The venue you pick for an event is incredibly important. It can mean the difference between a glorious success and a insurmountable failure. The fine folks who organized Social Media Day Toronto picked the wrong venue.
Social Media Day is a world wide event put on by Mashable, the social media blog. It is attended by thousands of people and is a great chance to network with other social folk. According to Mashable it is “A day to celebrate the revolution of media becoming social.” This year events took place in India, China, Greece, Croatia and more. I was lucky enough to attend the Toronto event.
I’m not saying the venue wasn’t good on it’s own regard. The Tattoo Rock Parlour on Queen St W in Toronto is a cool place... for dancing. It’s a club and it is built as a club. Not as a place to listen quietly to speakers. The fact that people were drinking booze while watching the speakers did not help. I’m pretty sure I was only able to hear every third word.
Before the speakers there was about half an hour to an hour of mingling. The issue was that they hired a DJ and he played the music at a level acceptable for a dance club. This made it impossible to ‘mingle.’
The first speaker was Rob Kozinets. His speech was on the art of ‘netnography. According to him ‘netnography is entering a community online and becoming part of it. This comes from his experience in Anthropology where similar studies are done offline to learn about different cultures.
One great example was with Nike. He entered a community of shoe lovers. He joined the same forums they join, he hung out in chat rooms and basically became a shoe lover himself. Through this study he discovered over time that shoe lovers love collecting and showing off their shoes. The problem was that they didn’t have an easy way to do it. So he worked with Nike to create a stand for displaying shoes. This became massively successful.
Next up was Michael O'Connor Clarke. His point (said beautifully with plenty of swearing) was simple and true: Getting a bunch of people to control a single anonymous social media account is a stupid idea. Social media isn’t a form of advertising like a billboard or radio, it is a form of communication.
Think of it this way: Where is the guy who thinks: “I want to be friends my favourite brand of microwaveable dinner, I want to know everything they are up to!” He doesn’t exist. People online don’t want to be told things, they want to do the telling. Your job as a social media person is to listen to what they say and answer questions or make changes.
Yelling promotions at people doesn’t work anymore. It was kind of ironic that some of the sponsors were doing just what he said was stupid.
Other than speakers the night also included a free Tablet give away from the people at Rogers and free stuff from the other sponsors including Toyota Canada who gave away wrist bands that doubled as USB keys.
The event wasn’t bad but because of the alcohol and bad choice in venue it was hard to really enjoy the speakers and learn the things you came to learn. The information was solid though.