Thoughts On The San Antonio Rock-n-Roll Marathon Bike Tour Support

Photo by BrightRoom

My viewpoint on the 22 mile Bike Tour portion of the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon & ½ Marathon. Our group was the first out of the gate at 6:45am. The weather was foggy but still cool. I am relatively new to biking and had never done a bike tour before. The energy and support along the route was fantastic. I’ve run three 1/2 Marathons before (2 being RnR-Pheonix 2004 & SA in 2008). My perspective of the event was that there was a lot of support along the route. Many Medical tents/staff, drink stations, emergency personnel and of course folks cheering us on.

I was saddened to hear about the death of Jorge Fernandez. Aside from that tragedy, I have also read some of the complaints from folks on the RnR Facebook page and inside this Express-News article. One of the things that comes to mind is that perhaps a staggered volunteer and supply schedule should be considered for next year’s event. That way folks who are in the last portion of the event can still receive the same kind of attention as the folks who are in the first half of finishers.

I am by no means a fast runner or biker. I’m more of a slow and steady gal. However, I have always found support at the RnR events to be outstanding. It is my hope that we can all learn from this experience to make an even better event next year.

Congratulations to everyone who got up early to personally challenge themselves on a warm Sunday in November. Pat yourselves on the back for running/walking/biking to raise money for a worthy cause.

Special thanks to Richard Oliver for allowing me to be a part of the San Antonio Express-News article.

UPDATE: Here are my notes to the organizers of the event from their survey request of my Bike Tour experience.

“Kudos:
Really enjoyed my first ever Bike Tour. Your event has motivated me to participate in other bike tours.
•Fantastic support by volunteers and emergency crews Thanks.
•Really liked being able to Bike Valet. What an awesome experience with the folks from Bike World. Smiling and joking around with us at both drop off and pick up. 2 Thumbs up on Bike Valet service.

Critiques:
•More announcer mentions of Bike Tour (we felt like the proverbial “red-headed step-children” to the Full & 1/2 Marathon.
•Have all bands on stage for event. It was a bit disappointing to ride by stages that were empty.
* Have a bit of a longer exit area at the finish line. As soon as we crossed the finish there was a lady yelling at us to ” SLOW DOWN AND GET OFF YOUR BIKES!” <- A big buzz kill to the euphoria you are feeling for completing the 22 mile course. A longer exit area would allow us time to slow down without having someone yelling at us.
• More photographers at the finish. There was only 1 shot of me during the race and none of me crossing the finish line. I hammed it up by raising both my arms up as my sign of accomplishment. Imagine my disappointment when the photographer who was taking the finish pics didn’t capture that moment.

On a side note, I did hear from lots of folks where were in “last to finish” groups of both bikers and runners who did not receive the same level of support as the folks that finished in the first half. Here is a suggestion: Why not stagger your volunteers and supplies? That way everyone gets the full experience from start to finish?

Overall I am thrilled with my Bike Tour experience. I’ve run 2 of your 1/2 Marathon’s before (Pheonix 04 and SA in 08) and have been very happy with the RnR experience.”

The Latest Bright and Shiny Social Network: Google+

It’s only been out for a few weeks, but already Google+ has taken the tech and social media community by storm. Bold statements like, “I Have Moved” and “I’m Leaving Facebook” have been touted from many an early adopter geek. I’ll admit my foray into the Google+ or G+ as we now refer to it has been very exciting. It is a clean and simple network. Yet in that simplicity is something quite refreshing and complex.

The ability to further define who is in your network via Circles is the first piece that grabs your attention. Most social networks categorize the people you are connected to as friends. Some of them allow you create lists and groups for some separation but it has been clunky and cumbersome to navigate in networks like Facebook. One cool feature is the ability to put your connections in multiple circles. For example my husband and sister are in a family circle but they are also in a friend circle. Making it easy to share things that are family specific with them only and also share more general posts that are for friends.

G+ comes with a 10 person video chat feature called Hang Out built right into the web interface. Nothing to download or pay for. You can create public hang outs or have a private hang out for family, friends or dare I even say it, clients. Features like this are not new, but are typically found in higher end paid premium products. In Google+ it is free. One thing I found even more exciting was that the person speaking is highlighted within the group video chat. It is really quite the nice touch.

The mobile app (which was just released on the iPhone this week) has an additional feature which is sure to make your next event a richer experience. Huddle is group text-like messaging very similar to the way GroupMe works. I have used GroupMe with much success at events like SXSW. It makes communication between your friends who may be dispersed over many panels and buildings a simple group conversation experience. We were able to meet during breaks and lunch using GroupMe. Huddle works much in the same manner except without having to worry about text charges which unless you have an unlimited plan (like me) could be a problem.

At this stage of the Google+ project limited field test, there are only personal profiles available which leaves business on the outside looking in. There were several businesses who took the leap into G+ setting up their companies using the personal profile accounts. Google has stated there is a corporate profile version in the works with an anticipated release later this year. They have begun suspending accounts that were created for business with a promise to launch the corporate version soon. In a recnet TechCrunch interview, Google continues to say they are in a limited release with access to Google+ being by existing member invite only. Although with a 10 Million+ existing user base within just a few weeks into it’s limited release, they said they were surprised at how successful the network has been achieving a faster than expected audience.

