Who are the social media innovators in Seattle and Vancouver?

Regular readers of Pro PR will have noticed that I’ve been posting video interviews with people who are leading the way in developing social media applications or applying social media in innovative ways for community building, marketing or organizational communications (either internal or external.)

I’m going to be in Seattle in mid-August to attend Gnomedex. I’ll be spending a day in Vancouver on my way there.

What Seattle or Vancouver-based social media companies and executives would you suggest I try to interview while I’m on the West Coast?

Help organize the Third Tuesday Social Media Meetups

A chance to give back

Are you interested in helping to organize a monthly event that gives social media enthusiasts in your community an opportunity to to meet others who share their interests, learn from one another, and hear from some great speakers on social media topics? If so, read on, because I’m going to ask for you help.

Third Tuesdays: social media and the culture of generosity

Third TuesdayOne of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in the past two years has been to be part of Third Tuesday. Third Tuesday has provided me with a great opportunity to mix with others who share my interest in social media and to learn from them.

During the past two years, some top speakers have been part of Third Tuesday: Shel Israel, Shel Holtz, Richard Binhammer, Mathew Ingram, Michael Geist, Mark Evans, Colin McKay, Anthony Williams, Rob Hyndman, Michael McDerment, Saul Colt, Katie Paine, Marcel LeBrun, Stephen Taylor, Paul Wells, Marshall Sponder, Mitch Joel, Alex and Ali de Bold, Darren Barefoot, Jesse Brown, Brendan Hodgson, Giovanni Rodriguez, Danielle Donders, Ryan Anderson, Marc Snyder, David Jones, Terry Fallis, Julie Rusciolelli, Keith McArthur and Martin Waxman. And that’s just the Ottawa and Toronto line-up.

By the way, all of our speakers donated their time and efforts to us. Our speaking budget is zero. So, a special thank you to our speakers! You truly have acted in the spirit of generosity.

A community needs organizers

Third Tuesday in Toronto and Ottawa were originally established by a group of bloggers who followed one another’s writing online. We thought it would be a great idea to meet in real life as well as virtually. And we thought that it would be even better if we could open it up to others who shared our interest.

In Ottawa, the founding group included Colin McKay, Ian McKinnon and Brendan Hodgson.The original Third Tuesday Toronto group included David Jones, Terry Fallis, Chris Clarke and Ed Lee. During the past year, Donna Papacosta, Michael O’Connor Clarke and Parker Mason have joined the group of Third Tuesday Toronto boosters and organizers.

In 2007, Third Tuesday groups started in Montreal, Vancouver, and New Brunswick. And now there’s a group of people who are coming together to organize a Third Tuesday Calgary.

Thanks to those who spontaneously organized Third Tuesdays in their communities: Michelle Sullivan, Mylene Forget, Chris Moore, Nicolas Cossette, Marc Snyder, Pierre Bouchard, Mitch Joel, Tod Maffin, Tanya Davis, Monica Hamburg, Lisa Rousseau, David Alston, Dan Martell, and Chris Nadeau.Woof. That’s a lot of people. That’s a lot of commitment.

Keeping it relevant; Keeping it inclusive

Every good event and group evolves with the times and with the changing composition of its participants.

A good community event should reflect the interests of the community it serves.

As we look forward to the third year of Third Tuesday in Ottawa and Toronto, it’s time to ensure that we don’t become stale and inward looking. And the best way to do this is to open up the direction and organization of Third Tuesday to a broader group of people.

So, if you share our enthusiasm for exploring social media and you’re prepared to contribute your time and energy to making sure that Third Tuesday serves the community, please consider being part of the organizing group.

What can I do?

What’s required of the organizers? Well,

  • Meet face to face twice a year. The rest of the time we connect and organize via email and Twitter.
  • Contribute your ideas of topics that people would be interested in discussing.
  • Have a network of people who could speak on one or more of these topics and be willing to extend an invitation to our speakers.
  • Be willing to act as M.C. at a session.
  • Be prepared to help coordinate the logistics (find us suitable locations; obtain gifts for guests, etc.).
  • Attend the events, look for new people and make sure they are introduced to others. This is about community and the best communities welcome new people and make them feel like they’re at home.
  • Spread the word about upcoming events and share what we’ve heard and learned by posting about each session on your blog.

Where do I sign up?

If you’d like to lend a hand to the organization of this year’s Third Tuesday Toronto, Third Tuesday Ottawa or Third Tuesday Calgary, leave a comment on this post or Twitter to “thornley.”

I’ll pull together a meeting of the organizers in early August.

What about money?

