For those not in the know, Twitter is a social media network of microblogs, and a universe unto itself. Participants are limited to posts, or “tweets” of 140 characters. The hope is that readers find these posts compelling enough to glance at on a regular basis, and thus begin following the writer in question. The home screen is a feed of all followers. Pithiness attains primacy: 140 characters does not leave a lot of room for excess verbiage. What also fascinated me is the potential for networking: Individuals can connect and converse with peers and colleagues across town, the country or even the globe based on interest in a common topic.
A perfect example of this occurred last week. I discovered that a few of my favorite people were all talking about SMartCAMP. The Roger Smith Arts Hotel in Manhattan were putting together a conference on Social Media in the Arts. On a whim I tweeted this:
Bsimi is Brian Simpson, the Director of Social Hospitality at the hotel. I anticipated that my wishes would disappear into the cyber-ether. Within the hour I received the following:
@AmyUllman email Danika at roger smith dot com ! She is lovely and they could use some assistance ! Thank you
As per his advice I followed up with the lovely Danika and two days later was putting together conference packets, stapling and collating like a champ.
I was only able to make it the final day of festivities, but it was absolutely incredible. The morning began with a talk by Brainpicker extraordinaire Maria Popova, followed by Jane Park’s fascinating history of Creative Commons and the state of modern copy-right law. The morning finished up with a showcase of art start-ups, such as Art-sy and Toura. All of the talks were uploaded via UStream and can be seen here.
The most intriguing part of the morning, even more so than the speakers themselves was the real time communication among spectators. There were people taking notes on paper and laptops of course, but m0st were speedily tapping away on smartphones, sharing conference highlights via twitter. Not only could participants beyond the hotel walls get in on the conversation, we could engage one another in real time, discovering a like minded friend sitting on the opposite side of the room.
The afternoon session was broken into two groups. I chose the Social Media Bootcamp track. The title sounded promising and I saw that there was limited availability. Fearing that I might miss out on an exceptional experience, I signed up for one of the last few spots. I did not realize until it was too late however, that I was in the presence of greatness: a room of legitimate PR and marketing experts, professional artists and bloggers. I tried to slip out but was called out and required to say who I was and the organization that I worked for. Stammering and blushing for a solid 30 seconds, I managed to sputter out something about justawaitress.com (which garnered a few gracious giggles) and being on my third blog post. We were then subdivided into smaller groups, each led by one of the speakers at the conference. I was lucky enough to work with the aptly named MaryAnn Devine, Gallery owner and entrepreneur Anthony Walsh, artist and illutrator Emmanuelle Cunningham and badass box office manager Jessica Dulberg. It was so exciting to brainstorm all of the ways in which we might use social media to our benefit, be it to increase ticket sales, strengthen personal brands or publicize a new service.
For those who decry the use of social media as being anti-social, I beg to differ. I cannot imagine a more pleasant way to meet, greet and engage.