Introducing The Alabama Social Media Association/ALSOCME

Almost every day, I get the same question from people: "What are you doing with that phone?" Actually, it usually comes with a reference to texting. In reality, I text very little these days. What I'm doing is reaching out to the world. Sound big? It is.

It's social media, and it's changed the way that I work, the way that I connect with old friends and new ones, opened up doors inside my beloved Birmingham and outside, to the farthest reaches of the world.

Forgive me if I wax poetic. I'm passionate about this stuff.

Which is why, for the past few months I've been working hard with a group of likeminded people in Birmingham to launch a group that we hope will demystify social media a bit. Called The Alabama Social Media Association (ALSOCME) we're an independent, grassroots non-profit and professional organization dedicated to empowering businesses, individuals, and community organizations with social media tools to help them meet their goals.

Today AlSOCME launches, and we invite everyone in Birmingham (and throughout our great state) to join us as we work together to learn more about social media, as well as supporting Alabama's reputation as a tech-savvy state. We are!

Our mission is one of education: making social media accessible to all, regardless of one's background. This was one of the reasons I signed on to this board: because as someone without a huge "tech" background, in the past I've been intimidated to join the conversation.

That's what we're working to break down. Social media isn't just for programmers, or guys, or guys who are programmers. Consider this your invitation to join us, whether you've sent 10,000 Tweets or zero, whether you do social media full-time or as part of your job. (Or want it to be your job.)

Here's the rundown: We'll offer five education programs per year, along with monthly socials and an annual conference.

Our first meeting will be held Wednesday, March 30 at The Hill Event Center at the Alabama Theatre, with the dynamic Ike Pigott (of Alabama Power) speaking on "Social Media: The 21st-Century Canary in A Coal Mine," aka crisis communications and social media.

The meeting? Totally free. With complimentary lunch from our amazing sponsor Zoe's Kitchen. Networking begins at 11:30 a.m. and the program starts at noon. What do you have to lose?

More importantly, what do you have to gain? For one, the chance to connect with other people who are passionate, curious, and knowledgeable about using these amazing tools at our disposal. You'll get to learn how to use social media to improve your business, your mission, or the thing that drives you. And you'll be supporting this vibrant, ever-evolving community of smart, creative individuals using tech to make our community a better place.

So, what are you waiting for? RSVP by visiting alsocme.com. Seating is limited. 3/1 p.m. Update: tickets sold out in under two hours, but we do have a waiting list!

And if you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me. Also, a major thanks to my fellow board members: Kristen Heptinstall, Wade Kwon, Jeff Vreeland, and Stacey Hood. We also have a stellar leadership team filled with some serious talent. Join us!

Also, follow us on Twitter: @alsocme.com and on Facebook: www.facebook/ALSOCME