PodCamp Halifax 2010

Podcamp Halifax: Alderney Gate Library, Dartmouth – January 24, 2010

This weekend, I attended the second annual PodCamp in Halifax. Last year, I had missed the event because I was sipping on pastis at some café in the south of France. I know, it’s a rough life.

For anyone who’s wondering, PodCamp is an “unconference” where social media and web enthusiasts from all across the province converged on Alderney Gate Library in Dartmouth to discuss, engage, learn and have fun. For a group of people who spend a good deal of their time immersed in the online world, the event was highly interactive and had a huge social component.

For the benefit of people new to this blog or who still wonder what it is that I do for a living, here’s a re-cap of my presentation. Even though this was my first PodCamp and unconference, I volunteered to lead a session on the “bunny slope” called Intro to Social Media (secretly I wanted to call it Social Media for Bunnies).

In any case, one of the points I was hoping to drive home is that this big, wide online world is about trying new things and being able to move with the current of change. What’s big this year could be replaced next year or simply be upgraded in some way. Regardless, social media is about being prepared for whatever comes next and being ready to embrace it.

For a group of new learners, I was really impressed by the fact that people weren’t afraid to ask questions. The truth is, it’s not rocket science and there’s no magic formula for success. All I could rightfully offer were guide posts and best practices to lead them in the right direction.

I take social media from the perspective of public relations in that it’s about building mutually beneficial relationships through two-way communications. Social media platforms are all about the dialogue and conversation, not simply broadcasting of messages. Web 2.0 allows for interactive information sharing and collaboration with a focus on user-centred design (e.g. social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, blogs, video sharing). The goal is to allow users to interact with other users and change the content of a site.

Some of the points I made, are ones that I’ve talked about on other sites. Check out my guest posts about building online communities through social media and Twitter 101 for more.

A key concern that emerged from the discussion was managing it all. This isn’t a concern just for new learners. There’s a lot of information and tools out there. It can be overwhelming. A good idea is to have a strategic communications plan in place that includes the flexibility to change and one that is updated regularly. For individuals, this translates into setting goals for yourself and re-evaluating those goals after certain short-term periods of time have elapsed. Like everything in life, practice allows you to use the tools more easily. Web developers are beginning to allow integration of social networking sites as well, making the use of multiple platforms somewhat easier to manage.

One of the most talked about points coming out of PodCamp this year (besides speculation about Apple’s iPad tablet) was that the largest growing demographic of Facebook users in Atlantic Canada is essentially the Baby Boomers. Interesting, considering whom this technology didn’t exist for them as children and young adults. This stat is a testament to how times are indeed changing and how the social sphere is moving online.

To anyone who attended the session, or anyone who’s interested in learning more, my offer stands to continue to answer questions about social media. Simply leave a comment here or join Twitter and ask me there by following @AliasGrace.


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