In the many public engagements that I've been invited to present at as a social media speaker, people often ask me to recommend which social media conferences and events they should go to, both for networking and educational purposes. I've observed that lately, more and more companies are staging and/or sponsoring social media events, and I attribute this phenomenal growth to the maturity of social media and it's acceptance by major businesses as well as adoption by industry after industry.
With that in mind, I'm glad to share with you what I believe are the best conferences and events social media practitioners should go to this year, all in the United States (sorry but I don't know enough about events outside of the United States to be able to offer my international readers any advice). Each event has garnered a lot of praise from its past participants, with sought-after speakers and expert panels in attendance discussing the most relevant social media topics of the day.
Some of these events, like Blog World, have multiple events where they have not announced dates and locations for their conferences later in the year. Make sure you check back here for updates. And feel free to add other social media conferences that you recommend in the comments. Thanks!
BlogWell - January 24, 2012, Dallas, Texas; March 27, 2012, San Francisco, California; July 18, 2012, Chicago, Illinois; September 25, 2012, New York City, New York
BlogWell is a unique event where 8 great case studies on the best social media programs at large companies are presented to audiences. Staged by SocialMedia.org, a community of social media leaders where members help each other by sharing ideas, best practices, and solutions. Held in 4 locations in 2012, BlogWell speakers will present case studies from many well known brands, including companies like AMD and Farmer's Insurance who have been blogged about here before.
iStrategy Conference - January 31 - February 1, 2012, San Francisco, California
iStartegies missions is to spread passion for existing and emerging digital media throughout the world, where each event offers original experiential learning opportunities for participants. It is for senior executives who espouse the belief that the success of their business requires a solid digital strategy. While the concentration is on digital, there is more than enough social media content to keep you satisfied, including an emphasis on "results-oriented social media strategies." Note that iStrategy also holds international events, with London and Sydney conferences slated for later in 2012.
Social Fresh Conference - (East) February 6 - 7, 2012, Tampa, Florida; (West) August 20 - 21, 2012, San Diego, California
With a distinct focus on social media for business results, the Social Fresh Conference is staged with the end goal of inspiring marketers to create social media strategies that produce tangible results. Social Fresh may not be as well known as other conferences here, but they have a solid track record of delivering successful social media conferences throughout the nation. The keynotes for the Tampa event are from the cream of the crop of social media speakers: Scott Monty of Ford, Jay Baer, and Chris Penn - and these are balanced by case studies presented from corporate social media strategiest from AOL, Nordstrom, and RadioShack.
Online Marketing Summit - February 6 - 9, 2012, San Diego, California
The Online Marketing Summit puts education first. Beyond the usual conference and tradeshow set-up, through lab sessions with experts, thought-leadership presentations and peer-to-peer collaboration, OMS's focus is providing direct, hands-on training workshops that are personalized and one-on-one. A four-day event traditionally about online marketing, there is a healthy dose of social media marketing content for those in attendance.
The Social Media Strategies Summit 2012 - February 7 - 9, 2012, Las Vegas; April 18 - 19, 2012, Chicago
The Social Media Strategies Summit has been designed in such a way that learning objectives are spread across six tracks, each outlined to focus on a particular industry - yours. So while sessions are focused on specific categories that are tailor-fit, such as case studies, ROI and tools, and legal risks & strategies, participants are free to move between tracks based on their own learning objectives. Note that the Social Media Strategies Summit also has an event in London as well as Miami. The Miami event is not listed above as it is focused on social media in Latin America.
Gravity Summit - February 22, 2012, Los Angeles, California
Held annually, the Gravity Summit event in 2012 is where leaders from the realm of sports and entertainment discuss social media marketing trends, innovations and tools and how these are reshaping the industry and audiences alike. The event is perfect for those involved in broadcasting, entertainment and sports. Created by the co-authors of The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing, Gravity Summit always promises unique and high quality social media content.
Inbound Marketing Summit - February 28 - 29, 2012, New York City, New York; June 12 - 13, 2012, San Francisco, California; October 24 - 25, 2012, Boston, Massachusetts
The Inbound Marketing Summit is one of the leading national conferences for digital and social media marketing professionals. Featuring inspirational speakers coupled with cutting edge content and real-world case studies, IMS is where innovators from media and marketing meet their peers, engage in lively and productive sessions, and broaden their networks - all in two power-packed days. The upcoming Boston event features the following tracks: Inbound Marketing, Mobile Content, Content Automation, and Convergence.
SocialTech 2012 - March 29 - 30, Seattle, Washington
Sponsored by one of the largest online marketing communities, MarketingProfs, SocialTech is the leading social media conference that focuses purely on B2B social media marketing. The first day will feature workshops on Content Marketing and Social Media Measurement while the second day will feature quality speakers on relevant topics such as "Using Gamification to Captivate Your Customers" and "Social Media Guidelines for Highly Regulated Industries."
BlogWorld & New Media Expo - June 5 - 7, 2012, New York City, New York
BlogWorld is undoubtedly the largest in scale and longest running social media event on this list. Originally for bloggers, BlogWorld now includes enough social media speakers and workshops so that I can say that if there was only one event you could go to in 2012, this would be the one I recommend. With past speakers that include tech guru Guy Kawasaki, you can be assured of high-impact exchanges plus the chance to meet and collaborate with fellow practitioners and innovators. BlogWorld is also held in Los Angeles late in the year.
Content Marketing World 2012 - September 4 - 6, 2012, Columbus, Ohio
Dubbed as the largest gathering of content marketing professionals in the world, CMW is where content marketers converge to tell their stories. Covering topics that include Managing Content Marketing and the ROI of Content Marketing, Content Marketing World is the brainchild of the "Father of Content Marketing," Joe Pulizzi, and his Content Marketing institute.
Have you been to any of the above events? Which ones are you the biggest fan of?