A Year On: LifeWithSocialMedia.com Re-Imagined

I started this blog a year ago, in June 2010. A lot can change in a year and today I bring LifeWithSocialMedia.com back into the light of the blogosphere, with a new resolve, with new ideas and with new direction.

The last 12 months

The last year was a year of trying to find my feet, trying to figure out how I’ll fit into this post-university ‘real’ life. It’s been 11 months since my graduation from the lovely Churchill College of Cambridge University, since I was handed my diploma and sent to find my place outside of the bubble of Cambridge education.

I started the year working for a lovely small agency here in Cambridge, UK, absorbing like a sponge and trying to learn as much as I can about social media, marketing and running a small business. During the year my role kept shifting and accommodating, one of the joys of working in a startup, and I found myself growing into a Community/Content/Marketing gal for Alfred.  I’m happy to say I’ve enjoyed my work very much and am keen to find out how it will continue evolving.

Looking ahead

Yet the next 12 months promise to be so much more eventful. There will be a change in my role, the outlook of long-term travel and many more changes, all of which you’ll hear more about in the next few days, weeks and months.

With this new impulse, the direction of Life With Social Media will shift as well. I’ll continue writing about the uses of social media and the tools that make our lives easier yet I want to also take a higher level look –

  • How can we really make the most of social media to live the lives that we’ve always wanted to?
  • Is it possible to use the tools of web 2.0 to really live the life that we imagine, from anywhere in the world?

I hope you tag along for the ride!

Lessons Learnt at AdTech

My HipstaPrint 01 300x300 Lessons Learnt at AdTech 2010

I’ve just returned from my first big industry event. It was exciting and new and a great experience of actually going out there as someone who works in the field, representing a company. I was able to have a conversation about the products and strategies that were being presented with the background of having worked on real-world projects, helping several clients.

But I was also coming in with fresh eyes and that allowed me to evaluate the event from a bit of a blank slate.

Here are some of my take-aways from the day:

  • Business cards are a must – AdTech was a two-day event. Two days full of seminars, exhibitor stalls, keynotes, meetings…resulting in crowds and crowds of people coming in through the door. Whoever you talk to, I guarantee they won’t remember your name the next day as there’s simply too many new faces. Having a quick way to hand over your contact information was essential.
  • Interesting business cards are better – I can’t even count anymore how many times I’ve had a conversation that was simply sparked by my colourful Moo Mini cards. They look different. They feel different. They’re definitely not boring and people will remember you better simply because you gave them something memorable. Go get yours now.
  • Not all seminars were made equal – I was really excited about the seminar part of the day and had decided beforehand which sessions seemed really interesting and which I would go to. That plan didn’t work quite so well simply because the quality of the seminars was varied and I often found myself feeling bored after five minutes of listening to an uninteresting pitch on an idea that seemed brilliant. I learned to walk away.
  • But for the good ones, come early – If there’s something you really want to see, be prepared to show up 10 or 15 minutes early as places will go fast. Listening from behind the seminar area is not pleasant and often virtually impossible with all the noise around.
  • Travel light – I spent the whole day walking around with my own bag, a coat and a promotional bag full of paper and hidden gems. The exhibition hall was packed and it certainly would have been easier walking around had I planned to take as little as possible in advance. You can get pen and paper at certain seminars (e.g. Google’s AdWords Factory Tour provided a goodie bag and I ended up just using this convenient stationary rather than fishing out my own shiny Moleskine).
  • It will all be one long pitch – Exhibitors are in sales – they will be trying to pitch you the product or service, get your business card (or scan your barcode – more on that in another post) and sign you up for life. Well, maybe not the last bit. But it will pretty much be a pitch and sales event so brace yourself in advance.
  • So come prepared with a plan – Why are you there? Is there anyone specific you want to talk to? Are there seminars that look interesting? Is there a product you want to check out? Make a plan so you don’t end up aimlessly wandering around. The hall is big and you will get distracted.
  • Network in advance – Industry events are a great way to network with people in your field. But these big events are too busy and overcrowded and I found myself not actually having that many nice relaxed conversations getting to know industry colleagues. It would have made a huge difference to seek out others that are going well in advance, connect with them on Twitter and maybe have a few online chats. That way, we could have arranged to meet up on the day. Well, I’ll learn my lesson for next time.

Do you have any tips for the next event? What do you usually do to get the most of industry conferences and networking opportunities like this?

Defining Social Media

As I explained in my previous post on an introduction to Social Media, I think of social media primarily as a tool for communication – communication between a customer and a company, between individuals located across the world, between experts and beginners, between people like you and me. It allows for engagement, collaboration, sharing, community-building and much more and can also lead to surprisingly fast results.

Yet as a start to our conversation about how we can use social media to improve our lives, productivity, business, ideas, I think it is appropriate to spend a bit of time thinking about what social media actually is and what it means.

There is no widely accepted definition of social media. And that may be both a blessing and a curse. To overcome this definitional abyss, Adam Vincenzini over at the comms corner asked 140 communicators to define Social Media in 140 characters, and the results were great!

I have taken the most interesting of the project’s contributions and edited them into thematic chunks.

The results:

  • SOCIAL MEDIA AS COMMUNICATION/CONVERSATION
  • SOCIAL MEDIA AS REVOLUTION/CHANGE
  • SOCIAL MEDIA AS RELATIONSHIPS
  • SOCIAL MEDIA AS DEMOCRATISATION
  • SOCIAL MEDIA AS LEARNING
  • SOCIAL MEDIA AS CONNECTIONS
  • SOCIAL MEDIA IS ABOUT SHARING
  • SOCIAL MEDIA AS COMMUNITY
  • SOCIAL MEDIA AS MARKETING DEVICE