A little crisis, a little social good, a little journalism and a little totally inappropriate humor. This was Social Media Club's December 2011 event.
I'll admit it; I love Social Media Club events. I get to see my very busy friends; I get to meet new people/geeks; and I get to learn about things I would never have learned about otherwise.
This month, SMC brought in four speakers and gave them 10 minutes each to share what they've been working on in 2011 and to look forward to 2012. The focus was less on predicting trends (yawn) and more on the amazing work that four different organizations in four very different fields have been doing: crisis communications, educational microloans, TV journalism and social media marketing.
We settled in to the posh room and catered food at the Microsoft Conference Center; Betsy Aoki from Bing opened up the festivities.
Speaker #1: Pascal Schuback, Crisis Commons
The first speaker up was Pascal Schuback, works with Crisis Commons and uses crowdsourcing to provide valuable information in emergency situations. When the crisis in Haiti happened, for example, the Crisis Commons team used social media references to create a crisis map that was widely acknowledged as the most accurate one. In fact, Craig Fugate, FEMA administrator, referred to this map as "the most comprehensive and up-to-date map available to the humanitarian community"!
Speaker #2: Kushal Chakrabarti, Vittana educational microloans
The second speaker, Kushal Chakrabarti, is the 27-year-old founder of Vittana, an organization dedicated to providing educational loans to children who otherwise would not be able to get an education and dramatically increase their incomes. Chakrabarti shared the story of Mercy, a young girl who was mocked for her love of books. Through a $350 loan (a series of microloans) in 2009, she got an education, became a teacher and increased her income from $3.89 to $10 a day.
It was a stunning example of how a series of $10 and $25 microloans can make a huge difference in one person's life. How else could someone like me help nearly triple the income of someone like Mercy? Amazing.
But his talk wasn't all Sally Struthers and serious. Another aspect of microloaning is the gamification and the competitive nature it can bring out in folks. In what other arena will Mormons be pitted against atheists pitted against lesbians to try to out-microloan the other, I ask you? The slide brought up an interesting mental image: suit-clad Mormons Nerf-gunning staunch gals with short haircuts, saying, "I can donate more to help than YOU can!" Politically correct? No. Ridiculously funny? Yes.
Speaker #3: Mark Briggs, King5
Mark stepped on stage and immediately won hearts and minds with his self-effacing humor:
Briggs was technically speaking on a more serious topic, transparency in journalism and the ongoing convergence of journalism and social media. However, part of the process of embracing social media means embracing a lighter tone and having a sense of humor, something many news organizations still struggle with.
Not King5, though. When King5 bloggers posted photos of journalists "planking" to the organizations Tumblr blog, the blogosphere exploded and earned the organization the title "badass" for its ground-level approach to community and communication.
Speaker 4: Donald Desantis on Peacocking: the art of getting social media laid
No doubt that Desantis stole the show and closed down 2011 with some of the best slides I've ever seen and one of the most active Twitter streams during an SMC event.
The title alone grabbed attention, and it was an accurate indicator of Desantis' content. Apparently not one to shy away from, well, anything, Desantis ran through a rapid-fire series of tips on how to stand out in social media:
- Isolate your wackos.
- Make it special.
- Mix it up.
- Headlines matter; the internet skims.
- Be controversial.
- Start a holy war. Be against something.
If you missed SMC this month (and what a one to miss! Shame on you!) the UStream is always available for viewing after the fact. Grab a beer, have a seat and watch it. You'll be glad you did.