3,000 people attended the recent Social Media Marketing World (SMMW) 2016 event and every attendee will have had their own unique experience. But I thought I’d share my very own social media rollercoaster with you as I’ve had lots of comments and interaction from you on social media hungry for more in-depth insights.
So in this post I will share my top 10 highlights from the world’s biggest (and in my opinion best) social media marketing conference for marketers.
I was a first-timer to #SMMW which is organised by Social Media Examiner but it wasn’t my first time in San Diego so I was very excited for five days of uninterrupted sunshine and social media antics. This geek was on overdrive!
Here are my highlights in chronological order of how my trip evolved.
Highlight #1 The San Diego Convention Center
Arriving at the San Diego Convention Center is an experience in itself. It’s big, very big, so just as well I had the flat red shoes on. However, the SMMW team has us well warned in advance that there was lots of walking involved. In fact one attendee clocked up 33,000 steps over the three days!
I arrived at 10.40am on Sunday morning and registration was at 11am but a long queue had already formed. The queue went super quick and I got to meet another social media marketer, Vikki from California. I got my badge, Conference guide, category stickers and I was SMMW set!
We were treated to delicious food over the three days, lots of healthy snacks, drinks and lunchboxes. As a non-coffee drinker I particularly loved the raw juices provided for breakfast and Iron Man was my choice tipple.
The main conference hall for the keynotes was spectacular, well-branded, great lighting and sound and you saw everything from every angle. Perfect for the photo and selfie opp’s! The smaller conference rooms were comfortable and the front two rows had tables and charging facilities. So I made sure to get in early for many tracks and to re-charge. The networking plaza had ample charging stations also.
Highlight #2 The White Shirts aka The Supreme Volunteers
Julia Bramble travelled the whole way from the South of England to be a white shirt. Now that’s commitment! I met Julia at the Social Media Summit Ireland in March and we’ve kept in touch since so it was great to see her and the #SMSummitIRL gang in San Diego. We met up for breakfast on Sunday morning in Cafe 21. It was lots of fun and the food was delicious.
Social Media Summit Ireland friends: Steve Dotto, Melonie Dodaro, Antonio Calero and his wife Maria, Emeric Ernoult, Ian Anderson Gray, JSB and Julia Bramble
Julia and her volunteer colleagues were simply wonderful. To think that they all put jet-lag behind them to ensure we all had an amazing time is pretty remarkable.
Nothing was a problem for these guys, and often a white shirt would approach you if you looked a little lost, confused or troubled – each of these looks I displayed at some stage over the three days. For example Louise brought me to the Bayfront exit when I couldn’t find my way and was late for a lunch date. (This will not come as news to many people who know my under-developed sense of direction)! Thanks Louise!
So from all of us – speakers, attendees and sponsors (I know they will agree with me) – great job and THANK YOU!
Highlight #3 Access To All Speakers’ Tracks
It is simply impossible to attend 150 speaker tracks (sessions). So to kill any sense of disappointment Social Media Examiner are giving each attendee access to every single speaker track on video in less than two weeks time. We will have access to these for a full 12 months. So I’ve already put dates in my diary to watch them as this is content gold!
Highlight #4 Meeting Online Connections IRL
You know that moment when you meet somebody you network with online for the first time in real life (IRL)? Well that happened on at least a dozen occasions over the three days of SMMW.
Relevant to my writing and work on law enforcement and social media I finally got to meet two Law Enforcement Officers that I had been collaborating with for almost a year – Officer Mike Bires founder of LawEnforcement.Social where I blog monthly and Sergeant Marc Marty who I’ve joined on their joint show Cops on Blab. I also got to meet Captain Chris Hsiung from Mountain View Police Department and his PIO colleague Katie Nelson.
I met Officer Tamarin Olden for a second time, as we had already met at the Social Media, the Internet and Law Enforcement (SMILE) conference in April of 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.
The opportunity to meet LESM (law enforcement and social media) personnel in real life will simply just mean more collaborations and joint projects to continue to push the social media agenda in policing.
I also gave them copies of my book, which I had promised them. It feels much better to sign it in their company than post it off in a padded enveloped!
Highlight #5 The Entertainment
Who thought of having a party on a military ship? Social Media Examiner did – which staff member I don’t exactly know. But what a fabulous idea which is even more fabulous when you get the opportunity to attend it.
