Category Archives: Events

A blog, social media, and more for the 2nd Annual Fat Bike Winter Summit and Festival

Fat Bike Summit and FestivalI’ve started working with Gary Sjoquist, Director of Advocacy at Quality Bicycle Products (QBP) in Bloomington on the 2nd Annual Fat Bike Winter Summit, to be held Jan. 25-27 in Island Park, Idaho. The Fat Bike Summit (Friday) is for land managers, parks staff, and policy makers to learn more about fat biking in winter and to discuss possible changes in policies. The Fat Bike Festival (Sat/Sun) is for anyone. If you are looking to buy a new bike, then check out

I’ve been hosting weekly web conferences (planning meetings) via my GoToMeeting account with the team that’s organizing the Summit. We’re using the new Basecamp to facilitate all our other communications. We’re planning to use GoToWebinar to host some panel discussions during and after the Summit.

I’ve set up the Fat Bike Summit blog on and we’re just getting going with the Fat Bike Summit Twitter feed. We’ll have a Facebook page up shortly.

And if all goes as planned, I’ll be at the event posting updates throughout to the blog and Twitter and maybe doing some live streaming.

Presentations at the League of MN Cities annual conference

Griff Wigley, Ted Davis IMAG0115 IMAG0118League of MN Cities

I’m here in flood-ravaged Duluth for the League of Minnesota Cities annual conference. I’m teaming up with Ted Davis, Davis Communications, and Scott Neal, Edina City Manager, to do a pre-conference workshop today on Networking and Communicating with New Media for Local Government Leaders.  On Friday, I’m moderating a discussion session on Government 2.0: New Strategies for Engaging the Public.

CityCamp Minnesota: using Community 2.0 to build and leverage trust

I Steve Clift convening participants at CityCampMN 2011attended CityCamp Minnesota (an unconference) yesterday at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs on the U of MN’s West Bank. Longtime colleague Steve Clift was one of the chief organizers.

The broad theme was "Community 2.0" in which participants tried to answer these questions:

    • In a world of scarce public resources, how do we take advantage of the 2.0 online, social media, and open source world to help build awesome local communities?
    • How can we connect the interested public with 2.0 skills to work with government, community groups, neighborhood associations, local ethnic associations, and more?
    • How can our local communities be bold, inclusive, open, accessible, wired and darn right innovative when bottom-up connects with top-down for collaboration?

An attendee named Marc Drummond has blogged a detailed description of how the unconference format worked, including his critique and suggestions. You can see comments from others during and after the conference by viewing the #citycampmn hashtag on Twitter.

GovDelivery CEO Scott Burns at CityCampMN 2011 GovDelivery CEO Scott Burns at CityCampMN 2011
I was pleased to see GovDelivery CEO Scott Burns in attendance, as I’d not talked to him since my days at in the late 90s when his and many other high tech companies were located in the Lowertown Cyber Village in downtown St. Paul. 

Scott gave a condensed version of his October 2011 presentation, posted to Slideshare:

When he put up slide 10 that says:

Leverage the trust that this guy has been building up for years

it caught my attention. It’s that word ‘leverage.’ When coaching leaders on their use of social media, I’ve long emphasized the importance of leveraging one’s influence (for example, see my blog posts here, here, here as well as this guest blog post).

But his phrase "leverage the trust" started me thinking about how it applies to leadership. As a leader, your position automatically puts you in a position of influence.  But your behavior over time is the only way to build trust, and that, of course, ratchets up your influence.

Scott’s presentation also got me thinking about how this is true for organizations, too—especially government and its relationship to the citizens it serves. The Edina Citizen Engagement project that I’m working on now with the City of Edina could also be seen as a way for the City to build more trust with its citizens through meaningful online engagement. Will it work? And how will City officials leverage it?  Stay tuned.

Reach the Public blog
In the meantime, read GovDelivery’s Reach the Public blog and follow Scott on Twitter.

