SocMed in Adelaide: a possible progression

by Lee Hopkins on November 19, 2009 · 9 comments

in miscellaneous,pr,public speaking,tools

#smcadl event-planning committee

As I tweeted a few days ago, I reckon there now exists a possibility to amalgamate many of the activities the various disparate groups of social media evangelists in Adelaide are undertaking.

This could potentially save time, effort and the stress levels of the organisers of those various events.

Here’s my thoughts so far – please add to the discussion!
[Précis below]

We have the newly-formed #CommsAdelaide twitter group of various business communicators (led by @PPRAdelaide’s angelic Dena Vassallo); we also have the young and lovely @monnie (Monique Klein)’s BarCamp group, plus the gorgeous @charlierobinson and her motley bunch of ne’er do wells (just kidding, friends!)

Now, some history…

The indefatigable and wise, witty and elegantly beautiful Shai Coggins (@shaicoggins) tried forming a regular group of dinners 18 months ago, but I guess it was too early for Adelaide to be a sustainable project; although Charlie certainly kept the flag flying with her friends! [grin]

So to today and my thoughts…

A couple of years ago I was asked by the lovely Kristie Wells if I wanted to set up a Social Media Club chapter here in Adelaide. We even set up a Facebook profile. My head and life just didn’t have enough room to add in getting a new group off the ground, so I let it just sit there.

But perhaps the time is right to resurrect it and bring a more structured approach to how we talk about social media and social networking, and how share our views and ideas here in Adelaide.

I am certainly not suggesting that we need disband all of the initiatives already set up; I am suggesting that they can all be incorporated under the ‘umbrella’ of a Social Media Club chapter in Adelaide, enabling the various organisers to call on others in the club to help get the events ‘over the line’ and make them even more successful.

Now, the issue of funding and membership fees needs discussing. As the SMC say on their website:

Annual Membership Level

Standard
(note: US$)

Open

Non-Profit or Student

Professional

Small Business (3 members)

Media (5 Members)

Corporate (10 Members)

$0.00

$25.00

$100.00

$250.00

$1,000.00

$2,499.00

Here’s what they say about the fee structure and the various membership level benefits:

What specific things do I get for the different membership levels?

As with many of the other aspects of organizing Social Media Club, we are still determining some of these issues and hope to make some final decisions with the contributions of our paid members. The initial promises we can make somewhat confidently include the following benefits:

Open Membership ($0 cost)

  • Members and member companies will be able to join our email lists and our social network so that they can connect with others in Social Media Club who have similar interests or needs.
  • Access to special information, how to’s, and the shared knowledge of the information created at all the chapter meetings and events we organize. As with most free services, we expect that certain areas of the site will have advertising which will not be a part of paying member’s experience. The details are still to be determined, but we share your perspective in regards to making this truly fair and reasonable as opposed to over the top and intrusive.
  • As a member, you also have the opportunity to put a Social Media Club member badge on your Web site or blog that links through to your member profile and a membership affiliate program that provides you with a 3% new member referral commission. There will be unique recognition and ongoing contests around those who recruit the most new members.

Student / Non-Profit Members ($25 yearly)

  • In addition to the benefits above, those at this membership level will receive a membership kit with stickers and other schwag (all of which is still being finalized)..
  • All members at this level and above will receive discounts to the various events that are organized by Social Media Club or its partner organizations. Admission to Social Media Club Local Conversations is expected to be free, however there may be occasional requests for contributions for refreshments and other costs of organizing the events which we hope to have offset through sponsorship on an ongoing basis.

Professional ($100 yearly)

  • In addition to the benefits above, all Professional members will receive a Social Media Club T-Shirt.
  • Additional benefits for this membership level and above are being negotiated and actively sought. If you are interested in offering your services to our membership, please join as a Small Business member or above.
  • An opportunity to be listed in the Social Media Speakers Bureau and/or listing your books, ebooks or other services in the Social Media Club store.
  • Professional members who display their membership badge receive 5% on new member referral commission.

Media, Small Business and Corporate

  • These membership levels include a number of Professional Memberships for employee representatives of the company:
    • Small Business ($250) includes three (3) professional memberships
    • Media ($1,000) receives five (5) professional memberships
    • Corporate ($2,499) receives ten (10) memberships
    • Additional memberships can be purchased at a discounted rate. Contact socialmediaclub [at] gmail [dot] com for more details.
  • Media, Small Business and Corporate members receive a special listing in our organization directory guide for product and service providers to the Social Media industry.
  • These membership levels will have the opportunity to offer promotions or discounts to other members through the Web site (but they will not have the opportunity to spam or abuse our email lists with ads). Offering benefits to other members fits with our philosophy that everyone can improve the commons for everyone.
  • Our organization memberships also have the opportunity to sponsor our various events, round tables, workshops, seminars, conferences and unconferences. Only members will be able to sponsor these events – this is another way to support the principle that companies must participate within communities rather than trying to merely sell to them.

