My Life Through a Social Media Lens

Joanne Sweeney Burke my life through a lens

I thought it was about time I took my fingers to the keyboard to address the behind the scenes mutterings about my endless social media habits.

I’ve referenced my digital lifestyle in passing a number of times on my podcast, JSB Talks Digital, but I thought it deserved a long-form blog post.

My earliest memories involve writing – mostly repeating my homework (here I am taking a break from my homework to spend time with Pooch, RIP) – but that’s probably because I choose to remember the power I felt when I put pencil to paper, then as I got older pen to paper, then as a university student fingers on the typewriter, and as a journalist with fingertips on my keyboard and as a digital marketer thumbing my thoughts and activities on social media.

A young Joanne Sweeney

I love to write. It’s the power of the release of those words that matter most to me. It’s almost like my lungs fill up with unspoken words and I can’t breathe until I get them out. So it’s hugely cathartic and keeps my creative mind in check.

I write every single day and in fact this blog post was born mid-air somewhere between Brussels and Dublin (I don’t enjoy flying so my writing output sky rockets when on an airplane)!

I’m a hobbyist and professional writer and take to my MacBook Air at every opportunity. But that was always the way I was so it’s probably no surprise that my writing has intensified with the arrival of social media.


Writing in the digital age

The digital age provides me with multiple platforms to have my say. I like to have my opinion, share my knowledge, offer value to digital conversations and have fun on social.

Joanne Sweeney Burke Social Media Through The Lens

I’m a Gen X’er living like a Gen Z online – two whole generations behind me.

And that’s perfectly perfect!

So let me address three key digital tensions in this blog post:
1) Socially connected or socially disconnected?
2) Storytelling the working day
3) Meeting of minds online

These points are my personal opinion and I’m sure I’ll have detractors but also have some who agree with me.

Am I socially connected online and socially disconnected offline?

I’m often behind a mic, in front of a camera, standing on a stage or training groups in a meeting room setting. It’s what I do. But the digital age has afforded me the opportunity to extend this work online also.

Joanne Sweeney Burke on the Small Business Podcast

I have long since given up trying to be popular. I failed miserably as a child, teenager and young adult and so just decided to do my own thing online without a care in the world for the detractors. I had no intention of becoming anything or anyone online, I simply wanted to try, test, iterate and learn the opportunities that presented for a new and much deeper layer of communications for me and for my clients.

So when the digital age enveloped me back in 2005 and I began social networking it was with this mindset that I began to have conversations and extending my writing on the social web.

It turns out I am popular among those who I have shared interests with. People connected with me based on conversations I started, contributions I made to others and mostly based on a mutual interest in the digital age.

I began to see a consistent conversation emerge, and with the same people, and guess what, I’m still talking to those people today, proving my point that my social intentions are rooted in my love for writing, connecting and sharing.

My social neighbourhood

When I meet people for the first time IRL whom I’ve already met online, I usually know their Twitter handle before their first name comes to mind and mouth! But that’s ok, they appreciate that.

The neighbourhood I live in is a social one, it’s a place I feel valued, respected and might I even go so far as to say liked? We help each other out, we introduce each other to our network, we say YAY when they do well and we reach out a virtual hand when things are going not so good.

I have many lurkers. This I know. People who watch, read, listen but whom never interact or share. They’re like the onlookers at Sunday mass who watch how you receive your communion.

Some watch and they judge. Others perhaps aren’t confident enough to just say ‘hello’. But it’s all part of the way humans act and interact, offline and online.

How many times have you seen somebody on the street or in a store and while they’ve spotted you, they walk on by? It’s the same online, you can feel the eyes but there’s no time, urge or interest to say ‘hello’.

I feel very safe in my social neighbourhood and there are people there that I can go to when I need to and they respond generously.


Storytelling the working day

I often document my working day and share the behind the scenes with JSB with different snapshots on different social networks.

The JSB salesperson is not like your regular salesperson (cue the upset among salespeople).

I don’t hustle exhibition halls, loiter around Fortune 500 exec’s on LinkedIn, rather I let the work tell the story, and that’s how I sell. I storytell my working day because it gives prospects an opportunity to see my digital days act out in real life. It’s a social documentary of sorts. I recently was encouraged to “call up Jim [not real name] with a view to doing business.”

I responded: “I’ll let my work do the talking and perhaps Jim [not real name] will call me.” That’s how I hustle. I let my work tell the story and well by the time Jim calls me, the conversation will move fairly quickly to budget and availability.

I’ve had some remarkable business opportunities that have come directly via social media and digital marketing and I will continue to sell that way.


Meeting of minds online

Social media is the glue that binds like-minded people together

I have met so many great people online whom I’ve gone on to do business with, hire, socialise with and recommend to a contact. Relationships on the social web are certainly transferable offline and when you have a meeting of minds online, you know the relationship will be mutually beneficial.

Take Marialice Curran for example, the founder of Digital Citizenship Institute and co-founder of Digital Citizenship Summit. We connected on Twitter, discussed our work which had a similar theme and we built up trust and belief in each other. This has led to collaborations and one which we will announce next week in San Francisco. We are pictured below at the UK Digital Citizenship Summit earlier this year in Bournemouth with our children Sophie and Curran and Timmy Sullivan.

Joanne Sweeney Burke DigCitSummit UK

I really feel lucky to be living, working and doing business through the Digital Revolution and as I take the stage at Twitter HQ next week for the Digital Citizenship Summit US, I am reminded of a very young JSB who never thought for a moment, that her voice, her words, her writing or her knowledge would take her from a small fishing village in north Donegal to Silicon Valley in California. That my friends is why I live my life through a social media lens.

I raise my kids to be good digital citizens and as I have benefitted, I hope they do too. Sophie is already leading that charge among millennials and I’m very proud she is taking this on as not just a business opportunity but also as a CSR project.

Joanne Sweeney Burke and Sophie Burke Young Minds Online







Connect with JSB

Be sure to connect with me wherever you are having social conversations. I will always stop and say hello.

connect with Joanne Sweeney Burke on social media

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