Of course, before you get involved with something like this, you’ll want to know whether it carries some type of financial commitment.

Well, we’ve been very fortunate for the past year in having a lead sponsor, CNW Group. (Disclosure: CNW is a Thornley Fallis client.) CNW has covered our largest single cost item, the sound system. We’re talking to them right now about supporting us again this year. More on that soon, I hope.

Pass it on

One final thing. If you’ve attended a Third Tuesday in the past and you’d like to see the series continue, please let other people know that we’re looking for others to join us in organizing. Twitter, post, podcast about it. Pass it on.

WordCamp is coming to Toronto

If you’re a blogger, if you’re interested in a day of good discussion about social media, or if you want to know more about the best blogging platform around, you’ll want to attend WordCamp Toronto on October 4 and 5.


WordCamp brings together bloggers, designers, developers, podcasters and all kinds of social media enthusiasts to learn, share, talk and explore the potential of social media and the WordPress publishing platform.

WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg has been booked to speak at the conference. Matt has said, “WordCamps are my favorite events to go to because there’s something about the core WordPress community that attracts smart folks with good philosophies that are fun to hang out with.”

Other speakers already confirmed include Brendan Sera-Shriar, Mike Ellis, David Peralty and Michael O’Connor Clarke (Yes, that Michael OCC, my co-worker at Thornley Fallis.)

The preliminary list of session topics includes:

  • WordPress Talk
  • Business Blogging
  • Blogging for Boomers
  • Podcasting
  • 30 Tips to Make Your Blog Better
  • Social Media for Dummies
  • Running Your Blog Like a Pro
  • Vidcasting
  • Entertainment Blogging: A Panel Discussion

Centennial College Student CentreThe organizing group for WordCamp Toronto is being led by Mathieu Yuill and Melissa Feeney. The even is being hosted at the Centennial College Student Association‘s Student Centre at Centennial’s Progress Campus. (Disclosure: the CCSA is a client of 76design.)

Thornley Fallis and 76design have settled on WordPress as the best all round publishing platform available today. And because we’ve benefitted from the work others put into developing it, we’ve tried to give back by developing two free plug-ins, FriendsRoll and TopLinks, that we hope bloggers will use to revitalize their blogrolls.

I’m keen to attend WordCamp Toronto. Not only because the blog posts and Twitter stream from other WordCamps have suggested to me that I’ll be able to mix with a particularly smart group of participants, but also because I’m hoping we can get some feedback on FriendsRoll and TopLinks from this social media savvy crowd.

If you want to attend, WordCamp Toronto, you can register at Eventbrite. I hope I’ll see you there.

Overlay.tv: It's about creating community in video

When Overlay.tv launched in Beta on February 15, it was widely and positively viewed as a potential building block in the future of online video and advertising.

I’m told that Overlay.tv is making good progress toward a full release. As I write this, a new Beta is days away from release. And the folks at Overlay.tv are saying that release will be a minor step and won’t last long.

Rob Lane, the CEO of Overlay.tv, has been notching up the profile of Overlay.tv in advance of its release, with recent appearances at Social Media Breakfasts in both Boston and Ottawa.

I’ve created a four minute video of the parts of Rob’s presentation in Ottawa in which he describes overlay.tv, how it can be used to add relevant content and product information to any video.

Some of the things he said that caught my attention:

“If you look at video today, essentially it’s a passive experience. You put a video up. You sit there. You watch it. You may turn away and do something else. … What we’re trying to do at Overlay is to create a deeper interaction. And that interaction can be everything from hot spots to conversation in video to building community around video itself … It’s all about transforming what is a passive lean-back experience into an engaged experience.”

“If you create a video that people are interested in, they are more likely to want to interact with that video. … [Your choice of overlays is] all about relevance. [to the content of the video]”

“It’s about creating community in video.”

If you’re interested in knowing more about Overlay.tv, I’d recommend that you follow @roblane and @bitpakkit (a.k.a. Ben Watson, Overlay.tv’s Vice President of Marketing) on Twitter. Both Rob and Ben maintain an active presence on Twitter. Overlay.tv does have a blog. However, it has not been updated since April 25. (Come on guys. I’m sure you have lots of great content you could share. How about an “overlay of the day” to start with? 😉 )

Also, Mark Blevis blogs and podcasts his take on Rob Lane’s appearance at Social Media Breakfast Ottawa

How I spent my summer vacation – in Charlottetown with PlanetEye

St. Dunstan's Basilica

I just spent four days in Charlottetown , Prince Edward Island. A beautiful place that is famous for its ocean vistas, rolling red farmland (yep, the oxidizing iron turns the soil red), Confederation Centre of the Arts (the stage production of Anne of Green Gables is in its 40th year), endless red sand beaches and historic sites (Canada was born here when the Fathers of Confederation met in 1864 at Province House.)

