The 12 Best Social Media Conferences to Attend in 2013
It’s the beginning of a new year, and as our thirst for social media education and learning best practices from other businesses is only on the increase, there’s no better time to start planning to attend the best social media conferences that 2013 has plans to offer us than now. In this annual list (click here for the 2012 best social media conferences list), I am not attempting to make a list that is inclusive of each and every social media conference that exists; on the contrary, as a social media speaker myself I want to hand pick those conferences that are 1) national or global in scale, 2) have a solid track record, and 3) have a speaker’s list that would be appealing to the reader of this blog. Just as I write blog posts to help simplify all things social media, I am hoping this list will provide you an accessible guide to assist you in your planning of attending social media conferences in 2013.
Compared to my list of last year, I did strive to find more events outside of my native United States to speak to the global readership of this blog, and I am happy to announce the addition of new events in Europe as well as Australia – although I still haven’t found one for Canada, yet (if you know of any please make sure you recommend them in the comments below). Some of these conferences have multiple events where they have not announced dates and locations for their conferences to be held later in the year, so make sure you check back here for updates! Do feel free to add other social media conferences that you recommend in the comments. Thanks!
(note: conferences are listed in alphabetical order)
Last year, BlogWell provided their unique event, where 8 great case studies on the best social media programs at large companies are presented to audiences, at 5 locations across the United States. At the time of writing this post, that number has been reduced to 3, making each event all the more valuable to attend. BlogWell is run by SocialMedia.org, a community of social media leaders where members help each other by sharing ideas, best practices, and solutions. BlogWell speakers will present case studies from many well known brands, including confirmed appearances this year from Walgreens and ComEd. Last year presentations included those from well-known companies such as McDonalds, AMD and Farmer’s Insurance, all of whom have been featured on this blog.
Content Marketing World 2013 - September 9 – 12, 2013, Cleveland, Ohio
With the growth of the content marketing industry, there is no better place to learn about topics that include Managing Content Marketing and the ROI of Content Marketing than at Content Marketing World, the brainchild of the “Father of Content Marketing,” Joe Pulizzi, and his Content Marketing institute. CMW is undoubtedly the largest gathering of content marketing professionals in the world. Check out an example of what you might see being presented with Joe’s recent presentation on The State of Content Marketing in 2013:
The Corporate Social Media Summit – June 12 – 13, 2013, New York City, New York
The Corporate Social Media Summit is one of a number of social media summits put on by Useful Social Media. Last year, they held conferences dedicated to social media for customer service as well as B2B corporate social media, but at the time of this post, these dates have not been confirmed yet. The Corporate Social Media Summit lives up to its branding in that 100% of the speakers are corporate representatives. A look at the list of speakers from their upcoming New York event gives you a hint as to the high level of speakers – and attendees – this event attracts: The CMOs from MasterCard, Hertz, Outback Steakhouse, Sears and FootLocker are all scheduled to provide their corporate social media insights.
Similar to content marketing, “inbound marketing” is another buzzword in social media that continues to grow in importance, although as the Google Trends chart below indicates, has not achieved the same publicity that the more generic content marketing term has:
That being said, don’t let that stat mislead you as to the importance of this conference and Inbound Marketing in general, which is the name of the classic book written by the founders of Hubspot. The Inbound Marketing Summit has become one of the leading national conferences for digital and social media marketing professionals and is the one event that brings together enterprise CMOs, business leaders, agency execs and their teams, awesome keynotes, expert panels, plus solutions providers and their tools, all in a dynamic, community-based setting.
