Capitalizing on Ottawa's social media conference void

It’s hard to describe the feelings I have right now about Social Capital. Four months of planning and working to pull everything together and the day felt like it flew by in a flash. Despite some blips, I think the day was an unqualified success. Yes, Ottawa’s very first social media conference - born and bred in this town - was really, really good. 

It only seemed appropriate that this inaugural conference in Ottawa be kicked off by Glen Gower, founder of OttawaStart.com and a bunch of other sites, who has his finger on the pulse of this town and knows community when he sees it. I loved hearing Glen’s take on the Ottawa social media scene from the very beginning. You know, back before social media was dubbed “social media”. Glen has made it his mission to promote these communities since the late 90s. Yeah, he was community-building before building communities was cool.

“Proceed until apprehended” - Stacey, with Keenan and Shannon to her left.From the morning keynote, I moved on to a session in which I was moderating a panel on social change through social media. The speakers, Shannon Smith, Stacey Diffin-Lafleur and Keenan Wellar, each had interesting stories to tell and words of wisdom for those in attendance. From Shannon’s insights about dealing with being unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight as an individual to Keenan’s bold declaration that “[many volunteer organization’s] processes suck” to Stacey’s motto, “proceed until apprehended” that clearly shows her indomitable spirit and commitment to her work.

All three have been learning how to use social media tools to advance their respective causes. This is one of the areas of social media that is inspiring to me - the sincere desire to bring about positive change in the world.

My friend, Cherie-Lynn, made me smile then caught it on camera. :)The second session I attended was Craig Fitzpatrick’s where he generated lively discussion after a presentation that, in some ways, challenged the way people looked at social media from a marketing perspective. “Community = Channel.” It was a great presentation that included advising users to choose to do things that are measurable and that Klout should rebrand itself “reach” instead of “influence”. Reach is measurable. Influence…well, it’s not so easy to measure.

The word “unconference” started being thrown around during Craig’s session in the tweets going through my stream. It was gratifying to see such energetic discussion about a topic that deserves careful thought.

By the third session, I was feeling slightly numb - probably due to waking at an unreasonable hour after being up to an unreasonable hour (funny how that works). So I know that a good chunk of the presentations from Kneale Mann and Dennis Van Staalduinen didn’t sink in completely. Kneale and Dennis came at the broad topic of social media strategy from very different perspectives. Kneale is a proponent of the human web and creating human connections. He brought up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and related it to employee motivation - a concept I’m not unfamiliar with from my days of working in an employee survey firm as it was the basis for our surveys.

When Kneale finished, Dennis got up and gave us a crash course on how a major brand with a major campaign that goes insanely viral can ultimately crash and burn, destroying the brand in the process. I already cringe when I hear someone say, “Let’s do a viral video!” Hearing Dennis’ story makes me want to stay well away from those who think viral is the answer to everything. People relate to stories and respond to simplicity. Going over the top sets the bar so high that there’s rarely anywhere else to go but down.

Is your head spinning? Mine was.

Talking Facebook - it was a very interesting conversation!After all that, I lead a roundtable about Facebook. It was a fantastic way to end the day. Some stayed in my group for the full hour and a half and others came and went so they could visit other groups to talk about different subjects. The discussion about Facebook ran from basic to strategic questions and challenged me to think about how I’d use this tool more effectively as well.

At the end of the day, I was thoroughly exhausted but on a happy high of success.

WE DID IT! And we did it well. It’s hard to say what I learned more from - planning this conference or attending it. Start to finish, it was an extremely valuable experience that I am looking forward to doing again.

 This is the Social Capital Organizizing Committee - Sara, Andrea, Becky, Me, Lara and Vicky who was unable to stay for the whole day. These are amazing ladies that I am honoured to have been able to work with.

*****

Thank you to my friends, Sara and Cherie-Lynn, for the fabulous pictures I’ve used in this post!

A largemouth American

Since we met on the Internet – via random chat on ICQ – my husband has been telling people that he cast his line 1,500 miles out and caught himself a largemouth American. Apparently, I am one of the human variety of the fish equivalent pictured here. (He uses Imperial miles so that Americans understand that part of the joke without having to break out a conversion calculator. It just saves time.)

It’s a joke, and like most funny jokes, it’s pretty close to the truth.

I’m opinionated, but I’ve learned to be open to others’ opinions and thoughts in a way I didn’t understand when I was younger. I know I come across as black and white at times, but I think it’s really important to be open to grey areas – or any other colour that comes along. There are certain topics this is hard for me, so I try to maintain a discussion mode rather than switching to justification of views.

One of the things I like about blogging is that I can blather on about any old subject, people will read it and kindly (or not so kindly) give their own opinions – whether they agree with me or not. I love discussion on just about any subject which is what makes this medium so appealing to me – and many others. Respect for different views is nice, but I can’t force that, so I just take what comes with an open mind unless it’s mean – I don’t like mean. I won’t let “mean” posts get through.

There’s a million topics out there that people are passionately opinionated about: from the somewhat subjective opinions on books, what (not) to wear, lip balm, to more serious issues like breastfeeding vs. formula, gay rights, politics, and grammar! It’s no wonder there’s a gazillion bloggers out there with fingers flying over the keys to get out their next post each day.

Have I mentioned yet what a lucky man my husband is that he married someone who thinks it’s funny to be compared to a fish?

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