It is often said that we hear what we want to hear. The same could be said for experiences too, they often turn out the way we expect them to.
It might seem early in this article for me to be patting myself on the back, but just go with me on this. I am an optimistic and passionate person, so my decision to impulsively attend Social Media Marketing World in San Diego last week carried one expectation- great things.
Naturally (thank you optimism) the event delivered.
Yet, this didn’t seem to be the same for everyone. Where I was impressed by the event and what I got out of it there seemed to be a few (not many though) negative comments flying around. The surprising bit was most of those negative comments were contradictory and without logic – which makes me believe they were just invented excuses.
For example, one moment I am being told that it’s important to attend so you can meet the people who you have connected with online. The next day the same person arrives at the conclusion that meeting people in real life hadn’t added any value to the existing relationship (had someone upset them or looked different IRL?)
Isn’t that ironic?
So when this happened, I was actually starting to think people were trying to convince themselves not to attend the event in the future. Or maybe Social Media Marketing World was so good that they felt compelled to unleash some tall poppy syndrome on the event?
I like to challenge myself; so as the optimistic, positive guy I am (two back pats already!) I thought I might try to play along and as Jay Baer mentioned on the closing session, hug the haters by giving them 10 REAL reasons not to go to Social Media Marketing World.
— Jay Baer (@jaybaer) April 1, 2015
1. YOU’LL NEED TO FORGET YOUR PRECONCEIVED IDEAS ABOUT THE USA
I have always felt some fondness for the US – a country with a great culture and full of wonderful history – and I have also had many great dealings with Americans.
Unfortunately it doesn’t seem everyone feels this way. The world, sadly, is often full of envy and negativity where we criticize others without much logic.
Many times I’ve heard the comments that Americans know nothing about the rest of the World, and only care about their own country and culture.
Newsflash… the optimistic guy wins again. All the negativity I have heard about the US was A TON OF BS!
During my stay in the US, not only were people interested in knowing where my home country is but many of them have also been there and were curious to know more about my origin.
And I’m not just talking about the well travelled types at the conference either, but everyone from the hotel valets, Uber drivers, waitresses, barmen, policemen… pretty much you name it, they all wanted to engage in conversation with me and find out my origin and most of them had some knowledge of it.
Coming back to the conference, this openness and global awareness was not only present during idle conversations. The event itself was organised to keep in mind the differences of the World whilst also making them a point of interest.
- Part of the networking activities on the opening night involved a Bingo-type game where one of the boxes required finding people from other nationalities.
- There were constant mentions to people from other countries, especially on the opening session.
- One of the Table Topics during the lunch breaks was for multilingual businesses.
— Norma Ibarra (@LaPir0) March 27, 2015
Do you still think these people don’t care about the rest of the World?
However, if you are one of those negative types and prefer to keep your preconceived BS ideas about the Americans and their lack of interest in the World, you better not go to Social Media Marketing World.
2. SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING WORLD MAY MAKE YOU LOSE YOUR VOICE
On Wednesday morning, the first day of the event, I woke up with no voice!
Damn it, how was I supposed to meet people and network effectively?
I initially thought it was caused by jetlag but soon realised the day before was quite busy.
To sum it up: I had lunch with Emeric and Kate, then in the early afternoon went to a birthday party where I met Jon and his wife Lisa, Jenny, Tyler, Mike, Josh, Heidi, Chris, Ian, Andrew, John, Angela, Heather, Martin… Later I went for dinner with some new Aussie friends: Yvonne, Helena, Phil, John; to close the evening I went to pre-event drinks at the hotel bar where I met: Donna, Sue, Lisa, Phil, Mike, Natchi, Loren, Despina…
(Insert deep breath – THIS WAS JUST TUESDAY!)
There was so much great conversation that lead to so many great ideas and work opportunities. I did not stop talking the whole day.
No wonder I lost my voice with all that talking, but it was worth it! I had to find a way to get my voice back, there were three more days to go and so many people I couldn’t not talk to.
On Wednesday morning, after a fantastic breakfast with more people (where more job opportunities and ideas came up) I went searching for a pharmacy with the strongest lozenges that the US could offer me.
— Peter Freeman (@peterfreeman) March 25, 2015
They helped, and I managed to talk to many more people during the remainder of the conference. Although I am surprised I didn’t get the nickname of Darth Vader!
Funnily enough, at the closing session I found I was not the only one whose voice had been affected: it turned out Mike Stelzner himself and many others had lost their voices too.
So, if you really care about your voice and don’t want to spend money on lozenges, best you skip Social Media Marketing World. You won’t meet lots of people and get so many opportunities, but hey: your vocal chords will thank you.
3. YOU’LL NEED TO CATCH UP ON WORK
As optimistic as I am I never set the expectation that I will miraculously become the type of person who likes working during flights or at the airport. My brain is active with work for too many hours during the day, so during these times I like to relax. However this time I made an exception. On the last night, before going to sleep, I decided to write a few lists of things I got out of the event:
- People I’ve met.
- Ideas for my business.
- Learnings from the sessions.
- Collaboration opportunities.
