It’s been a week since the first Social India conference (held on the 12th – 13th November 2011 @ Bangalore ) concluded and I am pretty late in writing my thoughts on this. So, I will not bother with what happened at the conference. For that, I suggest you read the awesome summaries penned down by fellow participants & bloggers here:
Overall, it was a very nice experience for me and I look forward to the next one. I really met some nice people in person, some great fellows online and hope to continue interacting with them. What I am sharing here is 5 key takeaways from the Social India conference and few suggestions for the next one
- Every organization (or for that matter, even individuals), regardless of size, nature, scope, location etc can make use of Social Media. This is aptly demonstrated by the fact that AkshayPatra, a NGO which enables hunger free education to 1.3 million children in India, was the organization behind the event. They did a superb job of lining up great speakers, logistics, venue and AWESOME food. The fact today is that Social Media can’t be ignored and just as internet/e-commerce changed things for good a decade & half ago, Social Media is doing it now.
- Organizations need to go beyond just using facebook/twitter to effectively use Social Media. True listening, humanized approach, conversations & engagement with stakeholders is what makes an organization social — Not many organizations realize that there is a difference between using Social Media & being a Socially enabled organization.
- We are still in early days of Social Media and no one has clue to where this will lead to. However the best way is to be part of the journey rather than be a bystander and watch the world go by. In most organizations (which later became showcase case studies of Social) the journey started almost by accident and not necessarily by design. Someone then picked that experiment and nurtured it, make it legitimate and brought it to business center stage. We are still in the education & awareness phase of our Social Media journey and this I say because almost all speakers had a 101/why Social Media is important component part of their talks and almost all had case studies on facebook campaigns etc. None actually pushed the boundary and had really thought provoking stuff to talk about.
- Social Media RoI is still a hazy & murky area with the jury still out on how best to measure it or what to do next with the 2 million fans you have on your facebook page. There are several theories out there on what to measure, how to measure, what to report, what to watch for etc but all these are still fuzzy with little acceptance from the bean counters existing on organizations
- There is a HUGE disconnect between Social Media initiatives of an organization for their external needs & how they use it internally and integrate it with rest of the organization. This is also evident by the fact that almost none of the speakers touched upon the finer aspects of usage of Social media within the organization and examples of these. Even integration of Social Media initiatives with other internal business processes, systems etc is something that organizations are not thinking of as yet. I am sure in years to come that will be the #1 driving force.
Now coming to suggestions for next year conference:
- We had a good mix of local, national & international speakers. Please do continue that part. Maybe include the participants in suggesting the topics for sessions and the speakers can pick those topics.
- Can we have a mix of user generated sessions — a.l.a unconference sessions. Say breakout sessions for 1.5 hours after lunch each day where participants themselves can come up with sessions & be the speakers etc.
- Do have more speakers, handling Social Media within corporates, who can share their experience of what it takes to implement social Media initiatives, can speak of their relationships with Digital media agencies, what they expect from agencies, where do the agencies fall short, How they handle RoI, what questions get asked to them internally. Basically, stories from people implementing Social Media within organizations. (We did have Shauna Cassey from nordstorm talk about SM initiatives internally but would be good to get Indian Perspective also)
- Have speakers push the boundary by talking not just 101 but 301 topics also like integration, sophisticated RoI models which go beyond just the case studies by Social Media Agencies of organizations having facebook & twitter campaigns
So, what were your takeways from the Social India conference & what will be your suggestions to make the experience even better next time around?