Can You Guess What Social Media Mavens Crave in 2014? (Hint: YOU)

Some weeks ago I walked into the hotel lobby in my conference guise to pick up my name tag. It was in San Diego.

“Hey Zuuuzi!!”

Ian Cleary greeted me from afar.

He is the founder of We knew each other online as he wrote about our tool on his blog several times.

He told me that he was excited about his session and that I could meet his wife as she was somewhere there.

Meeting him face to face felt so much better than talking online. I could see him instead of reading his lines. We had a real conversation.

Expert overload in the picture. From left to right: Mike Gingerich of Tabsite (a smart rival of our company, Antavo), Kim Garst, the inspirator of the internets; me; Jon Loomer, who dares to tell his story and know everything about Facebook Ads; and Ian Cleary who “has an app for that” whatever you need.

Expert overload in the picture. From left to right: Mike Gingerich of Tabsite (a smart rival of our company, Antavo), Kim Garst, the inspirator of the internets; me; Jon Loomer, who dares to tell his story and know everything about Facebook Ads; and Ian Cleary who “has an app for that” whatever you need.

Face To Face Is The Real Social

What if we take out the “media” layer form social media?

No intermediary, no blog, images, podcasts or videos.

*crickets chirp*

This is when you meet face to face. And these were the best experiences of the people I asked.

The Social Media Marketing World conference from Social Media Examiner was the world’s largest event with the most respected experts in the industry.

Were you at the conference?

The people I met would have loved to meet you too. Because they are social too.

So here are the takeaways in their own words.

Meeting Super Smart People

chris-broganChris Brogan – CEO and President at Human Business Works

I really didn’t get to attend any sessions.

I spent a lot of time in the hallway meeting up with super smart people. It was a great job.

Chris repeatedly says how important his community is for him. His session proved it at SMMW!

Linkedin Is Still An Under-rated Goldmine

Neal-SchafferNeal Schaffer – Social Media Author, Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Maximize Social Business

I loved the session where Marriott Rewards, Dell, and Cox Communications talked about the many ways in which they are leveraging LinkedIn. They go far beyond what most companies are doing.

Employee advocacy, social selling, publishing engaging content on your company page – all great opportunities to grow.

LinkedIn is still an under-rated goldmine for those smart enough to leverage the opportunities that exist there.

Learning Through Conversations In The Corridors

Ian-ClearyIan Cleary – CEO of RazorSocial

When I go to conferences such as Social Media Marketing World I go there to meet new people, learn through conversations, catch up with friends, build relationships and business partnerships.

The only time I go to any of the sessions is when I’m supporting a speaker that is a friend. I buy a virtual pass so when I go home I watch all the best sessions in the comfort of my home.

Mike and his team at Social Media Marketing World understand the importance of networking at these events which provides more networking opportunities than any other conference I go to.

So what I got out of Social Media Marketing World?

  • Agreements about business partnerships that will lead to significant revenue opportunities.
  • Learning through conversations in the corridors!
  • Speaking in front of a packed room which helps build my brand and my audience.
  • The company of many friends who also happen to be people I can do business with.

Now that I’m home I’ll go through the sessions and learn what I can from the industry experts!

Ian had a session about social media tools. He summed up the most important takeaways in a blog post.

It was great to meet Ian and his wife, Colette Cleary.

It was great to meet Ian and his wife, Colette Cleary.

Pitch-Free Content You Don’ Want to Miss

Martin-JonesMartin Jones – Social Media & Content Marketing at Cox Communications

I enjoyed the informative sessions, the location, amazing staff, and the pitch-free content.

Above all else, the networking opportunities were phenomenal with some of the best social experts in the world.

This makes #SMMW an event worth returning to, and one you won’t want to miss it in the future.

Martin has written a post about why he thinks SMMW was “one of the best conferences ever”.

Relationships Between Human Beings Make Social Media Work

Lee-OddenLee Odden – CEO and Executive Editor at TopRank Online Marketing

My biggest takeaway from SMMW14 was that social media is still all about people.

As overloaded as we can get with status updates, blogging, commenting, images, video, mobile, social technologies and all the rest – what makes social media work for companies and individuals are the connections and relationships between human beings.

