Social media has changed, literally, everything. It has toppled governments, upended regimes and cast much-needed light on atrocities and bad behavior across the globe. Events that take place halfway around the world are beamed almost immediately to our computer screens and smartphones with a speed that borders on the magical. Social media’s reach, proliferation and importance will only become more pronounced. Take this little morsel on for size: There are currently 1 billion people on Facebook worldwide. Yeah, you heard that right, 1 billion. That means fully 1/7th of humanity is sharing, searching and stalking on Facebook. Unless the much feared Zombie Apocalypse happens, that number will only continue to grow exponentially.
Never one to lag behind in what is happening in the wider world, the denizens of Uptown Manhattan have adapted to the brave new world of social media with gusto and verve. The Uptown Collective, which began broadcasting on a daily basis starting on February 1st, 2010, has become the voice of Washington Heights and Inwood online by a shrewd use of social media as well as continually producing great content. For now and for the foreseeable future, content is king.
Armed with technology as the great equalizer, the Uptown Collective has been able to compete with some of the bigger news outlets, by engaging, harnessing and challenging our audience. We are, in many ways, woven into the fabric of this community and social media has helped to further cement that process. I like to say that, “we do not cover the neighborhood, we are the neighborhood.”
The Social Media Guide
This social media guide will focus on Twitter, as Facebook is, for the most part, very intuitive. It is the reason that your mother, your aunts and all the older folks are all on it. Even though they may refer to it as Feisbu as Rita Indiana famously did in her hilarious nouveau Merengue song El Maldito Feisbu.
Twitter on the other hand can be a bit daunting for the first time user because, in many ways, it resembles a programming language with it’s prolific use of the @ and # signs. I have grown to really love Twitter but I was also taken at back at first by its insularity. Twitter is an informational tool and especially if you are a business in this community, or any other for that matter, one that you need in your arsenal. The point of this guide is to demystify the platform and get you on there tweeting away with the rest of the world.
I will mention Instagram only is passing but once you get the gist of Twitter, Instagram will become second nature. For those that don’t know, Instagram is a social photo-sharing app that Facebook paid 1 Billion greenbacks for. With Instagram you can share your photos with your Instagram followers but it also allows you to propagate your pictures and videos to your Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Flickr feeds.
Your Twitter Handle
Your Twitter handle is how you are known to the Twitter world. For example, my name is Led Black but my Twitter handle is @Led_Black. By the way, I humbly believe you should follow me because I am pretty cool. That is not, by any means, a scientific decree, just my honest opinion. Just kidding, kind of.
Choose your Twitter handle wisely because even though you can change it later, you want to pick something good and stick with it.
Remember, you have 140 characters to play with on every tweet, make them count. I personally don’t like to tweet about things that have absolutely no bearing on anything. I refuse to discuss bowel movements or to talk bad about other people on Twitter. In my opinion, that is a serious breach of social media etiquette and shows a distinct lack of class. There is also a fine line between over-tweeting and under-tweeting. Tweet too much and you get on people’s nerves and tweet too little and you will never gain any followers.
Lastly, please do not come off as a total deranged lunatic on Twitter by moralizing and preaching your anti-whatever gospel on a consistent basis. As an addendum, if you are a business, please keep your tweets as professional as possible. Tweeting in a personal way and attacking your competitors and your customers is a serious no-no.
What is important, at the end of the day, is to establish a clear and authentic voice. Unless you’re crazy in real life, then maybe you can create an alter Twitter ego that is completely sane.
The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. If you do a search on Twitter of #WashHts, you would get a list of tweets that have used that hashtag. A hashtag is a convenient way of seeing what people are saying on any given topic. The following are the most popular Uptown hashtags; #WashHts, #Inwood, #WaHi and #WHIN.
Uptown Twitter Notables
Below is a short list of people, projects and organizations you should follow on Twitter.
@Lin_Manuel – Hometown hero and the creator of In The Heights.
@MannyPerez1 – Actor extraordinaire.
@JuanBago – Multi-talented actor/producer/funnyman Juan Bago.
@Uptowncollectiv – We are the voice of Uptown online.
@EileenZFuentes – Wellness guru and the luckiest woman in the world because she is married to me.
@TheatreUptown – The People’s Theatre Project. Making the world a better place through theatre.
@NoMAAarts – The indispensable NoMAA Art Gallery.
@Led_Black – Yours truly…
@PaulLomaxPhoto – The Prime Minister of Uptown photographers.
@NutcrackerInc – The definitive documentary on the Nutcracker and the neighborhood.
@gogoPatienceCnP – Filmmaker. Risk-taker. Legend in his living room.
@WordUpBooks – A community bookshop serving the Washington Heights and Inwood community.
@TellieFloydd204 – Artist, entrepreneur and the creator of WHIN By Any Means.
@whinbyanymeans – Uptown talent incubator. This is the place where stars are born.
@ManhattanTimes – The community, bi-lingual newspaper.
I am a Dominican-American writer, blogger, filmmaker and paradigm-shifter. I am also the Editor-in-Chief of the Uptown Collective. I am currently working on Nutcracker Inc., the definitive documentary on the infamous street libation known as the Nutcracker as well as a book of travel writing entitled DR Travelogue, which is a native son’s poignant and hilarious journey to the heart, soul and soil of the Dominican Republic.
In addition, I offer social media consulting services to help businesses and individuals navigate the, at times, frustrating and ever-changing social media landscape. You can follow me on Twitter via @Led_Black or shoot me an email at [email protected]. Our role here at the Uptown Collective is to document and help to shape the cultural, business and artistic emerging movement that is taking place that I have dubbed the Uptown Renaissance. My motto is “Spread Love it’s the Uptown Way” and I am sticking to it.