Welcome to PodCamp… an Unconference.
That’s pretty much how it all started last Saturday, March 7. It was my first PodCamp Nashville (#pcn09 for you Twitterers). Over the course of the seven-hour day (9-4), more than 500 guests filled the halls of Owen Graduate School of Management on Vanderbilt University’s campus to attend the third annual unconference (unorganized conference).
The crowd was a collection of podcasters, bloggers, social networkers, and new media mavens. The day was filled with about 30 30-minute speaker sessions (three at a time), all held "BarCamp style," meaning ad-hoc and off-the-cuff.
Session titles included zingers like, "Twitter Math," "Anatomy of an Online Social Network," "How to Use a Chainsaw without Cutting off Your Leg (and Other Social Media Marketing Help)," "How to Build Your Online Community," "Confessions of a Full-Time Podcaster," and "The Power of Free."
From my perspective, PodCamp Nashville was a terrific success.
The speakers were enthusiastic and passionate about their subjects. Attendees were equally engaged and attentive. The atmosphere was positive and collaborative. Overall, it was a really neat way to share and to learn more about emerging trends in social networking.
So what did I learn? Well, I can’t tell you all the secrets… if you want the deets, then you need to hire Team JLB (or at least visit PodCamp next year). But I will share five nuggets that might inspire you to learn (or ask for) more…
1. Capturing user data is just as important today as it was five years ago… in fact, it’s more important. Your customer’s name, age and e-mail address are more vital to your business’ online success than ever before.
2. If you haven’t already, soon you’ll be hearing a lot more about "LiveCasting."
3. Supercharging your brand online isn’t horse hockey, and it’s not for the faint of heart. You can actually position your brand to receive positive attention using social media tools. Just be sure you establish internally "why" you’re using a certain technology (or social network) and do your best to be sincere, while advancing your company’s personality. Then, update on a regular basis.
4. News media outlets, as we currently know them (printed newspapers, radio broadcasts and television), have more of an uphill battle than ever before. Bottom line: If you can’t engender an audience online, you’re in trouble. And traditional news media have a LOT of competition online.
5. Websites should be optimized for search engines and for humans. By now you’ve probably heard of SEO (search engine optimization). It’s real, and it’s very important to do, from a basic programming level all the way up to the actual content on your site’s pages. But it’s equally important to consider your different audience types and to be sure your site can receive and move visitors through your content with ease. There’s a difference in the way a 22-year-old female and a 65-year-old male sift through the data on your pages.