Last week, I went to The Social Shake-Up in Atlanta, Georgia to talk to a bunch of folks who work in the digital and social media worlds (and to get a Mover & Shaker Award). It was my first time to The Social Shake-Up, but, according to Vanessa DiMauro, the event has grown tremendously since its inception in 2013.
I didn’t know it as the more intimate event, but I did love it as the event it has become (and not just because they gave me an award). Here are the top three reasons why I loved the 2017 Social Shake-Up:
The first thing I noticed about The Social Shake-Up was the makeup of the crowd. I met people from all over the country who worked for employers as varied as agencies, police departments, car dealerships, construction companies, research firms and wineries. And that was just during the opening session! In addition to the geographic, industry, racial and gender diversity, The Social Shake-Up also housed a crowd with different levels of digital media marketing competency and in different stages of their careers. It’s rare to attend a conference with a crowd that’s diverse along all those axes, but it makes for a great experience for conference attendees. A variety of vantage points is necessary to get the most out of discussions about common issues we face as digital marketers, communicators and strategists and the ways we’ve approached solving those issue across our respective industries.
As someone who has been involved in planning a lot of conferences and events, one of the things I thought that The Social Shake-Up did very well was deploy a custom app for the duration of the event. It synchronized information about the conference schedule to my phone, allowed me to pick which breakout sessions I was attending and create personalized reminders, had a list of conference attendees, links to social feeds for the event, and had an inbox where I received information about the last minute changes that any conference planner knows are going to happen. I found it to be relatively stable and to enhance the experience of the conference, and it’s something that I want to try to incorporate into some of our larger conferences, too.
There was just a lot of great information at this conference from a lot of great presenters who work in the space. Here are a three that stood out to me:
- Jessica Fish gave a presentation about diversity, inclusion and what it means when brands take a stand on political issues. She also shared some useful advice on how communicators can help their organizations navigate tough terrain and avoid costly foibles when talking about challenging topics.
- Carmen Shirkey Collins of Cisco had a break out session where she discussed her company’s employee advocacy program and social media evolution. She focused on how a culture of innovation, risk taking, and trust helped create the necessary conditions for a major corporation to have one of its social media channels run by a different employee every day.
- Dan Gingiss, formerly of Humana but now heading Global Social for McDonald’s gave an amazing closing speech about the importance of online customer service. He had this bit of insight into how connected to and expectant of others, especially brands, we’ve become: “There really is no such thing as an offline experience anymore.” Thanks especially to the ubiquity of streaming video online, every interaction we have is just a Facebook Live post away from becoming the next viral sensation—for better or for worse.
Overall, I found The Social Shake-Up to be a worthwhile conference where I could learn, exchange a lot of ideas, be the recipient of a lot of political sympathy, talk to a lot of people who get misty-eyed reminiscing about the unions their parents or grandparents belonged to, and even have a few conversations with people about how auto workers, especially those who work in non-union factories in the south or for suppliers, are being treated today.