100% of the rewards from this post will go to fund the Steemit Accelerator Hub in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Liquid rewards will be matched with an SBD donation equivalent to the Steem Power earned. You can see and vote on that announcement here or on other posts from @ejemai for the next two weeks (they’re all fundraisers): https://steemit.com/steemit/@ejemai/introducing-steemit-accelerator-hub-stach
The Steem blockchain was born on the Internet and its major hub, Steemit.com, exists only online. Around the world, people log in at all hours to interact with the blockchain via Steemit, eSteem, Busy, ChainBB, and other sites/apps that are being added. You can do this from the comfort of your own home computer, from an Internet café, or from your phone or mobile device. Through Steemit.chat, Discord, and mainstream social media, you can discuss Steem/it with others and build a network of friends and followers who hopefully begin to support your work.
In other words, you can Steem successfully without ever meeting another human being in person. (Did I just use “steem” as a verb? Oh yes.)
Why are physical meetings one of the hottest trends?
Last year’s SteemFest brought together many early members of the community in one place. As Bitcoin and blockchain meetups have been turned into Steem meet-ups, there have been many more in-person meetings in the last year. It has become evident that there is an ongoing role for community meetings where people get to meet and interact in person.
London. Cebu. Lagos. Buenos Aires. Athens. Austin. Malaga. Hong Kong. Berlin. Barquisimeto. Banda. Kuala Lumpur. Wroclaw. New York. Seoul. Auvergne. Cape Town. Panama City. Dublin. Manila. Brisbane. Hamburg. Los Angeles. Johannesburg. Barcelona. Houston. Kansas City. Bangalore. Mangalore. Denver. Munich. Cancun. Oslo. Lhokseumawe. Melbourne. Sarasota. Boston. Seattle. The Ozarks. The Twin Cities. Novosibirsk. Lake Whitney. Kota Kinabalu. These are some of the locations where people have come together to meet and discuss Steem and Steemit.
Some have Steem Saturdays. Others go dancing or cliff jumping into a lake together. We have seen Steemit Hackathons and intensive training sessions. The most adventurous have embarked on road trips, visits abroad, and round the world trips where Steemians connect the dots, meeting others in person who share a common bond in this online community. Having been on Steemit almost since the beginning, I have noticed an increase recently in meet-ups. Some are put together by normal people who love to steem and others are led by superhuman organizers like @firepower @levycore and @bitrocker2020.
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia Meet Up. Courtesy of @bitrocker2020.
Indonesian Meet Up. Courtesy of @levycore.
Coffee shops in a few pockets of the world have seen so many Steemians that they have started accepting SBD or STEEM. Those are great developments, because the goal here is larger than Steemit. We should build the Steem ecosystem (with Steemit as an online hub), which will include a vibrant economy of both online and physical businesses. When a large group of people in one area have earned or acquired STEEM or Steem Dollars (SBD), they can begin pushing merchants for these cryptocurrencies to be accepted, both online and locally.
We have seen strong growth coming from areas where local groups are very active. For example, in a pattern that is typical for a social media site, most people in the United States access Steemit from the densely populated cities on the coasts, which have a lot of urbanized areas, young people, and are relatively affluent and Internet-connected. But look more closely at the U.S. map and you see some extremely impressive growth coming from the middle of the country.
Recent North American growth on Steemit. Source: @gavvet.
A lot of new people have been discovering Steemit in the regions anchored by Springfield, Missouri and Houston, Texas. In fact, those cities are only about 600 miles apart and much of the Internet traffic from the rural areas in between probably goes through one city or the other. If you don’t believe that we have one or more hot spots in the rural areas between and around those two cities, then please have a look at the # gardening and # homesteading communities on Steemit. Both have experienced amazing growth in the last few months, much of the activity coming from that part of the United States.
Recent trending posts in the # homesteading tag show a heavy representation from the Ozark region.
Why has the pocket of growth been so hot in the Springfield-Houston regions? Some of Steemit’s shining stars and best recruiters are based in that area, including @papa-pepper, @stellabelle, @winstonwolfe, @giftedgaia, @jessamyorchard, and others. They have not only reached out to a lot of others online and via podcasts, but also have held in-person meet-ups, road trips, and assorted gatherings.