2011 MN Blogger Conference: a first-rate experience

2011 MN Blogger Conference  Melissa (Missy) Berggren Arik Hanson

I attended the 2011 MN Blogger Conference Saturday at Allina Commons (administrative headquarters for Allina Hospitals and Clinics) in the Midtown Exchange in Minneapolis. Everything about the conference was terrific. Props to the main organizers Arik Hanson and Melissa (Missy) Berggren.

Lee Odden keynote at 2011 MN Blogger Conference Lee-Odden Lee Odden

Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Online Marketing and editor/blogger at (that domain name redirects to gave the keynote: Blogs to Riches: A Journey from Blogging Luddite to Successful Business. Alternate title on his cover slide: 5 Lessons Learned from 7+ Years of Blogging.

(I happened to meet Lee just before his presentation when he saw me taking photos with my Sony NEX-3. He said something to effect of "I loved that camera until a wave in Hawaii took it away from me."  I told him new versions were due soon, ie, the NEX-5N and the NEX-7.)

Blog as centerpiece of content marketing - TopRank Online MarketingLee’s a terrific presenter. I was delighted to hear him stressing the importance of having your blog be the centerpiece of one’s content marketing strategy, and not just your social media strategy.

I don’t have a link to his presentation but slide #15 from this recent Social Media and SEO Slideshare presentation of his is similar to what he used on Saturday.

The break-out sessions I attended were all very good:

toprank Allina kare11_sharelogo

Unbelievably, the conference was free, including lunch and parking, thanks to the sponsors, TopRank Online Marketing, Allina, and KARE 11.

Roundtable discussion on social media at the MASA/MASE 2011 spring conference

I hosted a roundtable discussion this morning at the MASA/MASE 2011 spring conference, The Art & Science of Leadership (PDF) at the Northland Inn in Brooklyn Park, MN.

Using social media for leadership: A discussion about how blogs, Twitter, YouTube and other social media technologies can be used to leverage one’s influence as a leader.

I got to meet some of the other MASA staff (besides Charlie!):

Jeanna Quinn, Charlie Kyte, Aimee Ranallo, Deb Larson MASA conference
L to R: Jeanna Quinn, Charlie Kyte, Aimee Ranallo, Deb Larson

Minnesota Blogger Mini-Conference 2011

Minnesota Blogger Mini-Conference 2011 at CoCo Becky Flansburg, Frantic Mommy Josh Braaten, Big Picture Web

I attended Minnesota Blogger Mini-Conference 2011 yesterday over the noon hour at CoCo.

Joel Carlson has blogged the event with photos, too.

Upcoming event: Social networking panel at St. Kate’s

Minnesota Women in Marketing and CommunicationsFellow Northfielder Elizabeth Child is on the Seasoned Professionals special interest group for Minnesota Women in Marketing and Communications (MWMC) and asked me to be on a social networking panel on January 13 at St. Catherine University in St. Paul.

I’ll be joined by Lynsey Struthers, Interactive Strategist with The Lawlor Group, and Michael Wells, Digital Communications Manager at St. Catherine University.

Details here.

WordCamp MSP 2010: a home run

I left Northfield at 7:30 am yesterday as the snow storm was just cranking up, thinking that an extra hour would be sufficient for 35 mile trip to Best Buy HQ in Richfield for the 2010 WordCamp MSP. I was scheduled to present during the first round of sessions at 9:30. At about 8:30, I tweeted: "Traffic on I35 one mile south of Lakeville is at dead stop. #wordcampmsp hosed"

After sitting there for 20 minutes, I began preparing to send out another tweet to tell the WordCamp organizers that I wasn’t going to make it in time. But suddenly, traffic began to move so I held off and arrived at 9:15. When I found chief WordCamp organizer Lauren Freeland, she told me that they’d seen my tweet and bumped my session up to 10:30. I thought, "Jeesh, these people have their shit together."

