Alabama Social Media Association: The Junto for Social Media

Posted on July 12, 2011


Earlier this year, several of my friends and professional acquaintances recognized the need for a professional organization committed to sharing knowledge and best practices in the realm of social media for business and nonprofit purposes. They showed initiative and established the Alabama Social Media Association, Inc., or ALsocme, for short.

One of Benjamin Franklin’s greatest contributions to American history is his leadership in creating civic and professional organizations aimed at learning, self-improvement, and building a stronger community. Ben is particularly well-known for forming the Junto, one of the first (if not the first) professional development and social/networking club.

I like to think of ALsocme as Alabama’s version of the Junto, with an emphasis on social media education.

The mission of ALsocme is “education: empowering individuals, businesses and community organizations with social media tools and knowledge to help them meet their professional goals.”

In the interest of full disclosure: I’m not a founder but I am a member of the Outreach Committee and I’m committed to spreading the word about ALsocme and sharing information about the educational programs, networking events and goals of the Alabama Social Media Association. I’m excited about the level of professional competence and dedication at the top tier of ALsocme and I think that competence and commitment to professional development is reflected in the educational and social programming.

First Public Event

ALsocme was publicly-launched in March 2011 and the first professional education program was held March 30 at the Hill Event Center in Birmingham. As an indication of the local support and demand for this type of programming, tickets for the first event “sold out” within hours of public announcement. Tickets were free for the lunchtime event, which featured speaker Ike Pigott and lunch from Zoë’s Kitchen. The Hill Event Center was packed to capacity. Even the standing-room only tickets were claimed.

Ike Pigott, corporate spokesperson and communication/social media strategist, for Alabama Power, delivered an insightful talk on “Social Media: The 21st-Century Canary.” Here’s the video from Ike’s talk:

Isaac Pigott: “Social Media: The 21st-Century Canary” from Alabama Social Media Association on Vimeo. Video by Archer Creative.

  • Click here for more information about the inaugural ALsocme event, including Ike’s slides, photos of the event by Arik Sokol,  and other video footage.

Second Educational Program

The second educational program was held May 3, 2011, also at the Hill Event Center, and featured speaker Mack Collier, social media strategist, who provided great advice on “How to Handle Negative Blog Comments.” I didn’t hear Mack’s talk because I was working the registration table for this event, but I know it was great because I was following the Twitter feed. Here’s the video of Mack’s talk:

Mack Collier: “How to Handle Negative Blog Comments” from Alabama Social Media Association on Vimeo. Video by Chris Davis, Dad Creates.

  • Click here for more information about the second educational program, including Mack Collier’s slides, a PDF transcript of the Twitter stream during the event, and photos by Lynsey Weatherspoon.

Other Events

In addition to the educational programs, ALsocme hosts an after-business-hours social/networking event about once per month.

ALsocme has two remaining events scheduled for July 2011:

Another tweetup/social event was set for July 13 with Birmingham Mayor William Bell. Mayor Bell had to cancel at the last minute due to the need to be in Washington, D.C. for a meeting with FEMA officials about tornado-disaster-recovery efforts. This event will be rescheduled for a later date.

Community Support

Birmingham professionals have shown tremendous support  for ALsocme. Professional videographers and photographers have given their time and talent to documenting and covering the educational and social events. Others have volunteered to serve as greeters and to help with set-up, registration and clean-up. Others help with publicity. Local television, newspapers and bloggers have made an effort to cover the events, as well.

Likewise, numerous businesses, organizations and local government officials have demonstrated their support by serving as partner organizations. Others have made substantial financial commitments by generous event sponsorships.

The Future

ALsocme is a great resource for Birmingham and all of Alabama. As an educator, I am especially gratified to be involved with an organization that seeks to provide valuable information to the business and professional community about the myriad ways social media can be (and is being) used in the real world to build businesses and advance social causes.

If you live within a reasonable drive from Birmingham, Alabama and have an interest in learning how use social media to achieve business and organizational goals, or simply for networking for professional development, I encourage you to learn more about ALsocme and attend one of the upcoming events.

I’m confident there are even bigger and better things on the horizon.

Board Members:

Executive Director: Kristin Heptinstall

Sheree Martin