Social networks and platforms can make our jobs easier and help us become more efficient, but there’s no automating your way to social media success.

The better companies get at understanding their communities and interacting with them as people vs. conversions, the more trust, loyalty and revenue will come as a result.

Lee and his team created an ebook of 38 social media tips from experts. Lee talked about the multi-author content creation in his session.

Well Built Sessions And Great Content

Andy-CrestodinaAndy Crestodina – Strategic Director at Orbit Media Studios

One of the best sessions I attended was Lee Odden’s. It started with the big picture of content strategy and then got into the step-by-step process for influencer outreach.

Two of the slides showed the relationship between topics, anchor content and supportive content that is either co-created with influencers or published in other formats, such as guides and videos.

Very simple. Very clever.

It’s not easy to implement a plan like this and probably few of the attendees will try. But it’s a pleasure just to listen to the process explained.

A Large Mastermind Group To See More Clearly

Brian-CarterBrian Carter – CEO, Social Media Speaker, Digital Marketing Consultant at The Carter Group

My best takeaway wasn’t something I learned from a session, but being able to interact with so many peers, clients and potential clients.

It became obvious to me that I need to provide some ongoing training for peers in the areas that our little agency is strongest.

Social Media Marketing World has been the best industry conference in the last two years. Instead of just getting the way PR people or bloggers do social, you get the nitty-gritty of many platforms, both from a messaging and direct marketing standpoint.

Since I don’t currently have a mastermind group, that kind of intense time with SMMW attendees helped me see something much more clearly about one of my markets.

Brian had a hilarious keynote at the end of the event. Unfortunately it’s not online, but here is his 10 minute long standup comedy from last year.

Spontaneous Talks and New Relationships

jillian-vorceJillian Vorce – Chief Hand Shaker at

SMMW attracted some of the brightest and most progressive and creative marketing minds from around the globe.

Tools, platforms and strategies galore, I was fortunate to partake in an impromptu private tutorial with Gideon Shalwick about the capabilities of the video application Videolicious.

Another, more fundamental takeaway was the level of energy and engagement on the part of attendees, speakers and staff. I felt we are a true community.

In a short few days, countless seeds of new relationships were planted, and that is more than worth the price of admission.

Jillian was one of the organizers of the networking opportunities of the conference. This photo was taken at a networking walk at 6 o’clock in the morning.

How To Do Better What I Am Already Doing

Debbie-MillerDebbie Miller – Writer and Social Media Marketing Strategist at Social Hospitality

Some conferences tend to be very beginner-oriented since many attendees are just starting out.

At SMMW I could attend several more advanced sessions and appreciated walking away with takeaways on how to better what I’m already doing and what I already know.

I really enjoyed the sessions on taking blogging to the next level, both in sessions like Michael Hyatt’s which focused more on the content side as well as Andy Crestodina’s that highlighted tips on the analytics side.

Nurturing Connections

Rivka-KawanoRivka Kawano – Marketing Coach and Consultant, Co-Owner at New Media Design Studios

Many of my biggest wins at the conference were from connections I had started nurturing before the conference even started.

Planning ahead is what made the conference a true success for me.

Connecting on social media, planning a get-together before the conference, and knowing my goals were all important.

Rivka is a great connector indeed. She organized a meet-up  before the beginning of the conference and held a Google+ Hangout after the event. In the picture from left to right: Rivka Kawano; Zsuzsi Szabo; Holly Chessman.

Rivka is a great connector indeed. She organized a meet-up before the beginning of the conference and held a Google+ Hangout after the event. In the picture from left to right: Rivka Kawano; Zsuzsi Szabo; Holly Chessman.

The Nudge To Start Podcasting

Joshua-ParkinsonJoshua Parkinson – Founder & CEO at Post Planner

Conferences are more about people than about sessions. I had the best conference ever and I only attended about 5 sessions.

The time spent networking at the hotel bar, lunches and especially evening events made the conference for me. (And it always helps to have a good wingman – like my homie, Emeric Ernoult!)

Donna Moritz’s visual social media session was amazing. Ian Cleary’s social tools session also rocked (especially his HUGE mention of Post Planner!).

But for me personally, the most inspiring session was the podcasting panel with John Lee Dumas and Lewis Howes.

