From Battledecks to measuring ROI – PodCamp Boston (#PCB4) was a huge success!

Podcamp Boston 4Recently I attended my first Podcamp in Boston, the birthplace of the original Podcamp, founded by Christopher Penn and Chris Brogan, back in 2006. From the show of hands to find out who else was new to the “UnConference,” I realized that I wasn’t the only newbie – there were actually too many of us to count. If you are unaware of what Podcamp is all about, according to the official Podcamp site, “A PodCamp is a BarCamp-style community UnConference for new media enthusiasts and professionals including bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers, social networkers, and anyone curious about new media.”

I was amazed at the size of the crowd, especially during a weekend conference on one of the nicest days of the summer. It was a wonderfully diverse audience but despite this diversity, the common theme joining us together was our passion to learn – from the sessions and, of course, from one another.

If you weren’t able to attend, don’t fret. CC_Chapman put together this awesome slideshow that includes some great shots from the entire weekend. See anyone you know?

Aside from the hilarious Battledecks and Pecha Kucha session led by Gradon Tripp – where he shares with us the 24 reasons why Twitter sucks – I wanted to highlight the “False Metrics and ROI” session led by Leslie Poston.

During one part of her session, Leslie stressed the importance of first listening to your customers because they are talking about you. If you don’t currently have a social media strategy in place to listen to what your customers and the industry are saying about your business, then you could potentially be dealing with a big PR nightmare like the one that happened with Domino’s Pizza, where a few employees decided it would be fun to post a video on YouTube as they “tampered” with the food. After only two days, that little video was viewed more than 550,000 times, potentially damaging the 50-year-old brand that Domino’s has worked so hard to build. Luckily, Domino’s was watching and listening, and they were able to take action immediately.

But not all companies are as social media savvy….at least not yet.

For example, we can’t discuss listening and not bring up the United Airlines situation where they mistreated musician David Carroll’s equipment while he watched helplessly from his seat on the plane. After trying to resolve the issue privately, which proved ineffective, David decided to create his own music video about what happened and posted it to YouTube. That video went on to receive almost five million views and tons of online buzz. Finally, after more than a year of disputes, United finally admitted they were in the wrong and decided to compensate David for his damaged equipment – A little too late in my opinion.

Listening to online conversations doesn’t have to be difficult. As Leslie pointed out, there are several online tools (both paid and free) available to help any organization do a better job of listening to online chatter. These tools are designed to make social media participation easier and more streamlined, as well as help companies do a better job in monitoring and managing their online presence. Some of the tools she highlighted include:

  • Radian6 (paid)
  • BlvdStatus.com (free, offers campaigns)
  • Google Alerts (free, keyword based, boolean search terms to help you narrow)
  • Google Analytics (free, fully customizable)
  • DNA13 (Paid, encompasses print and web)
  • HaveAMint (free, fully programmable in php)

If you aren’t currently using some of these tools above, you may be doing more work than you should. Don’t miss out on valuable discussions – both positive, which you’ll want to elevate – and, as in the cases outlined above – some negative, which you’ll want to address as soon as possible

If you are interested in seeing Leslie’s Podcamp session for yourself, you can view it in two parts below:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Overall, PodCamp Boston was an amazing experience and it will definitely not be my last. In fact, there are plans in the works to bring the first PodCamp to New Hampshire and I am proud and very excited to be on the planning committee for that event. If you haven’t been, be sure to find one in your area and go. I guarantee a quick ROI on your very small investment!

Photo credit: Elizabeth Thomsen

5 Tips for Maximizing your Podcamp Experience

Podcamp Boston 2With Podcamp Boston 3 coming up this weekend, I’ve started think back to last year’s event and how I want to approach the experience this year. Podcamp co-creator Christopher S. Penn recently created a video podcast listing 5 tips to get the most from your Podcamp experience. His video prompted me to come up with an additional five of my own that first time “Podcampers” might find useful.

Create a “People I want to meet list”
After Podcamp Boston 2 ended last year, I realized there were a bunch of people in attendance that I never got a chance to meet. In fact, so many people attended that I never even knew the people I missed were even there. Plan ahead by scanning the attendee list (Podcamp Boston’s list is on the Eventbrite page) and don’t miss out on the opportunity to connect with specific people while you can. Many folks come from out of state, which can make meet-ups like this a rare opportunity.

Don’t forget your business cards
Podcamp is a prime time for networking, so don’t forget your business cards and be sure to bring plenty of them. Depending on the city, Podcamp weekends can draw hundreds of participants, and all the new people you meet won’t be able to connect with you later on if you aren’t handing out cards. Its not uncommon to see people handing out more than one card as well. It’s also wise to have special cards made up for that blog, podcast or online video show you’d like to promote!

Maximize your hallway time
Podcamp weekends are always packed full of great sessions, but as many experienced Podcampers will agree, much of the magic happens in the hallways. Spontaneous sessions and unplanned gatherings can yield great information and can be incredibly valuable. If you’re not getting what you want out of a session, envoke the Pocamp “Law of Two Feet” and venture out into the hallway to see what’s going on. You might just be surprised at what you find!

Bring snacks
Be sure to throw a few snacks in your backpack to keep your energy up throughout the day. Podcamp offers a lot of information to absorb in 48 hours, and you’ll need to rely on those little bursts of energy that a healthy snack can give you after the coffee crash begins to settle in. Quick and portable items like a banana, trail mix, and a bottle of water will stay fresh during the weekend and the money you save bringing your own snack will pay for that extra pint at the pub on Saturday night.

Check your shyness at the door
Podcamp weekend is a time to meet new people as well as shake hands with some of the people with whom, until now, you might only have had a virtual relationship. If you tend to lean towards the shy side in social situations, then you’ll take comfort in the fact that everyone who attends Podcamp is there to meet other people. Don’t hesitate to approach groups of people who you may not know yet. Looking for groups of people that have one or two people you already know can also make breaking the ice easier. Just remember, everyone is there to meet you!

Bonus Tip! – Additional “gear” to bring
Here are some additional items to bring along that tend to come in handy: a powerstrip, extension cord, battery chargers, cellphone charger (especially for the iPhone 3G folks!), laptop charger, extra memory cards, USB thumb drive and a sharpie.

See you at Podcamp Boston 3 and be sure to DM me on Twitter if you’d like to connect!

Photo courtesy of Nico