Meet RichardAtDell at Third Tuesdays in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, and Vancouver

RichardAtDell is coming to Canada next month to speak at Third Tuesdays in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, and Vancouver. We’ll lead off with Third Tuesday Toronto #TTT on Monday, November 8, Third Tuesday Ottawa #TTO on Tuesday, November 9, Third Tuesday Calgary #CTT on Wednesday, November 10 and Third Tuesday Vancouver #TTV on Thursday, November 11.

Dell is one of the best known and longest standing case studies of the successful use of social media. It might well not have turned out this way. In fact, Dell was one of the early examples of a company on the receiving end of viral criticism and anger. Rather than go into a shell or attack its critics, Dell chose to enter the social media discussion, learn from it, win friends, and gradually turn things around. Today, Dell uses social media for many purposesw, including to connect with customers, build brand and as a retail channel.

RichardAtDell, aka Richard Binhammer, has been from the outset one of the constants in Dell’s social media presence. I first experienced Richard’s outreach as far back as 2006 when he commented on a post on my blog in which I’d written about a presentation by Robert Scoble in which Scoble had recounted the story of Jeff Jarvis’ upset with Dell. Richard reached out to me at a time when my blog had relatively few subscribers, acknowledging their problems but asking me whether I’d be prepared to acknowledge the efforts they were making to listen and act upon what they were being told. I was blown away just by the fact that a company at the other end of the continent would pay attention to me, let alone actually acknowledge me by coming into my place, my blog, to have a discussion. And yes, that made me a fan of RichardAtDell and Dell’s approach to social media.

Well, it’s not 2006 anymore. A lot has changed. And RichardAtDell has been there to experience the evolution of social media first hand. As the saying goes, he’s forgotten more than many of us ever will learn.

I hope that you’ll join us at Third Tuesday to hear from one of the leading corporate social media practitioners as he talks with us about the journey he’s been on, the path we’re following, and where he sees things going in the future.

Look for details and registration info in the next few days on each of the Third Tuesday Ottawa #TTO, Third Tuesday Toronto #TTT, Third Tuesday Calgary #CTT, and Third Tuesday Vancouver #TTV websites.

Thank you to our sponsors.

Once again, I’d like to thank our sponsors – CNW Group, Rogers Communications, Radian6, and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. Your sponsorship makes it possible for us to bring great speakers not just to Toronto, but to Third Tuesdays across the country. You make third Tuesday a truly Canadian affair.

To whet your appetite

If you’re not familiar with the Dell story and RichardAtDell, you can get a taste of what we’ll be talking about at Third Tuesday by watching this video. Enjoy.

Would you like to help organize Third Tuesday Toronto?

Are you interested in helping to organize Third Tuesday Toronto?

We’re looking for people to help us with:

  • Managing logistics (arranging for the meeting location, sound system, lighting)
  • On-site registration (yes, we need people to greet and register people at the events)
  • Finding and booking speakers (Because we don’t pay appearance fees to speakers, we rely on the networks of our organizers to be able to reach out to top notch people they know and persuade them to appear at Third Tuesday.
  • Soliciting sponsors (to cover the cost of speaker travel, sound and lighting, hall rental)

If you have the time and are prepared to help us with these tasks and the other work that goes into organizing Third Tuesday, then please register to attend our upcoming Organizers Only gathering.

Mitch Joel on your Personal Brand at Third Tuesday Toronto

We have a special Third Tuesday Toronto on Feb. 23. It’s special because we’re holding it in conjunction with Personal Brand Camp – a project being undertaken by Michael Cayley for the Humber College social media students.

During the afternoon, the Humber students will meet with volunteer mentors to discuss the importance of their online personnas, the issues involved and how they can develop an online brand that will be consistent with the people they are.

Then, in the evening, Mitch Joel will be our featured speaker at Third Tuesday. Mitch has built a remarkable personal brand. He is well known and widely respected as a marketing thought leader. This year, he published Six Pixels of Separation, a handbook to digital marketing and social media.  He’s often referred to as “Canada’s Seth Godin.” That’s no small feat.

Mitch will offer us his perspective on the concept of personal brand. Does he build his brand consciously? Are there rules, implicit or explicit, that he applies in doing this? Is personal brand building something that we all should be engaged in? What advice would he offer to anyone concerned about the image they project online and in the real world.

Interested? Register online to attend Third Tuesday Toronto with Mitch Joel.

