The Social Experience

Radian6 Social 2011 was a constant 48-hour flurry of socialites buzzing from room to room, conversation to conversation and screen to screen. Conversations would subside as keynotes took the mics and panelists shared their stories. Once the lights came on and the sessions closed, the doors would open and out would pour the attendees speaking louder and more frequent with new knowledge to share. The third floor of the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel was a nonstop conversation between nearly 800 people. Each hour this scenario would repeat and I was in amongst it all.

To say the least, Social 2011 was more than a conference. By definition, a conference is an act of conferring or consulting together, but that is only a small piece of what occurred. Sure, in the two-day event there were multiple keynotes, breakout sessions, panelists and product announcements from significant movers and shakers in the social media world. But on top of that, conversations were happening in person and online from like-minded individuals seeking to quench their thirst of social media knowledge. And so, we learned from each other through conversations. I found myself just as excited to meet and talk to people as I was to sit down with my laptop before a session. I knew I was learning at all times.

From the agency perspective, the learnings were immense and I’m still thinking through the key nuggets. Here’s a taste.

  • No one is saying that traditional media is going away and social is taking over. This is about integration and finding smart ways to reach your audience through multiple mediums. Social needs to be a part of the strategy but it is not the only strategy. Neither is traditional. Make them work together.
  • Listen to the conversations about your brand and respond. It can be as easy as searching on Twitter or utilizing your Radian6 dashboard. From there, act. Like American Airlines found, responding to a small yet frequent question (i.e. which planes have wifi?) can turn stressed travelers into loyal customers because you were there when consumers needed you.
  • Ensure your team is part of the conversation. Employees are the brand. They are communicators. Use this to your advantage and embark on social evangelism as a company. Dell’s Chief Listening Officer can be the title of each and every employee at your company. We all have that role.

Looking back on the event, I can safely say I was amazed at how much I crammed in my brain. It took a while to digest and I believe I’m still doing so. I have at least five Google docs of notes jumbled around to cull through and re-read. Then there’s the 5,000+ tweets in the #social2011 Twitterstream. Not to mention the nearly 10 videos from the keynotes. But those are all signs that point to one thing – a good experience. By the time I’m done reflecting and implementing what I’ve learned, it will be time for Social 2012. I’ll be ready.


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