Per Matt
In less than a week, Dragon Con descends upon downtown Atlanta, Georgia. And with the weekend’s festivities, the only guarantee that attendees can expect is the event’s planned schedule for the five-day convention will be updated at some point. And the best place to find the latest Dragon Con news is to continuously check up on the different social media platforms throughout each day.

Preparing for the arrival of Dragon Con 2017, I contacted Social Media Team Leader Eric Richard Cooney Jr. This will be Eric’s fourth year working at Dragon Con. Some of his responsibilities include guiding all the content that’s posted on all of Dragon Con’s official social media platforms, as well as being one of several team members who answers all the inbound messages that get sent to the different social media platforms and moderating the official public discussion group, as well.

With this year’s expected attendance hovering around 82,000 people, I asked him what kind of role social media plays with the convention. “More and more, social media is the FIRST place people look for answers and information about an event, product or venue. This is especially true of Dragon Con, and for 360 or so days, we are the outward face for the organization. We have to be on our A-game to make sure that we present a positive image, answer questions and get information into the hands of our fans in an easily digestible manner.”

When asked how soon people can expect a last-minute scheduling change to appear on social media after it actually happens, he replies it’ll be updated as soon as the team can get a reliable connection to get the word out. With an audience that large, Internet connection speed can slow down. So what’s the fastest platform to check? “Twitter seems to use the least amount of data, and is one of the easiest platforms to update. We will also push big changes to the app, if we have enough lead time.”

Should people send their questions to Dragon Con social media if they don’t know where to look for the answers? “We love hearing from our fans, and are happy to help. If we don’t know the answer to a question, chances are we know who to send you to.” And what are some of the most unexpected things people can find via Dragon Con social media? “Honestly, nothing really surprises us anymore.  I will say we LOVE the awesome stories that we get all the time of our fans being AWESOME humans and going above and beyond to help a fellow fan or cosplay as a hero at a school/hospital event.  And the sneak peeks we get at all the awesome cosplay are always fun.”

So, how will Eric be spending his Dragon Con? “Enjoying it! But I’ll be ‘working’ as well. The team, myself included, will still be answering questions, posting updates and sharing memorable experiences we come across, during the event. You never know — I might get stopped by one of my teammates and get asked for a photo or short interview question!”

The Dragon Awards will be introduced this year and 2018 four-day memberships will be given away to attendees. What are the details about the Dragon Awards and how people can win these prizes? “The Dragon Awards were created to honor creators who brought out the very best in each category, during the past year. It’s entirely driven by fans in both the nomination process and selection process. We believe that these creators have truly released their inner fire, and hope to commemorate their achievement with the “essence of fire” in our awards. Winning your 2018 membership is really simple. You register to vote for this year’s Dragon Award winner at before August 28th. Vote in the ballot that’s mailed to you. And that’s it! We’ll pick a winner at random to win two 2018 memberships!”

When asked what he’s most looking forward to at Dragon Con 2017, his reply: “Honestly? I’m really excited about some of the guests that you wouldn’t normally expect to see at Dragon Con, like John Cusack and Alton Brown. Those are gonna be some exciting panels and events!”

And lastly, when asked what kind of advice Eric would give to upcoming Dragon Con attendees, what would it be? “Don’t get frustrated. There is more to see than can ever be seen. More to do than can ever be done. It’s the circle of Dragon Con. (Yes, it moves us all). Lion King references aside, enjoy as much as you can, but know you won’t be able to get to everything you’d planned to. Take pictures. So many pictures. Let your inner nerd out and fly their flag high and proud. You’re a part of the tribe now, and it’s OK to get really, really excited about it. Make time to eat, shower and sleep. Know your limits. Rest when you need to. Make that bucket o’ rum, a bucket o’ water every now and then.”

And let the good times roll.

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