Don’t be surprised if I start a podcast this year. 😉

Josh builds a remote company. He has never met his co-founder in person. He said that working remotely lets you get things done, but he goes to the major conferences every year.

Processing Information Takes Time. Devote Time To Process Information!

Travis-CampbellTravis Campbell – Business Growth Expert at

If you are anything like me, I found there was too much content to consume in the time given for the sessions attended, let alone the ones missed!

As with most things in life and business, execution of ideas separates the winners from non-winners, and it’s important to make room for inspiration and fresh ideas.

Travis listed here his key takeaways. If you read his post you can also get some understanding of the sessions!

Creativity Is The King!

Andrew-FordAndrew Ford – Brand Director at Social Star

“Content is still the King” – in 1996 Bill Gates coined the now famous phrase. Today it is a mantra for all the superstars of social media.

My takeaway from SMMW14 is that creativity is the king.

Mass content with no spark and no freshness just doesn’t cut it anymore.

To be noticed in a noisy world, to quote Michael Hyatt, “you need to access your true creative spirit which can only come from an authentic powerful brand”. Creativity is king!

Andrew backs up what he says with action. Everyone remembers him as he was a … hashtag hero with Christina Canters!

Google+ Might Be The Major Social Network

Chris-KarasiewiczChristian Karasiewicz – CEO at, Founder of FB Marketing University

My greatest takeaway from Social Media Marketing World was how much a role Google+ is going to play moving into 2014.

A lot of people went in thinking Facebook would continue to be the major social network, but the bigger buzz was around people wanting to know more about Google+.

A second takeaway from SMMW is to be sure to network. I met a lot of people I had conversed with online or whose blogs I read. It was great to finally get to meet them in-person.

Most of the individuals were so approachable and friendly!

Social Media People Have A World Vision

amy-hallAmy Hall – Principle Marketer at

The people of social media are some of the most genuine and generous people I’ve ever met.

I think that the people that do social media have a world vision… they think of a broader vision, of a world where everyone is happy, healthy and well fed.

People that do social media are dreamers, and believers in “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.” They are always willing to lend a hand, a smile or a take a selfie. :) It’s like there weren’t any stranger … just friends I hadn’t met in real life.

amy hall

“The people of social media are always willing to lend a hand, a smile or take a selfie.”


I have read some posts that I wanted to include here because I liked their approach.

Let People Know You

Meeting these people was a great experience. And now reading their takeaways made me a bit emotional. My takeaway from theirs is this:

Show the real YOU.

Don’t hide behind your social profiles and post only the best food you eat, your happiest moments and visiting the best places.

I am still on my way to figuring this one out, but there are very good examples.

Chris Brogan posts sweaty, tired-energetic workout selfies. He is a transparent proud freak. (His words.)

Lewis Howes made a huge step when he wrote about being raped as a child. It must have been an enormous work to digest and share.

Face to face meetings, transparency and vulnerability is an asset to build trust.

Meet friends and customers.

Be human.

Be you.

Can You Guess What Social Media Mavens Crave in 2014? (Hint: YOU) by
The following two tabs change content below.

Zsuzsa Kecsmar

Zsuzsa is CMO and co-founder of Antavo, a marketing tool to create sweepstakes, contests and giveaways to Facebook, mobile and web. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn!
Get the latest content first. Unsubscribe any time.
Email address *
* Required Field
  • Ian Cleary

    Hi Zsuzsi, thank you so much for including me. It was great to meet you and I agree, there’s nothing like meeting someone in person. Thanks, Ian

    • Zsuzsa Szabo

      I love this the most about social media. There are real people behind it! 😉

  • Mike Gingerich

    Great times and good memories! Totally enjoyed meeting you Zsuzsi and being able to chat over dinner!

    • Christian Karasiewicz

      Yes! Lots of fun, @mikegingerich:disqus.

      • Zsuzsa Szabo

        It was a great dinner @Mike, thanks @Chistian for organising it!

  • Cindy King

    Thank you for such a detailed wrap up, Zsussi! Happy you got so much out of it. Hope to see you there again next year :)

    • Zsuzsa Szabo

      Cindy, it was the best conference I have ever attended. And it was great to see you, the most international lady from the US!

