As I’ve said before, a Podcamp can be a lot to digest. At Podcamp Pittsburgh Five, I saw sessions every hour both days, and I came away with a ton of information. Rather than going through and trying to write broad recap of the entire weekend, I thought it would be better — for me and for you — to explain that one thing I learned in each session. This isn’t necessarily an easier approach, because all of the sessions I attended were excellent; this should, however, give you an idea of the breadth we covered in two short days.
Small Business Guide to Social Media, Chris Dilla and Holly Maust: I had just interviewed Chris about her use of Foursquare as a tool to promote Bocktown; between that discussion and what she and Holly — who really knows her stuff — we came away with this: when it’s done correctly, it works. And Chris does it right.
Finding Fodder 52 Weeks a Year, Burgh Baby: I’d be happy if I could come up with a consistent post per week; Michelle does it every day, and has kept up that pace for several years. The thing that stuck with me from her session was a question — the Why, as in why am I blogging. She’s correctly figured out that if you know the Why, coming up with content becomes easier. And that’s a challenge for me, because with the exception of the tailgating blog, I’ve never really had a reason for doing this. Maybe I need to figure that out one of these days.
Web 2.0 Strategy in a Web 1.0 Environment, Tricia Bower: I was happy to see Trish return to Podcamp for a couple of reasons — she’s a fellow college football freak, and she’s successfully converted a company full of social media skeptics into a group that supports — sometimes gingerly — her efforts. What did I get from her session? Besides a big dose of reassurance that this is actually possible, I got the names of a couple of tools and services that will help me, in some cases anyway, show others how people are responding to our SM efforts. Showing always works better than telling, so I’m looking forward to giving those a try.
How To Suck Less On Twitter, Rob de la Cretaz and Jay Fanelli: I’m generally a little suspicious about anyone proposing rules for social media, but I did come away from this entertaining session feeling certain of a couple things: I don’t suck on Twitter too much, and I’m going to mention Rob on #followfridays every week for the rest of our lives.
The Secret Agent L Project, Laura Miller: I already knew what a beautiful person Laura is, and I was already familiar with the exhilarating success of her experiment with anonymous kindness. But the best part of this session was seeing Laura react to a balky and uncooperative set of PowerPoint slides. She handled it like a pro, and she is seriously funny. I don’t want to give short shrift to her message, but seeing a little bit of the real person behind the Secret Agent L Project was one of my favorite moments of the weekend.
Blogging for Business, Cynthia Closkey: I got practical stuff from Cindy’s presentation — her value proposition for Blogging, not matter what the context, is an excellent tool for narrowing down the Why Michelle talked about in her session. But the best thing I get any time I listen to Cindy talk about blogging is a push that always seems to get me going again. I’ve known Cindy for a few years now, and she is a passionate champion of blogging; that is infectious, whether she’s talking about a personal or a professional site.
Using Hootsuite to Manage Social Media Accounts, Dana Sheehan: For weeks, I had been listening to Chris Dilla talk about Hootsuite, and how it’s helped her manage her personal accounts and the ones she juggles for Bocktown. This point was emphasized again in her presentation Saturday morning, to the degree that when I saw this session on the schedule, I thought I’d check it out. Dana did a nice job walking a room full of noobs through getting set and some of the tricks involved in managing multiple accounts, something I definitely need help with. The result? When I arrive in the office each morning, one of the first things I do is open Hootsuite. Thanks to Dana — and to Chris — I’m digging it so far.
Tools, not Toys: Teaching Practical Social Media Use in Journalism and Beyond, Bob Britten: I was so happy to see Bob, a journalism professor at WVU, was returning to Podcamp; he helped me out a year ago when he agreed to be my guinea pig at the conclusion of my Blogging 101 session. The blog we set up in front of everyone became one of my favorite reads in the last year, but it was especially cool when he started writing about his social media class last spring. He has great ideas about how this stuff can be applied in a journalism setting — I’ve stolen his ideas about using Google Maps to illustrate stories — and it was great to hear him walk us through the process on Sunday. The big thing for me was a lesson about focus, an issue some of his students struggled with when they set up blogs for class; the most successful ones were those that had a narrow focus that allowed a community to develop around it.
Awesomecast Live, Mike Sorg, Rob de la Cretaz and a cast of thousands (including me): I learned nothing in this session. But it was maybe the most fun I had all weekend.
My One Gripe: The 649, a combination of two kinds of apple schnapps and lime juice. It was tasty, and that’s a problem — the 649 should be vile, not inviting.
The Bonuses: As always, the people. Podcamp is a great opportunity to meet people I talk to online, and I met a ton of them again this year. Two in particular stick out — Tony, known as commenter and blogger bluzdude, showed up at the meet and greet on Friday; his presence was a complete surprise and a genuine treat. And then on Saturday morning, I looked up and saw a guy in Chucks and a funky hat, and somehow I knew right away it was my Twitter buddy Arthur (@sheepthemoon). Arthur and I share not only a profession but the, uh, unique outlook that often comes along with a career in journalism. It was a pleasure to finally meet him.
And it was a pleasure to finally meet you as well. I hope I don’t have to wait another year — and another Podcamp — before I see you again.