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education and social networking



Sara Petrus and I recently had an opportunity to attend the ASAE annual meeting and expo in Toronto, Canada. ASAE is the association for associations; I had no idea such a thing even existed. It was incredible to see the variety and breadth of the organizations represented at this conference. We were surrounded by 4,800 people who do what we do. The best part about going to this event was being a participant – rather than an organizer. Having just recovered from RetailNOW, Sara and I were able to view this annual meeting and expo from your perspective – as attendees. We came back energized with ideas to test and things to tweak for next year’s RetailNOW.

One nugget I walked away with was the prevalence of social media. Nearly half of the education sessions revolved around social media; those sessions that didn’t begin with social media, ended up circling back to that same concept! It was eye opening to see how organizations are creatively using social sites to engage their constituents and build smaller communities focused on similar interests. It’s not the push marketing we used to do; it’s the content and empowerment that brings the community together. “People won’t do something unless you excite or disturb them” is one of the phrases now posted on my office door. I learned that with regard to social media and networking, we all need to “start small and start NOW.”

Twitter is a social networking site that allows people to “follow” each other’s activities or spread information rapidly. Messages or tweets can be sent from the twitter website or by SMS/texting from your phone. Pictures can be tweeted as well as links to other web resources. (And I’m sure there are more features I haven’t learned about yet!) Twitter’s services are FREE. At RetailNOW this year, we started using Twitter and gained a good following. We tweeted bits about the keynote, education sessions, attendance, award winners, etc. We started small and hope to continue to build on this concept in the future. At the Toronto conference, I learned about Twitter hashtags (new to me) which are simply an easy way to group like tweets; almost like a sorting criteria. For instance, let’s say you participated in an online session about PCI and wanted to make a comment or ask a question. Let’s also assume that the hashtag #RSPA-ED has been created and shared with all the participants on that session. Assuming you have a twitter account, you could tweet your ideas, comments or impressions. Here’s what it may look like.

#RSPA-ED Great content today. Want more info on end-to-end encryption.

Using another twitter facility, I or any other tweeter, could search for #RSPA-ED and see everyone’s comments that used that hashtag #RSPA-ED. Here’s a great scenario. Let’s say we are at a reseller forum where someone is sharing challenges he is experiencing with his business. Again, let’s say the hashtag #RSPA-forum has been created. While the presenter is talking, audience members could be “tweeting” their ideas of how he might solve his problem or overcome the dilemma. When the speaker is finished, he can look up all the tweets that used the #RSPA-forum hashtag. Perhaps someone from the audience might have tweeted a solution – or at least provided some empathy!

When Brad Holaway took the gavel at RetailNOW he shared his goals for the coming year: to engage, lead and collaborate. With regard to Social Media tools, I can think of no better way of engaging our membership. You can look forward to education offerings on social media and flex your participate through RSPA’s already established sites: an RSPA Fan Page on Facebook, Twitter (@InsideRSPA) and our Linked-In group (RSPA – Retail Solutions Providers Association).

Here’s tweeting to you!


One Comment leave one →
  1. Kasey permalink
    2009/09/23 6:59 pm

    Good info. Thanks for sharing!

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