For those of you who are buried under piles of work and don’t spend as much time as you like reading about what is happening in the industry, Mashable.com is on tour this summer. I was lucky enough to have the time to attend the SummerSmash Miami event in South Beach over the weekend. I love the idea that behind the tour. Taking the community on the road and providing a venue for all those folks who interact online to meet IRL.
It was very similar to one of the events you might find hosted by a major sponsor at a conference with a couple of tables for the actual sponsors. They reserved Opium, one of the nicer clubs in the South Beach area, for the private party and of course drew a large crowd with the open bar. I do want to point out this was not a free event, tickets went for $50. They also gave away a couple of nice door prizes including two passes to South by South West (SXSW) this year.
Earlier in the day, tied to the event and tour was the SocialMediaCamp Miami event. The party was fun, but this made the day for me. The best way to describe the camp if you have never been to one of these or a BarCamp is an “Open Source Conference”. What I mean by this is that everything that takes place is done on the fly and in a totally open format. None of the sessions were pre-scheduled and anyone who attended could present on any topic. I don’t think there were even and rules specifying the topic had to be related to the event. Erica O’Grady who was our hostess noted at the beginning of the event that there were only two rules…
1. Whoever shows up is supposed to be here.
2. Whatever happens is supposed to happen.
At the entrance there was a large blank session schedule. Once the introductions were done, anyone could go claim a spot on the session grid in one of the rooms and put on a session. In the spirit of the event, I did a bit of internal brainstorming and grabbed a 30 minute slot in the smaller of the two rooms for a session about “Reputation Management in Social Media”. Luckily I have a bit of speaking experience and figured I could wing it. I sat in one session covering Liability Online which had about 5 of the 60 to 70 attendees. He was winging it too. My session came up and I was a couple minutes behind due to meeting a number of new people as well as old friends. I walked in to a full house probably half the people crammed in the little room to talk about Reputation Management in Social Media. It ended up being a good conversation with a few examples and suggestions among interested parties. It seemed kind of like a forum thread in real time and in person.
I liked the concept of the event and they do have a support site which tries to help focus and plan the sessions prior to the event. Unfortunately, the one for Miami was not very active, so most of the sessions were very on the fly. A few people with experience at this style of events had Power Point slides and planned sessions. But no one seemed to know what was going to be available until it showed up on the grid. The whole thing had a very “open source” feel to it. A ton of sharing, collaborating, camaraderie and it was free.
This weekend has really emphasized something I have been thinking for a while. I seem to enjoy my time in the social media space more when I really know the people I am interacting with. From this type of event, to meeting people at conferences and even the folks at the local South Florida SEO Meetup I help run, getting to actually know the people makes all the difference in the world. There are a couple more stops on the Mashable Summer Tour (only Boston and New York City left), if one is coming to your area, I would recommend attending both the Mashable Party and the SocialMediaCamp.
Get out from behind your flat screen and do some Social Media in person.
John Carcutt is the President and Founder of AppliedSEO, a search engine optimization and social media marketing firm based out of Boca Raton, Florida. John is also a regular speaker at Search Engine Strategies and Search Marketing Expo (SMX) Conferences.