One week after #likeminds

Last friday i attended the inaugral likeminds event in Exeter, where i was also a a panel speaker. It was full of very interesting people and the event itself demonstrated the power and potential of social media tools to bring people together to talk about a common purpose, in this case it was “Social Media ROI”. There were about 200 people who attended and over 560 who watched it live on the internet.

During friday and over the last week the conversation has continued at such a rate on twitter that it got me thinking about the event itself again and has driven me to write this post about. What is quite amazing is the amount of conversation this event generated check out the website for what other people are saying.

On the whole it was a fascinating experience to be part of such a ground breaking event in the South West and in particular for Exeter. Most of the time i hear about or follow innovative events that are happening in London or Birmingham to be honest everywhere else BUT Exeter. So for me on that front it was such a good change not to travel a whole day to get to something and i could still be home in time to read my kids a story at bedtime.

It was great to hear from speakers who had travelled all the way across the pond and then down to good old Devon to speak about Social Media.  Speakers and panelists included:

Trey Pennington, Olivier Blanchard, Daren Forsyth and Maz Nadjm, who were all sharing invaluable experiences and insights. Plus the panelists who were Andrew Davies, Vanessa Warwick, Laura Whitehead, James Barisic, Rick Waghorn, and Matt Waring. A special mention also needs to go to Nick Tadd, who not only took the prize for “coolest person on the day” but who also featured alot in the live twitterfall for having the best haircut. I was even surprised that my shirt was even mentioned on the twitterfall, perhaps a future sponsorship deal could be negotiated for space on my shirt – or perhaps not!!

So what did i get from the day other than meeting great people, some i had never met in any sense of the word, offline or online and some who previously were only ever twitter id’s and only ever shared 140 characters or less of insights and advice on a range of topics not just social media. It was certainly refreshing to have a more free-flowing conversation with real people. For that alone the event rates highly for me.

Now a week on and i start to think more about what value i got personally i start to think more about the next event and how that could be better, bigger, more contextual, more practical, more engaging for attendees. To be honest a bit more “unconference” or “barcamp” like. But that is only my opinion.

During the event there were some interesting views and comments about the event failing to deliver what it promised which was to demonstrate the ROI on social media. I thought this was answered by the very first speaker Trey Pennington, his answer was quite simple “it depends” on what you want to get out of it, what outcomes you are driving. BUT even more i thought some people left with a sour taste in their mouths about the event and for that i think the next one should try and address the self learning and personal responsibility aspect that a “barcamp” for example gives to the attendee.

So it would be great to have a longer day, more sessions, practical learning from people as well as the “keynote” slots which are always valuable and thought-provoking.

We all actually know quite a bit about social media now – the gap for most if not all of us is how can people actually use it. I think the people who attended were interested more in the examples of where, how and what impact it had and was the reason behind some of the negative comments.

On reflection i think we should have had a final slot on the event itself, which was a perfect testimony for social media ROI – Scott Gould posted on how the event took shape and how those who attended which included me all proved social media works – this post could have been a great ending to the event. But would it have been possible to write this before the event. Or even during?

One last thought – We should stop focusing on the tools and technologies that are easy to get stuck into and start to focus on what matters which is relationships, conversations and people. After all without that where would anyone be?

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