As always, I want to thank our Third Tuesday sponsors – CNW Group, Molson Coors Canada, Rogers Communications, Radian6 and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. Their support make it possible to bring great speakers like Mitch, and others including Katie Paine, Julien Smith and Shel Israel not just to Toronto but also to Third Tuesdays in Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver. (Speaking of Vancouver, stay tuned for the announcement of a Third Tuesday Vancouver with Mitch Joel.)

Thank you to our sponsors – and thank you to our speakers.

Third Tuesday Admission Charges: I'm always learning and willing to change

Charging for admission to Third Tuesday? Boy, did you ever give me a piece of your mind. I received some thoughtful advice on my blog, on Twitter and in person.

Third TuesdayAnd, based on your responses, I’m going to modify our approach to admissions to Third Tuesday Toronto and Third Tuesday Ottawa. But that will come at the end of the post. First, I want to review what we did, what people told me, what actually happened at the event. Then I’ll outline the new approach I hope to test at the next Third Tuesday. And finally, I’ll talk about what I learned through this experience.

What I did

When I announced the June Third Tuesday Toronto and Third Tuesday Ottawa, I introduced a $10 admission charge.

In my blog post explaining the new admission fee, I pointed to the fact that, as Third Tuesdays became more popular, the number of people who registered to attend and then failed to show up at the event was sometimes in excess of 40%. This is a huge problem for people organizing a free event. We couldn’t be sure what level of staff the venue organizers should have on hand, which is unfair to them. Even more important, other people who wanted to attend were sitting on a waiting list while people who had no intention of attending had taken all the available spots.

The folks at Meetup counsel event organizers to charge an admission fee. Looking at the experience of meetup organizers who use the Meetup.com site, they realized that even a small admission fee cut down dramatically on the number of no-shows.

So, I decided to implement a $10 admission fee.

What did people tell me?

The admission fee turned out to be a big deal for some people. And the discussion showed it was about much more than money.

Yes, some wondered if this is a cash grab. What would I do with the money?

  • Joe Boughner, for example, commented: “I’m also left wondering where the money is going; will there be a kitty to cover travel costs for out of town speakers or something?”

Several talked about the need to provide a break for students.

  • Malcolm Bastien argued: “One thing I hope groups of any size and industry take into consideration is the doors that the events open up to students. I couldn’t be where I was today if Third Tuesday, Refresh, and Web Analytics Wednesday were not free. I probably would still be unemployed, would have made a lot fewer connections and friends, and they would not have been able to help my education. … So for students I hope all events keep it free, at 3+ events a month, at $10 a pop potentially, then it just becomes unfeasible for students to participate.”
  • Eden Spodek commented: “Most people won’t miss $10 if it turns out they can’t make it in the end. Perhaps there’s a way TTT can still provide some free spots (or sponsorship) for students, recent grads and unemployed members of the community.”
  • Bonnie Dean echoed that sentiment: “I think Eden Spodek makes an excellent suggestion re: free spots to students, grads and those who are unemployed. If part of my $10 pays for someone else to attend who may not be able to afford it, I would have no problem with that.”
  • David commented: “I think (in Ottawa) some of the best conversation are started by students, or “newly employed.” I also think that part of the charm of the night is having a drink. Now our free or one drink night is now $15 to $20, which might not seem like a lot to some, but is a deal breaker to many.”

Some people seemed to have decided to take a pass on Third Tuesday now that there is an admission fee.

  • Dan Hocking wrote in a post on his blog: “I’ll be frank; this $10 fee that TTT is charging will ensure that unless the speaker is someone absolutely spectacular, I likely will not attend any future TTT events. This isn’t a bad thing; I’m not the direct target market for these events, so maybe by not attending I’ll help them get who they’d like.”
  • Others expressed their opposition to the move in tweets (e.g. @dbast, @tariqalexander, and @rebeccablake.)

Some organizers of other community-based events chimed in saying they understood the move to an admission.

  • Justin Kozuch wrote a post about his experience mounting the Refresh Events, saying “Like Third Tuesday, we are seeing a large number (40-50%) of attendees registering for our events, and then not attending. While we certainly don’t want to discourage people from coming out to our events, we also feel that those who register and then don’t show up are preventing those who WANT to attend, but cannot because tickets are “sold out”. It also causes us to spend additional money on refreshments based on attendee registration numbers, only to have those refreshments left over or consumed in great amounts by those attending.”
  • Maggie Fox commented: “Very interesting that we’ve all come to the same conclusion at the same time; we’re having the very same issue with the Toronto Girl Geek Dinners – when there’s a speaker it tends to be better, but our last meetup was a simple mixer and only about 1/3 of those who registered showed up. … We’re contemplating exactly the same move – and I think your logic is dead on.”

