Congregating in Cong

Reflecting on Congregation14 which took place last week in Cong on the Galway/Mayo border in the west of Ireland it was clear that social media can no long be considered a passing fad but now needs to be treated as an integral part of any public activity whether it be commercial or institutional.

Interestingly, social media’s amorphous ability to adapt to the various aspects and facets that are constituted in the different needs of different organisations preclude anybody from calling themselves a social media expert. There is just too much going on over too many time frames for any one person to claim omniscience.

Hence the need for something like Congregation 14, now in its second year and organised by Eoin Kennedy, @eoink. Admittance is by submission of a blog post which is later collated with other participant’s blogs into an e-book. The submitted blog can also constitute the thoughts of a talk that a participant may use to give a talk or they may talk on another subject entirely. You can, of course, choose not to give a talk but even the most taciturn amongst will find themselves engaged in the subsequent conversation.

Attendees gathered at the Crowe’s Nest and were assigned their huddles for the day. These huddles were small groups of four to eight people of which at least two people were to give a small talk.

The huddles take place in various locales around Cong which since it was Cong means there was a very short walk between any two places. My first huddle took place at Pat Cohan’s.

Eoin Mulvilhill, @eoinmulvihill, spoke about how Twitter, and social media in general, was both under-used and misused in Ireland’s last presidential election. Social media is all about engagement through conversation but all of the contestants had used it as if it was an old-fashioned uni-directional broadcasting service.

Roseanne Smith, @enormous then gave an informative talk about pimping up WordPress through the use of plug-ins. Technology Voice runs on Drupal but I have an old legacy online CV site that runs on WordPress that I rarely ever look at. Her talk gave me a couple of ideas which in turn has given me the impetus to go back and brush the cobwebs off the site and see what I can do with the presentation.

After a light lunch came the afternoon sessions. My new huddle location was Danagher’s hotel. Bernard Goldbach, @topgold, gave us a detailed rundown on how he handles his social media firehose. There is no standard management technique as tools have to address needs. While some of what he does is not applicable to my circumstances other parts were.

One unexpected insight from the day was a distinct sense that that the fortunes of the Irish economy might have turned. I heard a lot about how institutions such as An Garda Siochåna, @GardaTraffic, and other large companies interacted with the public. But I also heard about how companies, particularly those in the construction sector, were thinking of using social media to find qualified people for possible upcoming positions. It seems social media, particularly Linkedin, is invaluable in establishing who the right workers are, where they are and what they are doing.

Even having spent an entire day at Cong14 I had not been to all the huddle locations nor had I met all my fellow attendees. Still, there is always next year. If I do go I will definitely have a talk prepared. Like so much else the more you put into these things the more you (and hopefully others) get out of it.

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