My suggestion for Richmond BizSense’s stories-of-the-year:
I think I’d have to say that there are some obvious Richmond-related stories of the year (recession, Flying Squirrels, Ukrops, blizzard) but I would be remiss not to point out that 2009 was the year that social media really conquered Richmond. Not meaning just social media “gurus” squeezing tightly around the tactics, but a true floodgate open of the average consumer, non-profits and small to large businesses hitting the ground running. So much so that every one of your likely year-end events has a traceable footprint in social media due to the buzz or bust the news created or the ineptness of some to respond quickly or appropriately to the activity. It mirrored an adoption rate (in the public sense) of the rest of the country, but Richmond, as always, tends to do things its own way and at its own pace. Consider that one of the most surprising and swiftly-large, multi-generational Richmond groups is the brand-new Social Media Club of Richmond (SMCRVA) who routinely sells out their excellent events despite having come into existence seemingly out of thin air, even before Ashton Kutcher and Oprah put their hands in social media.
Even though this is coming from me, I don’t mean for this to be an all-glowing, positive take on social media as a story-of-the-year. Social media is what it is, defined by the online community and real-life cultures it reflects. Richmond learned some lessons this year in its embrace, but the starkest one was clear: this is a medium run by the people. Businesses of all shapes are just guests. As I tell those I teach for the Virginia Department of Business Assistance or the day-long workshops at University of Richmond’s Institute on Philanthropy (two types of classes that show you the reach of emerging media in Richmond): make sure you listen first before you get into this space at all, because the party has already started. We don’t own the house where the party’s at, and nobody needs us to get to or from the event. In 2009 the party was joined by such a massive amount of Richmond in some way, from a surge of LinkedIn and Facebook joiners to individual restaurants within hotels being on Twitter, that it certainly warrants its place at the table among any other respected medium for our region — like it or not.