Why you should “go local” – and offline – with your social media

While I was listening to the questions and comments during the business break-out session of the blog conference I attended this past weekend, Kate (not mine) raised her hand. She told the crowd to never discount what you can get involved with offline. Kate is a great person to suggest this because along with her own blog, Kate runs a hyper local blog in her town as well as founded her local chapter of the Social Media Club.

In a space where it can seem like you are sometimes jockeying for positions or that – quite frankly – you feel bored/annoyed/tired/frustrated by from time to time, I think the advice to disconnect from the virtual world to connect with other social media users and bloggers in your same local area is spot on.

In the past 6 months, I’ve been getting very involved in the social media community in Memphis, TN. It’s been a fabulous networking opportunity, I’ve met some incredible people and have been fortunate to join in some exciting projects, too. In some ways, it has made me appreciate getting my blogging and social start in the blogosphere that you and I know. But in other ways, I love that I am now surrounded by users who learned the ropes “in the real world” vs the very small universe that is the mom blogger community.

If you do decide to give it a shot and poke around in your area, take a look at your local colleges and universities. I was blown away when I learned that the University of Memphis recently created a social media major as part of its business school. I even reached out to the professor in charge and was able to put together a presentation for his advanced social media strategies course.

Check for local Meetup groups and conferences. Here in Memphis, there are all sorts of WordPress, social and tech meetups, plus a bi-annual tech, social and online marketing conference. These are fantastic opportunities for learning and networking as well as presenting and sharing your knowledge. In fact, the next conference here in Memphis is coming up May 12th, and I was offered the incredible opportunity to emcee the event!

Also, if putting your social efforts to work for a local cause is something you are interested in, look to see if there are any current groups doing just that… or start something yourself! Beth Sanders is a very talented and caring woman who founded MemphisGives, which is a quarterly event that brings together Memphis’ tech community to give back. By using social media, we promote the charity we’re raising money for, come together 1 evening in a local restaurant to do the social fundraising, and collect donations which then are turned over to the chosen charity.

As crazy as it sounds, there really are so many social opportunities offline. Whether or not you feel that right now is the best time to venture away from your computer to grow and learn, I would say to always keep it an option. We are all connected to so many throughout the world, but quite often there are some pretty amazing opportunities right outside in our own backyard.

Are you socially involved in your local market?

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29 Responses to Why you should “go local” – and offline – with your social media
  1. Brittany
    April 23, 2012 | 7:04 am

    Amen! I run Charlotte Bloggers and adore getting together with people offline. I’ve been lazy about scheduling our next meetup and we are at more than 125 members! I need to get on it. Congrats on your emcee gig.

  2. tracy@sellabitmum
    April 23, 2012 | 7:10 am

    I’ve been doing this more and more also. Love this post, Liz.

    • Liz
      April 23, 2012 | 10:04 am

      Thanks, Tracy! Spending time IRL with social media peeps has bene so refreshing in so many ways.

  3. Jackie
    April 23, 2012 | 7:37 am

    Love this!! And to answer your question.. Yes, I am! I have a hyper local Twitter account and have been working on creating a blog too!

    Most activities like the ones you wrote about are a couple hours from where I am so it’s hard to get to them. Maybe I should look into doing something more locally….

    • Liz
      April 23, 2012 | 10:09 am

      That’s fantastic, Jackie! And I think you would find a lot of value in getting something moving super local to you.

  4. Joe Spake
    April 23, 2012 | 7:52 am

    I totally agree, Liz. It has been a pleasure meeting and networking with you here locally. I think it all starts at a local level, and the power of meeting and working with individuals IRL always trumps the online experience.

    • Liz
      April 23, 2012 | 10:27 am

      Well thank you, Joe! I’ve really enjoyed so many of the people I’ve met these past 6+ months, and am excited about what’s ahead!

  5. Elena
    April 23, 2012 | 8:20 am

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I think you knew even writing this post, as to how much I’d agree with it. So vital & important to go local. I love the Detroit SM peeps that I’ve met & have actually made awesome friendships & networking connections this way.

    • Liz
      April 23, 2012 | 10:28 am

      I’ve always been in awe at what you and Charlie have done for the community in Detroit. You guys have so much passion. You have no idea how much I admire you two. :-)

  6. Leora Wenger
    April 23, 2012 | 8:44 am

    Liz, combining social media online with offline meetups is always a winning approach. I enjoy every opportunity I get to network in my area (Central New Jersey).

    Sounds like you are doing some great networking in Memphis and specifically in the area of social media.

    • Liz
      April 23, 2012 | 10:29 am

      Thanks Leora! It can be hard to “see” it sometimes, but growing your network and skills really does require at least some offline interaction.

