Behind the Scenes: Socon 13
Recently, I had the tremendous opportunity to speak at one of the largest social media conferences in the southeast, SoCon 13. This was the seventh year of SoCon and it is hosted by the Center for Sustainable Journalism of Kennesaw State University, my alma mater. Drew Hawkins was my partner in crime on this mission, and boy was it another great experience.
Drew Hawkins and I have presented a number of times, but the majority of the time, it was to eager-to-learn college students. They are usually hungry to hear from young professionals who have “cool” careers. We are known for creating presentations that are visual-heavy and that keep the audience on their toes with tons of interaction and comedic relief. We wanted to take this approach and showcase it to a more mature audience.
Beer & Brainstorming:
What better place to meet to begin brainstorming a presentation than a bar? Drew and I planned to grab a couple beers and simply put some initial thoughts on paper, nothing more than an hour thought session. Well, that hour seemlessly turned closer to three. We were so passionate about our ideas and what we wanted to share. We went on productive tangents and each had insight in to different techniques and philoshophies. I could tell putting this together was more than just a “presentation”. It was one of the most productive and thought provoking three hours that I have had in quite some time.
We pieced together a rough outline and went our seperate ways. Our homework assignment? Trim from our massive outline and try to piece together a story. When we met again, it was time to start piecing together the Keynote.
Why Are We On Social Media Again?
When you first read the titile of our presentation, you may initially think it is 1.0, amateur or maybe too vague. That’s the point. Five or six years ago, it was easy to be a social media expert. People didn’t understand it and if you did, you were a valuable asset. Fast forward and now social is “mainstream”. Executives understand the concepts and even understand how it applies to their business. Nowadays, the question is not “What?” it is “How?” and “Why?”. With this, acceleration of new platforms, strategies and tactics have emerged. The social and digital world has continued to grow at a rapid pace and with every new shiny network, app or idea, brands swarm to it like vultures on a corpse in the dessert.
We wanted to take a step back. Let’s all take a deep breath and let’s go back to the beginning. Why are we on Facebook? Is it really providing anything? Is it helping us reach our larger business goals? Yes, Pinterest is cool, but is it really going to be a big referral traffic generator for us? Twitter is cool, but responding to Yelp reviews is leading to more “real life” word of mouth. Maybe we should spend some more time there.
We needed coffee. Lots of it. Rough weeks were had by the both of us but our passion to work on this presentation led us to the nearest coffee shop after hours. We came back invigerated after each taking an individual look at the initial brainstorm doc. We had our answer to the “why” and we had strategies on how to accomplish it.
Why are we on social media again?
- Build a better brand experience
- Love and better serve your customers
- Know what they want before they do
How can we do this?
- Listen first. Then publish.
- Prioritize your channel presences
- Give each channel a unique purpose
Our presentation was set. Now, we each tied in our own experiences in to the presentation. We searched for case studies that would showcase that we’re not crazy. We dug in deeper in to how to accomplish these goals and with some polishing, practicing, more beer and the proper memes, our presentation was complete.
I want to personally thank everyone who attended SoCon13 and our session. It was a great experience and I cannot wait to be a part of it again next year.