Bet they weren’t drinking Mellow Birds, though.
It’s no surprise that Social Media Cafes have sprung up across the globe as the rise of social networking spreads. There are more than 20 in the UK inspired either consciously or unconsciously by London’s Tuttle Club and Lloyd Davis. They are listed here.
Aside from the general social media coffee drinking government (local and national) in London provide the quite marvellously titled Tea Camp.
Birmingham has an inspirational Social Media Cafe, but then again Brum is a hugely inspirational digital place with a vibrant grassroots community. I like the way it’s monthly cafe describes itself as: “a place for people interested in social media to gather, get acquainted, chat, plot, scheme, and share.”
But what makes a good one? It’s not always enough just to do it Field of Dreams-style ‘build it and they will come.’
Twelve months on from the first meeting of the Black Country Social Media Cafe a few thoughts struck me.
Of the 20 who came to the first meeting in Costa Coffee, Wolverhampton organised by David Stuart three remain regulars including David, yet far more interesting people have come along to take their place.
We’ve met in six venues in three towns sometimes daytime, some times not.
Here are some thoughts which are by no means a definitive list ….
You can’t please everyone all the time.
Twitter people seem more receptive to Social Media Cafes.
Smaller communities respond better to events with some networking and speakers.
People with jobs who need something to show for disappearing out of the office for two hours respond to speakers.
A Facebook and a Twitter presence are a must.
Don’t rely on old media for publicity. The BCSMC were told by one reporter that they wouldn’t publicise the event since: “this was a competing medium.”
Online polls to decide venues don’t work. Ask David Stuart.
It’s better to have a leading figure who is not anti-social – particularly when meetings are arranged around online polls (only joking, David).
Somewhere close to train or bus links helps.
An arts centre or a place where creative people hang out is a good place to hold a cafe.
If you’re looking to cover a region or a county a big, big section of people just won’t travel. The prospect of some Stourbridge types travelling to Walsall, for example, is on a par with Mars exploration.
Get somewhere that sells good coffee. It’s more important than wifi.
The law of 4th XI cricket applies to this the same as other voluntary organisations. A few people do a lot. If 40 people say they’ll come, 10 will.
Creative commons credits
Laptop lass, cafe – Scott Beale Laughing Squid
Coffee montage – Nick Bilton