PodCamp Takes Toronto By Storm

Chris Brogan's session at PodCamp Toronto 2008PodCamp Toronto 2008 hit Toronto with a vengeance this weekend. Roughly 300 bloggers, podcasters, public relations pros, ‘social media’ experts and more descended on Ryerson University in downtown Toronto for two days of all things interactive, and many more watched the event live online from around the world.

A few highlights for me:

Saturday

  • Chris Brogan kicking off the weekend in style. A great session on the power and connecting ability of ‘social media’ – cutting-edge two-way online tools. He also set the stage for the dominant tool throughout the conference: Twitter.
  • Collin Douma starting a great debate, both in the session and online, about the social media release; in particular, Social Media Group‘s Digital Snippets product. Collin targeted his remarks slightly above the beginner level, but not so high as to alienate people – good job! My take-aways:
    • The social media release adds new options to your toolkit. It doesn’t replace old tools.
    • Regardless of what you call it or the language you use to describe it or the specific features you include in it, find what works for you or your clients and do it. Social Media Group found a format that worked for a Fortune 100 client and they’re using it successfully.
    • Organizations can use social media releases (or whatever you choose to call them) to promote more than just a single story. For example, you could launch one for a product line and provide updates to it over time. Interested parties can then subscribe to receive future updates.
    • For this kind of tool to spread, people need to get out there and use it. 99% of execs haven’t heard of the social media release, and if people don’t get out there, use it and raise awareness of the tool then it will never spread.
  • Donna Papacosta facilitating a fantastic roundtable on podcasting. Fellow PodCamp organizer Connie Crosby took notes and shared them on Slideshare.
  • Spending from 5pm to beyond midnight meeting, connecting to and learning from some awesome people. There are too many to list – you know who you are!

Adele McAlear and Dave Fleet at the Friday night meetup before PodCamp Toronto 2008Sunday

  • Connie Crosby and Eden Spodek hosting a free-flowing ‘campfire discussion’ (where were the marshmallows??) on all things social media in the morning. Lots of great discussion, including a heated debate on the relative merits of video, audio and text and the direction that online content is moving in.
  • Keith McArthur and Mathew Ingram candidly discussing ethics in new and old media, using some familiar case studies to illustrate the failures of both. Keith made a valid point that, for better or worse, people trust newspapers to an extent because they’ve been around for so long. When you’re a blogger, you put a lot on the line with each post you write.
  • Nashville’s Dave Delaney moving beyond the Twitter basics (that I sat on a panel about) to discuss how to promote your personal brand, what apps to use and how to get the most out of Twitter.
  • Mitch Joel (who called and wrote-in to PodCamp throughout the weekend – thanks Mitch!), Mitch Canter, Andrea Vascellari, Laura Fitton and Jay Moonah demonstrating the new online video conference tool ooVoo. Despite some serious bandwidth issues, this was a great intro (if you want to find me on ooVoo, my username is davefleet).

I had a great time in the two workshops I presented (Social Media in a Disaster and the Twitter 101 panel) and both were well attended. No-one left them mid-way through, either, which was reassuring.

It’s hard to put into words how much I got out of this year’s PodCamp Toronto. Whether it was making completely new contacts, meeting existing contacts face-to-face for the first time or reuniting with old acquaintances, the people alone made all the work completely worthwhile. Two days of excellent presentations on top of that made it a mind-blowing weekend.

Keith and Michelle at PodCamp Toronto 2008One last big highlight of the weekend – a successful and happy conclusion to Keith Burtis’ social media miracle. I had the pleasure of telling his story to the crowd during the opening remarks at the conference. Congratulations to Keith and his new fiancee Michelle!

My only regret is that I couldn’t be in three places at once for the entire weekend. Fortunately, as we’re posting videos and resources for every session on the PodCamp Toronto wiki over the next little while, I can go back and review the sessions I missed.

Thanks to my fellow PodCamp organizers Jay Moonah, Connie Crosby, Eden Spodek, Sean McGaughey, Rob Lee, Katherine Matthews and Tommy Vallier – you guys were great to work with. I look forward to the pleasure of organizing PodCamp with you all again next year.

(You can check out the rest of my PodCamp Toronto photos here)

Dave Fleet
EVP Digital at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.