Social capital for local businesses

Thank you, one and all, for your generosity of time, spirit, intelligence and can-do-ness in appreciating the venue of last night’s HoCoBlogs party (Nottingham’s) and the many interesting conversations you had. Nottingham’s was a generous host, providing free food (for vegetarians and omnivores alike) and a drink ticket for each attendee. They also put us in their private room, which made for easier conversations and less shouting in order to be heard.

In turn, we, the community of bloggers and social media activists gave of our time and thoughtfulness with our social media capital in our local networks. From what I can see, these bloggers covered the party in one way, shape, form or another —

Plus there was —
  • Two emails sent to our database of nearly 500 bloggers,
  • Multiple tweets (about a dozen over a few weeks) from @hocoblogs to our nearly 4000 local followers,
  • Shout-outs on our hocoblogs Facebook page with nearly 900 local “likes,”
  • Near-impossible to track Facebook mentions from many of the attendees,
  • An event page,
  • A Facebook invite, plus
  • A slew of tweets  from yesterday/today (and others in the weeks leading up to the party which are harder to track).

Thank you, everyone — each and all of you — for your help in making these parties easier, more valuable (for all) and more enjoyable to host and attend!



PS — The parties are really fun and it would be an incredible gift to me and the community at large if someone would help manage the party invitation list. I need help gathering up all the emails and putting them into an email service such as MailChimp. #HoCoVolunteers

Local tweets as a form of social capital

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Example of a great HoCo press release

Take your lead from this local early-20s-something, Chris Bivens. (See his press release, below.) See all that rich media he includes in his press release? See those links, photos … those social accounts — Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube? All he needs now is a hashtag for his song (so obvious — #HoCoRed) and this press release he sent out is golden.

What about you? Your biz? Your org?

Do you help your bloggers share your news? Do you give them all the links they could want and more? Is your news/issue/concern big enough to warrant a hashtag of its own (think #InnerArbor, #HoCoRedistricing)? At a minimum, it most likely lines up with one of the many local hashtags available for Howard County residents. For Chris these could include #HoCoMusic, #HoCoTeen, #HoCoBiz and/or #EllicottCity.

Have you identified photos, graphics (your logo, for one) and videos to make a blog post or tweet “richer”? And have you posted these resources online in a way that makes them easy to download? What about photo credits and pre-written photo captions bloggers can use? What about social bookmarking? Are you tracking your news and press in a way that makes it easy for others to find and follow it? If not, a twitter hashtag stream or aggregator tool such as will help you with that. (All free!)

Recommended reading:  
Got news to share? (… Or how to work with local bloggers)

As the person who manages and curates the content and databaste for, I seem to have become a target for press releases. (Read our “Got news to share?” post for great tips on working with local bloggers.) But we don’t publish press releases. What HoCoBlogs provides is a way for you to share your information by way of publishing your blog posts on an aggregated site for all to see; we don’t create or report on your news (unless it has to do with the social media scene in HoCo … and then that’s a mood- and time-based maybe. No promises. No guarantees.)

But with this guy … with Chris?  I sent his press release immediately to Deena Dietrich, who is going to be one of the (hopefully many) contributing writers to, a local music-scene blog. I nudged Luke Lavoie at the HoCo Times regarding a possible story. And I tweeted and shared his video and news.

Why? Because he gets it. This young-20s-something gets it. And if you want to stay relevant in the press and bloggers’ eyes in the coming years, “getting it” is in your best interest too.

These social tools are free. Yes, they can take time to learn … and more time to master. Yes, there are other things you may need to drop, do less well, delegate or redesign in order to also do social media as part of your outreach, your engagement, your publishing and your press. Yes, yes and yes.

For those with an interest in generational theory: A Fourth Turning reminder — it’s Society’s “winter” now (approx 2005 – 2024) and a time wherein that which is not strong, and not needed, dies back. It’s important for your message, your style and your technologies to resonate with GenXers (who want 24/7 access to information) and Millennials (who expect a seat at the table and to be heard, regardless of their experience or how long they’ve waited — or not — “in line”).

