Around 30 people attended this month’s Cornwall Social Media Café meeting to hear a talk from Lloyd Davis, blogger, podcaster, social media expert and founder of the original Social Media Café (also known as Tuttle Club) in London.
Guests listen to Lloyd Davis’s talk at October’s CSMC meeting
Lloyd was in Cornwall to deliver a guest lecture at University College Falmouth on using social media for collaboration. He stayed on at Tremough talk to CSMC members in the evening about how the Social Media Café began and how it has developed since he founded it in 2006.
The Social Media Café was a natural progression from Lloyd’s online social networking activities, he explained. He realised that a lot of the people he was meeting online, through his blog and elsewhere, also lived or worked nearby.
Other bloggers were experimenting with real-world blogmeets, but these were one-off events. Lloyd wanted to create a session that was more regular, so people would always know when and where it was happening. He hired a church hall and wrote a blogpost inviting people to come along and bring their own coffee mug and cushion.
Twenty people turned up to the first meeting and the Social Media Café was born.
Since that first event the London Social Media Café – or Tuttle Club – has grown and now regularly attracts 60-70 people to its new permanent home at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA). It takes place every Friday morning from 10.00 to midday and is open to everyone who wants to come along.
There’s no agenda, no sponsorship (Updated after comments) and no marketing; it’s just a place to come and chat with other people who share a fascination with the social web in all its forms. Each week it opens its doors to a broad range of people, from artists, film-makers and musicians to webby people, journalists and social entrepreneurs.
A lot of experimental social media projects have got off the ground thanks to people meeting at Tuttle Club. Just last week, Reuters livestreamed a ‘social media interview’ with Alistair Darling, during which the Chancellor answered questions that people had asked on Twitter or left on the Reuters blog. That initiative was born out of a conversation started at Tuttle, Lloyd said.
New ‘conversational consulting’ model born
The Tuttle Club has also recently seen the birth of an interesting new business model. Groups of Tuttle regulars – who are mostly self-employed – have begun to form into ad-hoc teams to work on social media projects for clients. Lloyd described one recent example in which he got 15 Tuttle members together to discuss a potential project with a media client. From that initial conversation, five members were selected to work alongside Lloyd on the project itself.
Lloyd says this is testament to the fact that regular weekly meet-ups can lead to productive business relationships between people from different walks of life and with different skills and specialisms. Although reluctant to give the model a name, he said it could be called ‘conversational consulting’ (because the initial client meeting takes the form of a conversation) or ‘Tuttle consulting’.
Social Media Café goes global
The Tuttle/Social Media Café concept is now spreading, with similar groups springing up around the UK and as far afield as Barcelona, New York and San Francisco. Cornwall’s Social Media Café, started by Aren Grimshaw and Laura McKay in April 2009, was the first to encompass a whole county. It’s since been joined by Devon SMC, started by PR practitioner Katy Creates in Tavistock.
Although social media use is going mainstream, Lloyd believes that Social Media Cafés will continue to play an important role in identifying new and exciting ways in which the many social media technologies and plaforms can be used – whether those uses are commercial, social, charitable or in the public interest.
Thanks and guest list
Many thanks to Lloyd for an fascinating and inspiring talk, to Paul Inman at University College Falmouth for helping to facilitate Lloyd’s visit (and for the venue and coffees!), and to Aren and Laura for organising the event.
We weren’t able to make a list of who attended on the night, but to view the list of people who registered for the event, go here.
November CSMC in Truro
November’s CSMC will be held at our ‘spiritual home’, Vertigo in Truro, date tbc. For updates you can follow us on Twitter, join our Facebook group or our LinkedIn group, or keep an eye on this blog.
We look forward to seeing you at the next one!