Google+ is not open to the general public at this time, but if the early adopters raving reviews are any indication, this looks it could be the next big social network. What does this mean for giant behemoth Facebook? I wouldn’t sing a swan song for Mark Zuckerberg and his crew just yet.  With close to 700 million folks on Facebook, Google’s 10 million is a long way from taking down the giant in the social networking world. Given that there is currently not a way for business and enterprise to participate in the space and being closed to the public leaves Google+ still the social playground of the early adopter geeks.

I for one am glad to be part of the “kick the tires” Google+ crowd. It is reminiscent of the early days of social media ‘ala 2007 Twitter. Speaking of Twitter, how does the ‘little network that could’ fare against the fickle shiny object crowd? Twitter is facing some internal challenges as they expand and grow. There have been more than one Google+ user state that their use of Twitter has diminished considerable with their increased use of Google+. Twitter does offer something no other network does, Chats. With over 400 Twitter chats listed, there is no shortage of folks who engage on twitter en masse. Personally, I am a big fan of the 140 character network and hope that it continues to be a relavent space for meaningful connections.

Are you using Google+? If so, share your thoughts and reactions to the newest network to take the social community by storm.

 

The Social Media Scrooge

ScroogeWe have all seen them or more likely we have all heard them. They are the folks who make a face whenever we talk about our Twitter friends. Roll their eyes when we share Facebook stories. They are also the folks who will tell you that real business doesn’t happen when you waste time on the social networks.

Are they wrong?

Yes and no.

Yes, if your employees are playing Mafia Wars instead of filling out that all important TPS report. No, if the connection they make from a Twitter post (tweet) gets them a phone or face-to-face appointment with a potential client.

Yet, how can someone be convinced of the merit of adding social media to their business? One way is to introduce case studies and offer examples of social media gone right. Zappos, Comcast and Dell spring to mind. Take a real world example that you personally have done to showcase the effectiveness of social media. Whether that was a form of communication, customer service or promotional tool. Another option is to have them attend industry specific events where the topic of social media is being addressed.

I am often asked to speak to groups about the practical use of social media. While I have shared how much I enjoy watching light bulbs go off during a session, I’ve never talked about what it’s like to watch a Social Media Scrooge “get it”.

They are typically successful business owners. They also know that if they keep hearing something over and over again, they should pay attention. They usually walk in with a determined look on their face. They may or may not chat with folks beforehand. They are there, but probably feel they could have spent their time more productively.

It is apparent to me that this person is there because they keep getting told they need to “do social media”. They have no idea what that means, not sure if it is relevant for their business and feel that overall it is a waste of time. If we go back to the previous Yes and No explanation above, they may or may not be right. However, if they do not take the time to at least have a cursory understanding of what social media is, how can they make a fair judgment? So, the Social Media Scrooge will attend an event to find out for themselves.

What I have found is that one of the best ways to cut through the jargon and buzz words that are inherent in social media is to relate everything back to traditional terms. For example, when I talk about new media podcasts and live online audio streaming I quickly compare it to traditional radio programs and talk shows. The Social Media Scrooge understands radio and will nod their head. When I tell them that one of the biggest differences between the two is that podcasts and online audio are instantly archived and available to an entire connected global audience. Their eyes widen in understanding just a bit.

The session continues and by the end there is that moment when the light bulb goes off.  The former Social Media Scrooge now has an understanding of the basics of what social media is and an idea of how it just might be a powerful part of their business.

If you know someone who is a Social Media Scrooge, consider sending them to spend some time with me at the Technology Connexus Hi-Tech Mixer on Thursday, September 10th from 5:30-8pm.

image by striatic

Open Letter to the San Antonio Podcasting Community

To My Fellow Podcasters:

Creating and being a part of the San Antonio Podcasting Group has been an amazing experience. It started as a way for me to find local podcasters to share my excitement about, what at the time was, a groundbreaking medium.

It’s been 4 years since those humble beginnings back in September 2005. So much has happened since then. We fired up the early adopter tech/geek crowd and have done some first time events here in San Antonio. From our small group the New Media/Social Media Community was born.

From PodCamp to BarCamp to TweetCamp we have been pioneers involved in building what is now a wonderfully diverse and vibrant community. Pat yourselves on the back for being part of the group and making things happen.

As New Media evolved to Social Media we have been using the Meetup site less and less. What was once a chatty message board has become as silent as a library. It’s not that we aren’t still interacting online, however the location for our conversations have been happening on Twitter and Facebook.

There doesn’t seem to be a need for us to continue to host the group on Meetup. As we are well aware, Meetup charges organizers a fee to host a group. As the use of the Meetup platform has become anemic, it appears there is no need to continue with the group in it’s current form.

There are plenty of places for us to host our group outside of Meetup. There is Ning http://ning.com and even Facebook has a group feature. We still have the SA Podcasters blog site which Nathan Lott and Leslie Baldwin have been heading up for the last year.

I propose we allow the Meetup group to close and continue the conversation on either Ning or Facebook. I believe Ning allows us more features as well as an extremely feature rich platform. It’s my first choice, however I know that for the most part we are all already on Facebook so adding a new group to our existing profiles would be easier. I’m willing to go either way.

I won’t miss Meetup. I will miss interacting with you, my dear Podcasting Buds. Knowing you has enriched my life immensely.

Thanks for joining the fun!

Cheers,
Jennifer Navarrete