SMAZ 2009

Today was the Social Media Arizona event in Tempe, the first of what is planned to be an annual meeting of social media marketers. It was great to hear from so many people with so much expertise in the burgeoning field of SMM – and I’m not going to lie to you, it was even better to hear people say things I’ve been telling people for the last couple of years. No need for me to go into that, that’s just my own, private smile fodder.

But I really want to thank Fred von Graf for putting on this whole show. Looking beyond things like providing a space, lunch, and the minutae that go into an event like this, Fred pulled together a wide variety of speakers who can be called, “social media experts” without having to feel embarrassed about it. And coming from me, that’s something. Usually whenever I hear someone refer to themselves as “social media experts,” I go looking for my rifle. So I was definitely, unquestionably impressed with the variety of expertise displayed on the two stages at the Madcap Theaters.

Perhaps the most useful information I got – though frankly, there was a lot I didn’t know – had to do with analytics for social media. That conversation about ROI always comes up, and there’s just no way I can ever tell a client, “it’s a revolution you have to be part of, but there’s no way to track how much money is in it for you. Sorry!” That’s the baleful consensus among many of the so-called “experts,” and it’s flat out goofy.

Jason Baer’s presentation had the brilliant piece of wisdom that there are many different kinds of returns one can get from social media – but you have to decide which two or three will be the most important for the campaign. You decide what outcome is the most desirable, pick those points to follow and measure, then build a strategy around making that happen. Then, and only then, does one start looking at the tools to use to make that strategy work. I wanted to squeak with glee, but I’m a very manly looking man, so that would have looked very weird.

You see, the number of marketing managers who believe every brand should be on Twitter and Facebook – for no other good reason than everyone’s on Twitter and Facebook – is staggering.

Another eye-opening moment came from Elizabeth Hannan’s presentation on, “Growing Online Communities and Measuring Success.” In it, she refered to reporting solutions you build in your garage. (I know I have the wording on her metaphor wrong, but my phone died early and I couldn’t tweet it to myself.) In other words, creating reporting for a campaign based on several sources, rather than relying on a single reporting mechanism like Radian6. Radian6 can provide a great deal of information, but I know from working with it how rigid its reports can be. Instead, using a mix of Twitter Search, Google Reader, Square Space, customized RSS feeds, etc, one can get a clear picture of what one needs to see, not what a single reporting mechanism is able to show you.

Finally I have to mention Pam Slim, who is probably one of the best presenters I have ever seen. She has confidence in what she is saying and her ability to say it. This translates into a relaxed and enjoyable presentation that made me want to hear more. Having seen more than a few of these kinds of presentations, I know how rare that is.

Beyond that, she had great advice on personalizing a brand, something many companies seem incapable of doing, and in some cases have no interest in doing. I have often ranted about marketers who go to social networks posting nothing but, “buy my product now!” four times a day. Sometimes they don’t even change the text from one post to the next. This obviously doesn’t work.

Instead, allowing individuals to be individuals garners trust with the people reading these posts. Her advice was to add “spice” to social media posts, the kind that comes from each individual. Some might have a dry sense of humor, some might have harrowing stories to share. Whatever that “spice” is, it makes these communications more real, more human.

I only left SMAZ a short while ago, so frankly my head is still swimming with everything I learnede. I will definitely plan on attending next year’s event. I will also update this post with slide presentations and videos once they are available.


  1. Thank you for attending! It was amazing to see the level of interaction and sharing today. The speakers were indeed experts as much as anyone can be in this arena, and I was honored they chose to participate. Keep in mind that nobody that made this event happen from the speakers, volunteers to myself made anything off of this event, all proceeds are going to two local non-profits, see the site for more details… We should be able to get the slides up shortly and the video will follow, since they were all shot professionally thanks to Metro Studios and Paradox Productions (both contributed without pay).

    OK off to decompress after the day.

    Thanks again!

  2. E – so great to see you at SMAZ, and serious thanks for the nice words about my presentation. I know how much you know, so if you liked it, I consider it a big success. The whole event was super solid. Looking forward to the next one.

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