USS Midway was an aircraft carrier of the United States Navy, the lead ship of its class. Commissioned a week after the end of World War II, Midway was the largest ship in the world until 1995, as well as the first US aircraft carrier too big to transit the Panama Canal.
It operated for an unprecedented 47 years, during which time it saw action in the Vietnam War and served as the Persian Gulf flagship in 1991’s Operation Desert Storm. Decommissioned in 1992, it is now a museum ship at the USS Midway Museum in San Diego Bay.
Bused the short distance from the San Diego Convention Centre we arrived to the USS Midway museum to a red carpet, a waiting photographer capturing us in front of the SMMW backdrop and white shirts taking the pic on our phones so we got it immediately for our own social media sharing.
Inside it was social networking in real life on steroids. We networked while the band played tunes from the nineties and noughties and former US Navy personnel acted as our hosts and guides.
The sheer vastness of this ship, never mind its history, was almost too much to bear. There was so much networking to be done, selfies, exchanging of twitter handles and business cards, offers of ‘what can I do for you and your business’ that I just had to get another vodka and lemonade.
It was also the first time that I saw so many social media celebrities in one room (well ship, but you know what I mean) and my favourite moments were being live with Joel Comm on Facebook (Joel does loads of Facebook Live broadcasting) and getting a hug from the author of “Hug Your Haters” Jay Baer. We were hugging for love not hate!
On Tuesday night there was a cruise along San Diego Bay with karaoke, food and more beverages! I didn’t go along as I was struggling with jet-lag and had an early night at 9pm. However, here’s the evidence that it was a super night of fun and networking!
Highlight #6 Access To Social Media Celebrities
So I just mentioned the access we had as attendees to the social media celebrities. Let me first explain this phrase as I know it won’t sit well perhaps with all the speakers.
A social media celebrity is one who has a massive fan based and in the case of social media celebs their fan base is made up of people like me – professional social media marketers who admire their work, their passion for all things social and their consistency in practicing what they preach.
We had full access to each speaker who stayed on after their track to answer questions, get a selfie, explain a newly announced feature on a platform or sign a book. This is what all conferences should be about and they are just not. So for me, this was a huge highlight.
I met Icelandic business coach Sigrun who I’ve followed for 18 months because I love her work.
Highlight #7 Exceptional Learning
I don’t think I can add any more to this sub-headline. The learning was and will be exceptional from SMMW16. I cannot wait to put new tactics into practice and re-affirm my own knowledge.
When you are a social media marketer you have to constantly benchmark your knowledge against the experts. It was positively reassuring to listen to the speakers tell attendees best practice, future trends and tactics and strategies that we should be implementing in our own and our client’s businesses.
I’d like to think my own clients feel their social media is safe in my hands as much of what I learned I am already doing.
Highlight #8 The Game-Changer
This is the fork in the road. The new route I will take as a direct result of attending #SMMW16. This, my friends, will be another blog post, so you are going to have to come back at a later date to find out what my game-changer is!
Highlight #9 Focus In A Noisy World
We are all busy. Busy juggling work, a business perhaps, family life, hobbies (if you have time) and friends. Attending #SMMW16 gives you a better focus on your digital world – it puts a microscope on what you should be focusing on in terms of social media and throwing away anything shiny that is distracting you from what you should be doing.
This is one of the major benefits for me and I would imagine for others. I jotted down 14 key points of focus that I need to prioritise for the remainder of 2016 on and I hope to deliver on each.
Highlight #10 Returning to #SMMW17
This social media geek is really sad #SMMW16 is over, however I intend to return to #SMMW17. I am committed to it for my own professional development and the benefits that it brings to my clients. If you want to experience what I have over the past three days, then it takes just one click. Don’t find reasons not to go, just go and you won’t regret it. I promise you.
I would like to take a moment to breathe in and appreciate the last number of days I’ve had…
…I feel very fortunate to have been able to experience this in my lifetime. As an early adopter of social media and investing years of my life in academia, being a practitioners of all the platforms, sharing my knowledge with my online community and clients, attending SMMW has made all the hard work worth it. I really felt in tune with each speaker on each stage and realised that my knowledge is valuable to those who benefit from it.
Thank you Michael Stelzner for creating Social Media Marketing World and it was great to meet you in person. Another highlight!
>> JSB xx