To give a bit of an indication of exactly what I got out of Social Media Marketing World – none of the lists fit on a single page of MS Word. There was so much to do and some of the people I had met were already sending me emails and tweets and connecting on Facebook. I couldn’t let all these great opportunities cool down, I needed to strike while the keyboard was hot!
So here I am at Los Angeles International Airport, waiting for my flight and writing this article while my phone doesn’t stop buzzing with new notifications from all those great people – I’m hoping to get as much done as I can.
Yep, attending Social Media Marketing World will give you a boost of ideas but you will need to be prepared to do some extra work. I understand some people may prefer to stay in their comfort zone and not increase their current level of work and revenue: if you are one of these, do not attend Social Media Marketing World.
4. WHO WANTS TO TRAVEL ACROSS THE WORLD ANYWAY?
You know the Internet? You can access all the info you need there, so why bother traveling?
Surely there is no point paying for the event, accommodation, flights and much more when you can learn all those things reading the speaker’s blogs?
Who cares about meeting all those speakers and learning from them in person? Who cares about getting new contacts that could lead to new business opportunities? Who cares about the extra energy you get from seeing what other industry peeps are doing?
— Pam Moore (@PamMktgNut) March 27, 2015
Yeah, I thought so!
I must admit there were a few sessions where I didn’t learn much new but even in those, the information I already knew was reinforced and I enjoyed hearing it from someone else.
Going to Social Media Marketing World is not just about the learning. In fact, I would say that’s only one third of the whole purpose. The other two being: networking through meeting new people and getting new ideas and so much inspiration.
— SocialMediaExaminer (@SMExaminer) March 27, 2015
These are things you absolutely cannot do by reading a blog. Yes, you can network online and get some ideas from reading but it happens at a much faster rate and with less limitations at an event like Social Media Marketing World.
But hey, the optimist in me tells me that perhaps your business is already well organised and you don’t need any more ideas or contacts. Or maybe you are a bookworm and only interested in reading. If you are confident you know EVERYTHING about social media, and don’t need to grow your business then don’t bother wasting your money going to Social Media Marketing World.
5. YOU MAY STOP IDOLIZING SOME OF THE TOP GUYS
One of the reasons why many people go to Social Media Marketing World is to meet some of the top guys in person and get a selfie with them.
Getting a selfie with the likes of Mari Smith or Mike Stelzner and expect to get new business out of it is not a good strategy. But wanting to be close to people we admire is normal human behavior that could give you some a boost of energy to keep working – at least for a few days.
Furthermore, selfies at Social Media Marketing World are underrated, and most of the time asking for one will turn into a conversation around a common interest, with some of these top guys asking you questions about what you do! Look how my friend Loren’s selfie with Guy Kawasaki ended up being a whole interview!
During those brief chats you will discover “the top guys” are normal people like you and me, with their ups and downs, likes and dislikes, and with their stories of success and failure.
You should hear Chris Brogan’s hilarious story about blueberry beer.
Contrary to what many believe, none of them are semi-Gods gifted by the universe with super-powers that have allowed them to become famous in this industry. They are simply regular people who have worked hard.
Talking with them and hearing their feelings and emotions will make you resonate with them (we are all human, after all) and believe you can also make it to the top.
But, if you prefer to keep idolizing them not for what they’ve done, but only because of their name; if you prefer to keep seeing them as rock stars and perhaps have posters of them in your bedroom… then better not to go to Social Media Marketing World.
(If you really do have their pictures on your wall this could be classified as mildly creepy!)
6. YOU DON’T WANT TO CHANGE YOUR STRATEGY
Following blogs is a great way to learn and get ideas about what is going on in the industry. But in the end blogs are just words on a screen and even if you call for comments, blogs are normally a one way form of communication – from the blogger to the reader.
Meeting people in person is completely different to just reading their blogs and conversations and often involves more than one person telling their personal stories about what works well for them, what doesn’t, how they do things, what they would like to do etc.
As I said in point 2 of this article, if there’s something that Social Media Marketing World offers it’s A LOT of conversations.
Some of these conversations are impromptu and happen anytime anywhere with random people. Other times they are organised by Social Media Examiner in the form of Table Topics or Interests areas. Then, just when you think you don’t have more time for conversation, there are the ambassadors who can help you meet the people you want to meet.
— Debra Eckerling (@WriteOnOnline) March 26, 2015
Going to Social Media Marketing World is like having a brainstorming session with 2,000 people, where 115 of them are allowed to speak in front of an audience, but there are still chances to discuss anything you want. It would be impossible not to get new ideas for your business.
— Pam Moore (@PamMktgNut) March 27, 2015
Be prepared, the new ideas you come across will more than likely mean you need to adapt or change your current strategy. That’s a lot of hassle… who wants that!?
If you prefer not to take risks and keep doing things the way you already are, then you had better not go to Social Media Marketing World, the temptation to change might be too much!