Some people suggested alternatives to charging an admission fee.

  • Phil Barrett suggested: “Industry best practice for events is to allow 2.5 times the capacity for guest list. Every event has no shows… so if you only allow capacity to register, you will never fill each venue – even with a fee or a stellar lineup.”
  • Susan Murphy offered: “Might I suggest that at least a part of people’s contribution go to a charity? Further emphasizes the ‘community’ aspect and then it looks less like a cash grab.” Stephen Clarke wondered, “why not introduce a “No-Show” policy which only charges those people who don’t show?”
  • Max Cameron suggested: “How about, you reward people that show up consistently with a free-entry membership card, and if you register and no-show three times, you lose your free-attendance privileges. Sounds complex, but there’s got to be a way to include a Carrot as well as a Stick.”
  • Peter Childs suggested a similar approach: “An alternative approach would be to charge no-shows and to prevent them from registering at another event until the fee was paid. …Of course that approach requires more overhead – both at the event and in back end systems – but much of that could be automated through the same web technology we love so well.”

Finally, some people tweeted or commented their understanding of, willingness to accept or support for the introduction of an admission fee. (e.g. @citymark, @jenmyhuynh, @rhh, @alexbrasil, and @shannonboudjema.)

What happened at the event?

The bottom line is that the introduction of an admission fee was very effective in reducing no-shows.

In Ottawa, we had only 5 no-shows. In Toronto, the number was higher. About 30 people who booked a place didn’t show up. Still, that was a substantial reduction over the number of no-shows at last month’s event (over 100 people who said they’d attend and then didn’t bother to show up or cancel.)

And here’s the telling point: Virtually every one of the no-shows this month in both cities were people who registered to attend but failed to pay in advance. Almost every single person who paid the $10 admission fee in advance actually attended.

So, what happens now? A break for students.

Community shouldn’t be about majority rules. It should be about respecting and trying to accommodate everyone’s point of view. So, while I take some comfort from the people who understood and supported the move, I’m also very sensitive to the views of those who don’t agree with what I’ve done.

So, I’m going to make a change to the way we charge the admission fee.

We will provide a refund of the admission fee to any student who attends. (All they have to do is show us their student card and they’ll get an instant refund.)

We will continue to charge a modest fee. The $10 fee did reduce the number of no-shows dramatically. And while several interesting alternatives were suggested, they all add a degree of complexity to the work of what is, after all, a volunteer-driven organization. The $10 fee is simple and effective. So, we’ll keep it in place for now.

My pledge to keep Third Tuesday a not for profit community-based event

But, some ask, where is the money going?

Third Tuesday was conceived as a non-profit community-based event and I intend to keep it just that.

You have my pledge that every penny from admission fees will be reinvested in the Third Tuesday program – to help us bring in speakers, to pay for the cost of the venue, to ensure we have WiFi at the events.

Back to you

I’ll keep reviewing this policy on an active basis. And if it’s not serving its purpose, we’ll change it.

Don’t stop talking at me and with me. I want Third Tuesday to be our community. So, if I still don’t have it right, let me know. And if I do have it right, don’t hesitate to say so. These discussions are good. They show me that you care. And if you care, then Third Tuesday must be worth caring about.

Nora Young adds some Spark to Third Tuesday

norayoungNora Young is fascinated by how people adopt and apply technology in their lives. And she share her passion every week on CBC Radio One’s Spark. In fact, the program has been so well received that the corporation recently announced that it will be lengthened to an hour in the autumn.

But Nora’s Spark isn’t just a radio program. It’s also a much listened-to podcast that can be listened to at any time. And it’s a blog which offers subscribers a chance to listen to complete undedited interviews that were shortened to fit into the broadcast program. Even more, it’s a blog where Nora and the Sparks production team solicit community input on story ideas that they are developing. And of course, it’s also a Twitter ID that Nora and her team use to tell people about what’s happening with Spark and to have conversations with them.

Nora is truly the new generation of broadcaster. As the traditional model tumbles down, as newspapers are closed, as television stations are closed and as radio budgets are cut, one thing is for sure. Nora Young will be using the media that her community has migrated to.

ThirdTuesdayTorontoSo, I’m really looking forward to Nora’s appearance at Third Tuesday Toronto on June 23. She’ll be sharing with us the lessons she’s learned from her journey into social media. What were the bumps? How did she overcome them? What has been most successful? Where does she see things going in the future?

