on the top of my wish list. New Zealand is a close second.

What’s the one app you can’t live without at this very moment?

I’m such a terrible example of a tech geek because I use hardly any apps. But I’d say Evernote. I rely on it daily to help me remember all the stuff I’d surely forget otherwise, from shopping lists to blog post ideas.

And lastly, if you’d like to see the great TED talk that Amber gave in 2012, we have it right here for you:

So, if you haven’t yet, please help us welcome Amber to the team and keep an eye on what she’s going to do here.