As I talked about in my "What's Next for Parent Hacks" post, parent hacks don't just live here — they're circulating all over the Internet.
The trick is finding the good stuff.
I'm moving the Parent Hacks submission process from email to social media.
When you include #parenthacks with the tips or links you post on your Facebook, Twitter, or other social media profile, I can find, curate and share your submissions here on the blog as I've always done.
Why #parenthacks is better than email
1. It's easier.
Chances are you spend time in social media every day. By posting on your profile and tagging #parenthacks, you can hang out where you like while staying connected here.
2. You avoid my scary, scary inbox.
Honestly, I've been the bottleneck for a while now. If you've ever sent me a hack you've already seen my apologetic autoresponder. I've done my best to keep up, but I know I've let a lot of your great ideas slip by because I couldn't stay on top of my email.
(I probably should have hired someone to help me years ago, but to tell you the truth I didn't want to put a filter — even a human one — between us. Illogical and unproductive, but true.)
3. Your hack gets immediate airtime.
I've got searches set up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr and I check them every day. While I won't post everything that comes by (editorial privilege), I'll often share, retweet, reblog and regram.
What's cool: the #parenthacks "stream" on each social network will have its own personality. People talk and think differently in different places, so I predict each social network will inspire different conversations.
4. You get clearer credit.
I've always linked to hack contributors' blogs when they've asked me to. But now I can pass on your good ideas directly. Plus, many folks who have social media profiles don't have blogs.
If you've written up a hack on your blog, you can still share the link and tag it #parenthacks so I can find it.
5. You give someone else a vote of approval.
If you come across someone else's idea you think should get Parent Hacks attention and love, pass it along, tag it #parenthacks, and I'll credit you both.
6. You widen the conversation.
This is the biggest deal of all. When you post your hack in social media, others get involved in the conversation, giving you feedback, offering advice and help, possibly pointing you (and potentially all of us) to new solutions.
Every time you use #parenthacks you encourage smart, helpful conversation about parenting.
The reason I started Parent Hacks was because I didn't see my experience reflected in the parenting advice of the time. Collective wisdom is powerful. Let's make our voices heard.
Every time we declare "here's what worked for me" we help other parents feel less alone.
The risks of using #parenthacks
This move isn't without risk. I'm not in control of #parenthacks as I am over the content and comments on this blog. Hashtags can get "highjacked" by people who want to make mischief or obnoxiously self-promote.
While I'll be participating on every channel, I don't intend to take on the role of Social Media Etiquette Officer.
But the benefits outweigh the risks. Sharing ideas is what social media is made for, and this community knows itself well enough to handle a few ruffians or overzealous promoters.
When I think of the good that could come from widespread intelligent, generous parenting conversation of the sort that's been happening here for years…well, I think it's worth the leap.
This is an experiment: let's see if we can make it work.
What qualifies as a parent hack
In case it's not clear, here's what a parent hack IS, followed by some examples:
1. A helpful tip or shortcut that simplifies life with kids.
In crowded places, Sharpie your cell phone number on your kid's belly. #parenthacks
#parenthacks WIN! The upside down crazy straw "locks" it in!
2. A clever, unexpected use for a household product.
Use a binder clip to cover the Home button on your iPad so the toddler won't keep pressing it. #parenthacks /www.pinterest.com…
3. A link to a useful tip or conversation on the Web (yours or someone else's).
Via @Lifehacker: Cover the toilet autoflush sensor with toilet paper /www.lifehacker.com… #parenthacks
4. A NON-PROMOTIONAL testimonial for a product or service you personally use and consider indispensable.*
The Wet Brush is the only way I can painlessly detangle my daughter's curly hair. thewetbrush.com #parenthacks
* Marketing and PR professionals, see #3 below.
What does NOT qualify as a parent hack
Please do not use #parenthacks for the following:
1. Snark, negative comments, drama or other jerky behavior
2. Blatant self-promotion
If you've got a great tip or recommendation written up on your blog, by all means, share it! But if you just want to grab the attention of the Parent Hacks community without earning it by contributing a relevant hack, please don't use #parenthacks. That sort of self-promotion never works — in fact it harms you in both the short- and long-term.
3. Marketing or PR pitches
Products have always been part of Parent Hacks. Sometimes the right purchase really can make life easier (like my Wet Brush example above).
But I ask that you respect the intent of #parenthacks: authentic, helpful conversation and community. That means it's mostly non-commercial.
If you use #parenthacks simply to plug your product/service/website, it will reflect badly on you, your work, and your company. This savvy community sees right through superficial marketing tactics.
Also, I'll publicly call out companies and/or people who try to co-opt #parenthacks for irrelevant promotion.
Submitting hacks if you don't use social media
If you're not a social media user, no problem; I've set up a submission form just for you. I'm using Tumblr's "Submit" form which lets you submit text, pictures, and other media. Plus, you have the great benefit of avoiding my email inbox.
Questions, comments, concerns?
Please leave a comment and let's talk about this.