Cherishing the Old, Bringing in the New

Today was my first day as Executive Director of Coastal Sound Music. Good timing, great networking and a little bit of luck secured this contract and it provides me with the opportunity to once again work deeply with an arts organization. If you love choral music, I hope you’ll connect with us on Facebook and YouTube.

I am fortunate that my new appointment gives me the flexibility to continue my research, writing, teaching and consulting in social media. I’m still keenly interested in the changing ways we build online communities and I look forward to sharing that knowledge with my students at Douglas College, Simon Fraser University and Ridge Meadows College. I’ll also continue to work with a handful of private clients one-on-one and I look forward to celebrating their success.

There will be some changes around Beachcomber Communications. My plan is to simplify and consolidate my own efforts. I’ll keep you posted if I decided to do anything radical!

For me, the crux of social media has always been the people and the community they create. My new position at Coastal Sound Music is an amazing opportunity for me to contribute to something I believe in and enjoy. Singing in a group creates an instant community. I’ve been part of the organization as a singer, a volunteer and contractor for many years and I’m excited to start my leadership role today.

If you have a few minutes to spare, I invite you to watch the Coastal Sound Music Adult Choir singing A Blessing. This traditional song has a lovely message to start the New Year. (And , yes, that’s me in the back row on the right far right.)

Do you Podcast?

Ever heard of podcasting and wondered what the heck it’s all about?

Podcasting is your opportunity to broadcast content through your blog or a social network. Podcasts can be audio only or done on video. Think of it as your own private radio station or television network where you decided what’s “On the Air.”

Bob Garlick and Kim Plumley outside the Garlick and Plum Jam Podcast Tent at Social Media Camp
with guest Sean Moffitt (centre).

If you love to talk with people, then podcasting is a great way to get your message out there. Podcasts can be a single person on mic or on camera sharing what they know. But even better is when two or more people come together to record a conversation. The energy, playfulness and interaction between podcasters can really liven up a conversation. If you’re new to podcasting, check out Kim Plumley and Bob Garlick over at Garlick and Plum Jam – they know how to have fun with their guests and weave in lots of great advice about marketing and social media.

If you want to jump into podcasting, you can start with the tools in your computer already – the built in mic, the built in camera. But if you want to produce something a bit higher quality then you’ll need some equipment beyond your computer.

  • Buy the best quality headsets you can afford. Sennheiser and Plantronics are among the best brands for sound quality. The set I use is from Sennheiser and it cost me about $100.
  • A portable, pocket size video camera that you can take with you anywhere is great way to start video blogging. I use Kodak’s Zi8 (last year’s model) and look forward to upgrading to a Kodak Playtouch soon. I know other folks, including the fabulous video podcaster Rebecca Coleman, prefer the Flip camera. All of these are available for somewhere between $100 and $200. The key is to get a camera that records in HD, offers good sound quality and plugs into a USB port for easy connectivity.
  • A handheld, unidirectional microphone is also helpful. You see me using one in the photo below where I’m interviewing author Jack Whyte. Moving the mic back and forth captures better sound than the video camera’s onboard microphone. This is especially important when there’s lots of background noise. Again, you’re looking at another $100 investment but it’s worth it.

  • Software is also important and I use two free tools – Audacity to record and Levelator to balance sound levels. Have a look at the software already on your computer and see what works for you.

Of course, these tools are not the high end. If you want to you buy a level board, mic booms, spit catchers, lighting, directors chairs, a pop-up backdrop and even book time in a professional recording studio by all means open your wallet. How much you invest has to do with how complicated you want to make your podcast recording process and where your brand sits on the “polished to guerilla spectrum”.

My pal, Peggy Richardson, has taught me much of what I know about podcasting and I subscribe to Peggy’s philosophy that sound quality matters (a lot!) but sometimes you have to capture whatever you can in the moment. So, if I was lucky enough to meet Hugh Jackman on a busy street, I’d gladly record an interview (if he was willing) and compromise sound quality in favour of the unique interview opportunity. The quality you choose to publish is entirely up to you.

One quick word of caution before we wrap up this issue. Recording is easy. So easy, in fact, that you can record lots and lots and lots of content. However, it takes time to upload and edit the content and still more time to create the blog post and share the podcast through Facebook, Twitter, etc. I want to encourage you to give it a try but maybe go slow while you figure out what podcasting set-up works for you.

Tweetup: Defined

Have you ever been to a Tweetup?

As you’ve probably discovered by now, Twitter is full of “tw” lingo – tweets, tweeps, twitterverse, Twitpic, & so on. Tweetup is one of my favourites because it’s a chance to connect offline. A tweetup is simply a gathering of Twitter users in the real world as opposed to a tweetchat which is a gathering of Twitter users online.

The name is a mash up between Twitter.com and Meetup.com, a site used to organize events. Tweetups are organized on Twitter when someone announces a time, place and topic. For many tweetups, you simply show up while others have a more formal registration process through Meetup, Eventbrite, or some other online registration system.

The Nanaimo Family Literacy Day Tweetup brought book lovers & readers together.

Photo Credit: WendyD.ca

Most tweetups are open to anyone who wants to come. If you see a tweetup announced that interests you then plan to attend. Sometimes the organizer will ask you to RSVP to ensure enough food, etc. but often it’s a cash bar or BYOC (buy your own coffee) arrangement. Keep an eye out for any registration links as some tweetup organizers charge admission (usually a modest amount) to cover the costs.

Tweetups are a great way to meet people in your community who share your interests. Before the event start following the tweetup’s hashtag so you can get acquainted with others who will be attending. You’ll discover some new people to follow and may get a few new followers yourself.

Once you’re at the event be sure to live tweet some of your experience. But don’t spend all your time tweeting, after all you’re there to interact with people not their avatars.

After the event, pop back on to Twitter and have another look at the hashtag. Follow any folks you got to talk to and retweet any gems from the tweet stream. And be sure to @mention folks you met to continue the conversation.