They also have answers to some FAQs:

Membership Questions

What are the benefits of joining Social Media Club?
We see the greatest benefit of membership as being able to associate with other people from around the world who really ‘get it’ – to learn from them, to share with them, to do business with them and to collaborate with them on both commercial and social projects. We want to help you create more opportunities for discovering the key insights that will advance your personal and professional passions, while contributing to the collective benefit for the broader community. We also think you will have a great opportunity to build a reputation that will lead to both speaking and consulting opportunities aplenty.

Ultimately, we will be offering a unique blend of association benefits such as discounts, free access to many of our events and discounted educational opportunities from other groups. We combine these benefits with support for the many ad-hoc groups that are forming as a result of the DIY and Unconference ethic.

In contrast to the typical associations though, we will also offer an array of online services such as our social network (aka: member directory) and some other interesting peer to peer support services which will be announced Summer 2009. Additionally, small business, media and corporate members have the opportunity to offer their products or services to other members though our ‘member directory’ which includes an opportunity to offer special promotions and other discounts to other members.

By investing now in the formation of Social Media Club, we will reward your faith in our efforts with many other unique opportunities in the future.

Why is there an “Open Membership” offered for free? Won’t that prevent you from accomplishing your goals?
We want to be different than other associations or clubs by creating our organization based upon the values that have brought us to this point in the evolution of the Web – being open, free and inclusive rather than closed, expensive and exclusive. While Open members won’t get all the same benefits as other membership levels, they will be an important part of the community learning and sharing along with the rest of us – together. We don’t believe that the ability of someone to pay a large sum of money is an indicator of the potential value they can contribute, but we do need to have the other paid levels of membership so we can cultivate and support the broader efforts of the community. Rather than believing it will prevent us from achieving our goals we feel it is the only way to accomplish them. While not everything in the world can be free, the Web has certainly proved that some things, particularly those that benefit from scale and network effects, can be. At this point in time, we are happy to welcome Open members, but would ask that you seriously consider becoming a paid member if you share our beliefs about the need for something like Social Media Club and have the financial ability to do so.

[snip]

We hope that you will agree with us in regards to how important it is at this crucial point in time to have an organization that stands for real values around ethics, transparency and honesty that also supports the widening acceptance of Social Media across society to encourage broader participation in the global conversation while working together for our mutual benefit as an emerging industry. Chris Heuer was an early pioneer of the first wave of social computing in the mid-90’s, and spent a lot of time teaching people the basics of hyperlinks Web browsers. Now that the technology is more mature and the network is well connected around the globe, we can more effectively use his lessons learned and our ability to share with one another to help spread this knowledge more efficiently – while ensuring that the principles of being a good ‘Etienne’ are not lost as part of the growing pains.

We have a lot of rational exuberance – which is both good and healthy!

Is there some joke with the $2,499 corporate membership?
Actually no. Chris Heuer has always been a fan of ‘plain pricing’ for the purpose of simplicity, but in working with corporations you begin to realize that many people in organizations have a spending authority limit of $2,500. So this price point is intended to make it easier for people inside organizations to join by making the decision for themselves instead of needing to seek out the approval of many layers of management.

General Questions

How big will Social Media Club grow, and how important will it be in our industry?
No one can say for sure, but all indications are that we are on a high growth path with the right mind set to bridge the divide between those who get it and those who really want to understand the right way to leverage Social Media and participate in the conversation. We can tell you that not a week goes by without another person contacting us to set up a Social Media Club in a new city. We’ve had initial meeting sizes from a few people to greater than 150 – and that’s without any marketing expenses other than posting the meetings to various online calendars, blogging about it, and sending out a few emails through friends. In short, the growth we have seen so far is all the result of word of mouth and participation in the conversation through Social Media tools.

We are forming as a 501c3 (non-profit, though we lovingly like to call it ‘not for loss’) organization
We seek revenues from membership dues and other sources so that we can organize for the collective benefit of the community. In our years of experience working with user groups and associations, it is clear that the ones that have some part-time or full-time management are the ones that last and grow. This costs money, and time.

We are seeking reasonable profits and expect to produce more measured social good within the world. We also will seek to support other ad-hoc efforts as they emerge (and the ones that are already going strong such as the San Francisco Podcaster Meetup and the New Tech Meetups in NYC and Silicon Valley).

