Social Capital, the social media learnathon held in Ottawa last week was an unqualified success. The capacity crowd turned up at Ottawa University early on a Saturday morning and were served up a full day of interesting and varied sessions featuring speakers from right across the spectrum of Ottawa’s social media community.
The programme content had something for everyone. Three main streams covered fundamentals, advanced and business aspects of social media engagement. In addition, there were many breakout sessions where participants could delve more deeply into specific topics. I would have liked to take it all in, but I couldn’t be everywhere. So here’s an account of my own day of Social Capital.
The opening keynote speaker was Glen Gower , the man behind the OttawaStart website, who gave a good overview of Ottawa’s social media scene to set the tone for the conference. It was good place for me to start as a newby to the community because it gave context to the rest of the day.
I started out in the Advanced stream taking in the ‘Using Social Media to Facilitate Social Change’ session featuring Stacey Diffin-Lafleur (full disclosure: she’s my sister), Keenan Wellar and Shannon Smith . They discussed how to use social media to make the world a better place. They talked about engaging the community via social networks to motivate, educate and raise funds. This is social media use at its best, inho where it facilitates ‘doing good’. Here’s the Ottawa Citizen’s account of this session.
My second session was also from the Advanced stream: ‘Social Media Insights & Epiphanies from a Start Up Guy, featuring Craig Fizpatrick. This session was the polar opposite of the Social Change session focusing on revenue generation. It was interesting to see the two stark perspectives on how best to leverage social media. It did occur to me that the session might better be entitled ‘Social Media Insights & Epiphanies from a marketing perspective’ as there wasn’t much ‘start up’ information. Still, bridging the gap from having online conversations to actually driving in sales is a huge leap that many companies find it very difficult to make so this session offered me incredible value.
Don’t Double Down & Navigating the Human Web was my third Advanced stream session. Here Dennis Van Staaduinen and Kneale Mann presented some real life business examples of social media at play and how humans and the social web can help businesses improve customer service. The session was very entertaining and I took away two main messages: folks will be folks; and a dog is a dog. Social media has not changed the fundamentals of business; it’s just a new way of getting around. Stephanie Brooks has written a good summary of the session here.
A delicious lunch was served by caterer Taste. Given that the whole conference cost only $75, I’d rather expected there to be a few limp sandwiches and some potato chips, if we were lucky. But the food was excellent, fresh and plentiful. There was something for every taste, and snacks were served all day long too. Frankly, I’ve paid a lot more for conferences that served a lot less.
Sixteen roundtable discussions took place after lunch and it was very difficult to choose among them. I attended one on ‘Community Management’ moderated by Kelly Rusk in which she crowdsourced a job description for a community manager. Overall consensus was that at its core the community manager job is a communications job, so potentially could be replaced by a more generic communications title.
I also popped into the roundtable on ‘Engaging Community’ moderated by Isabelle Perreault-Lachapelle. A great discussion about how to get started took place, and by the volume of copious notes taken by some participants, it seems the discussion was useful for newbies.
Finally I scooted over to the WordPress round table hosted by Susan Murphy. Unfortunately, I arrived rather late and missed most of dicussion but still had a chance to say hello to a few people I’d not met before.
The closing keynote was delivered by Kathy Bucksworth, the writer and television personality who gave a humourous overview of the various ‘types’ of folks on Twitter. The light-hearted tone was the perfect close to a day full of learning and great people. Adding his own sense of humour throughout the day was EmCee Joe Boughner who kept things rolling smoothly and kept us smiling all day long. Here’s his account of the conference.
For me, the single most valuable aspect of Social Capital was the networking and in getting to meet everyone in one place…which was important to me since I’m just getting back into the Ottawa scene after a long absence. I want to thank the organisors for making this such a useful, rewarding event and I’m looking forward to next year!