#SMWNYC’s Crystal Ball Panel: What’s Next in 2010

About this Social Media Week Guest Blogger: Though Rebecca recently graduated from The University of Texas at Austin’s Advertising program, she has been a social media enthusiast for years, and is honored to guest blog at #smwnyc. To learn more, visit her blog and follow her on Twitter @rebeccaweiser.

What’s Next: Social Media in 2010
Panel at the Roger Smith Hotel, NYC

Panelists: BL Ochman, Howard Greenstein, David Berkowitz, Brian Simpson.

What expectations, measurements and results do we plan on seeing in 2010?

There is a lot of buzz surrounding the way Social Media will shape the business and communication landscape. Addressing these speculations, the panel outlined expectations, measurements and results we can hope to see in 2010.

Expectations: “Big companies need to take it seriously.”

  • As explained above, one reason why big companies don’t engage in Social Media is because they are scared.
  • In 2010, the panel unanimously agreed that many more big businesses will realize how valuable of a communication tool Social Media can be. Not only is it challenging, interesting and fun, “but it has the potential to be very lucrative.
  • Every client wants long-term strategies, and the panel predicts that in order to achieve this, clients will begin investing 5-7 figures into social media campaigns.
  • Less about what we do, and more about the reason they talk. A good business practice uses social media as means for proliferation, not an improvement to the service/product. It’s easy to get carried away, but a successful business model has a truly quality offering, while providing the means with which to share the experience it provides. Social media allows others to talk about how great business-x is.
  • Measurement: “Social Media should come at the beginning.”

    • Traditional measurement will have to change, as Social Media carries different weight. For instance in the old model, 20 impressions were no big deal. However, now whenever 20 impressions are served through Social Media, they are each an invitation to interact and communicate with one another.
    • Each social media channel holds different weight. A YouTube video response has different implications than a retweet.
    • For more information, visit David Berkowitz’s blog post – http://bit.ly/100ways

    Results: “Social Media should come at the beginning.”

    • Ideally, an increased focus on social media will result in an increase of sales. Howard Greenstein brought up an example of a local barber shop that, through social media, was able to successfully increase its customer base for next to nothing cost.
    • David Berkowitz explains the 4 major social media necessities for producing results: Goals, Assets, Rules and Volume.

    The Jigsaw Puzzle Approach

    Picture 13

    I was speaking with a friend the other day and he asked me how things were going with the preparations for Social Media Week.  Having answered this question numerous times in the past few weeks, I have begun to develop an analogy that best describes the process and experience of planning a very complex, distributed conference.

    Planning Social Media Week is a bit like working on a giant jigsaw puzzle, only that rather than the puzzle being a standard size, with a set number pieces, it is more amorphous and constantly growing, and in some cases the pieces keep dividing into smaller pieces.

    The reason for this is because the number of people, partners and collaborators involved in organizing Social Media Week runs into the hundreds and the total number of venues will be around fifty and the number of attendees will probably top 2,000.  However, despite how wonderfully complex this makes planning process, the rewards as you start seeing the jigsaw’s picture emerge is incredibly gratifying.

    So, why did we develop such a complicated model? There are three main reasons:

    1. Removing the burden of an expensive venue, reduces the cost of hosting the conference, allowing us to allocate sponsorship revenue towards production, which in turn allows us to keep attendance free for almost all events.
    2. We wanted to take advantage of the cities underutilized, iconic and interesting space, that traditionally is not used for conferences. Here in New York we are benefiting from space in the New York Times, Wired, Time Inc and IDEO, among many other wonderful venues.  The other cities are all doing the same.
    3. Distributing the conference over multiple locations allows us to host many more events, which in turn helps us reach more people with a more diverse range of topics.

    In addition to reducing costs, utilizing alternative space and designing a broader program, the model behind the team for Social Media Week is also structured differently.  Rather than take a top down approach, we instead build a team made up of key influencers in the space, who bring a range of experience and understanding to the conference.  The program of events and the overall format is very much a reflection of the thirty or so people involved,  and of course a reflection of the wider community who are also instrumental in helping to build the program of events.

    The reason for sharing this was motivated in part because as we move towards the launch of the conference there are many people asking about the how everything works, when the schedule will be live and when it will be possible to register for events.  Understandably, people are frustrated when only three weeks out there is not a publicly available agenda.  The reason for this is simple.  It’s not ready yet.  It will be, very soon, but it’s not yet.  It would like to be notified when it is, please send an email to info@socialmediaweekny.com or if you want information on another city, you can reach them through their site.

    I hope however, that through sharing how the program comes together, people will be more patient and understand that despite this rather unorthodox approach, the quality of events, the learning experience and the opportunity to connect around emerging practices and trends in social media will more than make up for any frustration felt in the build up.