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I regret that it has taken me an entire month to get this recap up, but the delay is NO indicator of my enthusiasm… that’s for sure! Simply stated, Social Media Marketing World is the best conference I’ve ever been to. From the moment I registered, it was a world-class experience.
The Social Media Examiner team did a great job of encouraging attendees to connect with the speakers prior to the event. They also sent out a survey, basically asking me what my objectives were while I was at the conference. Since my day job was footing the bill for me to attend, I said I wanted to connect with other digital marketing managers that worked in manufacturing. A few weeks prior to the conference, I got an email with a list of other people that had answered the survey in the same way. I was able to reach out to this list of people (it was 5 or 6), and we connected for lunch the day before the conference started. It was so nice to get connected with other people right away. Without it, I think it would have felt a little like the first day of college… you know everyone else is strangers too, but you really want to make a friend!
The first day was mainly registration, from noon to 7pm, if I remember correctly. At 7 was the opening party, on the USS Midway. They literally rented out the entire USS Midway, and it was full of social media nerds, food and music. It was one of the coolest experiences! I found myself wishing my little guys were with me, they would have been stoked!
The second and third days were non-stop opportunities for learning, with session on top of session. There were over 100 different workshop options – a dizzying amount! Luckily, you have open access to listen to ANY of the sessions for one year after the event. I made sure to see all of my heroes “in person,” and I can catch up on the rest over the next few months.
The SME team put a lot of thought and care in to helping people network. In fact, they had actual “networking ambassadors.” The main “networking ambassador,” Ambassador Bruny, would get up during the general sessions and give tips on networking. I’m not gonna lie, I’m a huge introvert, and being in a room of 2,000 complete strangers is a little overwhelming. I tire of small talk really quickly! One of Bruny’s tips was this: think of
Michael Stelzner’s opening keynote was kind of like a “State of the Industry” address, and provided some key takeaways for me… like, if I was going to take one thing home, it was this: think WHEN. W – Work History, H – Hobbies, E – Education, and N – Your Network – which of these things can be of service to others? When you think in terms of how you can help others, instead of what you can gain from others, networking becomes so much easier!
This is the Year of Video
Facebook recently launched it’s native video platform, and they prefer that you upload your video straight to Facebook, instead of sharing it from YouTube. YouTube is growing at an insane rate, and live video streaming will be all the rage. In fact, Twitter launched Periscope on March 26th… the first full day of the conference (coincidence? maybe not!). Meerkat barely beat them to the punch, in February. I suspect that at Social Media Marketing World 2016, there will be some sessions on live streaming!
I took all of this as, “if I’m not doing much with video now, I need to start!” Video seems “hard,” which scares a lot of people off, but think of how much more you have to gain by being willing to do something that not many do!
I kept a few quotables on my phone:
“It’s not the wand, but the wizard that makes the magic.” – Christopher S. Penn
Maybe he was quoting someone else, but I loved this! So many people want social media to be their “magic bullet,” but the truth is that the usual marketing rules apply. You still have to put thought into your messaging, and you have to work for your reach. Social media is just one more tool to reach your audience, but it isn’t going to solve all of your problems! YOU (I) are the wizard…
“Be real, authentic, and scale your caring.” – Mari Smith.
While being real and authentic sounds fluffy, it is sage social media advice. Social media connects people. And people want to connect with people, not companies. I can’t remember who said this, and maybe it was also Mari, but, no one wakes up in the morning and says, “I need to go get on Facebook to see what (insert company) posted last night!” No, you think about what your family and friends are up to, so we need to carefully insert ourselves in between those conversations.
Finally, I don’t have a direct quote for this, but Guy Kawasaki says that every post, on every network, should have a picture. I agree! The explosion of Instagram and Pinterest are not random. We are visual creatures, and we process visuals thousands of times faster than words.
I had an amazing time at Social Media Marketing World, and I will enthusiastically go back next year! If you have any questions about my experience, feel free to leave a comment below, or contact me through one of the contact forms on my website!