Conferize’s “Speak the Future” series features speakers who are currently changing the conference world. We are passionate about sharing their ideas, right here. For more info check out our “Speak the Future” Manifesto.
When you think about what an event is, it’s people talking about a similar topic and engaging with each other in a physical space. Social media is the exact same thing in a virtual space. You’ve got to manage your social media presence, and you have to build an audience because that’s where it starts. When you think about who is having a voice and where is content getting out, it happens first online and first on social media and then it leads to the physical world with events.
Can you tell us a little about yourself? What is your favourite area of expertise as a speaker?
My journey and expertise in social media marketing began in college when I created a social network for fellow college students. Over the course of eight years, that interest has blossomed working on Microsoft’s social media channels, to creating Uptown Treehouse, a social media marketing agency, and finally, founding Socedo, a marketing automation tool.
Why are conferences important today?
I think conferences are important for two main reasons.
1. You can’t replace a physical connection. Although I’m a huge proponent of the power of social media, going to a two-day conference, meeting someone and spending your downtime with them builds a type of much deeper bond which the virtual world can’t compete with.
2. Getting away from your day-to-day grind allows you to think about things in a different way. Conferences are almost like a meditation period for me. I’m able to free myself from my daily restraints and focus instead on what’s happening outside of work in the broader industry.
How would you like to see conferences change more in the future? Have you noticed any significant trends in the meetings industry in the wake of digital/mobile developments?
I would like to see the meshing of social media and conferences merge together more naturally. I’ve seen people try to form a social community after the event, but the conversation eventually dies down. I think we see a lot of conferences that have someone managing social during the event, but when the event ends, nothing happens. I think it’s important to be digitally active throughout the entire year. I’ve seen some great ideas implemented like getting an email or text when a specific session is coming to an end where you can give feedback on the presentation, or having my badge scanned and receiving content relevant to a particular session. All of these are a step in the right direction, but I think that events and mobile/digital need to work more effortlessly together.
Your advice to aspiring speakers?
Build your personal brand. If you want to be a speaker, you have to make a name for yourself. How do you do that? By blogging, by having a social media presence, by being a thought leader, intelligently speaking about the topics you’re interested in while in your own space. Building yourself and audience online is going to help you get those speaking engagements at the conferences you want to be present at.