You Can Do It: Words of Wisdom from a Social Media Week Veteran

This is a guest post from Joyce Sullivan, founder and CEO of SocMediaFin, which first appeared on our Global SMW blog. February is a tough time to be in NYC. It’s too cold; the holidays are over; spring is still far off; everything seems mundane, except for the arrival of one of the best networking events of the year: Social Media Week (SMW).

I got involved with SMW in Feb 2011, pitching my first event partner idea with an industry colleague. After filling out the very straightforward online SMW event form, we held our breath, and hit the ‘send’ button.

We waited to hear the results, and our topic was picked! Great.

Now, we wondered, could we possibly pull this off, and get anyone to sign up for our obscure topic? Or so we thought, at the time.

Not only did they sign up, we sold out within 2 hours of our selected venue space. What to do? How could we turn away an audience that was looking to soak up the info we were so passionate to share?

Serendipity, itself greeted us, when a larger venue became available and we were able to accommodate our 300+ attendees. For those who’d like to see what it looks like, here’s my very first SMW event info and the videotape: Financial Services Social Media Champions Tell Their Story

Having had such a great experience in Feb 2011, I returned in Feb 2012 again as both:

Speaker and Event planner: Social Media Strategy for Financial Services
Blogger and attendee: My Day as a Social Media Week Speaker

It does include lots of work; so you may ask, why be a SMW event host?

For me, the benefits include:

  • + Increasing your online influence and reputation
  • + Introducing your ideas to the world
  • + Becoming a disruptive innovator

Why I Continue to Host SMW Events

As a veteran Social Media Week event partner, there are numerous reasons I continue to get involved. I love bringing what I know to others who want to learn about social media. It also gives me an opportunity to get to know the SMW team more. The SMW team vibe is positive and supportive. In addition, by hosting an event, I get to meet the most fabulous people from around the globe. I still keep up with folks I have met in person (aka IRL = In Real Life) and those who live-tweeted around the world.

What I’ve Learned as a SMW Host
  • + The best way to hone your craft and knowledge is by sharing it with other from the SMW stage.
  • + Even though you’re only in one city, you have access to over a dozen cities around the world participating in SMW events.
  • + Even if your city is not on the list, you still get to participate virtually. I *attended* a September 2012 London event and blogged about the experience: SMW London: Export is Easier Than You Think

Tips for First Timers

I understand being intimidated. It’s work, but here are my tips to you if you’re considering taking part for the first time!

  • + Just fill out the SMW event form! We were all first timers once. You can do it and your ideas are waiting to be heard.
  • + Once you’re selected – congrats! Give your social media skills a workout by getting your friends and fans to spread the word about your event.
  • + Remember to tweet me up @JoyceMSullivan for SMW love and support. SMW event alums are here for you first timers!
  • + Keep working your SMW tweets and hashtags to get the word out about your event.
  • + Get all your details squared away ahead of time and ask questions of the SMW staff earlier than later. They can ensure you are prepared so you can rock your audience.

You can do it. No matter which city you’re in, you can make it happen. Remember, you are the only one who knows what you know.

You are amazing. Let everyone at SMW know it. Let me know it, too!

Joyce Sullivan is founder and CEO of SocMediaFin, a social media consulting firm for financial services, specialty firms and industry executives: With over 20 years experience as Vice President with firms including, Citi, Credit Suisse, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo/First Fidelity, Ms. Sullivan brings a seasoned industry perspective to the emerging world of social media. As an advisory board member of the Financial Women’s Association, she serves as their Chief Digital Strategist. Ms. Sullivan holds an MBA from the Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College, City University of NY in International Finance and Marketing, a BA in Education from University of Saint Joseph, Connecticut, and the Project Management Professional (PMP) designation from the Project Management Institute.

My Day as a Social Media Week Speaker

This is a guest post by SMW veteran Joyce Sullivan.

This is my 2nd year as a Social Media Week NYC speaker and attendee. After getting my feet wet last year curating and moderating a panel on the emerging world of social media for financial services, I thought I’d dive in again talking about Social Media Strategy for Financial Services.

We finished our setup work on Monday with our live event on Tuesday, Feb 14th – and yes, I wore red on stage for Valentines Day! The planning and prep paid off, as we had a full house at @NYITManagement Auditorium. We had good feedback in person, and via our Twitter feed using our hastag#SMWFinServ. If you missed us, and want to know about all the fun facts on how to do social media in the highly regulated financial services industry, this link’s for you!  We also Storified our tweets! You can also catch me on Livestream or on Twitter @JoyceMSullivan and @SocMediaFin.

