With great anticipation, the first annual Social Capital Conference was held in Ottawa last weekend. The sold-out event gathered 150+ of the region’s top thinkers, social networking professionals, and most enthusiastic social media beginners to discuss issues divided into three streams: fundamental, advanced, and business. I spent all day in the business stream, but I also heard great things from each of the other sessions.
Now onto some of the awesomeness. It truly was a successful event. A great crowd, great conversations, some interesting speakers. The part of the day I enjoyed the most was the 90-minute session of organized-chaos where attendees were encouraged to roam freely between about a dozen facilitated conversations about podcasting, SEO, social coupons, risk management, WordPress, Twitter, community management, and so on.
Best takeaways. First, my conversation with Vivian Cheng, Owner of Blend Creations. She was discussing how she uses social media for her business, and her experience with community buying services (or social coupons). The plan is to interview her for a later post on community buying from a (small) business perspective.
Second was a conversation with @Kmarketing, facilitated by @benkmyers, about SEO. It was less of a conversation, and more of me asking a few questions and trying to absorb all the details and knowledge spilling out. If you want to chat about SEO and analytics, talk to these guys.
Now the Oddities. Before I get into this, I want to be clear that I’m pointing out the challenges in the interest of improving an already great event for next year, not to be insulting. A few logistical snags were the only thing holding this back from being the one of the best conferences I have been to: long lunch lines, running out of food, not enough conference “gift bags.” For some people lunch consisted of a half of an egg salad sandwich and a diet coke; not the best value for a $75 ticket.
This was all minor stuff that the content of the conference helped you forget about, but the one thing that was really a pain point was the lack of WiFi service. Yup, that’s right, it was a social media conference, in the Nation’s Capital, and there was no Wifi. It was so important to the function and optics of the event. I even asked about WiFi service the week before the event, and I was assured it would be there…and it wasn’t – #fail. Also, no tweet wall was used to help people keep track of the conversations: that’s another easy one to fix for next year too -visible tweets is a good option.
Overall, it was a solid conference, and I hope they do it again in 2012, if not sooner. It’s always great to designate at least one day a year to meet some of your “online friends” IRL.