Rochester was home to a new conference yesterday. The Social Media Club hosted a group of business professionals at the Memorial Art Gallery for "Social Media Today...and Harvest Tomorrow."
I had the distinct pleasure of being on a panel with Jenny Cisney, Chief Blogger for Kodak (the pics on their blog are outstanding - you'll spend an entire day there, just clicking around); Donna DeClemente, one of our own here at Lip-sticking (she's an online promotions professional, and moderated the panel); and John Marianetti from Martino-Flynn. Our topic was "Corporate Blogging."
I can't really report on the panel - Jenny was fabulous and obviously knows her social media - Kodak is lucky to have her; and John clearly showed that Martino Flynn is ahead of the curve with their blog, blip. I was honored to be on the panel with them, as my experiences with corporations mostly involves my Scratchings and Sniffings blog, sponsored by Purina (as well as contributing to their pet health insurance blog), and my work with the Simon Graduate School of Business, if we can call them a "corporation."
I hope some of my experiences helped the audience understand why blogs and social media should not be ignored, and that yes, they are manageable... but, the real content, the real power, the real benefit of this conference came in three ways: one was from Jeff Hazelett (Kodak), Chris Brogan (really, do I need to tell you who he is?) and...someone else. Someone who made the day the best day of the entire year, for me.
First, let me share just a tidbit of what Jeff said: basically, he told the audience, "If you're not doing social media now...you won't be in business next year." He advises open, honest, authentic conversation. He doesn't tolerate people who spam (especially on twitter - and oh my goodness, twitter has lately become a gigantic spambot, if you ask me!), and he did something else that I'm not sure was planned. He showed everyone that Kodak is NOT dead, and that Kodak is a people-person-public-facing company.
When you hear Jeff Hazelett speak, you hear a real person, talking in every day language, and sharing some stories about his job, his work, his company that are grounded in the people-approach of social media. It creates expectation that Kodak gets it. They get "us."
Besides, he's really funny. I'd drive hours cross country to hear Jeff speak.
After Jeff, Chris Brogan spoke. Here's something others might not note but that really struck me...Chris spoke from notes held in his hand. No powerpoint. No projector behind him. No video. No anything but Chris. OMG! How can anyone get up in front of a crowd at a conference and not use PP???????
Here's how: you know your subject matter well enough, and you scout out the audience ahead of time, so you can speak to them about the topics that matter, relative to the conference you're at. Chris was outstanding. He discussed his background (not in marketing or social media), he mentioned his daughter (who recently attended a Miley Cyrus concert), and he just basically shared some truths about social media that I'm sure the audience was not aware of. Truths like, "you have to do it because it's about the customer, not about the brand." He said, and all of this is paraphrasing as Tom was tweeting it so I did not take notes (my bad), "...I've learned that planning doesn't work. Instead of using a plan, use what I call the OODA loop."
What's that? It's from Alan Webber's book, Rules of Thumb, and it means, "Observe, Orient, Decide, and then Act." I like to use this quote, "Do what you can, where you are, with what you have." Do it now.
I did get one of Chris' books (already had one at home and forgot to bring it for him to sign!), Trust Agents, and Tom and I stood in line at lunch to have it signed, and Chris was so friendly, so personable, he made me feel so important after Tom took our picture together, I . HE made ME feel important because I was asking him to sign his book. He lives and breathes his own advice. "Work on content," he says on his blog, "but focus on relationships."
I like him so much because he echoes much of what I tell you here. It's not about the tool. It's not about you. It's about the customer and it's about the people and if you don't allow the people to rub shoulders with you and your executive team, your employees, your other customers - they will opt for rubbing shoulders with your competitor.
Now...to the VERY BEST PART of being at this conference. One always saves the best for last, right? As I sat on stage answering questions, one woman's hand rose and she looked at me and said, "Yvonne, I'm Mary Baby Steps."
OMG!!!! If you do not know who @Marybabysteps is...get to know her now! She is one of my bestest twitter friends, she is a fantastic writer, and she is a delightful result of my use of social media. Because I was at that conference, I got to meet one of the best twitter folk online. Not someone famous (though I talked with Jeff and Chris and I guess they're pretty famous) but someone precious. Someone who took time to drive in from her hometown (not Rochester) to attend the conference where we could meet F2F! Mary, I have not been so delighted in many weeks!
Truly, she made the year better yesterday. Mary Davis, freelance writer and blogger, proved that social media really is all about being social. Chris said it. Jeff said it. Other speakers said it. But, Mary lived it. Wow! It doesn't get better than that. @marybabysteps you are my heroine. Thank you so much for being there. And, please, let's talk soon. I was devastated that I could not stay...
What else is there to say? Social media is about doing things now, meeting people now, remembering that people are the highest common denominator and if you choose NOT to connect with the people who want to connect with you, they are welcome to write to me...I'll write back. And, I might drive 200 miles to meet them, too.
It's the way business is done today. Socially.