Should We Expect More From Social Media Conferences?

@Kevin | Social

Last week I returned from Blog World Expo and have been sorting out what I thought about the event and social media events in general.

On the one hand I like going to the events on a networking level because I get to meet new people who I would have never run into and establish new relationships on not only a business level but on a friendship one. It is cool to see friends I have met over the years and have a few drinks with them as well. From that angle going to these events and conferences makes it an enjoyable experience.

As a speaker getting my name listed on the site, engaging an audience, and building up a list of speaking events is good for me personally and professionally. I feel like I can share my knowledge and also help myself for further down the road when it comes to speaking opportunities. Personally I know I need the practice and refinement to my public speaking skills, these conferences offer me the opportunity to continue to grow.

The question I need to ask are these first two points enough for me to keep attending these conferences because from a learning point of view I am consistently disappointed. I looked back through my Evernote account and the notes that I took throughout the conference and it just reads like complete disappointment. There is one session that stood out that I attended, so much so that I am going to be interviewing a few of the panelists from it to expand on what they were speaking about.  Past that one session it feels like I am hearing things recycled and rehashed over and over. What frustrates me more than anything the people who are doing it are usually people who I respect and know they have a lot to share but they don’t, instead I hear them say things like:

  • Be Transparent
  • Participate
  • Join the Conversation
  • Be Awesome!

Ten years since the publishing of the Cluetrain Manifesto people in this space should understand those points already. How about you share how as a top Twitter consultant you are helping companies understand how to use the various tools? Even better how about giving a case study? Before you start Comcast Cares and Zappos don’t count as case studies, they’ve been written about in every social media book that has been published in the last year.

Additionally if you are there to speak and plug your book 15,000 times or you are just going to plug your products and your presentation suffers because of it well I would like to personally thank you for pissing away my time.

To me this is a problem. I don’t know if the issue is that these people just don’t want to share how they execute and what they have done? Is it that the conference has a problem figuring out if they are always going to approach social media from a 101 level? (And this isn’t a Blog World Expo only problem, it is much larger than that.) I consider myself knowledgeable in social media, I have been working in it for over five years now but I don’t know everything nor do I pretend to. These conferences and these sessions with well-known experts are a great chance to learn but I feel like they are continually wasted, whether they are at local events or at larger national ones. It makes we want to attend less and less. Additionally when I see new conferences sprout up and see the same speakers I feel talk about the same topic every time or don’t actually share information I am less apt to attend.

Also I think to make matters worse so many people are sycophants that they just continually brownnose popular people in hopes that someday they will need something from then and they will be so benevolent and help. This doesn’t help the industry, it doesn’t help shared knowledge, and it doesn’t help the speakers. It isn’t about telling someone that their presentation “sucked” it is about asking them to share, asking them for examples, and asking them to talk about things that will help move our industry forward not just promote their current project.

You know what I think, more importantly what do you think?