In 2009, I’ve seen a surge in the volume of content published around virtual events and virtual worlds – coverage in mainstream media, blog postings, videos, podcasts and even entirely new web sites developed to cover these specific industries. It’s all great – but with a rising volume of information comes the challenge of how to efficiently stay current. I’ll highlight a few social media services that I use to keep current on events, track emerging technologies and find relevant commentary on all things virtual.
- Twitter (http://www.twitter.com) – I published a prior blog posting regarding some of the specific people I follow on Twitter for virtual worlds information. To stay current on virtual worlds, find the authorities in that space and start reading their blogs or articles. If you like what you find, see if they publish their Twitter handle – or, search for it yourself – and start following them. I can easily stay current on virtual worlds by following a few select experts. Their posts to interesting content serve as a virtual wire service for me (pun intended).
- Tweetbeep (http://www.tweetbeep.com) – I follow over 300 people on Twitter. And as you may know, some of the A-level Tweeps obtain that status because of their verbosity. I tend to notice that a core set of 15-20 people (that I’m following) contribute about 80% of the tweets that I scan at any moment. What’s the downside to this? Well, that virtual events pioneer who only sends 2 tweets per day gets lost in the shuffle, as I’ll miss his tweets. That’s why I use Tweetbeep to set up Twitter alerts by email – it’s like a Google Alerts for Twitter. I set up search terms such as “virtual event”, “virtual tradeshow”, “virtual worlds” – and when I wake up in the morning, the alerts are there in my email inbox. Now, if that pioneer tweets about virtual events, I’ll know what he said. Also, I do have parallel Google Alerts configured, so that I learn about new content that Google has crawled on these same search terms.
- Google Reader (http://google.com/reader) – I’ll find blogs and web sites that focus on virtual – and subscribe to them (via RSS) in Google Reader. This requires a bit more time, to skim through RSS headlines and determine what’s worth reading (similar to scanning an email inbox). So it’s not quite as efficient as Tweetbeep or Google Alerts, but very valuable nonetheless.
- Friendfeed (http://friendfeed.com) – similar to Twitter, but also different – I find myself following a unique set of people on Friendfeed – and the neat thing with this service is that I can see not only their tweets, but links they’re reading via Google Reader and pages they’ve bookmarked with del.icio.us, to name a few. In addition, I’ll check in on a Friendfeed Room called Metaverse News, where Gaby Benkwitz posts links to interesting articles about the virtual world.
- Facebook (http://facebook.com) – I created a Virtual Events Strategists Facebook Group – so I’ll check in there from time to time to see what’s been posted by group members (articles, images, questions, etc.) – and I’ll try to contribute to the group by posting articles that I’m reading about the industry. I’ve also noticed that virtual event producers are leveraging Facebook Groups to promote their event – which is neat.
- Linkedin (http://linkedin.com) – I’ll use Linkedin to connect with folks I meet in the industry – and to keep current, I’ll check in on a few Linkedin Groups when I can (e.g. Virtual Worlds, Virtual Edge, Virtuual Events Forum, Event Managers, etc.). Some groups tend to be more “spammy” than others – so I’ll find those with the best signal-to-noise-ratio and receive postings via a weekly digest email.
All in all, this probably involves a bit more effort than it needs to – that’s why I think the future of staying current will be about services like Tweetbeep and Google Alerts – you configure what you want to see and an “agent” goes out, finds it and delivers it to your doorstep. Virtually, of course!