Going social

Social media isn’t going away, kids. At least, that’s what the organizers, presenters and attendees of yesterday’s Social Media Marketing 2011 conference at the Flamingo Hotel & Casino strongly believe. The one-day series of seminars, presented by U.K.-based Influence People, featured presentations covering everything under the spectrum of using the social web to connect with and sell to consumers and businesses alike. One presenter, Richard Weston-Smith, of SocialGO, went so far as to advance the notion that businesses — small ones especially — need to move their web presences to fully-social websites, with their own micro-communities.

Most of us live under the notion that the social media sites and tools we use are free, but the truth is, we’re exchanging our personal information, consumption trends and hundreds of other data points — valuable stuff to marketers and the investors in these “free” social media companies — for the privilege of using services such as Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare to share the social experience of life via the internet.

The rooms inside Flamingo’s underground conference center were filled with a cross-section of Las Vegas’ internet marketing community, from resort social media specialists and independent consultants to bloggers and Twitter superstars. People came to network and, of course, learn new tips and tricks to maximize their businesses’ respective ability to use your social media data to sell you stuff.

Ironically, this internet marketing seminar was being held in a space without internet access. Oh, sure, you could lease access from the Flamingo for $20 a day, but even the presenters (mostly) refused to be fleeced thusly, eschewing parts of their presentations requiring live connection to the web.

It’s just as well: The most engaging presenters didn’t need to rely on their PowerPoint presentations or  YouTube videos to get across their messages. Although one, 352 Media Group’s Peter C. VanRysdam, hilariously demonstrated how not to make messaging viral with a slick, semi-animated show and comedic timing.

Most of the speakers and panelists seemed like trusted, relative “experts” in their particular facet of the social media jewel. Some didn’t. Laughably, we discovered one social media executive for a major resort has a personal Twitter account with about 20 followers and very few tweets. Meanwhile, the CEO of a marketing company allegedly specializing in social media ran through a bare-bones list of tools for Twitter automation, while himself being unable to answer basic questions that an “expert” should know.

All in all, though, it was a mostly fun, educational event that left me with a lot of thoughts, and isn’t provoking thought the goal of such things? I’d definitely be interested in seeing Influence People grow this in coming years. Because, well, social media’s not going away.

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