Being a community evangelist for a video sharing site isn't easy business given the current market. It can sometimes be a real challenge to determine what, if anything, about Viddler someone would like to hear. Sure, I think nearly every feature of Viddler is great - that doesn't mean you will, or she will, or they will.
Podcamp Philly opened my eyes to a completely different way to help grow Viddler's community in new directions, and to help me do my job better. Solve the problems of the community you want.
We've got an incredible community on Viddler. Loyal, active, bright, and fun people that are willing to help us through our growing pains, partially because we strive to fulfill their requests as we move forward. Listening to and acting on requests is vital to growing a strong and sustainable community.
But what if we'd like to also attract a completely different Viddler? How do you branch out from your core community into a different community? Some may say education is key. Going out and educating 'that other community' about your product. This is true, but only partially true. The main strategy should be to strive to help the new community as much as you've helped your core community. Figure out the main problems of the new community and adjust to meet their needs.
The typical active Viddler is someone that enjoys conversation and actively participating in community activities. This is a great community to start off with. This will mean that as new ones join the community, it won't seem inactive, stale, or unwelcoming. But rather they will be immediately accepted as though they'd been there all along.
The typical podcaster is not one of these people. More often than not they are community leaders themselves. They have an audience that they speak and interact with. In order to help podcasters you really need to either become one yourself, or immerse yourself into an event like Podcamp Philly, to really see the daily challenges these producers face. Don't just speak to this new community, listen to them when they speak. And that is what I tried to do at Podcamp Philly; listen.
"Who is new to Podcasting?" (credit: CC Chapman)
Here are two main points I took away from Podcamp. Neither of these things where revelations to me but both were definitely solidified in my mind as very important points to remember.
Even though our technology for "citizen journalism" (or podcasting and videocasting) has improved 100-fold in only a few years, we are still very far away from making this as easy as it could be. Producers, editors, and everyone else involved with creating a really great podcast has a huge learning curve ahead of them when they are first starting out. Once they get rolling they face many daily challenges. They are constantly changing strategies until they find the perfect mix to get their "show" out and into your hands. Once they find that perfect mix they generally stick with what works. This all takes a lot of time and their time is valueable.
Most video podcasters do what they do because they love doing it. If your service inhibits that passion in any way, you lose. Sure, a few podcasters are now making a living with their podcast, this doesn't mean its all business. Podcasters may put up with crappy service to earn a living for a time, but in the long run they'll end up finding a better way. Be that better way.
I really enjoyed myself at Podcamp Philly. I'm happy that Viddler had the privilege of being one of the sponsors so that everyone in attendence could get all of this information for free. The more people that know how to do a podcast well, the more podcasts we'll see, plain and simple. I'm looking forward to other Podcamp events in the future (there is one in Boston I might make it to). And I'm really looking forward to next year, when everyone in Philadelphia has had an entire year to learn, grow, and teach even more people about this wonderful world of self-publishing.
Oh, and the parties were great too.