Our cup runneth over – social media barcamp

Get 40 communicators in a room and try and stop them talking. At the ideasshop social media barcamp yesterday things ran over time because the conversation did overfloweth.

The format was simple: 16 slots for people to run impromptu 20 minute sessions about something they’ve learnt about social media or to raise burning questions. After a slow start the board was full of a range of topics. Participants included communications people from government agencies, businesses and NGOs, a few Massey University students, plus freelancers like me. There was a firm rule that nobody use the afternoon for solicitation.

I talked about a dilemma that CommunityCentral faces – we want people to come to our platform, but there is heaps of competition (from things like Google Groups, Yahoo groups, etc) which is much slicker.

The response was very clear:  the uniqueness of CommunityCentral being a local platform, aimed at a very distinct audience is its real strength. People who sign up are not dealing with a huge multinational corporate who are completely disinterested in what each organisation is actually doing (unless of course it’s illicit or objectionable). Instead people are coming to a platform aimed at everyone involved in tangata whenua, community and voluntary organisations in Aotearoa. It’s localness could mean you’ll actually come across people you know.

This perspective from communications people entirely removed from the project underlines a key promotional angle. We’re local, we’re friendly, we’re just like you. It’s good timing to hear this. We’re on the final stretch preparing two additional features for public release, namely private workspaces and discussion networks. The countdown is on.

I picked up on efforts by a few ngos to use social media:

  • two Massey University students helped create a video for Parkinsons NZ and upload it to YouTube
  • Wellington SPCA have included a blog on their visually attractive website – just for news at this stage, but turning on comments is being considered
  • Living Every Moment is an online campaign run by Hospice NZ to encourage people to create and send a “moment” to a special person.

The willingness to share between communicators was neat. I’m hoping Emma will organise another camp out.

On a parting note, I’ll rise to Emma’s challenge that we embody being good communicators and unashamedly plug the companies that gave away some promotional stuff for a ‘goody bag’ each participant received. Hat’s off to teza juiced teas, wagamama, service printers, trilogy and dusted and delicious catering.