Columbia social media users meet cyber peers in person

Saturday, July 16, 2011 | 8:16 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Smart phones were stowed and iPads were holstered Saturday afternoon at Cosmopolitan Park as Tweeters and Facebook users networked offline.

With the webcam streaming, people who usually communicate with one another in a cyber-sense began embracing in-person socialization — some meeting one another for the first time.

Kate Canterbury, founder of Social Media Club Mid-Missouri, wanted the event to be a way for the Columbia online community to get together face-to-face.

“The idea is to connect the local social media community for networking. Online is nothing if it can’t translate to offline,” Canterbury said.

The organization Social Media Club, was founded in 2006 and now has chapters across the country. Canterbury took it upon herself to open the Columbia chapter last year.

Matt LaCasse, an account manager at KimberMedia, had been communicating with Canterbury for more than a year via Twitter and they’d never met in person. Saturday, they chatted it up like old pals.  

The event was conceived by KimberMedia, a local social networking management firm, and had close to 50 people in attendance. Partygoers dined on burgers and hot dogs provided by Addison’s.

“We also brought along our new 'FNG Sauce' for everyone to try,” Addison’s Chef Cody Burnett said.

Not only was it an opportunity to network, it was also a way to give back to the community. Every person in attendance was encouraged to donate to Sol House, a local division of Rainbow House that benefits homeless teens between the ages of 16 and 21. John Paul Perez, a senior resident aide at Sol House, was thrilled with the turnout.

“This is a great way for us to connect with the community,” he said.

One word was being repeated all afternoon: connection.  

Nelly Roach, an account manager at KimberMedia said, “Engaging online is one thing, but being able to come together in person to form a connection is critical.” 

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