If you had to ask anyone in the mobile space what event is *the* must-attend, the answer would undoubtedly be Mobile World Congress (and I’m jealous just thinking about an annual affair in Barcelona).
In the social space, there is no preeminent conference, but plenty of quality options. Yet, if a social media professional had to pick one to attend, it might require more work than originally anticipated.
After experiencing a large majority of the the best social media conferences around the world in 2013, I’m here to break down the landscape to hopefully make your lives easier whether you work at a brand, agency or vendor.
For starters, let’s begin with SocialMedia.org’s Blogwell. I attended their events in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco & Boston. I was also set to speak at their #BrandsOnly event in Orlando, but a death in the family kept me at home. For the four I attended, the format was eight Fortune 1000 brands sharing social media case studies in one condensed afternoon. It was great to learn from real world examples of social media strategies in practice.
At the same time, SocialMedia.org is shifting to brands-only attendees for all of their events moving forward. It was always nice to hear how the Fortune 1000 was implementing the most innovative processes, and the knowledge-share has played a great role in my thought leadership you may have read in The Huffington Post, Digiday, etc, but I can understand their decision. As is, they'll continue to share the information from these presentations on their websites.
Despite SocialMedia.org catering specifically to those representing the largest brands in the world, there's still plenty of other events across the country no matter your role in the social media spectrum. I figure I’ll detail some of these in chronological order heading into 2014.
Social Media Marketing World is hosted every March in sunny San Diego. It is likely the largest and most diverse collection of social media folks all year. Some of the most prominent names in the industry combined with some social directors from the Fortune 500 share their latest social media thoughts between a mix of solo presentations and panels over a two day affair.
Useful Social puts on Corporate Social Media Summit three times of year spread out between New York City (June), San Francisco (November) and London (December). We were fortunate to experience all three and walked away with some great knowledge and connections from each. As you can imagine, they bring out many of the social leaders from the largest brands in the world. Overall, it was a nice affair every time with a mix of solo presentations and panels that focus on social media applications in the corporate world.
Social Media Today hosted their inaugural event, Social Shakeup, in Atlanta this past September, and everyone I’ve spoken with thought very highly of the event. The two day affair was full of panels comprised of Fortune 1000 social practitioners, leading agency strategists and thought leaders. The simultaneous four panel sessions allowed for always consuming the content of greatest interest to each attendee. They recently announced they’re bringing it back to Atlanta in Fall 2014, and we’re looking forward to seeing folks again in our backyard.
Hosted in New York City, PivotCon has Brian Solis, one of the preeminent social media thought leaders, as the Executive Producer so you know it can’t be all that bad. This one probably has as much forward thinking content as any, and on that note, there was so much quality content and people packed in that the biggest complaint I gathered was the sessions being too short -- hopefully that’s something that can be addressed next year.
Lastly, WOMMA Summit was hosted in Nashville this November and is set for Los Angeles next Fall. Despite not including ‘social’ in the title, a word-of-mouth conference might as well be included on this list as undoubtedly the large majority of the sessions included social references. It was a great affair with plenty of attendees including a wide variety of agencies and brands represented.
A couple others worth noting that I didn’t touch on: Social Media Week, Social Media Strategies Summit, MediaPost’s Social Media Insider Summit, OMMA Social at Advertising Week. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to experience some of these in 2014 so I can report back this time next year (or you can chime in down in the comments…)