On Saturday, I went to a terrific session led by Bill Dyszel on blogs and podcasting. The number of people in the audience (which was relatively huge, I thought) who listened to podcasts and read blogs was much larger than I expected, as was the number of people who were already using these media. Mickie Rops did a great wrapup of his main points on the BostonBlog, but here are a few additional things.
* Did you know that from the beginning of recorded knowledge until 1999, the total information generated by humans was five exabytes (5 with 98 zeroes after it)? In 2002 alone, we generated five exabytes. Talk about information overload—no wonder no one reads my blog ;> The rest of the story is that a) much of what is generated is wrong; and b) much of it is spam.
* There are riches in niches, Dyszel said. "We know it's true because it rhymes." (Did I mention that I loved this guy? He was a terrific speaker, someone I'd highly recommend for any tech topics you may have). Associations have built-in niches; heck, they are niches—I met a really nice guy at one session who was with an association for band instrument repairers. It doesn't get much nichier than that. This is good news for those who believe in the long tail economic theory, where the Internet has create a billion micro-niches to sell more obscure items that mainstream bricks-and-mortor stores can't afford to keep in stock.
Associations are naturals for new media for a bunch of reasons: They have built-in niche audiences already; they can use it to reinforce their educational programming; and they can build excitement for meetings by providing sneak peeks of what's to come and interviews with speakers.
Because new media is largely about conversation, why not link to your members' blogs, and invite members to blog with you (like ASAE is doing on its BostonBlog.
A piece of wisdom from the audience, in answer to another audience member who was a bit overwhelmed by all the technology: podcasts, blogs, wikis, bulletin boards, etc.: "Don't focus on the tools and technology, the features and functions. Figure out what you want to accomplish and what would be easiest for your members to use."
I also learned a new phrase: "Search bait." One guy in the audience said that, because blogs tend to rank high in search engines, he uses his to point traffic toward his main Web site. Dyszel said, "So you use it as search bait?" He answered, "Exactly. It works for us."
If it all sounds like just too much to deal with, check out this advice from the CAE Weblog.