A collection of Kiwi "social media practitioners" has banded together to kick off the New Zealand chapter of the Social Media Club, an organisation that started in 2006 in San Francisco and is active around the world.
Australia already has five chapters, with Sydney the world's most popular, so, the founding committee, which is made up of Bullet PR's managing director Nicholas O'Flaherty and senior PR consultants Paul Matthews and Alex Erasmus, Duncan Blair, brand manager for Orcon, Tom Bates, social media marketing specialist for Air New Zealand, Jacob Pearson, digital guy from 42Below, Nigel Hammersley, head of digital for ad agency Sugar, and Simon Young, director at social media consultancy #sy, had a few beers and decided the time was right to form the Auckland group.
Bullet PR's O'Flaherty says social media is "all about getting as many people as possible to join the conversation", so a Facebook page, a wiki page and a posterous page ("an ongoing educational resource") have been created to ensure that happens.
"Social media is undoubtedly one of the hottest topics in the New Zealand business world right now, but there is very little in terms of education," O'Flaherty says. "So, Social Media Club will be holding monthly speaking events based around a particular social media topic. The speaker will educate the audience about their own social media story, typically case study driven, in order to stimulate informal networking and discussion."
Erasmus says each chapter does things slightly differently and, while the Auckland group's approach will stick to the international guidelines of improving media literacy, sharing lessons learned, encouraging adoption of industry standards and promoting ethical behaviour (and, at the same time "ensuring the world of social media does not become an echo chamber of self-reinforcing thoughts and is instead fuelled by diversity of opinion and perspective"), it will have "a Kiwi bent to it".
"There are a lot of question marks about how to make the intangible tangible, so people might want to come check it out," he says.
The first knees up will be at 6pm on 9 February, with a free, first-come, first-served event for around 100 people (Erasmus says there is likely to be a registration process for future events) at the 42 Below bar on Commerce St which will feature a 15-20 minute speech about video blogging by Jayson Bryant of the Wine Vault.