Social Media Weekend at Columbia University: Observations

I spend most of my weekend up at the Columbia Journalism School’s Social Media Weekend conference. Sree and his band of volunteers did a great job.   It was small, chaotic, slightly seat of the pants but very effective.  Held in just two rooms across the hall from each other, it was easy to get around in.  Sessions were longer than your average conference and there was on the whole, a much more participatory vibe.  The conference was intimate such that over time, people began to feel more comfortable with each out as the event went on

Most of the conference has been covered extensively.  I’d like to point out some of the hidden items I noticed that may not have been covered:

– Pen and paper.
Strangely I thought lots of people used pen and paper to take notes. I haven’t been to school in a long time but I figured hard copy notes were toast.  I’ll have to think again.

– Lots of woman
In line with the demographics of social networks, my sense is that the crowd was probably 55-60% woman.  This is an on going trend within the digital space workforce.  At AO the editorial staff is increasingly female.  This is a good thing.  New views on life, more empathic in nature and open to sharing experiences, the social web was made of woman. 

– Not a lot of business talk
I understand it is sponsored by the journalism school and all, but there were no sessions on the business of news.  The business of news is under attack and I would have though some discussion on social media as a business for news would have been discussed.  Little suggestion – add C-level executives and lesss reporters.  Folks need to know what they are getting into.

– More on metrics of success
I know metrics are boring but you do folks a disservice to not offer a top line understanding of what makes a successful website in terms of metrics. Or what brands consider success on Facebook. We should all strive to know what our stories, comments, fans or likes are actually worth from a profit and loss perspective.

– Experience is short in supply
Lots of folks are very green. (In terms of actual time on platforms)  It seemed most social medians had two years or less experience.  In some cases those folks that were new to the game were already on panels.  There is still room to make a move,  the barrier to entry is very low and anyone can say “I do social media” Take away? Check peoples work, see if they understand higer concepts of the web but don’t dismiss creativity of the new.


Additional Resources:
Social Media Weekend site

Sree’s Social Media guide

#Smwknd chatter

Social Media Weekend Posterous


What did you think of Social Media Weekend?  I am off?  What did you think?

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By Laurent Courtines

I'm here and I am ready to go. Been doing my homework and I have things to say.

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