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I spent Saturday at the Social Media Camp in London, an excellent event put together by @vero.  It was great to see a load of friendly tuttle faces down there and get to meet a whole load of new like-minded people.

There were some excellent sessions put on – a couple of related sessions from The Times Online on `how to write awesome headlines’ (how can i resist a session with “awesome” in the title?) and then a follow-up from their SEO queen on how they use google trends and google hot trends to influence content.  It was also mentioned that they go through old content looking for articles relating to quite specific topics (let’s say a less common illness) and then publish it online with a nice SEO-optimised title.  Cheeky huh?  A quite good idea too tho!

The Murdoch cru were there in full force and another session i attended discussed why there is still such a distinction between the offline and the online publications.  For example if an article in an online version of a newspaper generates a lot of discussion, why are so few journalists willing to pick up the discussion in the print version of the newspaper or relay the comments to print readers?  The London paper is making moves to try and blur the distinction between the offline and online and you can expect a community-based site from them in the coming months.

Another great session was lead by tuttle’s own Lloyd Davis who gave a `have n95 will travel’ account of how a great journalists kit can be centred around the N95.  Lloyd walked us through the various homebrew apps that come together to make a reasonable mobile blogging platform.  You can check out the quick post he put up as an example here, and here we all are waving to the camera!
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The other big star of the show was of course twitter.  I think nearly everyone there was involved in the backchannel discussions, in fact at times it all got a bit schizophrenic!  One tab showed your own twitter stream and the other the tweets using the hastags. It was quite common to be in discussion with people in other sessions, sharing what you were listening to or contrasting different approaches.

What has also been noticeable is the number of companies who have begun to follow me after the Social Media Camp.  For example, I got into a very brief (twitter) discussion with a UK rep of Radian 6.  On Sunday the official Radion 6 twitter profile began following me.  During one session we discussed customer feedback tools and i tweeted about ideastorm, ideascale and mystarbucks idea.  By the time I got home one of their competitors, UserVoice, had contacted me to see if I’d seen their product and had begun follwoing me.  There are a couple of other examples too, but I’m sure you get the picture.  This of course all suggests, if we didn’t know it already, that twitter is becoming a business tool and organisations are obeying the first rule of social media – listen!

Discussion (or lack of it) about the role of listening was what hit me about an event on the OU’s Broadcast Strategy Review here at the OU yesterday.  It seemed that our thinking about engaging in external social spaces is still along the lines of it being something that we do to a passive audience.  There was some mention of looking at comments, but IMHO the conversations around the content are of vital importance.  If we don’t have the will and the strucutres (not just one person looking at comments on their account) to learn from these comments and complete the loop by letting people know that we’ve listened, then it’s worse than not listening in the first place.

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  • Laura

    October 7, 2008 at 9:54 am

    Aww, that’s unfair. I only had five minutes and I said something about the importance of moving people from passive to active engagement and about feedback from conversations to people around the university. I also talked about Creative Commons licensing as the way forward if we accept that people are now enabled by technology to create and share.

  • David Alston

    October 7, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Sounds like it was a event. Would have loved to be there though I’m glad you had a chance to connect with Matt. Perhaps I can swing a trip across the pond for the next one – one can always hope :)

    Cheers. David

    PS> And great point about “listening”.

  • Benjamin

    October 16, 2008 at 9:18 am

    It was a good day – that’s me in the back corner, on the floor with my trusty 17′ MacBook Pro.

    Your last paragraph jumps out at me. The shift in marketing from a one way channel to a two way conversation is a very big one. And the bigger you are, the harder it is.

    I’d disagree with the last sentence – listening and changing is a good first step. Providing feedback is much harder than it seems (I’ve now been on both sides – Marketing VP for a large publicly listed company, and independent social media consultant). People realising that you are listening, by seeing change, is much less harmful that feeding back that there will be change, and it not happening.

    Using social media means re-architecting the business, and that doesn’t happen over night.

  • Kate

    October 17, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    as someone with language enthusiasms, can I ask why your style changed after giving an account of the day? eg no caps for i in the first part, but I for I in the last parts?

    thanks for taking the time to reply, if you can.

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