7. YOU COULD SPEND ALL THAT MONEY ELSEWHERE
There is no doubt, attending Social Media Marketing World requires some significant time and financial investment. On top of the event tickets, you’ll also need to add airfares, accommodation, meals, transport etc. Of course, the further away you are travelling from, the bigger these costs get. So, when you make the decision to attend for the first time, you are always concerned – will you get some value from the event or not?
— Ashley Williams (@Ash_Nic_Will) March 24, 2015
In my case that investment was around $4,000. There are a lot of things I could do with that money instead, like taking my family on vacation to Fiji for a week… or buying two lattes in Melbourne!
Instead, I took the risk and decided to go to Social Media Marketing World.
Obviously, it’s still a bit early to calculate the ROI for me from this event, but considering it’s an annual conference, that would mean I need to generate at least $333 per month to break even.
So far (24 hours after the event) I have agreed on services for a value of $2,400 – all of which have come from my networking at Social Media Marketing World.
If I look at the list of contacts, ideas and collaborations I mentioned in point 3, it is hard to believe I won’t get more business from this event.
But hey, maybe I am being optimistic (again), or perhaps it is just luck… who knows? Maybe I won’t make any more money from the event… it is yet to be seen!
However, in all honesty, I didn’t attend the event expecting to make money out of it, but simply to learn and connect with other people. In this regard it was worth every penny.
If you are more pragmatic and need to justify the financial investment, I think it will be easy for you to find a reason to attend.
After all, sometimes you can spend $1 on something and still feel you were robbed, and other times you spend thousands of dollars and think you are not paying enough. Attending Social Media Marketing World was the latter for me (and as you can see on the following tweet, also for others)
— SocialMediaExaminer (@SMExaminer) March 27, 2015
But, you know best, if your business is so good that you don’t need extra opportunities… Fiji is a nice place to visit!
8. SLEEP? WHAT IS THAT YOU SPEAK OF?
If you are expecting a conference that starts at 8am and finds you relaxing from 5pm onwards and in bed early, well… best not go to Social Media Marketing World.
Don’t get me wrong, the whole event is very relaxed, but there is much more to do than simply attend sessions. On Tuesday there were pre-event drinks in the hotel lobby, Wednesday the opening party at the USS Midway, Thursday a social beach party, and Friday, after the event had finished, many people gathered at the hotel bar for more networking drinks.
If you are thinking “I can just go and avoid the social events, that way I can get my all important sleep,” then you can think again. These are not just fun events but are also great networking opportunities where you will make lots of great connections.
Rather than even consider missing these events, you won’t want them to end once you are there. Soon you realise it’s already past midnight and an early morning the next day isn’t even enough to pull you away from conversation… bed can wait!
— Polly Craik (@pollycraik) March 27, 2015
It’s okay though, the next morning you bounce out of bed energized. You look at the table where you left all the business cards you’ve collected, review your photos, remember conversations – you have done so much and there is still a whole day more to come!
If you need your beauty sleep, best not be optimistic. Give Social Media Marketing World a miss and snooze your life away.
9…AND EVEN WHEN YOU TRY TO SLEEP, YOUR BRAIN WON’T LET YOU
Even if you have a great sleeping routine, or if you just go to bed when the bars are closed and there is no other option – something could happen to you.
Not the kind of insomnia that happens when you are overtired, or stressed, or concerned. It’s a positive insomnia, produced when your brain starts thinking about all the things you have learnt, new ideas you have and how they could be applied to your business.
— Viveka von Rosen (@LinkedInExpert) March 27, 2015
After a bit of counting sheep and willing yourself to sleep Twitter calls and you make a comment, or complain about not being able to sleep and you realise, you are not alone. All of the new connections you have made favourite your tweet or reply and you then know, this is a symptom of Social Media Marketing World.
When you wake up you realise that some people had even worse symptoms than you, because while you were sleeping you’ve been tagged, commented on and liked well into the early hours. Yep, it was a busy night on social media!
So… if you like to sleep you won’t want his happening for two or three days, so best you stay away from Social Media Marketing World!
10. YOU MAY NOT BE ABLE TO MEET EVERYONE YOU WANT
The best analogy I could come up with for Social Media Marketing World is that it reminded me very much of my wedding day. It was an event where I spent the entire time chatting to guests but then I went to bed at the end of the night I felt like I hadn’t spoken to everyone.
With over 115 speakers, 2,000 participants, 12 track leaders… you definitely won’t be able to meet everyone you want to at Social Media Marketing World, unless you are super human (not even my optimism leads me to believe this about myself!)
— Carlos Gil (@CarlosGil83) March 28, 2015
You can send tweets like crazy, message via Facebook and then tag on Instagram to try to make sure you get a hold of everyone IRL, but it’s just not possible to meet everyone.
Regardless of missing out on seeing some of the people I had planned to catch up with I still made heaps of great connections. My business is growing as a result and I haven’t even really started pursuing all the leads I got!
But for some people quantity might be more important than quality. So if this is you and you don’t want to be deluded by missing on a few people, maybe give Social Media Marketing World a miss!
So there you have it, my relatively optimistic 10 reasons NOT to go to Social Media Marketing World… if after reading this, you still believe the event is not worth it, what is your excuse? I’m keen to know…