Meet-ups have been a fixture of the tremendous growth of Steem in the Aceh province of Indonesia. Since I have written about their amazing work before, I will not do so again, but the community builders in that region have done extraordinary work sharing Steemit with their friends and contacts. Much of this work has occurred through in person meetings.
While it’s not my place to conclude which of the above groups’ strategies have worked better than others to introduce new people to Steemit (since I am an outside observer of both), I would guess that the in-person meetings may have had a strong impact.
Even as I've been writing this post over the last 48 hours, the sheer number of meet-up announcements & updates on Steemit has grown. Anecdotally, I would guess that the rate of these lately has been at an all-time high.
What are the advantages of meeting people face-to-face?
Some people are introverted and are more comfortable being part of an online community than an in-person one. They may not feel the need for personal interaction. But the personal approach is quite important for others who want to feel that they belong within a group of like-minded people. Why is it important to meet face-to-face? Here are some possible advantages and I’m sure you can think of others also.
(1) Seeing is believing. There are lots of crazy claims on the Internet. When you look into the eyes of someone who says in complete honesty: “It worked for me!” that is very powerful.
(2) People are wary of things they don’t understand. Getting started on Steemit, learning about cryptocurrencies, and understanding how things work on here are new ground for a lot of people. In person, an experienced Steemian can explain these things and become a guide through the unknown.
(3) Mentoring is key to retention and success. This is the continuation of # 2 above. Once someone has managed to sign up and knows the basics, they may need help understanding how to create a successful post or how to transfer money in and out of the Steem economy. When people meet in person and build trust with a fellow Steemian, they will be much more likely to ask for and be offered the help they need.
(4) Common interests. It’s not just the money that attracts people to Steemit. You will notice that many of our online communities have begun to form in earnest and are growing steadily. Photography, travel, music, homesteading, Korean, Indonesian...these are a few of the online communities that have been thriving as people come together to post and discuss common interests. Meet-ups also offer a chance to share Steemit with people who have similar interests and may be interested in participating online as well.
(5) Community. Being part of a community is important to many people. When you feel like you belong and have support from others in person, you may be much more likely to embark on the Steem journey online as well.
What are other advantages that I’ve missed? Feel free to reply with others.
Hot spots on a map (generic, not a Steem map). Public Domain.
Hubs: The Permanent (or Regular) Meet Up
What if we could multiply the value of the in-person Steemit Meet Up by having a permanent or regular location where people can come to learn about, ask question, get started, and be mentored on Steemit? How many more people could we reach and how much faster could this thing grow?
@robrigo is an energetic community builder in Detroit. Together with @lovejoy and others who are working on Agoric Systems, he wants to create both a physical and online community presence in Detroit. A hub there could become a permanent (or regular) meet-up spot where people can come to share, learn, synergize, and steem together. How powerful is that?
Many of you saw the live-blogging from Steem Park in Brooklyn, New York as well that @voronoi and @hansikhouse developed and announced through @hitheryon. Is this a billboard-type advertisement or is it the beginning of true community there in the heart of NYC? Community can ignite a spark, a spark and lots of hard work can lead to a hot pocket, and these hot pockets all over the world will bring viral growth to the Steem ecosystem as more and more people share it with others.
That big blue circle is recent Steemit growth in Nigeria. And they are just getting started. Source: @gavvet.
Accelerator Hub in Port Harcourt, Nigeria
That is why I am thrilled to be donating 100% of the proceeds from this post (including a donation to match the earned Steem Power) to help create the Steemit Accelerator Hub in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. @ejemai and his group already have shown that they can introduce and help a lot of new people get started on Steemit, having onboarded more than 30 people and recruited 80 into a Whatsapp group. With the money raised, they will be able to open a center at their university that offers free WiFi and provides Steemit training and help to students. They have a goal of eventually replicating this model across the country and ultimately sharing Steemit with millions of people in Nigeria and across Africa.
Let's help them get their own space and see what they can do! Source: @ejemai.
These plans are very exciting. Please join me in giving them a chance and helping them accomplish their goals!