North Rustico Harbour

So, what did I do when I was relaxing there? I created user generated content. Not the kind that I usually create here (words followed by more words.) While I was in Charlottetown, I put PlanetEye ‘s picture uploader and geotag features through their paces.

I uploaded about 100 pictures of the attractions and historic areas of Charlottetown, North Rustico Harbour (the epitome of a Canadian east coast village), the beaches and cliffs of Prince Edward Island Park (look for the picture of the fox that trotted right up to our car while holding a rabbit in its mouth) and, of course, Green Gables (if you’re the parent of a girl, you’ll know what that is.)

I uploaded photos from my flickr page directly to PlanetEye. It was simple. Took about 2 minutes for each batch of 20 to 25 pictures. And then the geotagging worked perfectly. I simply dragged and dropped my photos onto a map in the location where I’d taken them.

If you’re interested in an unspoiled place for a summer vacation, take a look at Charlottetown on PlanetEye or at my Charlottetown photo set on Flickr .


Fox by the roadside in Prince Edward Island National Park


What social media topics do you want to hear about at the conferences you attend this year?

I try never to give the same presentation twice. The real world of social media is changing and developing rapidly. And my presentations should reflect those changes. So, what was new last year may be old this year.

If you’re like me, I’m sure that you scrutinize conference agendas closely so that you can pick the topics and sessions that will offer you the greatest opportunity to learn about and discuss issues that matter to you.

I should be shaping my conference presentations to cover the issues that interest the participants. So, I thought I’d ask you, the readers of my blog, what social media topics you’d like to hear about at the conferences you attend this year.

To prime the discussion, here’s a topic for a presentation that I submitted to a conference organizer earlier this week:

Measuring Social Media : Social media gives individuals the power to switch instantly from reader to author. And this has transformed the Internet into a web of communities of interest. Organizations are changing their communications to be part of the communities that matter to their customers, clients and stakeholders. But how do they measure what they are achieving through this effort?

In this session you will learn:

What to measure in social media;

What tools will help you measure social media;

The basic building blocks of a measurement dashboard for community managers.

Would you find a session on this topic useful?

What are the social media topics that you would to hear about at the next conference you attend?

Travellers will like PlanetEye

PlanetEye Beta A Twitter from Mark Evans , Director of Community at PlanetEye told me that the service has launched in Beta. I clicked over to register and try it out.

When you first arrive on the PlanetEye home page, a Search bar is front and centre on the page. I’m planning a trip to Paris, France, so, I typed in Paris and that took me to the Paris page.

I found that PlanetEye gives me three main ways to find and view information about Paris:

  • a map as the central navigation feature with hotspots that can show photos, hotels, restaurants or attractions. Microsoft is an investor in PlanetEye and the site cleverly and effectively uses Microsoft Virtual Earth for its map-based features.
  • a City Guide view that presents the same information in a text-based page organized under headers such as Top Hotels and Top Attractions .
  • the Local Expert page which presents a blog by a PlanetEye rep featuring reviews of restaurants and tips about things to do when visiting the city. In the case of Paris, the Local Expert is a Canadian, Jolayne Attwood , who has been living in Paris for about a year. Her blog posts review the type of out of the way restaurant that you’d hope that a local resident would tell you about. She also offers pointers to seasonal festivals and exhibitions at galleries. All in all, I enjoyed reading her take on Paris and this feature alone will draw me back to PlanetEye as I plan my trip.

PlanetEye Map Once I’ve found information, PlanetEye also offers a way that I can organize and save it for future use. Once I’ve registered on the site, I can create personalized pages which PlanetEye calls Travel Packs . I can save any type of information I find on the site in a Travel Pack – hotels, photos, reviews, etc. And I can make my Travel Pack private or public. By making it public, I can share my experience with other travellers, adding to the richness and usefulness of the site.

I also can upload my own content and geotag it. Geotagging is easy. PlanetEye lets you simply drag and drop photos you have uploaded onto the location on the map where you took them and then it assigns coordinates to them. You can see a photo that I uploaded and mapped to the location of Universal City Walk in Orlando, Florida. It took me less than three minutes to upload my first photo. Easy and quick.

