This post is going out mostly to my dad. I suggested he look into a podcamp in his area (Tampa Bay) and GO! He said, “Tell me about your adventure.” So, here it is. I guess I’ll start with what my understanding of podcamp is, the type of people I think might benefit from it and then just a quick synopsis of my day at podcamp, then my day telecommuting to podcamp.
OK so, Podcamp likes to call themselves an “unconference.” Podcamp PITTSBURGH is a super awesome version of what you see if you check out the generic podcamp website. Rather than go copy their definition which you could go look up yourself, I’ll just tell you what I think makes it all unconferencey. For starters, its a totally free conference on social media. There were VIP tickets available that ended up costing around $26 if I remember correctly. VIP’s are considered sponsors, they get a really nice (I assume…more on that in a second) swag bag and some other cool stuff. There were VIP-only drawings for cool social media gadgets. One time I was there for a drawing they gave away a pretty nice webcam. Now, I did not spring for the VIP ticket since I am a total NOOB. Nevertheless, I was given a nice podcamp t-shirt, pens, pads of paper, stickers and all kinds of marketing swag. There we several tables set up in the lobby where sponsors were also giving away all kinds of cool stuff, including t-shirts and samples. That totally blew me away. Then, they provided both breakfast and lunch for all attendees. WHAT?! For free?! Yes, and it was totally legit. Build-your-own deli sandwiches, chips, drinks…when the sandwich stuff ran out they ordered pizzas. Breakfast was fresh fruits and muffins. There was a coffee station that they kept up all day long for both days. I FELT like a VIP and wished I’d have purchased the VIP ticket because I felt guilt partaking of all the amenities without having spent a dime. OK, enough about that…so this conference is run by local people who are all volunteers and who are all involved in social media. The schedule was jam-packed and they even had to find a SEVENTH room to add at the last minute for additional presenters. There were five 45-minute presentations each day IN EACH ROOM, in addition to a opening and closing remarks by the organizers. Day 1 included a really cool keynote and I encourage you to check out this post about Bill Peduto’s presentation with links to some really cool YouTube videos on social media and politics. My favorite video was just a bunch of stats about social media set to emotional music…some of the stats were just mindblowing. Makes me want to go see that new movie about how Facebook came into being. A close second was Howard Roark’s soliloquy from the movie adaptation of The Fountainhead, as I am a pretty big Ayn Rand fan. Session topics ranged from as simple as “what is a blog?” to really sophisticated presentations on SEO, activism and social media, and social media strategies. And that doesn’t even touch the depth of knowledge that was presented during these 2 days. There were so many more very compelling presentations on things like video blogging, podcasting, and why we should even bother with all of it in the first place. So if that doesn’t sufficiently illustrate what an unconference is, go spend some quality time on the Podcamp Pittsburgh website, they really do a great job!
If it wasn’t clear enough in the preceding paragraph who could benefit from Podcamp, let me emphasize just say this…EVERYONE! I mean, did you watch the video I linked? And there’s even an update with more recent stats if you’re interested. There were presentations geared toward people with small businesses, and yet there were many topics that could easily apply to large corporations as well. There were topics of interest to the casual personal blogger (yoo hoo, that’s me,) and I have to agree that anyone who reads a blog or participates in social media (yes, Facebook is social media) could improve their use and enjoyment of it. Or maybe that’s just geeks like me that like to know what’s going on behind the scenes…
Saturday (the first day) I attended Podcamp in person. I was so wound up about going, that I only got about 4 hours of sleep the night before. Nonetheless I managed to stay alert all day. I attended the following sessions:
The Keynote was fascinating to me since I had never been to a podcamp before. It gave me a much better idea of what social media means to all the people who are invested in it, and it really demonstrated the tangible community that exists around social media in Pittsburgh.
Blogging 101: What’s a Blog, Why Do I Need One and How Do I Get One, which I left to catch 10 Ways to Create Social Media that Matters
Blogging 101 was being conducted as an audience led Q & A session when I left, so I can’t comment much as to what transpired in there. I seemed to be farther along than a lot of people in there, so I walked over to 10 Ways to Create Social Media that Matters and squeezed in the back. It was standing room only and very hot & stuffy. This was one of the stand-out presentations for me. Justin discussed how he saw various social media forms being meaningful, even in their simplicity. It definitely helped me feel more confident about trying out “this blogging stuff.”
