Hanging out at Social Capital Ottawa

This past weekend I had a great opportunity to network  while meeting some of Ottawa’s social media minds by attending Social Capital Ottawa. It was a great time.

Social Capital Ottawa, an all day social media workshop, explored through presentations, roundtable discussions, and case studies, what local PR, marketing, graphic designers, mommy bloggers and other professionals are doing in social media. My favourite part was probably the one on one conversation, since I could finally talk to those who I follow on Twitter…in real life! Unfortunately, I can’t rehash everything that was said (your attention span, not my writing ability) so I’ll just dive into 3 areas I want to highlight as my key takeaways from the conference.: the big message, the underlying message, and quotes.

The big message

Something that I gathered from all the speakers is they took action in social media to make things happen. They brought  their expertise to the conversation going on in social media and added value. Sometimes it was a success, other times it was a challenge. Whatever the case, the message is you have to be willing to take action. You can wait on the sidelines thinking about what to do or jump into the fray. For me this hits home when looking at the small things (finishing the multitude of half done blog drafts) to the big things (working on an e-book).

The underlying message

We have a large social media community in Ottawa. I guessed 200 people attending. I was off by 10, as there were 190 people who attended. In the opening keynote, when Glen Gower (@Glengower) asked the audience what social media networks are you on (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn), 99% of hands went up. This was the same when Glen asked who had a blog. Apparently we aren’t a sleepy, government town! People are writing, sharing their thoughts, and pushing change in the community. When Glen asked: “What can we do to get more people participating in social media in Ottawa?”, it made me think. We have a community that is connected online (social media networks), sharing (blogs), but this is only in this small sample of 190 people. Ottawa is over 1 million people. We can’t have success with social media just in this vacuum. There is indeed much more work to be done in the community at large.

Favourite quotes from the conference

The following is a couple of my favourite quotes I collected from the sessions:

Shannon Smith (@cafenoiredesign) on why she writes her blog:

“A blog is a toolbox of support that can be shared to the next person.”

Craig Fitzgerald (Craig_fitz) on measuring social media:

“Its all about experimentation – there is no single formula, measurement is the eyes and ears of the marketer.”

Kneale Mann (@Knealemann) on teamwork:

“Teamwork is about finding who is the strongest for a particular area, not about everyone pitching in.”

on an organizations structure:

“Lower the walls in your organizations and start to share.”

And a favourite of many who attended the conference from Stacey Diffin-Lafleur (@TheStacey) on her social media strategy:

“Proceed until apprehended.”

Thoughts on Blink, learning from Gladwell

I did it. By finishing the book "Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell yesterday, I am now done all of the Canadian author’s fourblink1 books (The Tipping Point, Outliers, and What the Dog Saw being the others ). All of them were entertaining reads although Blink, the #2 book in the quartet, was probably the least enjoyable of them for me.

Blink’s main message is whether it is better for us to rely on our instincts when making decisions or whether studying a situation for a long time, then making a decision is a better idea. Gladwell, as he does so successfully in all of his books, is able to sway your opinion to the former being true and throughout the book he points to examples as to why this is the case. One striking example in the book Gladwell uses is the real story of a group of 4 police officers in New York City and their misjudgement of a “criminal” who they shot  at 41 times to death. The “criminal” was merely an innocent civilian. Gladwell goes on to argue that if the officers had studied the situation better, particularly his face, which would allow them to read his mind, they would have seen the man as not a threat, and would not have made the decision to kill an unarmed man in cold blood.

This was the most fascinating part of Blink. Some other parts of it gets repetitive at times. Perhaps this is because I was so used to Gladwell’s writing style. Nevertheless Blink sticks true to what is typical of a Gladwell book by being  thoroughly researched, thought provoking, with a great, tight narrative.

So with that said, and now having read all of Gladwell’s books (thus far), what you come away with from this quartet of books is the common themes of very interesting social experiments, stories, and case studies that allows you access into a deeper understanding of the people, situations, and world that we find ourselves in. It is fascinating how oftentimes we tend to view things as completely open and shut, but through Gladwell’s books he continues to refute this notion showing that , in fact, there is really another way(s) of approaching things. For me, who has a strong interest in research, building relationships, and being a part of my community, my interest in the books was constantly piqued. I couldn’t put any of them down while reading them mostly on the commute to work. I’m glad a friend of mine, who was chided by his boss to read more, has taken that challenge and recently started Outliers. He is in for a treat.