Eva Claire Waldow entered the world on Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 11:30pm MT. She weighed in at exactly 7 pounds and stretched out to 20 1/2 inches. She cute, adorable, beautiful, warm, cuddly, tiny, strong, fabulous, and life-changing. I could go on and on. That’s what new dad’s are supposed to do, right?
I thought about keeping this post simple. I considered discussing the experience and how amazing it is. While I could have easily done that, I figured it may be more interesting/valuable to add social media commentary into the mix. If all you care about is that Eva is here, then there is no need to continue reading. If you just want to look at pictures, check out my Facebook page (photos). Note: The privacy settings are “friends only.”
If you want to learn more about my take on the influence social media had on the communication of Eva’s birth, read on.
Birth Plans vs. Online Communication Plans
Other than agreeing that I’d cut the cord, Kristina and I did not have a birth plan. Maybe we are a bit of a unique situation as Kristina works in the field (she’s a maternal fetal medicine fellow), but I don’t think that’s why. What is interesting, but not surprising for those that know me, is that I was more concerned with how we’d communicate her arrival to friends, family and the rest of the online world.
I think my college buddy Kurt Machemer summed it up best with his Facebook comment:
the most anticipated birth in the history of facebook has finally arrived
I’ve been planning Eva’s “online communication plan” for months now. I set up a Twitter account for her that “boasts” 133 followers and 116 tweets as of March 28th. I talked about her on Facebook and on this very blog (Holy Crap! I’m Gonna Be a Dad!). I took pictures of Kristina’s belly, downloaded the “What To Expect” iPhone app, filmed “testimonials’ of me and Kristina over the past few weeks, and even kept a whiteboard countdown. I asked for advice from friends, family and other parents. I talked about her arrival every chance I got … even with complete strangers.
I was pumped.
And now she’s here.
How Social Media Changed How I Communicated Eva’s Birth
Kristina is very social; however on a social scale of 1-10, if she’s a 7 than I’m an 11. Kristina doesn’t like to be the center of attention. I crave it. When it comes to online and social media, we are worlds apart.
As the Director of Community for Blue Sky Factory, my job is to participate in the on & offline conversation. I spend a good chunk of my time writing and reading blogs, and making connections on Facebook and Twitter. I create and consume content all day long. Not only is Kristina the opposite of me in this regard, she can’t fathom why I’d “share personal information with strangers.”
This post is not about our differences. In fact, it’s not really even about us. It’s about Eva! However, I thought it was important to set the stage for this next part.
Once Eva was born and we held her and changed her and kissed her and cuddled with her, it was time to tell the world. We started with the traditional methods – phone calls to my parents, my sister, and Kristina’s family. In the “olden days” with the exception of a snail mail birth announcement, that’s where the communication would have ended.
Social media has changed all of that.
How so? Well, after I placed my calls, my next stop was Twitter. Exactly 7 hours and 36 minutes after Eva was born, I “announced it” via Twitter and included a picture I took of her with my iPhone.
Within seconds, the floods of congratulations and other kind words were flowing through the Twittersphere. I started to received emails and text messages too. Nearly 5 days later, the picture included in that tweet has over 1,000 views. I don’t know 100 people on Twitter let alone 1,000.
Next, I moved to Facebook. A single status update generated over 100 comments and led to scores of wall postings. I then sent a text/picture message out to several iPhone contacts. I jumped on IM and shared the news with some work friends. I sent an email from Kodak Gallery with several dozen pictures to close friends and family members. Finally, I even edited down video footage from the first 12 hours of her life and posted to a private YouTube page. Crazy, right?
While one could easily get caught up in the numbers, I think it’s fascinating how the news was communicated. I chose several different media (IM, Text, Facebook, Twitter, Email, Phone, Blog, etc) as that was the best way to ensure the most people were in the know. Believe it or not, there are business lessons embedded here. I won’t spend a ton of “ink” on them in this (Eva’s!) post, but consider the importance of meeting people (customers) where they are. My grandma is not on Facebook, but she reads email. My high school friends are not on Twitter, yet they respond to text messages. I don’t have many of Kristina’s friends’ phone numbers, but they all saw the Facebook updates.
Finally, one thought on “branding.” In the months leading up to Eva’s birth, she was know to the world as Baby Waldow. In the online space, she was @babywaldow. I often refer to Kristina as K-Dawg. Many of my business and other online acquaintances have never met Kristina or Eva (of course), but they refer to both by the names I’ve created for them. I’m not sure of the significance of this, but I thought it was worth pointing out.
Obviously “next” is to shower Eva with love, to spend time with my wife, to be supportive and helpful and loving. However, from an online perspective, I think this is where it gets interesting. Kristina was not thrilled that I was sharing details about our baby with “strangers” (as she sees people on Twitter). We made several compromises. Just to be clear, I did not post anything on Twitter or Facebook that Kristina was not comfortable with. In fact, we uploaded pictures to Facebook together and choose our favorites only. As mentioned above, we also filmed and edited a video of the first 12 hours of Eva’s life. That’s one we are sharing with immediate family only.
So what happens next? I’m a big believer in locking up your online brand as soon as possible. I just locked up EvaWaldow.com for 10 years, created the @evawaldow Twitter account (first tweet), and am thinking about starting her Facebook page. I don’t have any immediate plans to populate these with content, but I will.
I have friends who choose to share anywhere to a very little to a ton of information about their children. Some intentionally do not mention their children’s names online while others allow & encourage them to be active (blogging, videos, etc). I’m not sure what lies ahead in the online world for Eva, but if you know me, there will be a plan.
I hope Eva is ready for a dad like me.