Google+ Opportunity: Create a Community for Your Local Community

Recently Google announced the launch of a new feature for Google+, Communities. Since the announcement there have already been 20,478 communities created (according to Community topics range from things as broad as Space (35,252 members) to things as small as Miniature Gaming (189 members).

The success of these communities will rely greatly on the amount of time and effort that has been put into them. Creating a broad topic and failing to moderate will quickly turn your community into the Wild West, filled with off-topic conversation and tons of spammers. However, if you mix the right ingredients, you can grow a vibrant community full of rich conversation, new discoveries and awesome connections.

Community Members Gather for Fundraiser
Nashville Community Members Gather for St. Jude Children’s Hospital Fundraiser Event

If you want to create a community, but haven’t decided what to make it about, let me give you a suggestion: think local.

One of the things that Google+ offered us was the ability to connect with everyone around the world and discover people with like-minded interests. Now all of this discovering has been a lot of fun, but it doesn’t mean much when you’re not at the computer or using the app on your phone. Luckily, I have begun to make a lot of local real-life connections through Google+ that I meet and spend time with in the real world (thank you #Ingress).

There are millions of cool and interesting things happening around the world, some of which you might be able to participate in, but for the most part, probably not. It’s important to get out from behind the keyboard and your touchscreen and interact with the real world.

I created a community called Nashville+ because I was beginning to notice other members of the the Nashville “community” (funny how that word has another meaning, eh?) starting to embrace Google+. There was a huge opportunity to connect those users and give them the conduit to share interesting stories, photography, local news and other things like restaurant reviews.

The Google+ community I created is pretty small and somewhat stagnant at the moment and I’m fine with that. Like any good community, I want to make sure I have the correct foundation before I start bringing in the people to keep it moving. Once I get the categories sorted out that I like and plant some seeds for conversation, I’ll start contacting local businesses and individuals and offer them the opportunity to connect with other community members.

One thing to be careful of, though, is to make sure that the community doesn’t turn into a giant billboard. The last thing I need is every restaurant and bar posting their specials every day. What I would like to see is people sharing their experiences with different businesses and events. I would like to see people showing the human side of the community. Because, that’s really what community is all about.

Nashville+ is in its infancy, but I already have a few great things planned.

Do you have an idea for a local digital community? What are your plans for success?

We Get Social, Ya’ll: Why Nashville is the Next City in Tech

Today is a special day for Music City, +Google is gracing our fair city with their presence today as part of a partnership with +FLO {thinkery}. Google is hosting their first Google for Entrepreneurs event called +G4eNashville. A lot of the who’s who in Google will be there today talking to entrepreneurs about leveraging Google’s products such as AdWords, Places and +Google+ for their business.

Nashville is obviously the city that music calls home and that could mean a lot for new technology firms as technology continues to influence music. Obviously Nashville is a booming town for country musicians, but there is a wide variety of music that is produced recorded and played live here encompassing dozens of genres. Continue reading We Get Social, Ya’ll: Why Nashville is the Next City in Tech

10 Reasons Why You Need to Attend PodCamp

So what exactly is PodCamp anyway?

If you’re a geek like me, you’re always trying to find out what’s hot and seeking opportunities to network with people that share the same interests as you. If your job involves social media, podcasting, blogging or any other sort of “new media,” PodCamp is something you should definitely check out.

My first PodCamp was last year and it totally changed the way I thought about podcasting, blogging and social media. I learned so much from so many experts and realized that I had a passion that I needed to pursue.

Arriving at PodCamp was a little unnerving at first. I didn’t know a single person who was attending the conference. I did my homework and followed a few of the people that were speaking and tried to get a better idea of what I was getting into. My attempt at preparing myself was pointless though, because the experience I had was absolutely amazing.

There are so many interesting people to hear speak, there are so many great people to meet and there is an extremely deep well of knowledge that you are encouraged to drink from. Bring a bucket, because there is so much to learn.

PodCamps happen all over the world. There are notable ones in Toronto, Montreal, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Boston and a list of other cities across the globe. Fortunate enough for us, there is one right in our own back yard.

So what are 10 reason why you should attend PodCamp?

  1. Learning more about what’s trending. There is no better place than PodCamp to meet the people in your area that are pioneering the industries of new media. They take a day of their time to offer their thoughts, insights and everything they have learned at no cost to you.
  2. Meeting new people. They call them social networks for a reason. The whole point of a conference is to network with the people you already know and people you’ve never heard of.
  3. There is always something that interests you. Unlike most conferences, PodCamps don’t necessarily have a central theme. They are not put on by a single business and they are not held within the bounds of a single topic. Sessions at PodCamp can range from how to use Pinterest to adding video to your website. No matter how you–or your business–use the web, there is surely something there for you.
  4. You can start your own discussion. That’s right. Whether or not you’re speaking at PodCamp, you can always start your own conversation. Tables are provided with cards to indicate your topic as you invite other attendees to sit down and talk about whatever interests you.
  5. Social lubricant is abundant. Did I mention they have beer at PodCamp? That’s right, you can throw back a cold one during the sessions to better enjoy the experience. Shy about meeting people? Nothing a lager can’t solve. Don’t drink? Don’t worry, other refreshments are available, and there is no one there to judge.
  6. You can tweet the whole time. Normally when you attend a conference, people ask you to silence your phones and devote all of your attention to the topic at hand. PodCamp? No way! In fact, most speakers designate a Twitter hashtag to their session just to keep track of what everyone is saying.
  7. You will learn something you didn’t know. No matter how much of an expert you think you are or how much you think you know about any given topic, it is inevitable that you will take something away from your day at PodCamp.
  8. You can build your business from attending. I know I talked about the opportunity to meet new people, but above that, you can meet people that can help you grow your business. Not everyone can be an expert at everything and people in new media are always looking for other experts to collaborate and share leads with.
  9. There’s tons of swag. Free stuff? Giveaways? Yes. It’s here, too. Plenty of companies help recover the cost of executing PodCamp each year and in return, they like to remind attendees of their business by giving away promotional items bearing their insignia. Yes, you two, might score a nifty thumb drive, coffee travel mug or t-shirt.
  10. Did I mention its free? I challenge you to find another new media conference as enriching, entertaining and fun as PodCamp that doesn’t charge you a dime to walk through the door.

There you go, ten reasons why you should attend PodCamp this year. Still not convinced? Check out the video below that I made based on my interactions with people at last year’s PodCamp. Oh, and one more thing, be sure to check out my session, “Google +: Ghost Town or Game Changer?” at PodCamp this year. If you’re interested in learning more about Google’s social platform, it’s a session you won’t want to miss.

How to Use Google Plus for Your Brand

Google Plus for your Business
What is Google+?

Last night I was asked to speak at Ross Jones‘ IMD405 Internet Marketing class at The Art Institute of Nashville. Ross and I met at the SpeakerUp meeting for the 2012 Podcamp Nashville as we are both interested in speaking this year about our perspective niches.

Ross is a SEO expert and has been doing it for longer than most people knew what Search Engine Optimization was. Ross owns a business called 2 the Top Design where he helps businesses get their website optimized for search engines and in turn, getting them more leads.

Continue reading How to Use Google Plus for Your Brand