This spring, I’ve been on a conference bender. I’ve attended three big conferences in the last 3 months, with 2 more in the next month. I can barely recover from one conference before heading out for another, and haven’t adequately blogged about my experiences.
Last week I attended Social Media Marketing World 2013 in San Diego. I was sent by my company, and have already written a recap on the DegreeSearch blog, but there were a few more personal notes that I wanted to put into a blog post here. As soon as I heard about SMMW13, I knew this was THE social media conference for me to attend this year. I’ve been registering for a mix of blogging, search/SEO, and social media events this year, and knew I’d get the best social media information at SMMW13. The list of keynotes and speakers was intense: Guy Kawasaki, Mari Smith, Ric Dragon, Mark Schaefer, Lee Odden, Nichole Kelly, Sally Hogshead, Chris Brogan, Jay Baer, and many other social media practitioners that I’ve come to love and respect.
I knew that the conference would be intense, so I arrived a day before the official conference events began. I did a little shopping, sightseeing, and relaxing. I love going into a conference knowing as many attendees as possible, so I planned a dinner on Saturday night to start the mingling early. The 12 people who attended this dinner ended up being the people that I spent the most time with during the event.
Social Media Marketing World was the first conference that I’ve attended on behalf of a company. I’ve done some networking for clients before, but it was the first time where I set aside my personal interests (and the business cards with my blog on them) and planned my conference schedule around the sessions that will best help my company. Luckily, my coworker Joseph created these awesome DegreeSearch business cards, and I gained a nice amount of new followers for my company. There were a lot of representatives within higher education, and I loved talking strategy with others who interact in the same circles as I do.
There were some amazing keynotes and sessions that I attended. This is what my conference schedule looked like:
- Social Media Marketing in 2013: New Research and Its Implications by Michael Stelzner
- Advanced Networking: How to Make Lasting Connections by Larry Benet
- 10 Ways To Improve Your Facebook Reach by Mari Smith
- Using Google+ To Build a Platform by Guy Kawasaki
- The Science Of Community Building In The Age of Social Media by Ric Dragon
- Social Media ROI: How to Finally Deliver Measurable Results by Nichole Kelly
- How To Fascinate With Your Social Media Messages by Sally Hogshead
- Are We Getting Better or Just Busier? Panel by Jay Baer, Mark Schaefer, Chris Brogan, and Mario Sundar
- How to Build a Thriving Community With Blogs – Panel with Srinivas Rao, Marcus Sheridan, Michael Stelzner, and Joe Pulizzi
- Community Building for Big Brands – Panel with Sarah Robinson, Susan Wassel (Sharpie), Ekaterina Walter (Intel) and Kat Smith (Petco)
- Google+ Marketing Success: It’s Much More Than a Social Network by Jesse Stay
- How to Implement and Optimize Your Social Strategy by Neal Schaffer
- Why It Pays To Be Likeable by Dave Kerpen
Every time I attend an event, I’m torn about the best ways to take notes. Do I use my laptop, iPad, or just tweet as I go?
This time around, I decided to take handwritten notes. I’ve read lots of studies that say that you retain information better when you take handwritten notes, and I believe this to be true. I feel like I retained a lot more information than the usual event, but I still kept Twitter open to share awesome quotes. I had a few people tell me that they wished that they took notes by hand. Maybe it will be the new trend. I’m going to do it again at Type-A Philly this weekend.
One of the sessions I really enjoyed was Sally Hogshead talking about How To Fascinate, a personality assessment based on how others view you (not how you view yourself). I took the test, and found out I am a catalyst (motivated by passion and rebellion, appealing to others with emotion and creativity). It’s a great test – I think you should do it!
From a social perspective, a social media conference is a great place to make new friends. I met people in the hotel lobby, hotel bar, hotel pool, and throughout the conference areas. Conference attendees were, on the whole, friendly, attentive, and fun to be around.
One of the key friends that I made was Kersten from Speakeasy Market Strategies in Tulsa. She gave me a lot of inspiration, we collaborated some ideas, and she gave me some confidence in the things I’m doing right in social media marketing. But we also became fast friends – we were swimsuit shopping within an hour of meeting each other Saturday, and the fun didn’t stop until we arrived at the airport Wednesday. Kersten and I did a trolley tour of San Diego on Sunday before the craziness of the conference began, hung out at the parties, and roomed together the last night.
The opening night party was at the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park. We loaded up tour buses at the Marriott, and drove about 10 minutes to the museum. There was a fun game to find people to fill out a “Twitter bingo card” that got people networking (for the chance to win fabulous prizes!). The party atmosphere continued back on the bus to the Marriott, and into the bar. Whether or not you were drinking, people were having fun. I like to be around happy people. I met people from all over the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Philippines, and many other countries.
Monday night, there was a harbor cruise on a yacht. Before the boat set sail, I went to dinner with a big group at Dick’s Last Resort, and it set the mood for a great time on the boat. I’ve never gone on a cruise before, so it was pretty impressive (to me) to be on a boat with over 1000 people. The bottom floor had dancing and a live band, the middle floor had karaoke, and the top floor was the boat deck with a gorgeous view of the bay. I spent most of my time on the top deck, but did get up on the karaoke stage to sing my go-to karaoke song: “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips. If it’s not exhilarating to have a group of your peers cheering and singing along with you, I don’t know what is.
I made so many new friends, and I feel sad I didn’t get a picture of all of them. In this photo are some of the people I met at this conference: Amanda (@myofficebooks) from Australia, Kristin (@kristin_bush) from Orange County, Kris (@helloitsbutters) from Iowa, and EJ (@EJSchiller) from Chicago.
I can’t wait until registration for Social Media Marketing World 2014 opens up, because I’m going to be there!