My Day as a Social Media Week Attendee

With my SMW presentation complete, it was now time to enjoy the talks from the other side of the stage. I had a full day starting at Big Fuel bright and early listening to Rachel Stearne (whom I met in the elevator on the way up!). So great to hear what’s going on in the NYC digital space with Rachel at the helm as Chief Digital Officer for Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Free wifi in the parks is today a reality but just a beginning. It may be a bit longer before we have it on the subways, which Rachel mentioned was one of the biggest requests. However, the city will be providing lots of support for the NY Tech start up community. Rachel encouraged all to check out all the NYC Digital happenings.

As part of her first 90 days with the City, she created the Road Map for the Digital City outlining a path to build on New York City’s successes and establish it as the world’s top-ranked Digital City. They make it easy to keep up with these news making and news breaking innovators: @rachelsterne @edpilkington @nycgov @NYCDigital.

I had planned to head over to another venue but since I had a front row seat at Big Fuel (check out my pics of the stage!) I thought I’d hang a bit longer and see what’s going on with social TV. Yahoo! kicked off the event with Patrick Albano on stage introducing the next talented panel for Social Television: Opportunities for Broadcasters and Advertisers. I absolutely loved the Into Now app demoed by the sartorially resplendent Edwin Wong of Yahoo!.

Though I’m trying to stay neutral (for now!) with the upcoming 2012 US election, the talk by Edward O’Keefe of ABC News demoing their new OTUS News app they developed with Blue Fin Labs is a game changer. And for the finale we had Beth Reilly of Kraft Foods showcasing the success and fun of engaging their audience with their latest Cheesy Skillets Liquid Gold spots. Who would have thought Velveeta could get this much of a rise out of folks.. well, the Liquid Gold Blacksmith guy has a little bit to do with it!  Keep up with these app makers: @intonow and @OTUSNews and @kraftfoods.

Next up was my fave Joe Fernandez of Klout interviewed in front of a digital fireplace by Big Fuel CEO Jon Bond. I’ve been an early adopter of Klout and have watched them soar and swoop down – a bit – in the last few months. They continue to be the digital global influence leader. It was interesting to hear after the US, the next biggest countries for Klout are #2 Brazil and #3 Japan.

Joe told some inside tales about the handlers of the rich and famous coming to see him and asking why some other big star had a higher Klout score. For such a successful global influence disruptor, Joe is very down to earth and approachable. See what I mean: @JoeFernandez and catch Jon Bond at @JonBond57.

Time to walk around and check out the rest of the goings on at Big Fuel. Yummy (and free!) food from @wholefoodsNYC in the back was a good way to refuel. The charge stations throughout the floor gave me a chance to charge up my devices and meet others. As I turned around to say hello to the folks around me, I met @BeVisible, whom I have followed for the past year but had never met in person. Always great to meet old school in real life.

It was a double header day for Joe Fernandez who was also on the Global Influence panel. Along with Joe, we got an insightful and fun perspective on how this group influences their online community from Funk Flex aka @FunkMasterFlex, along with Brandon Evans of CrowdTap, moderated by Ben Luntz of Big Fuel. It was especially fun to have Funk and Joe sharing their views on how to be influential. Joe said he started following Funk right before this event to get to know him. This Livestream is definitely worth another listen. It’s on my replay list.

It was time to get some fresh air and check out another venue. I decided to go to a non-hub event to check out the ‘indie’ SMWNYC scene. I picked “Can We Tweet Yet, Social Media in Financial Services” hosted by Joanna Belbey of Actiance a few blocks away. It was a nice sized group and with a slide show, and some handouts, Joanna took the group through the ins and out of social media regulation in a clear and approachable manner.

This was great live theater; no livestream for this one, folks, though you can follow more of Joanna’s insights on twitter: @Belbey  and on BelbeyBlogs.

I wanted to also attend Email and Social Media up at Thomson Reuters taking place at the same time uptown. I had heard Wendi Caplan-Carroll of Constant Contact speak at other events and wanted to catch her latest insights. Next best thing?.. watch it on Livestream and find out what Fanbruary is all about! Great intro by Brady Hahn of Crowdcentic introducing Nick Hahn (any relation?), Wendy Caplan-CarrollNoel DescalziGabby Bernstein, and Josh Mendelsohn. So many great insights of how to use email marketing as part of social media to reach your target audience. Being authentic is key, and you can see all the insights here.

And my day is done! Being on the Social Media Week stage and watching the events on stage, are both exhilarating AND exhausting. Everyone have fun out there!


Joyce Sullivan is a recognized industry expert in social media networking through emerging social media networking tools. A financial services industry veteran, Joyce speaks frequently on the convergence of social media and the financial services industry. She’s been recognized for her social media networking expertise through seminars, and you can watch Joyce’s interview with CNBC anchor and journalist, Maria Bartiromo, on career reinvention and the use of social media networking on “Wall Street Journal Report with Maria Bartiromo.” Keep up with her online.