I'm giving the 2019 You Are The Media Conference (23 May 2019, Shelley Theatre, Bournemouth) a plug here and I will tell you why.

I admit, I am a big fan of the You Are The Media ecosphere. I’ve attended their Lunch Clubs from day one, receive the weekly email, been to one of their workshops and went to the first Conference.

It has given me a lot and I have taken a lot. It hasn’t turned me into a master marketer, that won’t happen. It’s given me more than that, it’s given me the confidence to be me and to try things out.

From that confidence I have got stuck into community based projects, public and personal. I organised a Cyber Security Awareness event, not knowing what the appetite was, but knew I wanted to do it regardless of the fear of failing. Seven speakers, two MPs and one Police and Crime Commissioner getting involved is pretty good.

I started using video for my Southbourne based #sobomile project as well as for my karate club.

Is everything 10 out of 10 outstanding quality? No, of course not. It won’t happen on your first attempt, when you are starting out, and that is fine. Keep going, keep improving was the message I got out of the You Are The Media Conference. Some people only talk, but never do.

My first LinkedIn article of the year was all about Community. The West Southbourne Neighbourhood Plan project hasn’t progressed beyond the initial surge of enthusiasm, but other community projects have come to fruition.

There were two big things that came out of the conference for me that I then worked on immediately.

The first came from Mark Schaefer’s talk. He was so measured as a speaker and so professional, that you were hanging onto every sentence.

When he said you don’t have to be famous, it’s OK to be known, a lot of things clicked into place. A number of people around the time had approached me randomly on the beach, along the street, at business events, in bars and restaurants and said you’re Gordon Fong aren’t you and mentioned about the Social Media work I am involved in.

I bought his book Known from BH6 Books soon after. I then used the strategy plan to kick off my #sobomile video project properly.

I absolutely love where I live, in Southbourne, and the places I visit on the high street. Whilst some places have good websites and social media presence, not all businesses along the stretch of road from Pokesdown Station to Southbourne Crossroads do. I wanted to start a "channel", initially focused on the food and drink places, where I could use video to showcase what is available to visitors. They may come across one video and then get to see the others.

In time I want it to expand to the other businesses in general.

I worked through Mark Shaefer's book to understand My Place (the Southbourne community), My Space (promoting and protecting the place), My Fuel (YouTube videos, website and Social Media) and My Audience (visitors, residents, business owners, consumers).

Now it was to make a start. There is a YouTube Channel, I already had a community website that I am making for use of now called Southbourne Groove, a SoBo Mile Facebook page and people have started to use the #sobomile hashtag on Instagram on their own accord.

I've done "hygiene content" with the summary videos created from footage and photos I have taken. I've done so "hub content" with interviews of business owners, and just working on some "hero content". Still very much a learning experience for me and a work-in-progress.

Something that I have found and will pass on, is that native videos on Facebook get so much more reach and engagement than sharing a link to YouTube. I always post a link to the YouTube video first, then leave it a while and then upload natively to Facebook. I also embed the video onto a Southbourne Groove blog post, and Tweet it out.

From being known and from rolling my sleeves up, working to promote community it ended up having a monetary value.

I held up a donations bucket at a You Are The Media lunch club event, for the “Frankenfest” event that was being organised for Halloween in Southbourne, and instead of someone giving a couple of pounds, they gave a lot more than that. I got the two pounds but then got a substantial sum from Bournemouth University, through being "known", which was a result of two years investment in my personal time.

The second was from Chris Marr. The concept of Community Learning was very compelling given my involvement as one of the admins for the local SoBo (Southbourne) Facebook group that has over 10,000 members. Whilst my SoBo Community Learning Facebook Group hasn't taken off yet, it will be a platform for people to share their knowledge in the local area, although we did a Social Media learning session before.

I am hoping to do some more Social Media sessions, and urge other people to start off their own little groups to learn about photography, languages and so on. There must be people that want to get involved and share with the community.

Mark Masters did a great job in holding the first conference, bringing delegates from around the UK and overseas to the Shelley Theatre in little old Bournemouth, rather than everyone heading up to London.

Website for info and tickets: You Are The Media Conference