If you were out and about in the DC area over the past weekend, I would expect you to know that the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) just hosted their 2009 Annual Legislative Conference, but I wouldn’t expect you to know what happened there.
Why? I don’t think the CBC used social media as much as they could have to promote the conference, the people in attendance, the issues being discussed and the solutions created.
**Full disclosure – I was NOT in attendance at this year’s Annual Legislative Conference. Not because I was boycotting or anything of that nature. Just couldn’t make it. Before I go any further, I would like to say this:
Only a small group of people can attend conferences like these, but to create the change that needs to occur, many more people need to be informed and engaged. Social media can help achieve that goal.
Though I could not attend, I tried my best to catch up on what was discussed, but it was not particularly easy. Honestly, if I wanted to party, I would have had no problem gathering that info on Twitter, but for some reason, the pure content or true substance of the meeting was hard to find.
You have a problem when someone who is actively looking to connect can’t find you. It makes it harder to engage, and you open yourself to the risk of losing the interest of your audience in the process.
I did, however, come across video from some of the panels that took place this weekend. My favorite thus far is the Black Power Panel (relax, it’s way less militant than it sounds.). I like it because it happens to cover an area that I’m particularly interested in, the use of social media among people of color.
It’s a long video (1hr, 40mins), and if you’re not up for watching the whole thing, I would queue it up and then jump to 1:11:40. The panelist speaking touches on some key things related to how people in the communities of color and elected officials are missing out on opportunities because of how they *are* using social media today.
Okay, so I’ve pointed out the social media #FAIL. Now I’d like to give a quick list of my PR Prescriptions on how the CBC could have better utilized social media to connect with people to provide more real time coverage.
* Official Tweeters – There were probably over 100 (maybe 200) people at the conference on twitter using the #CBC hashtag. Some spoke about the panels and live-tweeted. Most, I found spoke about the celebs they saw and the parties they were planning to attend. Fun, but not the best in terms of substance.
Next year, the CBC really should have official designated tweeters operating their own handles sharing the meat of the conversation, utilizing tools like twitpic to share behind the scenes pictures and services like What the Hashtag? to claim, define and share those hashtags.
* Official Bloggers – The key for this is integration. The CBC already produces the ALC Daily, the conference newsletter. This information should definitely be leveraged online, and then, you take what you have and enhance it with tweets from the conference, pictures, video and everything else.
Official bloggers should be announced (promoted essentially), and they should be on the floor, in the panels and at the galas gathering content, creating content and providing more context on happenings in real (or close to real) time.
* Media Partnerships - I won’t try to prescribe how the CBC should play with media partners, but a few that they could partner with come to mind. Here they are: The Grio, The Afro (I followed their tweets!), The Root, AOL Black Voices, TV One.
* Create a site to Build on the Discussion – There were GREAT panelists at the conference; many with their own businesses and non-profits really having a positive impact on the world. Conferences like these really are the beginning, and a site that linked to all of the panelists, businesses and other groups making the change spoken about the conference (and a site that documented their progress) would add some real value that people could take back to their communities.
I could go on, but I think the point was made. There were missed opportunities to engage people like me who wanted to be there but could not for one reason or another.
Feel free to respond to any of my thoughts, but here are a few places where I would like input from you:
- Was the CBC doing something online that I missed?
- Agree/Disagree with anything said?
- What else would you suggest for the coming year?