It’s Monday morning, and I think I’ve finally organized my thoughts enough to talk a little bit about Podcamp Boston 4.
My Initial Impressions
When I looked at the session list, I immediately turned into an angry old man. One of my biggest complaints about conferences like podcamp is that all of the discussion centers around the 35,000 foot view of social media. Talk about “joining the discussion” and “engagement” often dominate, and I think the majority of conference goers are already on board with the idea that social media can help them reach people. Once you see the value of using these tools to reach an audience you don’t need more convincing. You want to know how to do it.
So that was my knee-jerk reaction. Of course, I was wrong.
This year’s theme was “What’s Next”, and I think a lot of us thought that meant “What are the next social media tools and strategies that are going to help us”. It wasn’t that. Instead, in this context, “what’s next” really meant “now that the world sees the need to use social media, and everyone is using it, what do we do now?”
See, in previous years the idea of using blogs, twitter, facebook, etc. inside a business was kind of risky. Kind of dangerous. Companies that decided to forget about being proper and conservative gave these tools a shot and looked like mavericks. They were pioneers just for trying. Simply having a YouTube channel for a company was enough for people to take notice.
Those days are gone.
Now every company large and small is trying to make “viral video”. The days of attendees airing their frustration about trying to sell the idea of social media up the ladder to their bosses….those are over too. Now having a social media strategy is the price of admission, but when every company is doing it no one pays attention. Hell, I saw an ad for a tire company on TV last night and they said “check out our YouTube video”. Dude, you’re on TV. Why don’t you show me your video ON TV…you know, where I’m watching right now! It’s so crowded on YouTube that companies are taking out TV ads to get people to go to YouTube. Talk about bizarro world. Whoa.
A good chunk of the sessions dealt with the ROI of social media, and that makes sense. Since a lot of the benefits of using these tools are intangible, having some objective measurement is definitely welcome. For me, the best session was the “Using Online Video for B2B Marketing” presentation by Mike Volpe and Karen Rubin of Hubspot. The reason? Well, I’m working at a B2B company and we’re using video to help us in our marketing. Makes a lot of sense, huh?
Another great session was with Amber Naslund, who did “What’s Wrong With The ‘A’ List?”, in which those that aren’t uber popular among the social media elite aired their grievances and criticized those that are. This included such numbskull remarks as:
“I like following these guys because they give such good information, but they tweet too much. I want them to slow down.”
So wait. You decided to follow this person. You’re getting value from what they say. But you’re criticizing the frequency at which they give you good content? Huh?
Thinking back to the last two podcamps, I couldn’t help but feel like this one wasn’t nearly as exciting. I tried to figure out the reason, and I think I’ve found it: the technology has slowed down.
In the past, the rate at which new tools were launched was astounding. Every day there was something new to try, and it was really, really exciting. It was so much fun. There was a buzz in the air that just made everything electric. You knew that something new was going to break out during the weekend, and we’d be the first to try it. There would be some idea brought up in a session that would go beyond a session room, permeate the consciousness of the conference, and spread to the outside world.
But that couldn’t last forever.
Rather than chasing the next tool, we’re all trying to figure out how to get the most out of the ones we’ve got. Everyone’s on facebook, so let’s figure out how to use facebook to hit our targets. People are using twitter, so let’s play there.
This approach makes much more sense from a practical and business perspective. It does. It’s just not as fun and exciting.
Well, that’s it for now. I want to thank everyone that worked to put podcamp Boston 4 together.