Lauren Freeland and Toby Cryn on stage at WordCamp 2010 Lauren Freeland and Toby Cryn on stage at WordCamp 2010 Steve Borsch at WordCamp MSP
Left and center photos: On stage at Best Buy HQ: Lauren Freeland, WordCamp conference organizer; Toby Cryns, co-founder of the MSP WordPress User Group; Right photo: Steve Borsch, capturing some video of the scene.

As it turned out, I was able to do my WordPress Basics for Noobs session at 9:30; I also did a session at the end of the day: Blog-Based Conversations: Tools and strategies for managing comments and the people who make them. Both were well-attended, I got lots of great questions, and was pleased with the informal feedback I got from people afterwards.

WordCamp MSP was a well-run conference, starting with the venue, the food, and the range of sessions offered.  As a speaker, I was impressed with the whole process, including their terrific blog site and all the helpful email communications with Lauren Freeland and Brian Goeppner leading up to the event. A special tip-of-the-blogger hat goes out to the tech support volunteers who rescued me at my first session when hook-up to the screen projector failed.  Twice I overheard people talking about how helpful the WordPress troubleshooters were at The Tech Shop onsite. What a great idea that was.

WordCamp MSP 2011?  I hope so. In the meantime, I’ll be a regular at the MSP WordPress User Group.

2:30 PM Update:  A WordCamp album of 43 photos by Lauren Melcher posted to the TECHDotMN’s Flickr account, including one of me not paying attention.

WordCamp photo album

Nov. 1 Webinar – Social media use by local government in the US: What are the hurdles to doing it well?

Nov. 2 update:

With my civic and business hat on, I’m hosting a free webinar on social media use by local government on Monday, Nov. 1, at 8 PM CDT. It will feature:

  • A tour of several local government websites (primarily cities in the US) to see some best practices of how social media tools (blogs, web forums, email lists, webinars, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc.) are being used to enable more transparency and engagement.
  • A discussion about the hurdles that local government officials face when implementing the use of social media.

The panelists (all bloggers), all have some Northfield connections:

Betsey Buckheit Steven Clift Scott Neal

Some photos of Betsey, Steve and Scott in Northfield from 2004-05 with their blogger hats on:
UK delegation at the Cow 2004 UK delegation at the Cow 2004 - 2 Blogging panel at the Archer House 2005

Please register for the free webinar on social media use by local government for Monday, Nov. 1, at 8 PM CDT.

If you’re unable to attend, the webinar will be recorded and archived on the web.

Got questions or comments? Attach a comment here or contact me.

Nov. 2 update:

Social media guru Brian Solis: Engagement, influence, leverage, and a question of the packaged self

An Evening with Brian Solis in Minneapolis An Evening with Brian Solis in Minneapolis
I attended An Evening with Brian Solis in Minneapolis last Tuesday. It was a full house (250?) at Solera‘s A/C-challenged, 3rd floor conference room. Kudos to Jennifer Kane and Kary Delaria of Kane Consulting for a well-run event.

Engage or DieA month ago, I’d purchased the Kindle version of Brian’s new book Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web (Google book here; Scribd here) and found it not only informative but intellectually challenging. Brian’s as much a sociologist as he is a marketing and communications guy.

I’m mainly interested in how people in leadership positions can use social media themselves to be more effective, whereas most of Solis’ presentation and his book are about how organizations (primarily businesses, though much of it could apply to non-profits and even governments) can use social media to be more effective.

So his presentation was inspirational and informative to me because I’m gearing up to take my own business, Wigley and Associates, to a different level and need to apply his principles just like any other business.  But I found two elements of his speech were especially relevant to leaders who use social media themselves


I like it that Solis defined influence as "the ability to inspire desirable and measurable outcomes" and that those involved in using social media for their organizations must not lose sight of this (to wit, the funny but ineffective Old Spice guy campaign and the inane Fast Company Influence Project).

I’ve long preached influence vs. numbers to leaders who check the traffic stats on their blogs too often, and I now tell it to those who pay too much attention to their number of Twitter followers and Facebook friends/fans/likers.

Yes, you need an audience. There’s not much point to giving a sermon with no one in the pews.

