BTVSMDAlthough the official Mashable Social Media Day was held June 30th, we in Vermont kicked things off a little early with Burlington Social Media Day (#BTVSMD13) last Thursday/Friday. This is the 4th time for this event, I believe, and it was as awesome as ever. Great workshops, fun tweet-ups, a big scavenger hunt at local businesses throughout Burlington and the crowning of social media royalty. Lara at Deep Dish Creative, the event organizer, is a rock star.

I thought I’d share a few of the things I learned at #BTVSMD13:

1. Stump or Just Be Fabulous

I admit, I was a little put off by the amount of stumping for votes leading up to this year’s crowning of social media royalty. I don’t remember seeing as much of the “please vote for me for (insert awards name) now!” in years’ past. Something felt wrong about the whole thing – that the winners might be selected by people who weren’t regular social media users. But as a local small business owner, I couldn’t help getting caught up in it. I stumped for VT Mommies for a VT Lifestyle award. We didn’t win, and I was ok with that, because the winner, UVM Bored, is actually pretty social and represents the category well. And the truth is, that most of the awards actually did end up going to people/businesses that deserved them – whether they asked for votes or not. I’m pleased to know that being awesome still counts.

2. Privacy Starts at Home

Elaine Young, Digital Marketing Professor at Champlain College, did a great workshop on raising digitally savvy kids. In it, she laid out a simple framework for talking to our kids about what we share online and what we don’t. Unlike this one-size-fits-all approach given by so many “experts” (i.e. You NEVER share this. You share that only with X and Y, but not Z.), Elaine emphasized the importance of sitting down with the family and discussing privacy and sharing comfort levels. Not every person and not every family is on the same page, and it was nice to see someone come up with a real plan that I could implement with my family, even if I am an over-sharer and my husband is not.

3. Good Shoes Matter

I started the day in heels. Switched to soft flats half-way through. Still ended up with blisters. There were a LOT of businesses all over town on that scavenger hunt, and we hit about 95% of them. That’s a LOT of walking for someone like me (ya know.. out-of-shape, spends more time sitting than standing, would rather be on Twitter than at the gym).

4. Plan 7-8 Facebook Updates Per Week

They used to say businesses should post about 3-5 status updates a week. Enough to stay connected, not enough to appear “spammy.” But now EdgeRank is in the mix, and people aren’t seeing nearly as many of your posts in their streams. Nicole Ravlin, PR wonderwoman behind the firm People Making Good, suggests 7-8 status updates per week as the new norm. She suggested planning out ALL your social media updates for the next two weeks to ensure that you’re delivering consistent messaging across your entire network.

5. Few People Look Like Their Twitter Avatars

Is that her? I think that might be @whatever-his-name-is. Even with a great headshot, I’ve found that few people look like their Twitter avatars in real life. And if your avatar is your company logo, don’t expect anyone to approach you with a “oh hey…it’s you!” And this is why name tags with Twitter handles instead of or in addition to real names matter.

6. Do the Scavenger Hunt Early

I loved doing the #BTVSMD13 Scavenger Hunt, and since I and my fellow VT Mommies helped organize it this year, we had to hit as many spots as we could. But that also meant I missed out on workshops I really wanted to attend. Sure, I can get the basics from the presentations posted on the website, but it isn’t the same as being there, and actually being about bounce social media planning ideas off of Barbara Dozetos of Above the Fold Marketing or ask Gahlord Dewald of Thought Faucet questions.

7. Sleep Cycle is Pretty Cool

During a #BTVSMD13 Tweet-Up, I overheard Jana Seitzer of Merlot Mommy talking with someone about the app Sleep Cycle and was intrigued. I did some research, installed the app and, well, what do you know…. my sleep DOES suck. But I did wake up and hop right out of bed this morning, which I can’t say for most mornings (especially Mondays). So thanks, Jana!

8. Do What You Love, How You Love to Do It

Honestly, I don’t know where I heard this … I believe it was during Nicole’s presentation, but I can’t say for sure (sorry) … “If you hate to tweet, don’t be on Twitter. If writing is a chore, don’t start a blog.” This, perhaps more than anything else, really resonated with me. I’ve been struggling with that “I’m everywhere, and getting nowhere” thing lately, and wanting to simplify all of it. Social Amateur has taken a backseat as I’ve ramped up VT Mommies, not to mention my “regular job” as Social Media Manager at a local trade association, and oh yeah, two kids and a fiance and a house and trying to have a life. I’ve neglected this site, not because I don’t love to write or because I don’t have anything to share, but because I’ve become so bogged down in the maintenance, in calculating “what my fans want to see,” in trying to figure out an “action plan” for this blog.

It’s ridiculous.

This isn’t my business and this isn’t my full-time job. This is MY personal blog, and I can write whatever I want, whenever I want. I don’t need to be all over the place just because that’s where I think I’m expected to be. It doesn’t have to be complicated. And it shouldn’t be. I’m incredibly grateful for that reminder.

So those are just a few of the things I took away from #BTVSMD13. If you’re in Vermont, hopefully you were able to attend. If not, mark your calendars for next year! And bring your comfy shoes.

2014 UPDATE: I’m still not blogging on SocialAmateur.com often, much to my own disappointment. I do hope that will change, and I’ll get back in the swing of it soon. I miss it so much. In the meantime, feel free to catch me blogging & doing social stuff for VT Mommies and RE/MAX North Professionals