I had a revelation at the recent joint PRSA/Social Media Club event in Boston–I have yet to attend an event that caters to social media’s power users. Plenty of events feature such people. Indeed, the dais at this event was packed with some of the blogosphere’s best and brightest (CC Chapman moderated the panel, which included Laura Fitton, Ian Lamont, Lois Kelly and Mike Prosceno).
But at each event I attend, the value I extract tends to come more from the networking and socializing with fellow bloggers and new media enthusiasts, and the ensuing discussions of the latest trends or news from this space, rather than the content of the events themselves. This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy interacting with my peers regularly, it’s actually one of the highlights of my job, but I feel I still have a lot to learn–I just haven’t found the right venue in which to learn it. The presentations at the events I attend tend to skew more towards introducing the concepts behind new media and its business, marketing and PR applications to those who are not yet fully integrated.
Which brings me to my question: Do we need some “AP Social Media” events? Are there events aimed towards the intermediate folks (such as myself) and the experts (your CC’s and your Chris Brogans) so we can all keep learning and growing as new media continues to expand its reach?
One event that came close was the SNCR Symposium back in December. Several panels introduced some rather advanced concepts for me, particularly in the areas of measurement. I would be delighted to see more events like this in the Boston area, allowing for the opportunity to gain advanced knowledge in other areas of interest, such as SEO (which was touched on briefly at the PRSA event, but didn’t elicit an in-depth discussion).
I first began mulling this idea over in the wake of PodCamp Boston 2, which was an undeniably terrific event. When the organizers asked for suggestions for future PodCamps, the only improvement I could even think of was trying to recruit people to run sessions for those who want to tackle some of the more complex issues. I enjoyed the sessions I attended, and got to participate in some truly interesting discussions–but I couldn’t help wondering if there wasn’t more I could have learned.
Perhaps the issue is something of an Early Adopter Syndrome. Audiences already familiar with the subject matter are not the priority of the evangelizers, whose target audience consists of skeptics uncertain of how “all this” can really benefit their brands or businesses. And perhaps that’s the way it should be–the true priority of the dedicated and passionate individuals who organize these events ought to be selling the social media gospel to “newbies.” After all, it is easy to forget that the vast majority of people have absolutely no idea what on Earth Twitter is, or why it is important to their business.
But shouldn’t we be making room to evangelize to the power users as well? The more they know, the more they will be able to teach. That way, once those “newbies” are all learned up, and they ask the tougher questions (on Twitter, perhaps), there will be a lot of people ready with the answers.
It does, admittedly, take a lot of work to pull events like this together and recruit people to attend, perhaps for now we ought to keep things as they are in order to keep the broader appeal. But what do you think, am I on the right track with this idea? Could the social media community benefit from a little power user education, or is sticking to the basics and appealing to those who may be unfamiliar with the concepts the way to go?