But numbers don’t give you the kind of feedback you need on whether your social media efforts are having the kind of influence you want on the people who matter to you. (Informal feedback that let’s you know people are paying attention is good. Measurable outcomes, of course, are best.)

Leverage (AKA social media sharing)

I don’t remember if Solis used the term ‘leverage’ but it came through loud and clear when he asked the audience how many were tweeting about his presentation as he was speaking. A third or more of those present raised their hands.

His memorable phrase: "With social media, you are marketing to an audience with an audience." 

Most leaders don’t get this.

Scott Neal, Eden Prairie City Manager I remember the first time the ‘power of the permalink’ got through my thick skull. It was late 2003 or early 2004. My client, Eden Prairie City Manager Scott Neal, told me that one of the people following his blog was a reporter from the local newspaper. Scott was amazed when excerpts from his blog posts began showing up in newspaper articles without the reporter ever phoning or emailing him. And he was more amazed when others started emailing/linking to those articles and in turn, mentioning to Scott informally that they read/heard what he said.

Likewise, Scott was surprised when, after posting to his blog at 7:30 am, he’d walk down the hall and have employees mention that they’d just read his post. And then later in the day he’d hear employees tell him that someone had emailed them a link to a recent blog post.

That was happening seven years ago.  The state of social media now is such that nearly everyone has an audience and a leader’s ability to effectively reach the audiences of their audience is unparalleled. From Brian’s book, page 4:

Social media has created and magnified a new layer of influencers across all industries. It is the understanding of the role people play in the process of not only reading and disseminating information, but also how they share and create content in which others can participate. This, and only this, allows us to truly grasp the future of communications, which is already unfolding today.

A confusing quotation

George Bernard Shaw Solis ended his presentation with a George Bernard Shaw quote: "Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself".

I’ve always like the quote because of its optimistic, you-can-be-or-do-anything message.

But without some elaboration, it’s puzzling to me why Solis would use it in a presentation that emphasized the importance of authenticity which, on the face of it, does not seem to go hand-in-hand with ‘creating yourself.’ 

Social media tempts us all with its ability to make it easier to package ourselves. Today’s NY Times ‘The Way We Live Now’ piece by Peggy Orenstein, I Tweet, Therefore I Am, focuses on this (though she seems to miss the distinction between lifecasting and mindcasting):

Peggy Orenstein The fun of Twitter and, I suspect, its draw for millions of people, is its infinite potential for connection, as well as its opportunity for self-expression. I enjoy those things myself. But when every thought is externalized, what becomes of insight? When we reflexively post each feeling, what becomes of reflection? When friends become fans, what happens to intimacy?

The risk of the performance culture, of the packaged self, is that it erodes the very relationships it purports to create, and alienates us from our own humanity.

It seems to me that Solis might elaborate a bit on what the Shaw quote means to him in the context of Engage and his writings about the egosystem. Or maybe find a different quotation that epitomizes it. Maybe one of these authenticity quotes? (And while he’s at it, he might want to offer his services to the company with that 1999-style website!)

I’ve been waiting for some substantive blog posts to be published about An Evening with Brian Solis but thus far, haven’t seen any referred to in the Twitter real-time results for the #solisMSP hashtag.  Lots of tweets have captured some of his quotes, though, for example:

Every company is a media company, EC=MC

Upload your excellent written content to and to get found by a wider audience

Youtube is the #2 search engine after Google. Want to build your brand? Get on Youtube with high-quality, SEO’d video

People is now the 5th P in marketing (with product, price, place, promotion)

Engage people where they congregate online

If your dentist isn’t on Twitter, get another dentist. Same goes for your wife.

70% of all social web users are just spectators

RRS = Relevance, Resonance & Significance

One room at a time makes a difference for engaging people. I want to engage you so that you will engage others

You’re only as good as you were yesterday

Twitter apps like tweetdeck and Seesmic are slot machines of attention

Empathy is the toll booth in the last mile of engagement in social media

Influencers don’t magically find information