If you’re interested in celebrating the potential of new media and talking with someone who is showing how to bridge traditional media and social media, I hope you’ll join us on June 23. You can register online to attend Third Tuesday with Nora Young.

As always, I’d like to give a shoutout to our sponsors: Our founding sponsor, CNW Group has been joined by the Berkeley Heritage Event Venue to help us make this event possible. Thank you to our sponsors. We couldn’t do Third Tuesday without you.

Amber MacArthur and the MGI team will share video production tips at Third Tuesday Toronto

ambermacAmber MacArthur, Chris Dick and Jeff MacArthur will be our speakers at Third Tuesday Toronto on May 25. They’ll be sharing their tips on how to produce great video that people will want to watch, share – and maybe even pay for.

Amber has earned a reputation covering and commenting on tech through traditional media Citytv, CP24, and CBC, and new media. Every week she can be heard with Leo Laporte on [email protected]. Together with Chris and Jeff, she produces the CommandN video podcast. They’ve  also made online video production a successful business, MGI Media.

ThirdTuesdayTorontoAmber, Chris and Jeff will provide Third Tuesday participants with advice on how to shoot and edit video, how to create community around your videos online, and how to monetize online video.

You can register online to attend Third Tuesday Toronto with Amber, Chris and Jeff.

And as always, thanks for our sponsors, CNW Group and the Berkeley Heritage Event Venue. Their support allow us to keep Third Tuesday a free event for the community.

The Morning After Mesh: A Third Tuesday Social Media Breakfast with Bryan Person

ThirdTuesdayTorontoThird Tuesday Toronto has taken on a range of different formats – a small group gathering in a pub; a large event of 200+ people; a dinner conversation. What’s made all of these events distinctive is that we look for interesting speakers with a unique perspective who can provide a jumping off point for our conversations. What has bound all of these formats together is our focus on social media and its impact on community building, communications and organizations.

This week we’re venturing into new ground. We’re holding our first Third Tuesday Social Media Breakfast. On the morning after Mesh, April 9.

Why breakfast? Well, it’s convenient for some people who can’t stay downtown in the evening. And even more importantly, Bryan Person is in Toronto.

bryan-person-090405Bryan Person is the founder of the Social Media Breakfast series which, along with Social Media Club, would be considered the U.S. counterpart to Third Tuesday. His day job is social media evangelist for LiveWorld, an agency that builds, manages, and moderates online white-label communities for brands. Bryan will be in town next week for Mesh and would like to catch up with Toronto’s digital leaders … over breakfast, of course!

I’ve known Bryan for several years. So, when he said that he’d be coming to Toronto, what would be more natural than offering him a hearty Toronto social media welcome. And who knows, this may just be the start of a Third Tuesday Social Media Breakfast series.

If you’re interested in meeting Bryan and talking social media over breakfast, you can register online to attend the Third Tuesday Toronto Social Media Breakfast.

We've moved Third Tuesday Toronto with Mathew Ingram to a bigger room

ThirdTuesdayTorontoAll the tickets for Mathew Ingram’s appearance at Third Tuesday Toronto were booked in less than an hour after the event was announced.

Good news. We’ve found a larger room to hold the event. And even better news, the operator of the hall has offered to give us use of the room at no charge. So, we can keep this much larger Third Tuesday as a free community event.

Here’s the scoop:

We’re moving the event to the Berkeley Heritage Event Venue, a converted church at 315 Queen Street East. They can accommodate 200 attendees in what looks like a great space.

berkeley-090319

So, if you’ve been on the wait list and want to grab one of the available places, hop over to the Third Tuesday Toronto site to confirm that you’ll be attending Third Tuesday Toronto with Mathew Ingram.

Thank you to the Berkeley Heritage Event Venue for making their hall available to Third Tuesday Toronto.

Mathew Ingram on the Globe and Mail's digital future (present)

ThirdTuesdayTorontoSocial media has turned the news gathering and distribution world upside down. No longer must we sit mute as we read our newspaper or watch the television news, knowing that they’ve got it wrong but unable to voice our views. Now, we can easily post our views on a blog, Facebook, Twitter or any other social media publishing platform we choose to use. Others who share our interests will find us and, if they think we’ve said something worth reading, they can redistribute our content with a simple gesture on the platform of their choice.

Not only can we talk about the news we receive, we can report it first hand. We’ve already seen citizen generated news sites like NowPublic spring up to take advantage of the fact that there are many, many more citizens who are originating eyewitness reports on events where the news media have yet to touch down.

