By Don Montrey
In just a few short weeks, a number of smart, eager, attractive individuals (i.e. us) will descend on Atlanta for the 2013 ASPE Conference. If many of you are like me, then you have never been to Atlanta before and therefore not sure what to do in your downtime. If you are also like me, you’ve been calling it Hot-lanta in an attempt to sound hip. (HINT: It’s not.)
It is in times and locations like these that I rely on Social Media. Now, when most folks think Social Media they think about status updates, photo filters and whether or not a space is a character on Twitter. (HINT: It is.) But Social Media is more than just telling, it’s also insightful. When visiting a new city, Social Media offers users a view through the eyes and experiences of the local inhabitants, those who have been there and are connected to the locale. These are the folks that have such a strong opinion they are compelled to type 300 words about it on their teeny-tiny smart phone keyboards.
Here are the ones that I will be using and typing in on my trip to the ASPE conference.
Last year, ASPE encouraged attendees to use Twitter to share interesting sessions, fun food finds or general information (I also use it to personalize general news updates or to kill time waiting for my fish tacos). Over the course of the year, our Twitter account has gained a lot of followers so hopefully tweets and interactions will also continue to grow.
This year we are going to continue using Twitter as a way to share information about Atlanta and the conference – anything and everything is fair game on Twitter. Be sure to use the hashtag “#aspe2013” so everyone can follow ASPE Conference updates.
Looking for a good place to eat that’s near the hotel? Is that walking tour any good? Where do the locals go for a beer? The answer to these and many other services can be found on Yelp!, a combination local business directory and review site. Type in what you are looking for by name or category and Yelp! will show you where businesses are located in relation to you including reviews of those businesses (usually by locals. Yelp! users really get into it and will become self-appointed reviewers of the businesses in their town). You can leave your own reviews for other ASPE attendees or just leave a Tip for those of you who enjoy brevity.
BONUS TIP: If you have the app on your iPhone click the “monocle” button hidden in the “Nearby” menu, then hold up your phone and see Yelp! tags and ratings on the live picture. Cool!
Foursquare is social media done as a game, unfortunately no one knows the rules or cares who wins. It’s still a pretty popular and engaging app. Anytime you arrive somewhere, open up Foursquare and check in. It’s that simple. Be careful, it can become addictive (“Ooo, I just checked into the Lobby…that’s my 8th Lobby check-in today!”). Like Yelp!, users leave Tips on locales. Also, if you visit a location more than any other person in a certain amount of time you can become the Mayor of that location (“Ooo, I just became the Mayor of the Lobby!”) It will also show you who has also checked in there and suggest other venues/services in the vicinity. (“Ooo, there is no one else checked into the Lobby! Maybe I should check out the Lobby bar.”)
Yelp! and Foursquare offer similar services, each better at some than the other. What they also offer is a fun way to discover stuff which is much more interesting than a hotel ad-supported guide book.
Interesting fact – the resolution in your phone camera is probably better than the digital camera you bought five years ago. It’s also lighter and easier to use. Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist Barry Staver said: “The best camera is the one you have with you.” Photography has become second nature which is why so many people take pics of loved ones, their food; their dog; their feet; their dog’s feet, etc. Instagram makes the experience fun with filters that make even the dullest of photos look dynamic.
Instagram is like Twitter for photos: you take a pick, slap on a filter and post it for all your followers to see. While not a fun way to find things, it is a fun way to share interesting sights, photos of friends and other miscellany.
Vine is a simple application that takes 6 second videos. That’s it. It’s not really useful in this situation but it’s a lot of fun!
By now, you know what Facebook is, in fact I already wasted 7 words pointing out the obvious. Still, ASPE’s Facebook page is a fine place to start conversations, post photos, give kudos and share ideas about the ASPE conference.
BONUS TIP: You can also link all of these apps to your Facebook account and post updates for your friends and family to see where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing. Once you link with Facebook, most apps will allow you to connect with your Facebook friends also using the app; another way to share info with your friends at ASPE!
By using Social Media, ASPE attendees have a wide array of tools to explore, discover and share all the fascinating things they encounter in The ATL, I mean Atlanta, during the ASPE conference.
See you on the Twitter Feed!