TWTRCON DC: A Reverie
TWTRCON DC invaded the Grand Hyatt last Thursday to a rousing rabble of rock stars. My biggest concern about the event – that it would feature merely a poo-poo load of social media jerks wanking each other off – proved to be completely unfounded. In fact, I met a host of cool cats with whom I hope to continue rocking.
Instead of rehashing everything you can glean for yourselves from the #twtrcon hash, I shall instead focus on the things that I found most moving, helpful, and AWESOME about the event.
What I really dug about this event was how learnable everything was. The speakers, combined with relevant and targeted questions from attendees, produced a live narrative that, to me, is the new 21st century version of academic case studies and symposia: realtime, rapid fire analyses of business experiments in microcommunications. Every single discussion revealed a takeaway… some a little more hard to identify than others, but all just as helpful.
Possibly the most AWESOME of the bunch was Scott Harrison from charity: water. Donations made to this cause fund construction of clean water wells. How Scott and his handful of people go about raising money for this charity is quite remarkable. Charity: water organized “twestivals” in over 200 cities. These events drew in certain communities (knitters, for example) who donated what they could. But the focus of these events was on what the communities cared about, whether it was knitting, drinking, or music. This draws in the people who in turn donate as little as $5 for, say, an event fee. This added up to over $250,000 that charity: water gave back 100% to their constituents.
As AWESOME as that sounds, it gets better. Scott gave some no-shit measurable “do’s and don’ts” about using Twitter (and social media in general). While these reflected his experience with a nonprofit, they were perfectly transferable to businesses and government. Themes like transparency to donors, design sense, the art of surprise, and trust all wove in and out of Scott’s preso. It got me both excited and concerned, which should be an objective of virtually any modern influence campaign.
Also of note was U.S. Air Force Captain Chris Sukach‘s very impressive admission that in social media, “if you’re not failing, you’re not trying.” I hardly ever hear that type of honesty from government representatives in this town, much less those in uniform. We expect so little from our government because we’ve been conditioned to think of it as a maintenance mechanism for status quo, and this often translates to lameness. Chris is the type of change agent we need more of in DC.
I do want to thank everybody at TWTRCON who voted for me as part of the Open Mike Contest. I am a shameless ham, and any chance to get up in front of people and entertain flips my shitbiscuits. That said, I did mean what I said about being AWESOME: keeping it simple often kills innovation and coolness. (More on the shittiness of the KISS principle in future posts.)
I want to spend a little time giving some props to the peeps I hung with on this very rocking of days. Amy, Ira, and Kim of Chickdowntown were GREAT fun at Brasserie Beck (check out the website for some cool fashion deals and TWTRCON pics). Had a great conversation with David Puner of Dunkin’ Donuts about their social media strategy, which was enlightening and cool. Many thanks to Brian Block for the iPhone charger (he’s using Twitter for real estate and epically winning). Had a great time laff-testing material with my tablemates Andrea Meier, Ali Long, and Adam Zand. Chris and Rachel from Socialware (a TWTRCON sponsor) were supercool– I expect an invitation to come rock it out with you guys in Austin SOON. Lovely connecting at last with Ogilvy rock star Rohit Bhargava who did a great job manhandling Steve Rubel on the Real-Time Business panel. I’d also like to implore people to visit OrphanBracelet.org, a charity benefiting children orphaned by HIV/AIDS which crusader Monique Watkins turned me onto. And of course, the inimitable David Armano– who appropriately knocked Du4 around for sounding like a used car salesman with an aptly delivered: “Own it!”
You can find all the presos and a list of other con reports and media here. I have to give Tonia, Anne, and Chris super-kudos for putting such a worthwhile and fun event together. I had a great time funnin’ with everyone. I highly encourage everyone to stay engaged in the TWTRCON conversation and help keep it relevant, fun, and engaging for everyone.
[TWTRCON pics courtesy of @vincentgallegos]