Tag Archives: chrispenn

put something down on it

Photo by flickr.com/slimdandy

Photo by flickr.com/slimdandy

Chris Penn reflected today on the future of podcasting, in response to something Chris Brogan wrote about the fragmentation of social media, and as a result, of its community and events.

Chris has been putting out a very professional, targeted, and (from what I can tell) successful podcast called The Financial Aid Podcast. In today’s post, he reflects on the really incredible time commitment necessary to really make a podcast work.

It takes a lot of time (and other resources) on a day-to-day basis to produce and promote a high caliber podcast like his. It also takes a serious, unflinching commitment of those resources over a long period of time to have a shot at any real, lasting success.

This is true for all social media projects, and it’s important to discuss the long haul very explicitly, with all your internal stakeholders, before getting started.

It is so important that everyone agrees at the outset what success will look like, how it will be measured, at what intervals you will be measuring your target metrics, and what weight you will assign to each interval over time.

Now is the time to find out whether or not key people expect to see thousands of active community members on your site within three months, or if you can agree on making a somewhat more gradual, sustainable growth curve your goal.

And get it in writing. Remember that staff turnover in nonprofits is incredibly rapid, and plan for each interval, if necessary, being evaluated by an entirely different IT team, different full-time staff, different executive director, different board of directors.

Ideally, you want to create a document that, if sealed in a time capsule and opened up by strangers, would spell out exactly what your goals, strategies, and tactics are going to be, and what responses you plan to put into effect if different benchmarks are met — or not.

It’s a technology plan, or even a social media plan, and it should be integrated, if at all possible, with your development plan and your communications plan. Write it up, get your board to sign off on it. Record it in the minutes.

Putting together this kind of an integrated plan requires a lot more time, it’s true, than just saying Let’s start a blog/podcast/facebook group and see where it takes us. But it can also offer much greater returns, and can give you two solid legs to stand on when times are tight and people start eying your budget as potential fat to be trimmed.

As Penn writes,

There is far more yet to come, if you are willing to have the vision, commitment, and dedication to achieve long term success. If you’re not willing to make that commitment, that’s okay, but don’t expect the same results as the folks who are.


more rockstars every day


Photo by Financial Aid Podcast

The very first NewBCamp was held in Providence, Rhode Island yesterday, and I was there, happy to join in the excitement and fun. Founded by a current student at Johnson and Wales, and modelled on the wildly successful “unconference” series known as Podcamp (co-founded by Chris Penn and Chris Brogan), NewBCamp provided an opportunity for relative newcomers to social media (things like blogs, podcasts, social bookmarking, social networking, etc.) to get their feet wet, explore, and learn in a welcoming, encouraging environment.

There were several presentations on podcasting geared towards the beginner; on videoblogging, on mobile lifecasting, on social networking, on how artists are selling work and building community online, and some very fun live demos of Second Life.

The presenters that I watched — including Chris Penn and Deb Block-Schwenk, among others — did an excellent job of working with and fielding questions from relative beginners in this field. Most of the conference was livestreamed via ustream.tv, with media rockstars in attendance from all over, including some of the folks attending Podcamp Toronto this weekend.

Of course, in keeping with the basic rules of Podcamps everywhere, everyone is a rockstar.

That part is important: Everyone is a rockstar.

That’s what is so compelling about podcamps, barcamps, and now newbcamps: the idea is to give everyone — presenters, volunteers, attendees, beginners, geeks — the same level of reverence, authority, and importance.

It’s not surprising that the world of new media, which flips the funnel (more here), should also turn on its head the traditional hierarchy of the professional conference. At a Podcamp, you’re a presenter if you put yourself forward. You’re an expert if you say you are. You’re a rockstar just for being you, and for being a part of something that most of us find exciting beyond words.

The whole point of this “new media,” this “social media,” is that the power is in the hands of the people. No matter what the form of media, the power of production and distribution is no longer in the hands of the few, it’s in the hands of the many. It’s in the hands of YOU.

The real success of Podcamp (and NewBCamp, by extension) is that it extends this ethos into the real world, and it all but requires us to deal with each other — at these events, at least — as equal stakeholders in this thing.

It’s telling that one of the first “spin-offs” of Podcamp was not to create a more advanced version, not to rope off the elite and create some sort of VIP section, but to create a less advanced version, to welcome the newcomer and encourage the beginner. It’s in keeping with the underlying ethic of widening the gate, of lowering the barriers to entry, that is so pervasive in the world of social media.

Every single one of us who practices, lives, and works in this space of new media and technology was once a beginner. We all started somewhere, often with questions that some would snicker at today. It is a great testimony that there wasn’t a shadow of a snicker yesterday at NewBCamp — only a door, held open wide by some very friendly, very hardworking people.