This past Saturday, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library co-hosted (with WIBW Studios) our first Podcamp – Podcamp Topeka. Don’t know what a podcamp is? It’s an unconference dedicated to web 2.0 tools and social media (read more about them here). It was a blast! You can some of my notes from the day here, watch my video about it above, and you can read Brandon Sheley’s notes here (he attended and lead a session or two), and even watch a quick video from channel 49 news.
So – how did I organize this thing?
OK – first things first. It’s a podcamp – there’s really not much conference planning to do. The details revolve around meeting rooms, food, and potential schwag – not the actual conference schedule. The important planning revolves around how many people you hope to attract – you have to have enough space to accomodate them. Also how long each session should be – and be able to accomodate that. Then, it runs itself (more on that in a minute).
Use your contacts for help. I poked around a bit on the interwebs, and found out Ryan Deschamps, cool librarian and blogger at The Other Librarian, had organized some very successful podcamps. So I asked him for tips, and he emailed me some great advice on how to run a podcamp.
Sponsorships – the library provided meeting rooms and our other sponsor, WIBW, paid for food and t-shirts. How’d that happen? In this case, I know Jim Ogle, the general manager of WIBW, and also know he’s excited as I am about social media and 2.0 stuff. So I asked him if he wanted to help plan the podcamp, and he did … and he ended up being a sponsor, too. For future events, I’m told that some local organizations might potentially be interested in sponsoring the event.
Ask for Specifics. Know how much money you need up-front, then ask specifically for your needs! Much better to have a plan for what you need (and what they’ll get out of a sponsorship) than to vaguely ask for “a sponsorship” hoping someone will provide what you need.
Registration: it was a free event, but I asked everyone to register, since a head-count was involved for t-shirts and food. Eventbrite worked GREAT for this! Free and easy to use – we had over 100 registrations. I was able to email a reminder to all attendees 3-4 days before the event through Eventbrite’s admin side. They actually sent me a couple of pre-event emails making suggestions on how to run an event (ie., do you have nametags?), too.
What actually happened?
People goal: our goal was up to 150. We had over 100 people register, and approx 50-75 people actually attend. Not bad for a first time.
Interestingly, we had an odd but fun mix of people. We had a variety of skill levels from experienced user of 2.0 tools to extreme novices and an age spread from probably age 20 -85 (someone actually came up afterwards and told me how old she and her friend were). So we improvised a “Basics of Social media” session that turned into one of our larger sessions.
Food and t-shirts: I went ahead and ordered t-shirts and food for 150, not knowing how many would really show up. So we had … a LOT of food. And I have a box of Podcamp Topeka T-Shirts in my office…
Schedule: You can see it here – we ended up with quite a few great topics and sessions!
Planning details: PBWorks (used to be PBWiki) worked great. Here’s our Podcamp Topeka Wiki.
Advertising: This is interesting. We advertised in our library newsletter, in 2.0 tools (twitter, facebook), on our website, at a social media group’s Ning site, and were lucky enough to get a TV spot or two (since WIBW was a co-sponsor). We asked attendees to fill out a “how you heard about this” flyer – only 22 people filled it out. But look at their responses to where they heard about our podcamp:
TV – 4
friends – 2
twitter – 2
facebook – 2
our website – 2
didn’t say – 2
social media KC Ning group – 2
online – 2
invite – 2
Google – 1
tscpl email – 1 (guessing it was our enewsletter)
That’s a pretty large spread of responses!
And finally, Feedback. What did attendees think of the day? Honestly, most of the feedback I received was some form of this – “What a GREAT day! When’s the next one?”
So – we’ll have to start planning the next Podcamp Topeka, I guess!