by Lisa Peyton
Last night, the founder of the Social Media club, Chris Heuer, made a stop in Portland to re-launch the club’s local chapter. Billed as a discussion on ” how companies can transform their organization through the use of social media,” the evening was truly much more of a dialog than a simple presentation of ideas. Portland sports bar, The Agency, was packed with about 70 – 90 of the city’s most technically savvy bloggers, Twiterati and marketers. Heuer fired off his ideas to the rapt crowd occasionally stopping to take some difficult questions from the audience.
The loosely structured “rant,” as Heuer put it, focused on an article he wrote entitled “Towards a More Social Organization;” a relatively short treatise in which he contends that “that the rise of Social Media is the catalyst that will ultimately transform our world of work, our economy and our entire society.” When Heuer asked if anyone had read the referenced post, only 2 people raised hands and nobody was willing to try and recap the content. Heuer carried on undaunted, continuing to expound upon his idea, using only sparse notes to keep him on track. He was kind enough to allow me to publish these private notes along with this article. The PDF can be downloaded at http://www.tmmpdx.com/TowardsamoreSocialOrganization.pdf.
Heuer continued to fuel the conversation for well over an hour managing to outline these 6 steps on getting started :
- Understand the macro trends as they affect your market
- Where is the motivation?
- Understand the Language
- Understand the Environment
- Identify the Talent
- Survey the Land
Fielding questions from the crowd sparked a few debates amongst audience members. Dave Allen of Nemo Design, also known for his music blog Pampelmoose, proclaimed flatly “I am bored! I know all this, give me the future.” Allen evoked ire from Intel’s Social Media Manager, Kelly Feller, when he intimated that corporate America would never ‘get’ social media. She argued that several large corporations have been able to leverage social media in a way that provides value to the community.
The event was organized by a large Portland contingent of Social Media enthusiasts including public relations expert, Carri Bugbee. This will be the second shot at a Portland chapter of the Social Media Club.
The original group was founded by Alex Williams and Tim Germer in December of 2006. The group held meetings through Aril 2007 and then disbanded. According to SMC co-founder Kristie Wells, “Alex and Tim both got busy with life and no one else seemed ready to pick up the baton and help the local chapter continue.” When asked if she felt this newest version of the club had the chops to make the duration, Wells replied: “We have a very committed group of people involved, and I think it helps to have Social Media becoming such a hot term so people understand it more. A year ago, I believe Alex and Tim could get people to come, but I think it was not seen as important as it is today.”
Heuer agreed that commitment was a necessary component of ensuring the Portland Chapter’s longevity. However, he had this to say about the on-going challenges surrounding managing such a diverse group of individuals:
“No one person can make a city work. There is also a lot to do with personal politics and ego too – people need to be able to get along and stay connected to the purpose, even when they may fundamentally and philosophically disagree with decisions. Especially so when they clash with the personalities of others. The Association of Internet Professionals went through this in a very difficult way, with the silicon valley chapter breaking off and forming its own thing. This is even easier to do today than it was then, so to keep a diverse group of people together in the face of big differences and even bigger egos is a big challenge.”
About Social Media Club
The Social Media club was founded by Chris Heuer and Kristie Wells in July 2006 “to help people find all the relevant communities of interest in which they want to participate.” The club website, www.socialmediaclub.org, lists four areas as it’s core mission:
Expand Media Literacy
Share Lessons Learned Among Practitioners
Encourage Adoption of Industry Standards
Promote Ethical Practices through Discussion and Actions
Wells describes the primary goals of each chapter as being the same:
“Original goals are the same in every chapter – to take the online relationships we are building and strengthen them in face to face monthly meetings. We encourage each city to select one topic per month to discuss with the idea that everyone walks out of the room either learning something new or meeting someone new or finding a resource they need to be successful. Our gatherings all just happen to be focused around Social Media tools and practices.”
The club currently has over 35 active chapters, including Portland’s neighbor, Social Media Club Seattle. There are several levels of membership including a free Open Membership, a Student Membership ($25 per year), a Professional Membership ($100 per year) and a Small Business Membership ($250 per year). All of the benefits of each level of membership are given in more detail at http://www.socialmediaclub.org/membership/member-benefits/.
Those wishing to become members, including the free option, can register online at http://www.socialmediaclub.org/membership/. According to SMC founder Kristie Wells, the membership dues “go towards supporting the international organization and a portion of this is set aside for the local chapters as well. Our goal is to help each local group become self sufficient, but we want to make sure they have the resources they need to sustain. Eventually, these dollars will go towards events, bringing speakers in, etc.”