Social Media’s Crisis of Conscience: Analytics, Money, and Status

#pcb4The boundless enthusiasm for social media seems to be running into a need for commercial affirmation. I was struck that the most powerful theme on the formal agenda at Podcamp Boston 4 this weekend was measurement and making the business case for social media:

  • How do we measure the impact of social media?–Marta Kagan.
  • Can you measure social media interactions in a meaningful way–Wayne Kurtzman.
  • How do we prove that all this social media effort is worth it?–Justin Whitaker.
  • Why bother with social media? (return on assets)–Todd Van Hoosear.
  • How do we measure SM engagement – Elizabeth Hannan
  • Are you falling for false metrics online and not measuring real ROI? –Leslie Poston

Meanwhile, I’m sitting with about thirty attendees discussing the noticeably heightened narcissism apparent at the event. My take is that this year, social media became a tool of the famous. Those who are “web famous” are now on a spectrum that includes Oprah and the President. And newbies at Podcamp aren’t here just to learn how to enter the conversation, but also to hire, network and upwardly increment their follower count.

One of the Twitter luminaries in attendance spoke about his energy for 24/7 media engagement. He talked about how his kids don’t play with rockets or chemistry sets, and how that generation is missing something. But when our work increasingly becomes our hobbies and dreams, it’s the adults who need to play.

The best moment of the day was pulling out a Frisbee on the grounds of UMass Boston’s Harborside campus and hucking it into the ocean breeze. It felt like a necessary and disruptive act to clear the standard of self-abandonment to social media.

I love the spectacle of people bringing their art and sense of fun to a weekend of enthused community. The commercial track has arrived, and at some level the balance of community, technical, creative, and fun is finding a new level.

That said, there’s still tremendous personal benefit from this community. Fifteen years ago, the Boston Computer Society had its mega-meetings with 100 speakers on varied tech topics at UMass. Today Podcamp, SEMPO, NESEM, MITX, and others are filling a space similar to what that 30,000-member organization did in its day. And it’s still fun to be in the mix.

Fun memory: An organized discussion on “What is Success?” led by Avrom Honig, the young man who created the wonderful video blog of his grandmother passing on her cooking secrets, Feed Me Bubbe.

Perhaps success is loving your creation and others through the labor.

Tip of the hat to Useful Arts co-conspirator, Brandon Lovested, who joined in this year’s fun. Read the thoughts of other attendees by following Twitter hash tag: #pcb4.

3 Responses to "Social Media’s Crisis of Conscience: Analytics, Money, and Status"

  • […] The nature of a multi-tracked conference is that you are always missing another session. Since the organizers encouraged folks to vote with their feet if a particular session wasn’t what they’d envisioned (which people readily did), and since Twitter allowed people to share their experience in real-time(ish), it was easier not to miss things. In any case, since you couldn’t be everywhere, it’s cool that the media at the center of the conference allow people to document and share their particular experiences. Here are just two examples of that from Beth Dunn and Dave Wieneke. […]

  • […] David Cutler – Our PodCamp Boston Session "City 2.0" David Weineke – PCB4 Social Media Is Changing Chris Abraham – Reputation Dismorphism TechNewsMadeSimple – How to start podcasting, Is […]

  • […] it’s a sort of social media un-conference. You can get a better feel from this take on Podcamp4 in 2009, and Podcamp3 in 2008. It’s an enjoyable time to connect with the local social media […]

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