UnConference-ing in Las Vegas

I’m in Vegas for the rest of the week, attending the Social Media for Communicators Conference presented by Ragan Communications and PRSA. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a reliable WIFI connection anywhere in Vegas (more time for shopping then…???) so I’m having to modify my initial plans to live blog from the conference. Instead, I’ll be taking notes during the workshops & keynotes and writing posts on the side, then posting on the blog when I get a chance to run down to the lobby for internet connections (not so easy in heels, but I’m dedicated).

Today, I hit up the afternoon sessions of the “Unconference” seminar. This, essentially, was about 100 professionals having roundtable conversations about social media they wanted to know more about. Mark Ragan, Jim Ylisela and Steve Crescenzo added their two cents as well, and we had some good discussions that set the tone for the rest of the week. The main message: The key to success with social media application is content content content.

We started by talking about getting executive buy-in to using social media tools, including creating a corporate blog. Here are some of the highlights that came out of that discussion:
• Social Media is a business tool to help communicate to your intended audiences:
– Share ideas
– Solve problems
– Communicate more by doing less
• Commenting is the conversation: there is no need for one person to respond to all the comments. With a CEO blog, the Communications department can be utilized to research, answer and respond to the comments.
• The success can’t be measured by the number of comments or responses that are posts.
• People are having these conversations anyways. Social Media tools can be used to capture the conversation and be a part of it.
• For those who fear negative backlash: Last year, the Southwest Airlines blog received half a million comments. Only one comment was not approved for publishing because it was inappropriate. That lends credibility to the theory that the community will police themselves.

Then we moved on to employee education about social media. After hearing from the government employees and those who work in engineering, I’m so glad that I work for an up-and-coming young company that understands how important social media to the Gen Y workforce we employ. Some points I thought were interesting were:
• Employees (especially Gen Y) need to be educated, not limited, about how they use social media tools and how they can use them in relation to the workplace.
• Give the people who won’t go online to see the content a way to look at it anyway – print out a blog article and hand it out; burn a CD with podcasts and give to commuters/drivers.

We also discussed ROI measurement for social media tools. After echoing one person’s sentiments about being tired of having to measure and justify every single thing a Communications Department does, another great point was that there is no standard of numbers that we can measure our own ROI numbers against. Steve added that he didn’t know if those numbers even exist yet. The website Xinureturns.com was suggested as a way to start putting measurement results into context.

The last discussions turned to RSS and engaging employees through social networks. I mentioned that I tapped into brass employees’ Facebook networks through a group called: Top 25 Entrepreneurs Under 25: Vote for brass, to spread the word about brass CEO Bryan Sims being recognized by BusinessWeek.com. At it’s peak, the group had about 250 members, and we succeeded in getting Bryan voted into the top 3 young entrepreneurs of 2007.

Before we dismissed for the day, Mark made sure to show us a cool new tool, the Flip Video Recorder, and a video he created with it that’s posted on MyRagan.com. I’m going to check it out more when I get home and see if it’s something I could use for work & play.

Tomorrow’s conference kicks off bright and early, but being that I’m in Vegas and I’m also working on a big presentation for work, chances are I won’t be getting to bed too early tonight. Ah well, Cest La Vie! (Better than “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”, right Mom?)

UnConference-ing in Las Vegas

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