Why you should have gone to Social Media FTW

by Carl Natale on September 23, 2010

I’m recovering from my hangover this morning from Wednesday’s Social Media FTW conference. No I didn’t drink too many beers during the post-conference networking. But I brought home a head full of takeaways, questions and regrets. So bear with me as I work through them in this post

Regret: I’m sorry Coach Deb

When Deb Micek started her keynote speech, I was getting my laptop and phone connected to USM’s Wifi system. Then of course I had to watch the Twitter stream. In a few minutes, I realized I wasn’t listening Coach Deb. So I put it all away and pulled out a notebook. (The kind full of sheets of dead trees).

I can’t keep up with what’s going on in real life and in the digital world. I have to wonder if all those people working out their phones and laptops during presentations are missing something. Maybe they’re taking notes. I’m sure the people not in the room appreciate the updates, and this is a social media conference.

But still. Are you really there if you’re on Twitter? I’m not.

Takeaway: You never know who you’re going to see

Ed Murray was one of my favorite former bosses and showed up at the conference. The man is smart, funny and passionate. I worked for him before a major strategic shift happened at MaineToday.com. What he taught me prepared me for what was to come.

It was great to catch up with him. And quite a few other people who I see too few times. But sometimes you meet completely new people that make admission worth it. I know a lot of smart concert goers will recommend that you research who else will attend the conference and make the point of meeting certain people. Good idea. But I have to say that the connections made with people off my radar were worth the price of admission.

Question: Brand new name?

I have a case of brand envy. Coach Deb is proud that she has a Twitter handle that matches her brand identity. Here’s why:

  • It’s short
  • It’s memorable
  • It matches her name
  • It communicates what she does

I wish @CarlNatale would do that. Don’t get me wrong. I have great pride in my name. But it’s not obvious how to pronounce it. And it’s not a title. I dropped the ball on not getting @DukeofURL. As clever as I think that is, it doesn’t really communicate my identity or what I do.

Do I need to create  a new brand handle? Would it be @BloggerCarl or @CarltheGuide? I don’t know. It’s something I’m going to ponder for a while.

Regret: LinkedIn needs more love

I love LinkedIn. It’s a great networking and research tool. But after Carole Mahoney‘s presentation on LinkedIn, I feel like I have been taking it for granted. And I need to spend more time with it and listen to it. She rocked the room.

Facebook may have the flash (note, I meant to use lower-case “f”) but LinkedIn has the tools you can really use to increase your business. Her best advice is on creating your profile and focusing on what you do (rather than your job title).

And I want to return to what I said earlier about you never know who you’re going to meet. For some reason, Carole wasn’t on my radar. And that speaks volumes about how much I know about people in Maine. I should have known her before now.

She has a great grasp on marketing principles and an engaging style. I feel like I’ve been missing a lot by not paying attention to her sooner.

Question: What’s so wrong with auto DMs?

This came up a couple times. And part of me says it equals spam. But I may change my thinking on this. When I follow someone, I want to know what they are about. So if a direct message is sent to me that says welcome or has a link to more information, where’s the foul?

  • Didn’t I ask for it?
  • Yes, the DM needs to crafted well.
  • No, don’t send marketing messages after the initial hello.
  • Is it different if the Twitter account is an individual vs. a brand?

I’m serious. I’m experimenting with a Twitter account that is trying to drive traffic to a web site. The account serves a niche, and the tweets feature a lot of links with that niche content. Followers sign up so they can get that content. Those links are on the site and other sites. Some of those sites have a relationship, some don’t.

Yeah, there’s some disclosure that needs to happen.

But followers get an auto DM that has a link back to relevant information on the site.

Tell me where I have it wrong. Be specific.

Takeaway: Listen to the questions

It’s worth going to a presentation on something you have a handle on for two reasons:

  1. No matter what you think, you don’t know everything.
  2. The questions asked reveals a lot about what people need to know. (Translation: Market research)

Those two reasons put me in Nicole Ouellette‘s blogging session. She is smart, can explain the Internet (which is harder to find than you think) and is dedicated. If you need help setting up a blog, call her. Plus people ask questions that illustrate what we need to do to help clients.

Regret: Tweeting on an empty stomach

I came out of a session and saw a line to the lunch counter but couldn’t see the end to it. So one of the few tweets I sent yesterday was:

“Monster line for lunch at #ftw2010 Should have brought more power bars.”

Then I went back into the room to sit and munch on a power bar. Just didn’t have the patience or blood sugar to stand in a line like that. But I quickly got into a conversation with Nicole and walked out with her. And at that time, the line disappeared. If I wasn’t in a conversation with her, I would have tweeted a retraction.

So I regret posting something off the cuff like that. It was a little too snarky and undeserved. Yes the line was long but not long for this world. People got their food quickly. This really isn’t about food. It’s about thinking more before we post. Part of Twitter’s charm is its immediacy and frankness. Unfortunately that’s not always part of my charm.

And in this case it led me to create an innacurate impression.

Takeaway: This is going to take time

I started thinking about a lot yesterday. If I don’t stop this blog post now, I’m going to be writing this post for the next day and a half. So look for it to influence a lot of other posts and conversations.

A huge thanks goes out to everyone who had a part in making it happen. Just as important are the presenters who inspired so many takeaways, questions and regrets. And of course, I appreciate everyone who took a few minutes to talk and inspire me.

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1 edmur September 23, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Thanks for the kind words, Carl – it was great seeing you, too (and Wendy, Chris and Dan…I did not bump into Dennis, though). So many good people worked for MaineToday.com, it was a real honor getting to work alongside all of you. My time their was brief, but we accomplished a heck of a lot…and of course, it all changed shortly thereafter (as it always does).

Keep up the blogging – you’ve got a real flair for it! I will track you down on FB, etc., so watch out!

2 Monique September 23, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Great summary! I wish I could have gone to the conference now. Next time, for sure!

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