Post Arizona Travel Tweetup Wrapup

Arizona Tweetup Number 2 Crew
(From Left to Right: Kerri, Toni, Patricia, Alex, Jackie)

We just wrapped up the 2nd Arizona Travel Tweetup and I’m thrilled to say it was an absolute blast.  We added three new faces to the group and spent a couple hours exchanging travel stories, wisdom, and doing more than a little brainstorming.   You can see the original event announcement here.

Who made it (make sure you’re following them!):

Kerri who tweets at @khegre and is a passionate travel micro-blogger.

Jackie who tweets at @bikelady, blogs at Bike With Jackie, Arizona Travel and Adventure and is a professional travel writer and published guide author.

Toni who tweets as @SmithTempe and @VisitTempe, blogs on Visit Tempe and serves as the voice of Tempe travel.

Patricia who tweets as @patriciaelenie, blogs on Patricia Lapadula and is an active independent travel blogger and photographer.

and myself – Alex on twitter as @AlexBerger, blogs here VirtualWayfarer and runs the UltimatePackingList and TravelResourceList.

For those looking to connect with fellow Arizona based travel people please make sure to look over my AZ Travel list on twitter (if you’re not on it post here or shoot me a tweet).

What We Talked About

I was really excited by how much ground we covered over a relatively short period. For those of you who were not able to join us – here’s a taste of what you missed:

Travel stories and photos – No surprise here right? We had some great ones from an amazing long duration sailing trip, to stories about culture shock in Africa, crying babies, and the woes of traveling with young children.  @patriciaelenie brought several stunning photos from her recent SEA Semester program where she sailed for several months around the Caribbean while @BikeLady brought several copies of her recently released Backroads and Byways of Arizona guide.

Twitter – It’s not really a tweetup if you don’t talk about twitter and we did! From general discussions about social media, to more specific discussions about how we use and rely on twitter as a tool we had what i found to be a very informative discussion.

One of my favorite tips came from @khhegre who suggested the creation of small twitter lists consisting of category driven favorites. She’s used this as a creative way to overcome the challenges that go with the forced feed sampling approach which happens as you break 200 follows. The creation of lists still allows you to sample general tweets, while making sure you’re able to filter it category or emphasis when the mood strikes.

We also discussed the ways in which twitter has changed how we follow and consume blog content.  The general consensus was that while many of us previously had favorite blogs/blog feeds which we followed, that our general approach had changed.  Now the emphasis was on people, individual articles and information feeds, over the blog feed itself.  Our new approach has evolved into sampling what looks interesting from our twitter feed which if reflective of general twitter users (Which I believe it is) shows a fundamental shift in how bloggers need to position themselves, distribute their posts, and share with the community.   It looks like you’ll need to be even more social and pro-active in the future if you want to put your content in front of people.

We also discussed a few other basics, things like how we choose who to follow, the impact and importance of your following/follower ratio, and the power of twitter as a tool to build new relationships and friendships. Especially for travelers!  I found @SmithTempe/@VisitTempe’s insights into how Tempe has been pushing into Social Media and really re-defining their relationship with the travel community to be really informative and exciting.

LinkedIn, TBEX, Tripitini – As a community focused event, the question of communities came up.  We talked about three of the largest concentrations of general travel discussion.  LinkedIn was a new one for me, but apparently as a very vibrant travel discussion community.  We discussed Travel Blog Exchange in some depth including a break down on the recent TBEX conference which @khegre had been able to attend as well as Tripitini a more recent community on the scene that is very similar to Tripitini and has an active travel community.

Facebook – We spent some time brainstorming on the way we use and interact with Facebook as well as its potential for improving social interaction, building/maintaining travel contacts/friendships and as a traffic/community building tool.  The consensus?  Facebook has done amazing things for empowering travelers and giving an easy way to meet and stay in contact with friends made on the road. We also looked at how Facebook is increasingly becoming one of the primary traffic drivers for independent bloggers and community sites.  Probably in no-small part due to the same shift we’re seeing in Twitter as people move from individual blog loyalty to a focus on people’s recommendations and individual links.

Hostels and Couchsurfing – We had a fun chat with a few comical adventure stories about what hostels are, who they’re right for, their positives and some of their drawbacks. We also discussed Couchsurfing (with a quick introduction to what it is) and different tools for reaching out to travelers as they visit Phoenix/Arizona.

