This week I attended Exploring Social Media Boston (well, Burlington, but don’t get me started about the commute. Burlington is the proud home of the Burlington Mall, shooting location for Paul Blart: Mall Cop), a day-long social media conference hosted by Jason Falls and sponsored by Awareness Inc. Aside from being a time for social media professionals to catch up with each other and whatnot, the event presented a program that went above the introductory material we see in many of the larger “social media” conferences out there, and assumed the audience had experience, responsibility or some combination of the two.
- Sessions that offered practical, actionable takeaways were welcome and really filled a gap. Whether it be simple advice from Jason Keath of SocialFresh on constructing blog posts to be more readable and effective to Altimeter’s Jeremiah Owyang’s overview of organizational approaches to social media programs, there was something to take away from most of the sessions.
- One observation I made during the day was that many of the sessions provided part of the thinking a company or agency could use in planning social media. I found that useful in that companies need to design their own programs to fit their own needs. Even Owyang’s more broad organizational look does not have to be taken verbatim, but does get us thinking about how companies’ structures might help or hinder efforts to organize around social media; for example, most people probably came away with the impression the “holistic” (think social media in the DNA) model of corporate social media to be the ideal, but I’m not convinced it’s an attainable goal, or even a desirable one in all circumstances. A more regimented company in a more highly-regulated industry might benefit from more centralized approaches, if only to take advantage of existing corporate culture that works.
- It was also refreshing to see several of the speakers talk about measurement; Awareness’ Mike Lewis among them, not surprisingly since measurements is part of their core offering. Again, the several takes on measurement varied slightly, and we at Voce have our own thinking, which allows for flexibility to accommodate client goals, but it is more important that the presenters stimulated thinking than dictating methodology.
- Also interesting was a sense of perspective. Mike Schneider, co-author of Location-Based Marketing for Dummies, knew LBS’ limited place in the marketing world (wouldn’t you expect unabashed cheerleading instead?), compared FourSquare’s “winning the LBS war” to an invasion of Delaware. True- placing too much importance on tools or types of tools is foolish, though making sure we are aware of their advantages is still important.
- On that note, the first mention of Google Plus did not come until 3:30 pm, an hour before the end of the day. Perhaps this was because there was little focus on the tools themselves (a friend suggested that though I only partially agree), but more likely it is that marketers do not fully have this in their (pardon the use of the word) awareness- as yet.
What did Exploring Social Media leave me wanting? I was hungry for more of the actionable, practical sessions, case studies (They had one panel. but aren’t we always starving for those?) and even some workshops (perhaps to give rise to the methodologies I refuse to take verbatim from the presenters) to give this experienced audience a hands-on role in the event.