Decentralize your information. Move it out of a command-and-control situation. Empower your staff, volunteers, customers and fans to tell your story. Give the bloggers, your consumers, your partners, your neighbors and friends the ability to speak for you, to share your news, to help others see how awesome you are.

To do so, you’ve got to get social, get organized and think like a blogger. Think like someone who checks their Twitter stream five, ten, twenty times a day. Think, organize, share. Then let it go, trust and observe.  Wait, watch, adjust and do it better next time.

No more excuses.

Get social. And what a better community than any in which to do so. The richness, aptitude, systems and people here in Howard County are one of the best places to experiment, try, learn and excel.


Chris’s press release

(minus his formatting)

“HoCo Red”
Artist Name: Chris Bivins
Producer: BJR
Artist Location: DC/Maryland
Directed By: Chris Bivins

About the Video . . .
Chris Bivins is putting his hometown on the map with the release of his new single “HoCo Red”. This is the first song off his highly anticipated EP “Two 11” set to release in February 2014.

Although it may appear Chris is new to the business, he has been on his grind since childhood. Finding his niche in both music and film, this entertainer had been winning talent competitions since middle school and continuing to participate and support local event. Hence the heartfelt thanks he’s showing to Howard County, MD through “HoCo Red”.

In the spirit of giving back through collaborations, Chris enlisted the help of other county residents with this project. Local businesses and talented individuals were able to take part in not only the production of the song, but the making of the “HoCo Red” music video. This is the first music video on Chris’ official VEVO Channel.

Chris credits guidance from his mentor, Grammy winner, Nelly and the hit CW show “The Next” for the experiences and lessons that taught him to step up his musical game.

Chris Bivins presents . . . “HoCo Red”

One-Day Intensive: Blogging and Social Media

Occasionally, we offer workshops and learning events.

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One-Day Intensive: Blogging and Social Media

HoCoBlogs presents a one-day intensive on blogging and social media, led by Howard County-based blogger David Hobby*. The full-day seminar, Oct 21, 2013, is appropriate for bloggers of any experience level—whether blogging personally, as a small business or as part of a larger company’s social media efforts.

The seminar will draw from Hobby’s practical experiences as a full-time professional blogger for the last seven years. Topics covered will include:

  • Understanding how different forms of social media work, both individually and together
  • Ecosystems: Building positive feedback loops between your social media and physical worlds
  • Relative strengths and weaknesses of Blogs, Twitter and Facebook
  • The mechanics of blogging: Voice, content creation, Arc, organic SEO, creating reader funnels
  • Understanding Twitter: Powerful, yet deceptively simple—how to use it effectively
  • Audience: The most readers vs. the right readers
  • A roadmap for creating your best quality content on a consistent basis
  • Differences in approaches: Passion Bloggers vs. SmallBiz Bloggers vs. Corporate Social Media

The class will be fun, interactive and packed with useful information that you can apply to your own social media efforts. Lunch is on your own at any of a number of nearby restaurants. Dress is exceedingly casual.

Registration starts at 9 a.m.; the workshop starts at 9:30 a.m. and ends at 4:30 p.m. 


Money-back guarantee

We are so convinced that you will find great value from this workshop that if, by chance, you don’t, we will refund your ticket fee upon your request.

*David Hobby worked as a staff photojournalist for twenty years at Patuxent Publishing and The Baltimore Sun before founding in 2006. He has been a full-time blogger ever since. Over 100 million page views later, Strobist is widely recognized as a worldwide leader among photography blogs and in 2010 was named one of the top 25 blogs in the world by Time Magazine.

Hobby has led photographic and social media workshops in London, Paris, Dubai, Geneva and in nearly every major city in the United States.

He lives in the Village of Dorsey’s Search in Columbia with his wife and two children, where he coaches soccer and wears long pants fewer than five times per year.