iStrategy is unique in this list as they are the only conference that is held on three continents: Europe, North America & Australia. As they put it, their mission is to “spread passion for existing and emerging digital media throughout the world, where each event offers original experiential learning opportunities for participants.” While the concentration is on digital, there is more than enough social media content to keep you satisfied, including an emphasis on “results-oriented digital and social media strategies.” iStrategy has done some pretty unique things at their conferences to build community and encourage participant engagement while creating a uniquely educational event, including this panel that I was fortunate to be part of at their London conference in May of 2012:
Marketing 2.0 Conference - April 15-16, Hamburg, Germany
The Marketing 2.0 Conference appears on this list for the first time and is a European conference aimed at all professionals who think that today’s marketing industry is in need of a change! They have an exciting speaker’s list featuring corporate representatives from not only American companies like Ford (Scott Monty), Hershey’s, and McDonald’s but also global organizations such as World Bank, Lego and Shell. This conference is actually being held for the 9th time and was formerly known as the International Word-of-Mouth-Marketing Conference. If you’re looking to learn about social business from global leaders in an international and intimate environment, this conference would be the one that I recommend you attend. Here’s a glimpse at one of their previous conferences:
NMX presented by BlogWorld - January, 2014, Las Vegas, Nevada
NMX, formerly known as BlogWorld is undoubtedly the largest in scale and longest running social media event on this list. Originally for bloggers, NMX includes enough social media speakers and workshops that it always comes recommended as the default starting point for anyone looking to attend only one social media conference this year. Timing-wise, NMX 2013 just ended as I write this blog post, so look for an update on this blog for when their next event will be, which I estimate will be close to CES in Las Vegas in January of 2014.
The Online Marketing Summit puts education first. Beyond the usual conference and tradeshow set-up, through lab sessions with experts, thought-leadership presentations and peer-to-peer collaboration, OMS’s focus is providing direct, hands-on training workshops that are personalized and one-on-one. A three-day event traditionally about online marketing, there is a healthy enough dose of social media marketing content for those in attendance to deserve a recommendation for those, especially those of you in marketing.
Social Fresh Conference - (East) April 18 – 19, 2013, Tampa Bay, Florida
Social Fresh advertises itself as “The Social Media Conference You’ve Always Hoped For,” and after personally attending their Social Fresh West conference in San Diego last year, I can recommend this conference with confidence for its unique combination of world class speakers, audience participatory events (the audience actually competed in different teams in making a social media campaign that will be implemented by a specific nonprofit), and excellent networking opportunities. In other words, when you attend a Social Fresh conference, you are not only learning about social media but also becoming part of a community for social media professionals. If you’re looking for a combination of “big town speakers” with a “small town feel,” this conference is for you! Check out SocialFresh’s founder, Jason Keath, describing his events in his own words:
Social Media Marketing World – April 7 – 9, 2013, San Diego, California
The newest conference on this list is also the one that comes most recommended if you were only going to attend one social media conference this year, and I’m not just saying that because I’ll be speaking at it: It is presented by the social media authorities at Social Media Examiner and it includes presentations not only by brands but also by many who have appeared on my best social media books, top social media thought leaders, and best social media blogs lists: Guy Kawasaki, Mari Smith, Chris Brogan, Dave Kerpen, Jay Baer… need I say more? I’ll see you there!!!
The Social Media Strategies Summit is a conference that offers a unique combination of keynotes, workshops, case studies, proven strategies, and networking – all revolving around social media and how your business can better leverage it. In the Las Vegas event alone case studies demonstrating analytically proven successes will be presented by top brands – including presentations from CNN, Coca Cola, Boston Celtics, American Airlines, NCAA, SAP, Redbull, Accenture, USA Swimming, Forbes, Wells Fargo and Cisco.
Similar to the global scope of iStrategy, The Social Media World Forum, also known as #SMWF, is another leading social media & digital marketing event that takes place in both Europe (London) and North America (New York City). The event aims to connect marketers, digital brand managers, agencies and social tools and platforms while promoting itself t is a showcase of best practice in social media marketing strategies. Running in London and New York, #SWMF covers many key areas of social media strategy and focuses on how brands are using social media as a marketing tool, delivering the latest tips and techniques, innovation strategies and best practice solutions. The diverse speaker’s list for London include representatives from global organizations such as Sony, SAP, BBC, KLM, Audi and UNICEF.
Now it’s your turn to chime in: Have you been to any of the above events? Which ones are you the biggest fan of? Which invaluable ones did I miss?
A Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencer two years in a row and creator of the AdAge Top 100 Global Marketing Blog Windmill Networking (recently rebranded as Maximize Social Business), Neal is a global social media speaker who also teaches as part of the Rutgers University Mini Social Media MBA Program. As an author, Neal is best known for his definitive book on social media strategy ...
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