As social entrepreneurs we will continue to facilitate donations and fundraising for other worthy non-profit causes like Creative Commons, the Internet Archive, Electronic Frontier Foundation and other worthy projects that our membership brings to our attention. We’ve already done so with our Web 2.2 event, where excess cash went to the Creative Commons and the Internet Archive.

Local Group Questions

Will members have to pay separate membership dues to the local group as well as to the central organization?
We hope that we can find a different model to fund some local events through our national organizations, but believe that each local group will be somewhat different. We don’t want to impose a lot of unnecessary structure on each local group, but we do want to encourage the use of best practices and ensure some consistency of events. As a work in progress, this is expected to change, perhaps drastically, but will only happen as a result of a conversation with the community.

We do expect that the local groups may require small fees or donations to cover costs of convening the group (room rental and refreshments typically). Local organizers will use their best efforts to limit that and will seek donated space and refreshment sponsors wherever possible.

What are some of the things we’ll do together?
We’ve seen the power of the self-organizing, DIY movement to bring together ad-hoc groups and organize Unconferences quickly, with low budgets and high quality interactions. We’ve organized several of these ourselves and helped numerous others do their own from around the world. In this process, we’ve discovered that there are tremendous benefits to the fully participant-driven organizational model, but there is still some value in a more structured, planned and professionally managed event. Social Media Club will leverage the best lessons from both of these worlds and apply the right sort of facilitation for the particular purpose of the gathering. We will take the best of the loosely structured, just in time agenda’s of the Unconference and combine it with an organization that can accept money, pay for venues, take out insurance, and have some fairly-paid staff to ensure that things run right, without becoming a formal organization and event management firm. This means if you’re running a meeting and you need our help, if you’re running an Unconference and you need a little structure – we’re here to help you with whatever resources we can reasonably bring to bear.

Ok, I accept that all of that is a lot to read. So here’s my précis:

 

Précis

By co-ordinating our activities we can potentially achieve more than doubling up on activities across the various social media groups around Adelaide. If necessary, we can set up sub-groups to handle particular themes; for example, not everyone would be interested in the activities of the PR/marcoms folks, nor of the uber-geek coders adding bleeding-edge tools to their armoury and alpha-testing widgets on their blogs – but I am very sure that we would all love to know what generalisable results they found if it turns out the new you-beaut widget is a winner!

A regular monthly meeting, where each month we can ask subject matter experts to share their findings, report on the latest developments, present case studies, and so on, would be a good thing to have in this town, methinks. We can always run the formal meeting for, say, a maximum of one hour, then dive into drinks and food afterwards…

I’d LOVE to have a meeting with all those representatives/organisers from the various groups to see if my idea is a ‘go-er’.

What say you? Comments below, or via twitter (please use the hashtag #smcadl so we can all follow it) or on the facebook SMC Adelaide page.


  • Lee Hopkins

    Thanks for those thoughts.

    The SMC would not be a ‘professional-only’ club for the elite; it is intended to be a ‘for everybody’ club that supports all sorts of endeavours. It would be my wish that representatives from all of the different groups so far running in Adelaide would take turns to serve on the organising committees so that no one group ‘takes it over’.

    That way everyone’s interests — business, social, tech, grassroots, etc., — could and would be catered for equally.

    Don’t forget, there is the $0 membership (you don’t get the t-shirt, but we could always create some hats [grin]) and the $25 student membership.

    I personally would hate to see it turn into a clique — only by listening to and being exposed to all sorts of different viewpoints and areas of interest do we as human beings grow…

  • @gamtch on twitter

    The more ways that Adelaide twitter users and social media professionals can network the better! Well done Lee for bringing this issue to the fore.

    Without having taken time to explore the way SMC works and what alternatives may exist, I can see some problems with using a financial “franchise-style” solution like SMC and pitching it as an “umbrella” for other soc-med user groups.

    I'm not adverse to fees, but am concerned that by the paying professional fees, cashed-up businesses and tweeps would become the defacto leaders of the club and would end up setting the club's agenda, to the detriment of casual twitter users who have no plans to make money using this medium.

    This seems to be at odds with the low-cost, egalitarian nature of twitter where a person's or business's influence is measured by the amount that they entertain and/or inform others, not by the amount of money they have.

    Let's remember that by joining and participating in twitter we are all members of a club already. There may be a danger that grass-roots organisations like atub / barcampadelaide may be overtaken by a more professional alternative.

  • http://www.chrisfoster.tv chrisfoster

    #smcadl I agree with @gamtch in regard to this being a “hyperlocal” initiative without affiliation.

    I wonder at the term “Social Media” this could be a good opportunity to distinguish ourselves from the (possibly) common perception of “Social Media” in the public realm….a lot of hype, there's nothing new, just a return to old values and actually engaging/ listening with other humans (clients, customers, employees….)

