Becoming Professional: A Blog

techMAP December: End of Year Thoughts from Great Thinkers

Posted on: December 7, 2010


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Techmap logo. Click to visit their website.

Last night I had the great fortune to go to the techMAP end of the year event. For those of you who don’t know, techMAP is an online and offline community of marketing and PR professionals who are riding the wave of changes in our industry. In short, they are awesome.

I had found out about the event only last Tuesday and attended without preconceptions. Five speakers spoke about what they had learned in 2010 and a little about what they hoped for 2011. I was so blown away by their quality I decided about half-way through that I just had to blog about the event for those who couldn’t attend. Here’s the main point I got from each speaker.

The first speaker was Lucy Payne, an account manager at Pass It On Media. Her presentation focused on participation. She wants us to engage with the people who will actually be using our products from the word “go.” That means we should bring them in during the planning phases. We need to do this because, “Social Media Marketers are not Social Media Users!” Of course, she didn’t mean that we aren’t obsessed by Twitter, Linked In, and Facebook, rather that while we are, our audiences aren’t. We have to adapt to how they use the media, not assume they use it like we do. (For more on not being your audience, check out this blog post)

Next up we had the social technologist Benjamin Ellis from SocialOptic, amongst other projects. His presentation can be captured by the phrase “it’s always been about the community.” He defined “community” simply as a group of people gathered around a purpose. If you have a true community then even if you leave the project, the community and excitement will keep on without you. But if your community dies, then what you built was but an interested audience. That stunned us for a moment.

Next up was Misae Richwoods, a lady with a finger in many pies. Her presentation focused on the fact that human beings don’t change. We’re quite static, really, which is why history tends to be cyclical, or as Mark Twain said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, it rhymes.” Those who participate will always be participators. She also made the point that we can’t stick to social media and not look at anything else. After all, “If all you have is a hammer, pretty soon everything starts looking like a nail.”

Kate Spiers, who runs her own communications agency, was up next. Her presentation focused on the idea that “It’s not me, it’s you.” As she put it, this is the age of personalization. You can get what you want, where you want, and when you want, so it’s about you — the consumer. Her hope for 2011 was for marketers to get more tech savvy and for IT departments to get in touch with their entrepreneurial sides. Apparently what we have now are hyperactive marketers and rule-bound IT departments. Kate wants them to come together.

The last presenter was Mark Jennings, account director at Fresh Networks and the founder of theMeet140. Apparently 2010 taught Mark that he hates social networks! Well, really the technology obsession. We’re so wrapped up in the tools that we’re forgetting to concentrate on the people, which is the part that Mark loves. He got the room laughing with stories of drunken fun at social media conferences and other events, including a business venture to market non-standard sizes of hula-hoops. And his hope for 2011? That we mature. Read his blog post. He explains it better there than I can here.

And that wasn’t it. The conversations afterward were almost as good as the presentations! Here are some golden nuggets I managed to jot down:

  • A community is good because it has boundaries and is finite. So when you market to a community you have a defined audience to target instead of trying to shove your message at “everyone.”
  • There is a danger that we can become native “broadcast” marketers again, losing the opportunities of social media.
  • As soon as you say “social media” customers close off because so many “social media marketers” are self serving and gave the topic a bad rep. To get around this, talk instead about what social media does, without naming it.

*14/12/2010 Note: techMAP has now uploaded the slideshow that the presenters used here http://bit.ly/h8yuvW. Enjoy!

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6 Responses to "techMAP December: End of Year Thoughts from Great Thinkers"

That’s a really nice summary of the event. Perhaps what is most obvious to me from hearing so many Social Media pros talking is that there are a lot of frustrations within the industry, from tech obsession and bad manners to marketing clichés and sleazy salesmanship.

I’m really glad that techMAP have created a forum where professionals can share those gripes. It’s by getting them discussed that maybe they can evolve as a community. Thanks for being part of that debate, Kate.

I’m doing my best. All I can do is comment on my observations. And even if everyone was talking about things they wish could change, I am happy that the discussion at techMAP was all light-hearted. You are absolutely right, it is a great forum.

Really enjoyed Tech Map’s December event.

What struck a chord for me was what Mark Jennings said about the obsession with tools, as if they could fill a vacuum or become a replacement for engaging and inspiring content. Getting back to the core of the message is crucial to meet clients’ objectives and this is what social media is truly about.

Great point! Thank you for the comment, and hope to see you at the next techMAP event!

Very interesting post with plenty food for thought.

I really like what Benjamin Ellis said about community, the notion of community sharing a purpose clarifies and complicates its meaning for me.

What he said about ‘interested audience’ is profound. I can think of countless groups that have fallen apart that were based upon this idea of community. The spunky originators ending up moving on and the community has to flourish without them. Instead, things eventually fall apart. Somewhere or another, that true idea of purpose was missed.

Wow, you suddenly made me think of a lot of “communities” I’ve been a part of online, completely removed from any marketing campaign. Or even just social groups that had formed around one particularly strong personality that, once that person left for some reason, went poof because other than for that person, no one had a reason to be there. Good point!

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Who Am I?

I am a Digital Native who is trying to puzzle out what exactly that means. I share my thoughts on social media, digital business models, and PR here on this blog.

I am currently getting my Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School, having gotten my B.S. in Marketing from Arizona State University. Everything is on track and I am making headway towards my dream: World Domination... or being a productive, helpful citizen and marketer. Whichever comes first.

Don't hesitate to get in touch. I Tweet daily at @KateDavids and also have a science fiction and fantasy blog (maskedgeek.wordpress.com) and Twitter (@Masked_Geek).

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