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Is Portsmouth A Social Media Mecca?

City digital media practitioners say there are several reasons why so many Portsmouth area residents are connected.

Several city businesses are set to participate in the third annual on Monday, April 16, where they will give patrons who check in some great deals and discounts.

But this event is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to realizing the depth of Portsmouth’s social media presence. It is one of many ways that the city’s young professionals and residents communicate with each other, share ideas and carry out promotions.

During the recent Mega Millions lottery game jackpot frenzy, Vital Design used Twitter to promote itself by giving away free lottery tickers on April 1 when the jackpot was at more than $660 million.

, a group of high-tech professionals who use social media, recently held its second meeting at the Music Hall, which also has a strong digital presence to promote its concerts, shows and special events.

And the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce still holds monthly e-Brew meetings where members of the city’s high-tech business community get together and socialize. Soon, the chamber plans to roll out a Destination Portsmouth website that will make greater use of Twitter, Facebook and other digital media to promote the Seacoast region as a whole.

So how did all of this come about in a city of just 21,000 people?

Some members of Portsmouth’s digital social media network say it is the result of a confluence of factors that rose like a well spring and continues to be fueled by a younger generation of professionals and a nearby University of New Hampshire student population that chooses to stay in the Portsmouth area after graduation.

Brian DeKoning of Vital Design and soon Raka Creative, is the co-organizer of , and he said there are several reasons why the Portsmouth area has become such a proponent of digital media.

In an e-mail, DeKoning wrote that the quality of life is a big draw for talented young professionals, entrepreneurs and business leaders. He also said the concentration of successful creative agencies, digital companies, web shops and communications professionals results in having a lot of tech-savvy people who live and work here.

“You look at some of the successful companies such as PixelMEDIA, Mad*Pow, Raka Creative, RumbleTree, Piehead, MicroArts, Vital Design, Brown, Calypso, Beaupre, Genius Switch, Fishnet... the list goes on and on, and it is amazing that there are so many high-quality agencies here doing work that rivals Boston, New York, Chicago or San Francisco – many for the biggest international clients you could think of,” DeKoning wrote.

While the close proximity of UNH and its student population that has grown up with digital media is another driving factor, DeKoning said Portsmouth also has a strong sense of community where different groups and people use social media to organize and promote events.

“And we are very fortunate to have businesses like The Music Hall that support this community with their Digital Portsmouth series and The Portsmouth Gas Light hosting the Pecha Kucha series. There's always something going on and there are always interesting people excited about technology and ideas to talk to,” DeKoning wrote. 

Leslie Poston, co-author of “Twitter for Dummies” and “Social Media Metrics for Dummies,” said the emergence of social media clubs that may have begun with the e-Coast started by Scott Campbell really fueled the Seacoast region’s digital media engine.

“When I first moved my emerging media company Magnitude Media to Portsmouth many years ago there was little in the way of Social Media or Emerging Media being used in Marketing anywhere in the state. Then I started Social Media Breakfast NH, PodCamp NH and other educational classes, Christine Major started NH Tweetup, a year or so later Justin Herman and Brian DeKoning started Social Media Club NH (now run by Jason Boucher), a while after that began Walter Elly and a group of us, including Brian, started Foursquare Day,” Poston wrote in an e-mail.

These social media clubs created what Poston describes as “a perfect storm” of awareness, outreach and creativity in the Portsmouth area.

“It's fantastic to see it being used by so many businesses, creatives and people in so many ways here now,” she wrote in her e-mail.

Joshua Cyr, a Portsmouth high-tech entrepreneur, believes the high concentration of digial media companies and businesses that use high-tech have brought a large concentration of tech-savvy people to the Portsmouth region.

“Because of the relatively large density of people working with (or working in)
technology, we have a lot of early adopters," Cyr wrote in an email. "More so than many other towns, especially towns our size."

Most of these people are also very comfortable using social media, “even if it isn't part of their job,” according to Cyr.

Leslie Poston April 12, 2012 at 12:12 PM
And don't forget John Herman - even though NHMM is based in Newmarket, New Hampshire Media Makers is a NH staple for creatives.

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