  7. Jana (@jana0926)
    April 23, 2012 | 9:19 am

    When I was up there, I had coffee with Kerry from ilovememphis.com. She was delightful if you haven’t met her yet!

    • Liz
      April 23, 2012 | 10:37 am

      I’m guessing I won’t be looking forward to you getting involved in the local scene by me? ;-)

  8. Mrs. Weber
    April 23, 2012 | 9:25 am

    Love this post! I am always trying to push local bloggers in Detroit to meet in-person, which is why Elena (from Mommy Is In Timeout) and another gal and I created a Detroit Bloggers group. It’s so awesome to network with others who blog for a variety of reasons. We are lucky to have a super active social community here and I love getting involved where I can.

    It seems like many blogs I follow don’t talk about where they live and I think that is a major mistake – especially if you want to be contacted by companies for cool social initiatives. Embrace where you’re from :)

    • Liz
      April 23, 2012 | 10:38 am

      I’m super jealous of your super active community! I love hearing what you, Elena and Charlie are up to!

  9. Jacki
    April 23, 2012 | 9:34 am

    Great ideas. I have located my local Social Media Club and would love to participate, but they only meet during my work hours. UGH. Perhaps I just need to get out there and create something myself. I love the MemphisGives idea. May have to borrow that one for Des Moines.

  10. Emmy
    April 23, 2012 | 10:24 am

    I have joined a So-Cal bloggers group and while I haven’t been able to make the in-person meet ups yet have definitely exlanded my opportunities and look forward to meeting these great ladies

  11. Julie
    April 23, 2012 | 11:28 am

    This post is full of great ideas. I know living in a medium-largish metro area that I’m in a prime spot for “going local.” I should get involved with that while I can, for sure.

  12. Stephanie
    April 23, 2012 | 12:04 pm

    I wonder if there is a local group of bloggers here that meet up. I know I follow two bloggers that live near me, but it has never occurred to me to suggest we meet up!

  13. Katie
    April 23, 2012 | 9:08 pm

    We don’t have a ton going on in my little area of America’s High Five, but I keep involved in the Michigan bloggers and hope to get to some of their meet ups (outside my area) sometime.

    I’ve also started inquiring about blogging opportunities in my area since there are so few.

    AND this week I am looking into teaching a blogging class through our school district’s rec dept.

  14. Jessica
    April 24, 2012 | 12:01 pm

    I think this is such a great post! I think it is important to go local but I have yet to do it, mainly as a result of my own lack of initiative. But, I’m hoping with time, that will change.

  15. julie gardner
    April 24, 2012 | 1:24 pm

    But.

    If I leave the house to meet bloggers in real life, will I have to take a shower?

    Hmmmm……

  16. Alexandra
    April 24, 2012 | 4:40 pm

    I love this.

    Yes to all of it: growing pains, moving beyond what we started in, feeling like we’ve got to do something else…other than just post.

    This was such a breath of fresh air to read: no complaints, no whining: no put downs. Just solutions and applications.

    Awesome post, Liz, that leaves you with a feeling of possibility. And doing good.

  17. Kristin
    April 24, 2012 | 6:19 pm

    I’ve been thinking for a while about starting a local bloggers group but I am not sure where to start. Twitter first, then the library.

  18. Kristin @ What She Said
    April 25, 2012 | 12:21 pm

    Interesting post, Liz. I know Alex from Late Enough is very involved in the Richmond social media scene. I envy her because I grew up in Richmond and miss it – as well as all it has to offer in terms of networking.

    In the rural area in which I live now, there aren’t quite as many opportunities – in fact, with a few exceptions, people often scoff at social media. I work for a university that, technologically-speaking, is far behind the times. I maintain my department’s web site, which is at the mercy of the main Communications office; the software I use is archaic and I keep being told we’re going to move to WordPress, but it never seems to happen. It’s frustrating.

    That said, there are a few businesses and organizations in the area that seem to be social media savvy, so this gives me something to think about in terms of reaching out to them!

  19. Charlotte
    April 26, 2012 | 4:41 pm

    I so wish I lived closer so I could see you emcee something like this :) How incredibly exciting! I always love these informative posts you have–I learn so much from you!

    • liz
      April 26, 2012 | 6:36 pm

      Awww, I would rather hang out with you than emcee a conference! :-)

  20. Jill
    April 27, 2012 | 6:22 am

    I’ve been wanting create a local Meetup for awhile, I went to one a few years ago and only 3 people showed up! I also want to go to NAMS this summer- it is for Niche Affiliate Marketers and is held twice a year. I have so many online friends, and want to connect and network with them IRL. And of course this would be 100% business write off too.

  21. Memphis social media community
    May 19, 2012 | 8:28 pm

    [...] we moved from New Hampshire back to Memphis, I made a point to seek out others in my local community. I connected with a social media professor at the local university, found a couple relevant Meetup [...]