4 Reasons Social Media Marketing World #SMMW13 Was the Best Conference I’ve Ever Attended

SMMW photoOk, yes I may be a little biased since I am the Community Manager for Social Media Examiner, but
Social Media Marketing World was the best conference I’ve ever attended.

One of the big reasons I enjoyed it so much was because I got to meet many of the people I had connected with on the Social Media Examiner Facebook Page, in the Networking Clubs, and on their other social sites.  Awesome!

But it wasn’t just that.  Mike Stelzner had a vision for a conference that was a “Disney” experience and he achieved just that.  For those of you who have been to Disney, you know what I mean.  For those that haven’t, just go to Disney.  Right now.  It’s seriously good.

Here are the main reasons I thought Social Media Marketing World achieved conference excellence:

1.  A Real Focus on Networking

mike ambassador brunyNetworking is the main reason I go to conferences.  Meeting people in person is priceless.  But SMMW took it to a new level by having a Networking Ambassador.  Mike Ambassador Bruny did a stellar job of facilitating connections with Networking Bingo on the first night.  They gave away great prizes like a $500 Apple gift card, a $500 Southwest Airlines gift card, and a free ticket to next year’s event.

Dave Kerpen, Andrea Vahl, Jamie TurnerThey had morning networking walks and a networking run (which was a little more challenging to talk during).  By putting a focus on Networking from the beginning of the event, everyone was more open and welcoming.  There was a real camaraderie.

So many amazing people were there.  I personally got to meet a lot of people I’ve wanted to meet for a long time.

 

2.  Great Content

The heart of any conference is the content.  I thought the keynotes were excellent and a great balance of covering what we wanted to know about social media and what we wanted to know to help us run our business.

  • Mike Stelzner gave us a glimpse of what is to come in social media for 2013.
  • Larry Benet told us how to make lasting connections in our networking.
  • Sally Hogshead showed us how to be fascinating and how to use our own natural fascination formula.
  • Jay Baer, Mario Sundar, Mark Schaefer, and Chris Brogan helped answer the question “Are we wasting our time with social media?”  (The answer was no, but we have to focus…..squirrel!)
  • Dave Kerpen told us why it pays to be Likeable (see the resources below)

The sessions were amazing too.  I have to link to some other great posts that do some of the sessions better justice:

 3.  Fun

Networking at SMMWSocial Media Marketing World was billed as a mini-vacation.  I hadn’t been to San Diego in years and I know that was a big part of the draw for many people.  The networking event the opening night was in the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park.  I would not have gotten to that part of San Diego if it weren’t for that event and it was fun to see.

They had a photo booth set up for people to get a little crazy.  Phil Mershon’s band entertained us with some awesome jazz.  SMMW photo booth

The second night was also fun-filled as we boarded the Networking Cruise and went out into the harbor on a giant yacht (although I don’t think Derek Halpern would agree as he didn’t seem to have his sea legs).  They had a dessert bar (my fav), Karaoke (some good and some not so good), and more networking.

Fun was also sprinkled throughout the event.  Brian Carter had a really funny “opening act” before Sally Hogshead’s keynote where he delivered the funny side of social media, Power Points, and pie charts.

Rebecca Corliss told us about some of her “Least Favorite Things” on social media

 

4.  Attention to Detail

I mentioned the Disney experience earlier and that includes the attention to detail.  The signage was good, and the event planning staff of Right Hand Events was incredible.  They had packets of information for each role.  I was an Airport Greeter for 4 hours on Sunday.  I got trained to be an Airport Greeter by them (I’m not going to quit my day-job, that was hard work)  We held up signs welcoming people in the airport and helping direct them to the limos (with discount coupons given by Uber) or other transportation.

On the way to the Networking Cruise, we had about a 10 minute walk from the hotel to the boat.  They had staff about every 400 yards directing us on our way even though it was a straight shot.  It may have benefited more people on the way home after the booze-cruise.

I had many people tell me that they never had to “wonder” where to go.  There were always plenty of staff out between sessions helping to direct traffic.  And I have to give a huge shout-out to Phil Mershon, Social Media Examiner’s Director of Events for working so hard to make this all happen as well as Mike Stelzner of course, Irene O’Leary, Cindy King, Emily Crume, and all the other staff and volunteers who helped make this incredible!

Thanks and I’m looking forward to next year!

Resources from the event

Dave Kerpen gave us access to his slides from his keynote

 

Very fun visual note-taking from Anne McColl:

 

Curation of photos from the event:  https://socialchomp.com/stream/270

Other great posts about the event:

How about you?  Did you attend Social Media Marketing World?  What did you think?  Or have you also been to a great event?  What made it great?  Share your thought with me in the comments!

  • PhilMershon

    Thanks for the shout out, Andrea. I have to confess that having you and Grandma Mary at the event were definite highlights 🙂

  • You did a great job Phil! Both in entertaining us with your music and coordinating everything!

  • Great review Andrea! I think the key was the IRL opportunities. More than just info and tech, it was about growing relationships. So very few conferences even attempt this and #SMMW13 knocked it out of the park.

  • debng

    So sorry I missed SMMW as I had a prior engagement but I’ll be at next year’s for sure. I have only heard good things and it looks as if the entire SME team has so much to be proud of.

    See you Friday!

  • We missed you there Deb! But I’m so glad I’ll get to see you Friday! Fun!

  • Thanks Mike! I loved your wrap post too! So great meeting you IRL

  • It truly was a wonderful event – definitely worth the trip from “down under”. I met so many amazing people, not to mention many who have both inspired and guided me over the past few years such as Michael, Amy and Mari. An honour to meet them indeed.
    The focus on networking was brilliant. Thank you to all for making it great
    Regards Fiona – iRespectOnline

  • Oh this is is Awesome Andrea! What a great wrap of all the best bits and I just loved Anne McColl’s sketches…I wish i had her in my pocket! It was so great to meet you and that other uber-cool senior, Grandma Mary, though I must say she was running around with your business cards, so you need to keep an eye on her. Thanks so much for sharing my posts, and I have to say after spending 3 full-on (and I mean full-on!) days at Disneyland just a week before arriving in San Diego, I can say with absolute certainty that you guys pulled off a Disney experience for me. Because for me, the Disney Experience is (as my hero Walt would say): Exceeding Expectations. That you did!

  • Hey Andrea, great to catch up with you at Social Media Marketing World. It was certainly a very special event and I enjoyed every minute of it. What I really love about the US and these type of events is that everyone is so friendly. See ya soon! Ian

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  • Woot @andreavahl:disqus , I’ve missed this one! And I even am on a picture in the article! Well, probably not my best profile though 😀
    It was a GREAT conference, I can’t wait to see what Mike will cook for next year.
    And it was great to hang out with you and so many super friendly peeps.
    Three thumbs up to the whole SME team, you included!