    Most of us interested in this area, would be utilizing the tools to further ourselves, our business, our NFP, our education sector, etc and I would like to see this group as being focussed at a higher level than tweetups and chatter.

    I feel the mood amongst the top people in this area is to get on with something constructive, the job of evangelizing “Social Media” has been completed.

    If the consensus was to make this a serious meeting of minds, then my view would be towards a structure that reflected the desire for strong hyper local outcomes. I would even go as far as to suggest the formation of a NFP, who would seek funding from business and government, with it's members contribution, being one of time.

    A entity (like a NFP) could establish permanent premises for said venture and could for example create a pool of members books
    as a shared resource. An entity can have representation from the various bodies that fund it and can be contributors back into those bodies in the form of advice (approved/ accredited consultants?)

    I know the forming of an entity could be seen as a big burden on our time, but with adequate funding, the heavy lifting could be done on a contract/ tender basis, feeding back into membership.

    It's nice to have a chat with those we have connected with online, but I do feel the need to make something real happen in South Australia with this groundswell.

    Nice to see Disqus here Lee, really helps to aggregate our conversations.

    Cheers

  • andreamatthews

    Lee – I'm in – happy to catch up for a coffee to get things started…

    Cheers

    Andrea

  • leehopkins

    G'day Chris,

    WOW!! That is BIG thinking! It never even occurred to me to go that big, but that a reflection of my lack of vision rather than any pre-set agenda.

    If we DO set up something like this, doesn't it then become a replica (almost) of the Social Media Club? Would any sponsors/funding bodies require us to instigate membership fees?

    These are just some of the questions I can see being asked — which, I agree, needs to happen at a meeting of minds of ALL of the interested parties: grassroots (e.g. @monnie, @charlierobinson), social (e.g. @prakky), business/industry (e.g. @PPRAdelaide, @KellyNoble, @Kerryank).

    Timing of the meeting is, as always, going to be tricky — getting all of the interested players in the same place at the same time…

    I'll put another post up about Stage Two – a meeting – and invite all interested parties to suggest dates/times suitable for them.

    And Andrea, you are DEFINITELY invited! [grin]

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  • http://www.deswalsh.com Des Walsh

    Lee

    I've been v slow to catch up with this.

    I'd like to add a few thoughts from the wider Australian, regional and generally international perspective.

    I understand Adelaidians/South Australians wanting hyperlocal. As well as being a quietly proud Austrayan, I am a bit of an internationalist. So when SMC co-founder Chris Heuer suggested to me at BlogWorldExpo in 2007 that I get a SMC going in Brisbane, that seemed like a good idea. Eventually that happened and SMCs subsequently got going in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast.

    I joined as a professional member because I felt that was an appropriate for me. I can attest to the fact that there is no pressure in SMC for people/corporations to have paid membership, although I believe more of that would be a good thing, especially for the leaders/coordinators of local chapters.

    Three things I find really attractive about SMC are: a) it is dedicated to sharing the social media “story” beyond the echo chamber – cf the motto “If you get it, share it” b) membership is open to anyone who wants to belong c) through being a volunteer on international work groups for SMC I have got to know – or know better – and work with some terrific people, including uber blogger Chris Brogan @chrisbrogan , Dell Computer comms guy Richard Binhammer @richardatdell and many others.

    Also, regional stuff. There are chapters starting now in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. I would love to see more collaboration and communication on social media regionally and SMC seems as good a way to go as any – and frankly the only way I can see at this stage.

    One of the things we found very helpful in getting SMC Gold Coast going was to set up as a feature of one of our gatherings a Skype video presentation and discussion with Chris Heuer. It was midnight in California but he stayed up to talk with us and give us his insights.

    I've been thinking of organising some sort of teleconference or web conference with a few of the SMC chapter people in the US such as Barbara Rozgonyi who runs a successful chapter in Chicago, Jason Falls in Louisville KY, maybe also people from France, Germany, so people in Adelaide as well as those of us on the east coast who are interested could hear some points of view and experiences from people involved with SMC on the ground. Let me know if that is of interest.

    Something on the WIIFM register. One thing I have felt for a long time and continue to lobby others in SMC internationally to make real is that we have a practical way for SMC members who are travelling to have readily available a list of SMC chapters, schedule of meetings, key people's contacts etc. That could also be a valuable resource for helping do business in other countries, or – say – helping people from Louisville to London realise that there are talented people in, say, South Australia who share their interest in social media and with whom they might like to connect.

    Anyhow, as Fred Dagg used to say (young people ask your parents), I'll get out of your way now.

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