Social Media from the Roots – Northern Voice 2011

I’m good at figuring things out and learning things on my own, but I like taking classes and learning in a group environment. It not only exposes you to the knowledge of instructors and other students, but I also find my own thoughts and ideas quickening when I’m sharing them with others. So, when I started this blog, I knew at some point I’d want to do some learning away from my computer screen.

This weekend, I did just that. Northern Voice is a social media conference based in Vancouver and is in its seventh year. The conference is organized by volunteers and has a grassroots ethos to it. You won’t find corporate swag bags, but you will find media professionals, artists, amateurs and enthusiasts gathering to learn from each other. The participants are drawn mostly from around BC, as well as the Pacific Northwest in the US.

I knew that I was going to like this conference as soon as Day One’s keynote speaker began her presentation. April Smith of AHA Media spoke about using social media to democratize media and to provide coverage of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside as a member of the community. Beginning a conference with such a dynamic, grassroots perspective is so different from what professional/corporate events provide. It’s a much needed perspective.

Day Two’s keynote speaker was Chris Wilson of Google. His presentation was well-tailored to the audience, too, bringing a technological perspective to the idea that the social media and blogging worlds cater to the long tail of interests – there’s room for a lot of diversity in these spheres.

Highlights from Day One:

The Courting Controversy session:
Don’t be controversial for its own sake, because you’ll be called on to back up your claims.

Leah Gregg’s photos
Roland Tanglao’s exhortation to shoot daily
Jeremy Lim’s advice to shoot less so you can notice more

Communities that Rock:
There was more information in this session than a newish blogger like me could even get down on paper, but what stuck with me most was that you need to work at making your blog visually appealing, giving your readers opportunities to interact beyond comments and keeping your blog posts fresh by varying form and content.

Highlights from Day Two:

Grassroots Campaigns
It was fascinating to hear the evolution of the presenters’ various social media and offline campaigns.
– Keeping your message simple, then translating the interest and support into offline actions is key
– Complexity can come later
– Simplicity doesn’t have to cancel out diversity

Looking Through the Lens
Alan Levine led us through a presentation of gorgeous photos and discussed the impact of aperture, shutter speed and ISO on photo quality. He also encouraged us to shoot daily, through communities like The Daily Shoot, which provide feedback as well as incentive.

The DS106 Radio crew took a university course and turned it into a Wild West of internet radio experimentation. Great storytelling.

Awesome-izing Your Podcast
v, an experienced broadcaster, gave us a wealth of information on best podcasting practices. What it boiled down to, though, was creating a sense of intimacy in your recordings.

I encourage you to click through to the Northern Voice conference schedule link at the top of the post – there were many more sessions and the schedule has lots of links to the fantastic presenters’ sites.

And lest you think it was all session and no play, I’ll leave you with a photo from the wine tasting room.


4 thoughts on “Social Media from the Roots – Northern Voice 2011

  1. How fantastic, Teresa. Such a great opportunity to learn about social media. I have read about the different blogging conferences and wondered what they are like. I’m so glad that you enjoyed this one. Thank you for sharing what you learned with us!

    1. I think it’s worth it to go. It’s got me thinking about how I do things on my blog, what I do now and what I’d like to do, too. I liked that the one I went to was local, affordable and not particularly business or corporate focused.

      I’ve been reading people’s tweets this weekend from BlogHer Food and EatWriteRetreat – it seems like people there are learning a lot!

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