The Problem with “Social Media” Events is….#smwf
Conference and exhibition format has been the same for a very long time; yet the digital industry has changed dramatically.
- Events are sponsored by those organisations who wish to market themselves
- They are offered speaking slots for doing so
- The result is – those who spend the money get the platform
- A few Keynote speakers are invited, who are authoritative and influential, and they draw the punters in
- They employ a “personality” facilitator who has no real idea about the subject matter, and they make several faux pas throughout the gig
- Event organisers make money from a hot topic. (That’s why they do it)
Two to three years ago, in the earlier days of social media, this format worked. Why? Well it was a fairly new subject for the vast majority and explaining the intricacies of the SEO benefits of social web engagement and how Twitter worked was all well and good. The innovative and early adopter digital agencies could hold a platform. All was good and the bandwagon was playing a tune that everyone danced too.
Now, in 2010, social media is mature. It has crossed the chasm and the majority are adapting it. (Of course, there are the Laggards, who are still sceptical and probably have turn ups on their trousers. These people will always exist in any industry. They are probably still using faxes as well.) Anyway, the hype has passed and more importantly, the knowledge gap has closed. People, you, me, within organisations, within agencies, as consumers all now have a fairly good general knowledge of the subject. Maybe not all the intricacies…but certainly the main body of meat. Therefore, events that offer authoritative platforms to people who pay for the privilege, to present to well versed audiences are virtually doomed to failure. We’re not talking about the social platforms, as they are the key holders. They have people in huge volumes (we all know the stats, of which 96% are made up on the spot) and hence offer real value. We all want to hear from them. We’re talking about the people who claim to know how to help an organisation engage with people via these platforms. The “Social Media Gurus”.
It wouldn’t be a bad idea for a future event to use the power of “social” and use the knowledge, expertise and experience within the audience in a “Wisdom of Crowds” way. i.e. We hear from the major social platforms providers (Facebook, Twitter etc) to understand their strategy and forthcoming functionality; and then facilitate idea sharing; polling etc., using social media to invite comments and thoughts directly from the audience, of how this new platform functionality could be used to provide value to people and organisations at the same time. We’re not talking small group break out, workshop, measurement camp stuff. We mean large groups and real time sharing and commentary. The social web technology is there to achieve this…we just need the people in the “arena”. And there is certainly a thirst for this. Harnessing our collective wisdom would provide real value…wouldn’t it?
People in the audience will contribute to the session; share their wisdom and walk away with some real nuggets; as opposed to sales pitches and well tailored individual “guru” opinion. There are very, very few social media gurus out there (We all know Tommy is one and will always remain so) the knowledge gap has closed; and very few can offer an authoritative “preaching” presentation of how to use social media. We’ve moved quickly in the last few years and caught up. Hence our Social Media Fairy Tale, we believe is now becoming a reality. People can see through the hype and bullshit being spun….time to move on.