Monday, January 25, 2010

Finding the value of social media conferences

Classroom at the Old Site
Image via Wikipedia
The Social Media for Business in Arizona -- SMAZ for short -- has concluded. Once again, it was a great event. And yes, my presentation on measuring the ROI of social media will be up on Slideshare soon.

As the day was winding down yesterday, I was asking various attendees -- many of which I had met for the first time at the event -- their opinions on the day. Their answers were universally positive, even though each person took away something different. In an interesting twist, I was asked by one of those people what I learned that day.

That was an interesting question. While many new to the social and digital marketing scene walked away with their brains overflowing with information... this isn't my first rodeo. I speak at a variety of events, including this one. I knew many of the speakers and am intimately familiar with the topics on which they presented. I've been doing social media marketing for more than a few years, so was there anything I could learn?

Duh. That's an obvious and great big yes!

What did I learn? The same thing I almost always learn from events like this: that there are plenty of things I'm not doing as well as I could be. Things that I advise clients and compatriots on all the time, but neglect to do myself. There are a lot of moving parts to figuring out the right digital business strategy for a client. All too often, I neglect to fully implement the tactics that support those strategies for myself.

So for me, events like SMAZ provide me plenty of notes with "You know this, dumbass" in parenthesis behind them. And that's why I'll keep going to events like this: I sure could use that constant reminder to keep toiling away and to keep doing better.

Your turn...

What is your takeaway on this idea? Do you got to events as "the expert", or do you find ways to learn something along the way?

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  1. I like to go in with a very open mind in hopes of always learning something new. If you go into a conference thinking you know everything there is, then you might now be willing to absorb something new, or let yourself be reminded of basic things that you may have forgotten in the path of becoming more advanced at a technique or technology.

    With that mindset, I learned a lot of new things, and was also reminded of some things I used to do a lot in blogging and social media in the beginning that was crucial to building community.

    I think one thing that is helpful is when you hear a good tip, you write it down, and then go back as soon as possible afterward and ask yourself how you can apply that tip today to what you are doing. Relating information to something that you can apply immediately helps cement it and make it a habit rather than just a good idea that you would like to do someday, but never may get around to doing.

  2. If you have to pretend you're dumb to learn something you already know, then I suppose that's a strategy.

  3. Spot on, Kristi. The fundamentals tend to stay true even as we mature. And it never hurts to have a refresher course.

    I'm not sure how far I'd get with that approach, Dan. Rather, I'd approach it the way I approach watching Airplane for the nth time. What am I going to catch this time that I missed all those other times? It happens!

  4. @Dan I don't think you have to pretend to be dumb to learn something you already know. Some people get hung up on the fact they are "experts" to the point they just assume anyone who is not an expert wouldn't have any useful information for them. It's a matter of not assuming you know everything, not closing yourself off from hearing other points of view, and allowing yourself to be reminded of things you may have forgotten along the way.

  5. I just found the entire thing to be so 101 that I almost fell asleep and asked for my money back. An airplane is a complex thing. The subjects discussed were not.

  6. Dan - That's a huge challenge for the organizers of any event to overcome -- appealing to the sophistication level of the audience. I certainly don't envy them for the job they have to do.

    But that's good feedback the organizers need to hear, and I'll pass it along.


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