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Thursday, 18 February 2010

Real-life meeting for social media folks

And so, last night, I got to meet a group of not-normally-seen-in-the-flesh social media addicts. There were politicians, professionals, experts – and some folks who were just plain interested in the whole social media networking phenomenon.

Curiously for a bunch of self-proclaimed "media networkers" the start of the Social Media Dinner (organised in Glasgow by social media whizz Craig McGill) revealed a fair proportion of worried faces. Many looked rather startled and somewhat nervous to be coming face to face with other real-time people.

Indeed, one of the most enlightening things about social media networking is the ability to connect and network with thousands of other people - but without having to leave your desk/get out your pyjamas/brush your hair/meet anyone in real-life. Ever.

However, it was heartening to find that as the evening at Mother India Restaurant developed, most of the group revealed themselves to be personable, convivial and really quite "normal". (Well, as normal as politicians and media types can ever be!) Thanks to good food and a drinks bill that left poor Craig gasping (especially as he'd brought his own no-alcohol Becks) the chat and discussion flowed.

Craig had invited four politicians to speak about how they had embraced the social media outlets of blogging, Facebook, Twitter and the likes. They gave an insight into the advantages and some of the pitfalls of this fast-growing media forum and offered their views on the future of social media in Scottish politics. It was all extremely interesting – and the questions that followed were well articulated and mostly insightful and informative.

As a newspaper journalist who has now moved into the web copywriting, blogging and Twittering arena I was pleased to discover that social media is being taken so seriously at such a high level. For ages now I've worried that it was all too much fun to be proper work. But writing and content is not so easy to do – and so good journalists are well placed to provide great on-line content.

Only, I didn't have the nerve to ask out loud how it's possible to make lots of money from the whole social media thing. I might have revealed my true colours after all – and it's not likely to be the biggest concern of politicians who are already earning a decent crust. But sitting here now, in my dressing gown and my daughter's pink, furry slippers, sans make-up or a hair brush and with only the computer screen in front of me, I do want to ask: How the hell do all you social media folks make your dosh?

PS. Wine consumed + plates of delicious Indian food ≠ calories burned by cycling. Shame on me!

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