Blogging 201: Finding Fodder 52 Weeks a Year
This was a great presentation by Michelle of BurghBaby, which is a blog I read regularly. She gave some very good ways to generate content if you intend to post on a frequent schedule. She also discussed why one might want to post on a schedule, why she does it and a lot of other useful info about blogging in general. It was also nice to be able to ask her some questions about blogging about one’s children and the consequences thereof. I will be going back to the videos of this session many times I’m sure!
Friend Me? No, Friend You!-Creating Real Relationships with the Internet
This was a really fascinating presentation about creating relationships with your audience and the idea of “quality content” taking precedence over “regularly posting content.” I think about this session all the time now. It was quite a contrast to Blogging 201, and it was very interesting hearing a unique perspective on blogging and twittering and the like.
Living Out Loud-Real Life Effects of Living Online, which ended early so I caught the end of Enough Already: How to Suck Less on Twitter
It was awesome seeing the BitchBurgh ladies in person and hearing them talk about how their blog has affected their lives. BitchBurgh is another blog I read regularly now after finding it through the blogroll on That’s Church. I thought it would be really relevant to me, since I am mortally afraid of sharing my life in a public forum. Hello boundary issues, hello approval and validation issues. They did a very entertaining rundown of the evolution of their blog and how it affects their lives, their families’ lives, their relationships and so on. It was enlightening and hilarious! After that I was lucky to catch the last 20 minutes or so of Enough Already: How to Suck Less on Twitter. Since I am still trying to figure out what the point of Twitter is, this was VERY helpful. After a few sessions, I realized that EVERYONE at podcamp was on Twitter and they were all somehow finding it valuable. I on the other hand, think its crap. Buuut, I am giving it another shot as part of this whole social media experiment that I call Carly Kablooey…so I figured it would be really good to know how to suck less in doing it. Ha! I still suck…but at least I try like hell to avoid some commonly despised twittering habits. Very useful and I will be going back to the video of this session to watch it the whole thing in its entirety.
SWF Seeks…The Birth of a Blog, How I Evolved From Lurker to Creator
This was a fantastic presentation by Terra McBride of the blog Stylish White Female, who really did a great job of explaining the mechanics of how a blog evolves into something more than just a diary, and the realities of what sponsorship is like. She also had some very interesting tips about how to pursue sponsorship and also how she found her niche. All in all it was super enlightening and what I remember the most was that the whole session was really warmed by her personality and presence. I’m not into fashion much at all but I check out her blog from time to time just because she was so interesting and compelling in her presentation.
On Sunday, I stayed home and watched the live video feeds of several presentations which made it really easy to pop in and out of sessions to see what would be the most interesting to me, but it made for a lot less social interaction and obviously I didn’t meet anyone new that day. Just another unconferencey aspect of podcamp :) Anyway, here’s what I caught on Sunday:
Our ‘Burgh Story Through Blogging
Another fascinating session. This session went through the evolution of Betsy & Joe’s blog Project NEW-lyweds and how it has affected their lives. For starters, they are intriguing and inspiring people and it was also very eye-opening in terms of how much time and effort goes into writing a really good blog. After this presentation I added this blog to my blogroll and I love it!
Managing Social Media: A Presentation in Using Hootsuite to Manage Social Media Accounts, Including Scheduling and Analytics
This was a more technical presentation and probably better suited to people who actually USE Twitter. Nonetheless it helped me understand how a lot of people use Twitter and what kind of software is available to access and manipulate Twitter via my phone or the web. I think this may come in handy when and if I figure out how to effectively use Twitter to supplement my blog and Facebook.
Managing Multiple Identities in Social Media
I have to say I didn’t pay enough attention in this session and I think maybe it was a little too sophisticated for my level of expertise. It was helpful to understand how and why some people choose to maintain multiple identities within their social media strategies.
OK, so in summary…there were so many more links I could have and should have included…but guess what, it’s getting LATE and I am exhausted! Please let me know if you would like more info on anything I’ve mentioned here. If you go to the Podcamp Pittsburgh website you can watch videos of many of the sessions as well as still view the full schedule (and see which awesome sessions I missed out on.) And finally…sorry for the lack of pictures.