Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Bloggers Breakfast - RIP

To begin with the end in mind… There will not be a “Bloggers Breakfast” or “Social Media Lunch” at the Nashville Conclave this year. The way I look at it, this is a positive outcome that flows naturally from over ten years of advocacy by many of us who “toil in the vineyards” of individual chapters. We have seen social media evolve from a curiosity for geeks to an encompassing standard of communication that is used - and misused - by the entire population. I applaud the way SigEp Headquarters has adopted e-communication and is using the various channels to better connect with undergraduates and alumni.

Social Media Breakfast
Dallas Conclave 2013
I question if an independent "Social Media" event, such as a “Bloggers Breakfast” is worthwhile any more. Why would I say that? - you may ask…

  1. When I started the "S&P" blog back in 2004 social media was in its infancy. Remember, this was before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all the other landscape-altering applications. Those of us who were interested were a group of 'odd ducks' and were viewed with suspicion by folks at Headquarters who were not comfortable with ‘bottom-up’ information sharing.
    1. The SigEp website was a very static offering with lots of guides and general information but not much at all in the way of up to date news from around the chapters.
    2. Management at HQ was not exactly friendly and accepting of the types of interactions we were creating. These connections were, by definition and design, decentralized and not subject to oversight.
    3. An independent gathering was the only way to have folks of similar mindset find each other.
  2. Over the 10-11 years since then there has been an explosion of connectivity. SigEp HQ with its access to resources is now doing much more than I as one individual, or even a team of volunteers, can do to bring all the chapter and alumni experiences together.
    1. Further, most of the chapters have their own websites, Facebook pages, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
    2. Many have embraced specific purpose-built tools such as ChapterSpot for their internal and external communications.
  3. In a real sense, I feel like I have moved from being a leading advocate and champion to a (slightly) aging firehorse whose best days are behind him but who still gets excited when the bell rings.
    1. The people who came to the last gathering were all embracing the technology. Many of them were/are surpassing my grasp on it. That is great, by the way!
    2. The folks at HQ have more resources and have a leader at the helm who "gets it". He has also made sure that the staff is tech savvy. There is no feeling of trying to show "them" what can be done. "They" know. "They" are doing it.

The bottom line is there is more interest than ever in harnessing and managing the social media aspect of communications in the Fraternity. We have outgrown the "band of merry scoundrels" mentality; it’s time  to get on with real training in how to use - and not misuse - the very powerful tools available to us. For that level of training to be effective the resources of the fraternity are needed, not merely a breakfast club or lunch bunch.

I am glad to see that one of the educational offerings for undergraduates is titled ”Winning with social media: How to stand out from the crowd” It is scheduled for 2:30 PM on Thursday the 13th and I encourage any undergrads who want to learn more about positive and effective use of social media to attend. (Alumni who are not otherwise engaged will be welcome too.)