This year at SXSW, we celebrated the 2nd anniversary of the first ever meeting of the Brand Socialites. Two years ago, at my first SXSW ever, I met up with some pretty rad people from some brands that I really respected. I’m not going to bore you with the details – they’re all covered here in the first post of this blog.
What I want to talk about is where we are now.
Last Sunday, thanks to the hard work and planning of Jake from Garmin and Brooks from Southwest and the sponsorship of 4 great companies (Southwest Airlines, H&R Block, Garmin and AMC Theatres), we had our second annual SXSW Brand Social meetup at Takoba in Austin. From the meager beginnings at the Lustre Pearl where 10 met together, we now had close to 100 social media managers, brand strategists, community managers and the like all gathered together for a happy hour filled with war stories, sharing of ideas and rapping (literally).
I wasn’t able to attend last year, but I had a lot of people come up to me who knew why we started this group, thanking me for putting everyone together. I’m not doing this to pat myself on the back.
No, this is about the community.
Our community of a few has grown by 10x since it started. We now have brands from large to small…from uncool to very cool (NASA! LEGO!). The only way that this community has grown to be a vibrant place is because of the wonderful way in which we have learned to share ideas without fear. We’ve learned to respect opinions and even if our competitors are at the table, the people who actually do the work in the world of social and digital know that it’s likely that the person across the table pretty much already knows everything about you.
The truth is that my view of those in social who were actually doing the work was very small. I started by connecting with a few people on Twitter that I really respected. Through them, I connected with others and those people brought others. In the days since our meetup at SXSW, I’ve gotten more requests for access to our Google+ Community than in the entire month prior.
That’s because people see value in knowing the people behind the work. It’s not just about strategy and high-minded thinking. Understanding why people approach social the ways that they do requires you to understand the person who is actually doing the work. That helps to give you context.
Connecting with other Brand Socialites has truly been the most valuable thing that has happened in my career in the past two years. I now have a group of people that I can rely on to share with me honest opinions of my ideas. This is what we do for each other. We don’t pay anyone for it. We don’t have a lot of structure. In a lot of ways, we just DO. Like we just DO with a lot of our tactics.
So, what’s next?
Well, I’m glad you asked. The next step is to keep adding amazing people to our group and start planning our first non-SXSW event. We’re going to need a ton of help. Since this community belongs to all of us, we need volunteers to help organize, plan and speak at the first annual official conference. We’ll be discussing this a lot more in our Google+ Community, but for now, I wanted to get it out there. It’s coming. Likely in Kansas City or Dallas. One of our co-founders, Adam Evers is on point. Reach out to him on G+ or on Twitter @adamevers.
And if you’re reading this and you work for a brand and you’re thinking to yourself, I WANT TO BE A PART OF THIS, please reach out to me and I will make sure you get in.
Thanks again for making this community so awesome. I glean so many insights from so many smart people. I’m so glad I’ve been lucky enough to meet many of you in person. I left SXSW so inspired by the work that you are doing. It made me want to be better in my own job.
So keep it up.