Sunday, October 18, 2009

BarCamp 'unconference' focuses on social media

Michael Warden came to BarCamp Nashville Saturday to learn about creating a blog to help brand his fledging handyman services business.
He left the annual gathering for Nashville's tech and social media community with strategies such as taking money that would have gone to direct marketing and spending it on building a presence on Web sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

"I'm learning that the social media is the way to go, not the mass media," said Warden, who started Precision Handyman eight months ago after losing his job as a process engineer with an auto parts supplier.

Warden was among 600 participants attending back-to-back 25-minute sessions on topics such as measuring return on investments in social media and using iPhone applications to interact with customers.

"You can't stop it. You can either drive it, or it will run you over," Scott Gordon, one of the presenters and a partner in Brentwood-based staffing firm Vaco Technology, said about social media. "You better figure it out now."

Under BarCamp's "unconference," or self-organizing model, speakers submitted topics for presentations and the level of interest of participants helped determine the final lineup. There was also a room for unscheduled sessions. Attendees submitted feedback through Twitter that was displayed live on screens near the meeting rooms.

This year's BarCamp at Cadillac Ranch bar off Broadway featured more programmers, developers and entrepreneurs who have started businesses as presenters. Some used their platforms to rally the community to work together to build up the local tech scene.

"If we don't do something about it, the best entrepreneurs are going to leave this city or go back to other jobs," said Marcus Whitney, a co-founder of BarCamp Nashville who now leads a push dubbed Enterprise LAMP to educate executives about business value of newer software offerings.

Calling for Tax Advice the Inexpensive WayAt BarCamp Nashville, techies will catch up on latest trends