Mainstream media is rapidly being undercut as audiences move to online social media and advertisers realize that what worked yesterday may not be working today.

On the other hand, let’s be honest that we all get a thrill if our content crosses over into traditional mainstream media and gets referenced there. That’s a simple acknowledgment that while most of us write for niche audiences who share our interests, an appearance in traditional mainstream media gives us access to a much larger audience. And, in most cases, mainstream media still carries with it a greater degree of authority in its newsgathering and reporting.

So, what’s a newspaper guy going to do? Stick his head in the sand and hope that the user trends don’t make him a casualty before retirement?

mathewingram1If you’re Mathew Ingram, you’re taking a different path. You’re embracing the new online social media tools and exploiting your incumbent advantages of authority and reach to try to build a new relationship with your audience in the new medium. And you’re helping (pushing) your employer, Canada’s newspaper of record, the Globe and Mail, to embrace new media and explore their potential.

And, if you’re Mathew Ingram, you’re going to share your knowledge, experience and vision with Third Tuesday Toronto on March 24.

The Globe recently appointed Mathew as their “communities manager.” He is well qualified for this position, having established himself as (one of) Canada’s most respected and widely followed technology bloggers and reporters.

Since he took over as community manager, the Globe has engaged in high profile social media experiments – most notably using CoverItLive for live coverage of a subway shooting in Toronto, the Canadian budget and the visit to Ottawa of President Obama; the establishment of a public policy Wiki; and encouraging other Globe reporters to make it personal by using Twitter.

This will be Mathew’s second appearance at Third Tuesday. He helped us establish Third Tuesday when he agreed to be the speaker at our third event. Then, he was talking about the use of social media by reporters. And he was a great hit.

I’m sure he’ll be an equally great hit this time – and a sellout. If you’d like to attend, you can register online at the Third Tuesday Toronto Website.

Thanks to our national sponsor, CNW Group, this Third Tuesday will again be free to the community. CNW Group covers the cost of our sound system, which is our biggest single cost. So, thanks to CNW for supporting Canada’s social media community.

AideRSS CEO Carol Leaman to speak at Third Tuesday Toronto

postrank-090129How does a social media startup not just survive, but continue to grow in the current economic conditions? Carol Leaman, the CEO of AideRSS, the company behind PostRank, will tell us how when she appears at Third Tuesday Toronto on February 17.

AideRSS is an interesting company, both for its innovative PostRank approach to measuring engagement with social media and for the fact that it continues an aggressive growth strategy at a time when others are hoping merely to survive. And with its recent second round financing announcement, it appears to have adequate runway to achieve its objectives.

AideRSS recently announced that it is expanding its PostRank service to offer feed analytics for online content publishers. That’s the all-important data that online publishers use to gain insight into how their RSS feeds are being received and used. The stuff that traditional Web Analytics can’t give you.

postrank-feedanalytics-beta-090129In doing this, PostRank is taking on Google, which recently acquired Feedburner, the dominant feed analytics provider. (disclosure: I use Feedburner for ProPR and all of the Thornley Fallis and 76design-produced blogs and RSS feeds.)

Taking on Google. That’s not something for the timid.

AideRSS’  development is being masterminded by CEO Carol Leaman and co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Ilya Grigorik.  Last Autumn, Ilya, along with AideRSS’ VP Development Jim Murphy and Community Manager Melanie Baker, told Third Tuesday about how the company is developing its core PostRank technology and building a community around it.

On February 17, Carol will provide the business perspective on the PostRank story. What does it take for a startup to survive and thrive in this environment? What does it take to nail down a second round of funding when investors are running for the hills? How does a company build a business around social media and feed analytics?

ThirdTuesdayTorontoSo, if you’re interested in gaining some insight into how a company can find an opportunity in social media, develop a technology that meets a real need and and monetize it, this should be an interesting session.

You can register to attend on the Third Tuesday Toronto meetup site.

As always over the past two years, thanks are due to our national sponsor, CNWGroup, whose support keeps Third Tuesday a free community-based event.

More about PostRank and AideRSS:

Marshall Kirkpatrick has a good post on ReadWrite Web about PostRank’s run at Feedburner

Melanie Baker talks about the role of community manager at AideRSS

AideRSS’ Journey from Founders’ Dream to Professional Leadership

Ilya Grigorik explains PostRank

AideRSS’ PostRank Measures Engagement

AideRSS at DemoCampToronto14