So, This One Time, At Podcamp

Over the weekend, I went to camp for my first time in my life. For two days, I played and learned with a group of like-minded professionals, amateurs and people interested in new media.

Podcamp Toronto is an “unconference” – a two-day gathering of new media professionals that began in 2007. Podcamp began in Boston in 2006 and has since been held in a number of different cities. The conference is free (thanks to some fabulous sponsors and the presenters who donate their time), and attendees vote with their feet. If you don’t like a session, you walk (hopefully not without some measure of respect for the presenter). And if you have a session you want to present, you go to the Podcamp site a few weeks before the conference and describe your idea. If you have an idea during the conference (and there’s space in the schedule) – well, talk to the organizers, put it together and Tweet it out to find your audience.

A last-minute decision I made on Thursday afternoon to attend found me standing in the lobby of the Rogers Communications Centre at Ryerson University on Saturday afternoon. Since I missed the entire morning of sessions, I felt like it was my first day in a new school – cliques were formed and were gathered, talking and laughing – and I was all by myself. But, I took a deep breath and jumped in with both feet. And I’m glad I did.

Six Things I learned at Podcamp:

  1. That as much as I love radian6 and Sysmos as social media measurement tools, they may not be the best for small businesses because they’re pricey. But, you can gain information about reach of your posts, you can use the basics: Facebook Insights, Hootsuite Analytics or Sprout Social (which, while Facebook Insights and Hootsuite Analytics are basic free tools included with the applications, Sprout Social does have a cost. But there are educational and not-for-profit discounts for those that qualify)
  2. That while some of the session titles may not actually describe what the focus will be, if you stay, you may take something away from it anyway. I attended the How to Develop A Killer Content Marketing Strategy session on Saturday afternoon. While content marketing wasn’t exactly where we spent the most time (I learned about buyer personas during my undergrad but the refresher was interesting), I did meet three interesting people from a variety of areas just by starting a dialogue about what we had just learned – and I came up with an idea for a killer blog post (more on that later this week)
  3. That about 70% of Google’s algorithm is geared to answer the question “who cares?” – and the better you answer it, the higher you’ll show up in the search results
  4. That a 16-year-old kid can be more mature than some adults I know, and that said 16-year-old can summarize why people like brands on social media better than anyone who has ever liked a brand on social media can. When this kid graduates from high school and gains more experience in the customer service side of social media, I’d hire him
  5. That sometimes, the presenter of a session may not show up. And while it’s disappointing, it’s a good time to network with others, decompress, review your notes from previous sessions and check your email
  6. That I need to become a ninja in my field

Will I go back next year? Absolutely! Would I recommend it to my friends in new media? Absolutely! Will I propose a topic for next year and present? Maybe! The world does need someone who will talk specifically about developing a killer content marketing strategy, does it not?

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