It’s been a very busy week in Ottawa for Social Media with on average 2 events per day. Social Media Breakfast Ottawa #11 is tomorrow and I am super excited to attend yet another great session.
When: Wednesday, September 16th, 2009 – 7:30 to 9:00 AM
Where: Gowlings, 160 Elgin Street, 26th Floor, Ottawa, Canada
How: Purchase your ticket at http://smbottawa11.eventbrite.com
People complain about the early time yet do make it all the way downtown to attend these sessions. It’s held at a really great location, The Gowlings offices downtown. It’s especially breath taking in the winter months when you arrive while it’s dark and watch the sun rise over the city.
The past 10 sessions have been amazing and here is a re-cap.
David Crow – The power of community
Mark Kuznick – Citizen superheros
Chris Greenfield – http://www.virtualeyesee.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpSocial Media Hype getting past the BS and making it really work
Brady Bilchrist – Fundamental changes in media
Stuart McDonald – Launching TripHarbour in a social web world
Joe Thornely & James Lewis – social media happenings in 2008
Luc Levesque, Gerard Metrailler, Ian Skerrett, Jen Evans – Online communities
Ryan Anderson – Reputation 2.0
Rob Lane – Using video to build community
Adrian Salamunovic – social media buzz of DNA11
We are now on 11 and I am looking forward to more great sessions to come.
SMBO is great however there is a team of people that work hard behind the scenes to make this happen and here is a little story of those 3 elves Rob Lane, Ryan Anderson and Simon Chen.
There was Third Tuesday that focuses on social media, why SMBO?
We don’t view the Social Media Breakfasts as competing with the Third Tuesday or other events. In fact, the SMBs and Third Tuesdays complement each other, offering attendees the chance to learn from a guest speaker and providing an environment where attendees can network with one another. Rob, Ryan and I are familiar with the stereotypical business networking breakfast. We hoped to adapt this format to make it relevant to the business professional that has an interest in marketing, communications, social media, Web 2.0, social computing, etc. We thought the early morning time slot could work for some.
How did you get together with the other team members?
I have known Bryan Person for a number of years and presented at the SMB event in Boston. I had mentioned to him several times that this would be great in Ottawa as I was getting tired to hearing only of these types of events in Toronto. As chance would have it, Simon and Ryan were having similar discussions and Bryan connected us around this event.
Tell us a little about yourself?
CEO/co-founder at Overlay.tv, an interactive video platform. Nearly 20 years of both start-ups and corporate life. A Brit by birth, I have worked in the UK, the US and for the last 7 years Canada. Love working with people with drive and passion.
My background is traditional PR. I’ve always had an interest in online culture, and I worked for a large interactive agency as their director of communications as all of this social media stuff was happening, so I got to see how big brands were thinking about it first-hand. I left to start Fat Canary just over a year ago, and I’ve been working with companies to help them with their online strategies ever since. Also, I like to cook.
Current blurb about me is at http://simon.sixent.com – under the Information tab. Nothing really new about me other than the fact that I just bought a car that I don’t know how to drive (just learning to drive a stick shift now)
Did you ever imagine it to be what it is today?
Think big, start small, scale fast. Our first event we imagined around 25-30 people. We got around 60. There is clearly a demand in town. Now we have a database of over 400 and regularly get up to 100 at events.
We planned to have 30 people to our fist breakfast and hold it in a conference room. We ended up with 60 and had to move to another venue quickly. Since then, we’ve routinely sold out, which is more than we ever expected. We’ve also been able to get great speakers, which is a big part of our successes.
Who are the regular attendees? Who else would you like to attend?
Types of people tend to have a marketing focus and an entrepreneurial interest. Several are trying to become social media experts and as the industry matures over the next 5-7 years they could be. There are a number of professional companies represented such as lawyers and accountants plus Government. If we wanted other types of people to attend we would target them but for a breakfast 90-100 seems about right. We have considered a full day event for around 1000 people.
We have been averaging around 90 RSVPs over the past 10 Breakfasts. These RSVPs generally hold through to the day-of-the-event – we’ve enjoyed a low no-show rate. The audience is a mix of professionals in both the private sector and government. A large proportion of the audience is of a marketing and communications background. The local high tech and startup communities are represented as are a few folks from the wider business community.
With 10 successful events behind you what should we expect for the next 10?
Over the next year we see SMB getting stronger and stronger. Earlier this year we introduced a nominal $10 fee which allows us to fly in speakers and hence raise the bar. Having said that, there is still much hidden talent in our local community that we will look to tap into.
I don’t think we want to grow SMB into something too big. What we have now works well for us, and works well for our audiences, I think. As Rob and Simon said, I’d just like to see what we have get stronger.
We’d like to showcase more great people and stories from Ottawa in addition to bringing in folks from out-of-town. We hope to use more social media to generate conversation before, during and after the event around the topics that our speakers bring up.
Some final words.
The final thing for me is in making myself available to the community. I’m no expert in many areas but I’ve made enough mistakes and understand the “joys” of starting and running a business. I’m more than happy to share this with people who reach out to me and help them with their big plans possible.
We’ve had a great community built up for the past year – I hope that we continue to see the old faces, and start seeing new faces with every event. Social media should be inclusive, and I hope that people who haven’t been feel free to participate.
Thanks to all the people that have helped us get the Breakfasts up and running and for supporting the events and our speakers. Special thanks to Alex Kilgour at Gowlings for providing a venue for the Breakfast events!