Social Media Week kicks off

Social Media Week Dell B2BIt seems like forever ago that that Sam Michel lead an unconferenced discussion about  it at Tweetcamp, but Social Media Week has kicked off. And what a challenge they set themselves. Social media is almost as ubiquitous as the telephone, so finding enough that’s new and challenging for an experienced user/practitioner is getting tougher. The organisers have – helpfully – given a level indicator on the booking site, but even so – getting away from the ‘same old’ and ‘echo chamber’ is tough.

Keep that in mind as I report back from Dell B2B, organised by PR blogger extraordinaire, Neville Hobson, and ex-Dell social media expert, Kerry Bridge. Both have, over the years, done a great job of this event, which conveniently coincided with Social Media Week this time.

It’s a bear bug of mine when events don’t have a diverse presenter group  on the stage. When you have a phenomenal female audience that includes female ‘ass-kickers’ like Shirley Ayres, Sue Llewellyn and Kate Matlock, (look them up!) as organisers, you’d better make sure your content’s sh*t hot if you don’t have diverse keynoters.

The white male keynote presenters at Dell B2B (#smwb2b) did a relatively good job of stepping up to the plate. If I had a gripe it would be that there was little ‘unconferenced’ about the event, and that mostly the ‘B’ in B2B seemed to be interpreted as brand. That’s sad, not only because the audience was one to learn from, but because frankly, if you’re working with an established brand, the budgets and name recognition to back creativity are already there. It’s yours to lose. The art  – and joy – of ‘Bootstrapped B2B’ marketing is turning a niche interest into something sexy and engaging. The space for innovation is greater. Harder, but challenging and enjoyable.

Brian Solis gets this. He is one of the few people who can rock a stage talking about B2B. His understanding of the space and stage presence are matched by sound advice and interest in people off stage. (@BrianSolis on Twitter). He was the standard of speaker set by Dell B2B in the past, so this event had a very tough act to follow.

However, this time it wasn’t a ‘social media expert’ like Brian who rocked the stage at this time’s Dell B2B though. It was a commercial team – Present.Me – who barely have a presence on Twitter with their new presentation format. (@Presentdotme – I wonder how many times they were ‘pitched’ afterwards by an audience full of social media experts?)

Their presentation? You know it’s a brave and fearless, confident speaker whose presentation includes the words: ‘Most corporate presentations are audience abuse’.

It was a ‘stop and think about what you’re doing, here’s a framework, go away and think about how you apply it’ showstopper.  It was very reminiscent of a presentation given at Brighton SEO a few weeks back – by non-SEO/social media bod, Dave Trott,  Executive Creative Director, CSTTG.

Summarised learning from the two together: get your attention grabber. Work on it. Grab people’s emotions. Then back it up with the ‘other stuff’ (logic, facts)  to give it substance.

No formulas. No do’s and don’ts. My big takeaway was: “Are you stepping up to the plate?” Presented with passion, logic and impact – and no PowerPoint – I can’t wait to share the video.

It’s easy to get on the treadmill of doing, and at an event like Social Media Week it’s easy to to tweet out trite drivel that you already knew just because you agree with the speaker. But the joy of an event like Social Media Week is that we take time out to refresh our ideas, sit back from what we’re doing for a moment, and learn from others.

In this instance, for me at least, this single presentation was the stand out – an inspiring way of saying ‘Take the time to sit back and take another look.’

Watch out world!

With thanks to the Dell B2B organisers, to Dell for sponsoring, to Microsoft for hosting and to the Social Media Week team.

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