September 25, 2022

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

AP Social Media

AP Social Media

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?

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    Bryan Person, Social Media Evangelist

    I think you’re onto something here. I’ve felt the same at some of the recent social media events that I’ve attended over the past several months. While the company is good — and probably the primary reason I attend most social media events in the first place — there tends to be very little new material for me in the formal sessions/presentations/panel discussions themselves.
    So, it’s really a matter of setting realistic expectations for yourself. If you go mainly to exercise your brain, you could very well be disappointed. But if you attend to meet, greet, strengthen existing relationships, and count on a little serendipity when making new connections, you like will be satisfied.
    And what else might you do? Organize your own event that caters to those “power users” and will deliver some real business value and educational opportunities for you. I have one such event in mind that I’ll gladly tell you about if you ask me via e-mail or IM!

    Chip Griffin

    Part of the challenge here, I think, is that the timeline from beginner to intermediate to expert is so short since this is such a new discipline that it is more challenging to organized “advanced” events and training. Think about how much you have move forward in just the past six or twelve months.
    Not to say it can’t be done, just a bigger lift.
    Also, I want to amplify your point about getting the value out of events through networking and socializing. I don’t believe that phenomenon is limited to social media events. Frankly, most conferences provide better ROI through the informal communications with other attendees and speakers than they do through the formal speakers, panels, and presentations.

    Sarah Wurrey

    Bryan – Absolutely, I was trying to make sure in my post to highlight the fact that all events are still invaluable to me; interacting with the community is vital to my work and I enjoy it thoroughly on a personal level.
    And I also agree with Chip, I’m not sure there’s really a definitive solution, because I do recognize that the planning that goes into these events is extensive, and therefore planning one for a niche rather than for all who are interested poses new challenges.
    I think it’s just a matter of us making sure to challenge each other and educate each other through other venues as much as possible. For now anyway!

    Eric Rice

    I wish instead of the camp model for power users, a focus could be put on good old-fashioned, hardcore, multiweek workshops or programs. The social could be dialed down and the power learning could be turned up, WAY up.
    This of course takes more work, but hey, learning to become a master isn’t an easy task, and I’d be willing to wager that some power users want that next level.
    An example of this might be someone who has been a blogger for years but just wants to get deeply involved in improving the skill so that they could match the training and experiences of professional journalists and/or writers. I’ve looked for something like that and it’s painfully difficult without being a complete odd man out in left field.
    It’s very discouraging.

    Chris Brogan...

    Eric is spot on. Exactly what he’s saying. This has been hot on my mind since last June in Stockholm. Christopher Penn came over and we started geeking. He showed me these tools, how to do this really advanced stuff, and like 3,974,810 other things I didn’t know how to do. I learned SO MUCH in 2 hours, more than I ever get out of a conference.
    So my personal development goal in 2008 is definitely on Eric’s wavelength. I want deep learning. Or if not deep, way over what I’m doing and know how to do myself.

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