  • Lee Odden

    Hey Zsuzsi, what a great roundup of SMMW! Thank you for including me and for mentioning the conference eBook we created. Also thank you Andy for such kind words about my presentation. It was awesome to have your positive energy in the front row :)

    • Zsuzsa Szabo

      I thank you Lee for taking part. That book is awesome. I hope to contribute to one in the future after gathering all the human knowledge on lead-gen contests and sweepstakes! Good luck with your long speaking trip. 😉

  • Steve Woodruff

    Nice sum-up, Zsuzsi!

    • Zsuzsa Szabo

      Thanks Steve!

  • Scott Ayres

    Looked like a good event! And so glad I was “there”! 😛

    • Scott Ayres


      • Christian Karasiewicz

        Awesome pic – nice Photoshop work, @scottayres:disqus!

        • Zsuzsa Szabo

          Haha it was great to “see” you here too! 😀

  • Christian Karasiewicz

    Thanks for putting this together Zsuzsi. Great hanging out with you, @mikegingerich:disqus, @iancleary:disqus, and the crew at SMMW.

    • Zsuzsa Szabo

      It was my pleasure Christian!

  • Debbie Miller

    Great recap, Zsuzsa! Love all the quotes and photos.

    • Zsuzsa Szabo

      Thank you Debbie! Andy Andy Crestodina loved that yo loved his session! He told me in email. 😉

  • Sue B. Zimmerman

    Thanks for including my fun Instagram pic w the boys! Search the hasttag #SMMW14 and #InstaGalLive to see more of the same.

    • Zsuzsa Szabo

      Thanks for taking to awesome photos Sue! You inspire me to be brave with capturing what’s happening around!

  • Tracy Stonard

    It was great to meet you at #SMMW14 Zsuzsa, thanks for sharing a great round up of the conference :)

    • Zsuzsa Szabo

      Tracy, it was great to meet you too! I am glad we could *really* talk in the restaurant after meeting many times before. 😉

  • Neal Schaffer

    What an amazing collection of stories and memories Zsuzsi – honored to be part of it and have met you! Next time we meet in Budapest! #promise

    • Zsuzsa Szabo

      Wow, I look forward to make you a guided tour! I have never lived in Budapest, but guided my friends with confidence!

  • Pingback: Can You Guess What Social Media Mavens Crave in...()

  • PhilMershon

    Fantastic write up Zsuzsi. It was wonderful to meet you and I look forward to seeing you next year, I hope.

    • Zsuzsa Szabo

      Oh thank you Phil! We will meet next year!

  • Juan Felix

    Zsuzsi, you managed to write about the essence of the event! Wonderful. It was great to meet you there in person and I have good memories of our conversation on the last day of #smmw14. Hope to see you next year.

    • Zsuzsa Szabo

      Juan, I don’t need to tell, me too… :) Thank so much!

  • Amy Hall

    Wow! I’m so honored to be included in this group! It was so nice to meet you irl after all the time we email and Facebook together. :)

    • Zsuzsa Szabo

      I agree Amy with all my heart :)

  • Donna Moritz

    Great post and thanks for the shout out Josh Parkinson! #SMMW14 was amazing – I too didn’t get to many sessions other than my own and a few of my friends, and the keynotes, but it was amazing and I am enjoying the virtual pass!

    • Zsuzsa Szabo

      Hi Donna, thank you, it was my pleasure! @PhilMershon:disqus talked about you as a great example: attending the event last year and having your own session this year. Sounds great! – and a lot of work.

      • Donna Moritz

        Thanks! Though it is not work when it is fun with such a great room of attendees – we had a fun session – and @PhilMershon:disqus rocks! Quite a few of us were attending last year and speaking this year which is great – including @iancleary:disqus and Kim Garst. Now to catch up on my virtual pass!

        • PhilMershon

          So, I don’t know how I missed the glowing praise from @sociallysorted:disqus and @zsuzsakecsmar:disqus, but thanks! Wonderful times in San Diego and looking forward to more in 2015!!

          • Zsuzsa Kecsmar

            Haha, see, so good that you have found this information now. You can be happy about something that happened months ago!

  • Pocha huntas

    Awesome blog! Now In anticipation of a follow-up ….buy instagram followers