One of the common complaints of social media conferences- among the more experienced social media communicators, at least- is that most events leave us wanting. Sessions are too basic, we say. Where are the case studies? Where is the advanced learning among more experienced peers?
The truth, is, you can find advanced, focused learning if you look hard enough. And if it’s not there, the people you can learn from usually are, and you can create your own impromptu sessions (something that is common at PodCamp, for example, thanks to the “Law of Two Feet”).
There are also more advanced learning events, if you know where to look for them. Since 2006, I have been attending events organized by the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR). Their annual symposium is indisputably one of those events you might classify as a “master class” in social media versus a “Social Media 101.”
Among the topics and learnings in this year’s symposium:
Adoption Trends: Data backs up the social media trends, even those we think are common sense or expected results. For example, the UMass Dartmouth study on social media adoption, presented by Nora Ganim Barnes, juxtaposed the widely-discussed stagnation in Fortune 500 social media adoption (due to saturation perhaps?), with the increased blogging but also bigger gaps in non-adoption of social media in the Inc 500 (perhaps due to list turnover?). Also discussed in this study are large non-profits and academic institutions, each of which have high social media adoption across the board and especially compared to businesses, but also mentioned (to my concern) the lack of program measurement among all comers.
Just in the first presentation, lots of data laying out the landscape for client or constituent groups, and the opportunities to improve or refine programs based on the lagging factors.
Case Studies in Social Change: On Day One, Health Justice CT (Connecticut) representatives talked in concrete terms about the challenges in reaching an audience that is still mistrustful of social media, while on Day 2, Paull Young of Charity:water showed off some of the innovative social fundraising techniques they have been employing with success.
Conclaves and Standards: Measurement maven Katie Paine reported on a measurement standards conclave held earlier this autumn among several organizations and companies. Is there a social media measurement standard? Not yet, and maybe not soon, but that people are discussing it is progress, if only it means more organizations are serious about measurement. Personally, I’m not certain one measurement “size” fits all, but I still feel it’s important.
Stopping there short-changes the many other presenters at the two-day symposium, but you can find more at http://sncr.org.
I also noted that the symposium took place at the same time as Blogworld LA. Not that there weren’t good, sophisticated sessions there (I know there were), but the idea that social media events lack continued substance is far from truth.