I’ve created my first two Travel Packs for Paris and also for Orlando, where I’ll be going to attend BlogOrlando . The site helped me to find a hotel I wanted in the area I wanted to stay. When I decided it was time to book the hotel, the site took me to a Travelocity Partner booking page with its standard interface. I’ve begun bookmarking information on my Travel Packs and I’ll be watching to see if other travellers post content over time.PlanetEye Discover Plan Share

I’m going to add PlanetEye to the other travel sites I use regularly: Dopplr to share travel destinations with friends and to connect with them when I’m on the road and Travelocity (a longtime Thornley Fallis client) to book air, hotels and car reservations.

Now, with PlanetEye, I think I’ve found an easy to use way to pull together my videos, photos, favourite places and experiences for specific destinations, to share these with friends and family and to plan trips. Kind of like having flickr, youTube, a guidebook and a travel diary all in one place.

What other people are saying about PlanetEye:

ReadWriteWeb: PlanetEye: A One Stop Travel Destination

Mashable: PlanetEye, Blowing Other Travel Sites Out of the Water?

SensoryMetrics: PlanetEye Versus Travelpod

UberGizmo: PlanetEye: Plan Your Trip Using Virtual Exploration

BlogOrlando is one conference that's worth attending

BlogOrlandoOne conference I plan to attend this year is BlogOrlando .

This will be the third year that Josh Hallett has organized BlogOrlando. The conference reflects Josh’s personality and approach to social media. He maintains a community-first atmosphere that encourages people to mix, make new friends and give generously of what they know. He leavens that with some great after hours activities. Last year, for example, participants had a chance to have a backstage tour of the Kennedy Space Centre, an evening out at Universal City Centre, a party after the close of the conference and, for those who could spend an extra day in Orlando, a bloggers day together at Disney World.

Josh Hallett, Founder of BlogOrlandoBecause Josh is both a heck of a nice guy and one of the social media early adopters, a top flight set of speakers and experts answer his call for session leaders. Last year, for example, speakers and session leaders included  Shel Israel , Tom Biro , Chris Heuer , Geoff Livingston , Laurie Mayers , Jake McKee , Annie Heckenberger , David Parmet , and David Coustan .

Josh emphasizes that the sessions should be discussions involving all of the participants. And in my experience, every session leader brings a good thought starter presentation to kick off that discussion.

Josh has opened registration for this year’s BlogOrlando and begun to announce the speakers and session leaders .

So, if you are interested in a great conversation about social media with a chance to grab a few days vacation in Orlando before or after the conference, BlogOrlando promises to be well worth attending. If you can make it there, I encourage you to do so. Register for BlogOrlando and when you arrive, grab me and let’s spend some time talking.

Want to know more about BlogOrlando?

Debbie Weil’s Q&A with Josh Hallett, Founder of BlogOrlando

David Parmet says he’ll be talking about how social media is affecting education at this year’s conference

Twitter comments on BlogOrlando

BlogOrlando – the Social Media Conference

BlogOrlando demonstrates the culture of generosity

Not with a bang but with a whimper?

Mark Evans reflects on Jason Calacanis’ announcement that he’s done with blogging and asks the question, "Do blogs/bloggers have a ‘best until’ date? "

I think that sooner or later, 99% of bloggers will retire from blogging or at least their current blogs. There comes a time when anyone has said all they have to say and all that keeps them going is ego. If they can come to grips with the ego question, they’ll move on to something else.

That something else may be a different blog on a different subject matter and a fresh perspective. Or it may be to leave blogging altogether.

For some people, that will come with a dramatic declaration that "I’m outahere." For most, however, I think it will come about with less and less frequent until things simply peter out.

Not with a bang but a whimper .

What do you think? How long will you keep blogging before you shut down your current blog or walk away altogether?

Now Serving – Social Media Breakfast in Canada

Since Bryan Person organized the first Social Media Breakfast in Boston last year, the concept has caught on and been introduced in cities across the United States.

Now, the Social Media Breakfast concept has been brought to Ottawa, Canada’s capital, by Rob Lane, Ryan Anderson and Simon Chen.

The first Social Media Breakfast in Ottawa was a great success, drawing a standing room only crowd. Mark Blevis , Melany Gallant , Stacey , and Simon Chen covered it in posts and pictures .

The second Social Media Breakfast Ottawa will be held on July 15. The guest speaker (and host) will be Rob Lane, founder and President of Overlay.tv . (If you’re interested in attending this event, register on Eventbrite .)

SMB Ottawa co-founder Simon Chen sat down with me to talk about the Social Media Breakfasts – what they are, the upcoming event with Rob Lane and who attends these events. By the way, I thought it was interesting that Simon got the idea to bring the Social Media Breakfast concept to Ottawa while he was following the Twitter stream discussing the Boston Social Media Breakfasts.

Watch the complete videoof my discussion with Simon Chen below.