Lots more beyond that, but those are the highlights that jump to mind! Hopefully they serve as good food for thought for those who were not able to join us.  If they’ve sparked a thought or question, don’t hesitate to keep the conversation going in a comment here on this post.

Thank you again to everyone who came out.  I hope to get a 3rd Arizona Travel Tweetup organized for sometime in late September or early October.  I look forward to continuing to build the community and helping put real faces and names to twitter/blogs/websites.

Is E-Mail Dead? A Millennial Weighs In

Orkney Islands - An Old Rusted Tractor at Sunset

I was recently approached by Scottsdale Airpark News Magazine to write a piece on social media. I chose to weigh in on the life (and death) of e-mail, the generational gap in usage behavior and explain the conundrum baffling many business experts: why don’t young business professionals rely on e-mail as their primary source for communication?  This post is a follow up to another piece I wrote entitled; Social Networks, E-mail and User Behavior in August of 2008.

From Scottsdale Airpark News:

Is E-Mail Dead? A Millennial’s view on today’s trusty tool

Stop! Before you click the send button and fire off that next e-mail, ask yourself, “Who is my audience and what is their age demographic?” As we prepare to enter a new decade, it’s time to think about how the use of e-mail has changed since 1995. Those who are 26 years and younger—“Millenials”—have a very different attitude about it than Generation X or even Y.

In the mid to late ’90s, e-mail was the leading edge. It offered unparalleled utility, was time effective and cost sensitive. It quickly became a requirement in most places of business and a part of our daily routine. Yet, despite its apparent necessity, the next few years will see e-mail moved to the endangered species list.

Change of Address

Non-Millennials embraced the Internet during a period when Internet Service Providers (ISP) and work-associated e-mails were king. If you’re over 26, you’ve probably had one e-mail address associated with your home ISP and a second professional e-mail for work. Most non-Millennials change their e-mail only when they move or change employers, so they have had maybe two addresses in the last 10 to 15 years.

Millennials, on the other hand, have been forced to adapt. During the peak of the tech boom, America’s youth were flooding online. Hungry for privacy and their own piece of online real estate, they signed up for free e-mail providers like Hotmail, Yahoo and eventually Google. They had free time, a burning curiosity, and a native understanding of the web which drove them to explore … sometimes recklessly.

What many discovered was an inbox inundated with spam. While older generations used e-mail for conversations, Millennials had instant messaging. The end result was a transient relationship with e-mail. Too much spam? Just register a new address. Interests changed? Register a new address. Pokemanmaster87@hotmail.com too childish? Time for another. An environment quickly evolved where keeping your address book up to date was impossible.

Enter Social Media

Many people were shocked by how sites like Facebook became so successful among young people. The answer is simple. Social media sites provided a “one-stop shop” for most of the resources Millennials desperately needed. They wanted a simple service that essentially replaced e-mail with a database-driven address book that users automatically updated—and one that provided real-time chat, e-mail-like functionality and the ability to share rich media.

Facebook and co. rocked the boat but didn’t end e-mail’s dominance. After all, e-mail still offers value not readily duplicated by social networks. It remains our go-to resource for sharing documents and files, the preferred medium for professional communication (especially due to its archival value) and a necessity for trans-generational communication.

It’s time to prepare for a new decade, one that’s no longer shackled to e-mail. File sizes are skyrocketing and have quickly swamped e-mail’s capability. This has spawned spinoff resources, such as Drop.io, which allow quick and easy file sharing. Social media is no longer the sole domain of Millennials and the occasional early adopter. It’s reached a critical mass where Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are commonplace. They’ve become the new status quo, paving the way for the mass adoption of Google Wave and similar products delivering a more engaging, real-time, collaborative and user-friendly experience. It all points to a future that is sure to retire e-mail to the domain of rotary telephones, typewriters and fax machines.

So, before you hit send, ask yourself, is e-mail really the right medium for your message?

Alex Berger, a Millenial, is the author of the blog VirtualWayfarer.com, as well as an analyst with Fox & Fin Financial Group, 7333 E. Doubletree Ranch Road, Suite 200, Scottsdale. Alex@foxfin.com; www.foxfin.com; @MandAAZ.

View a .pdf of the print version here.

Have thoughts, comments, or your own insight to add?  Please join the discussion with a comment below!