Social media for community projects

If you ever wonder what BPM analyst/architect/bloggers do in their spare time, wonder no more:

Ignite T.O. Sandy Kemsley -The Hungry Geek from Ignite Toronto on Vimeo.

I was invited to give a presentation at Ignite! Toronto this week, and decided to discuss how I’ve been using social media – Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, blogging – and some integration technologies including RSS and Python scripting to promote a new farmers’ market in my community. I’m on the local volunteer committee that acts as the marketing team for the market. Here’s the presentation, it’s not too clear on the video:

If you’re not familiar with Ignite, it’s a type of speed presentation: 20 slides, 5 minutes, and your slides auto-advance every 15 seconds. For a marathon presenter like me, keeping it down to 5 minutes is a serious challenge, but this was a lot of fun.

For a technology view, check out slide 17 in the slide deck, which shows a sort of context diagram of the components involved. Twitter is central to this “market message delivery framework”, displaying content from a number of sources on the market Twitter account:

  • I manually tweet when I see something of interest related to the market or food. Also, I monitor and retweet some of our followers, and reply to anyone asking a question via Twitter.
  • When I publish a post on my personal blog that is in the category “market”, Twitterfeed picks it up through the RSS feed and posts the title and link on Twitter. These are posted to both the market account and my own Twitter account, so you may have seen them if you’re following me there.
  • Each week, I save up a list of interesting links and other tweet-worthy info, and put them in a text file. My talented other half wrote a Python script that tweets one message from that file each hour for the two days prior to each Saturday market day.
  • I connected my Flickr account with Twitter, and can either manually tweet a link to a photo directly from Flickr, or email a photo from my iPhone to a private Flickr email address that will cause the link to be tweeted. I could have used Twitpic for the latter functionality, but Flickr gives me better control over my photo archive.

The whole exercise has been a great case study on using social media for community projects with no budget, using some small bits of technology to tie things together so that it doesn’t take much of my time now that it’s up and running. I’d be doing most of the activities anyway: taking pictures of the market, cooking and blogging about it, and reading articles on local food and markets online. This just takes all of that and pushes it out to the market’s online community with very little additional effort on my part.

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