Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Social Media RipOff

I hereby declare this the biggest social media conference ripoff ever. Ok, maybe not ever. But I don't waste my time researching bogus social media conferences (and you shouldn't either). So there.

$1,000. One day. No confirmed attendee list. I don't see any one-on-one time...AND they're promising you you can learn "best practices." Which you can learn here, here, or here. And many, many other places.

The truth is "best practices" of anything are going to be fairly basic--don't spam, don't overuse the hashtag, etc. You can't talk about best practices of the higher level stuff: crafting a campaign or talking to your specific audience, because there are too many variables. You have to be, at a minimum, familiar with the basics to get anything out of a panel or conference.

Guys, panels are hard. As someone who's been on them and listened to them, it's rare that I come out of a panel discussion with much more than one or two insights to ruminate on (which is usually worth it, actually).

This is because you've got 3 - 5 people, all with different agendas, none of whom want to give too much away, plus an agenda-ed moderator, PLUS a crowd that runs the gamut from someone who knows a lot about the topic to those who just heard about it. And, worse, those who just heard about it who think they're in a tutorial on, say, best practices of social media.

This last group is, unfortunately, the most likely to get suckered in to paying a GRAND to go listen to the head of McDonald's talk about their Twitter strategy. Because obviously what works for them, what's even FEASIBLE for them, should be on your radar, too? No.

Here's the thing about panels and conferences: you have to be really well versed in the topic long before you go there. Ideally, you should have dabbled a little in it, too, so you know what the glitches are for your specific situation. That's why we encourage so much research into agents and publishing before just showing up at a writer's conference thinking you'll get an agent or a book deal. If you don't know what you don't know, how are you going to glean the information that will help answer those questions?

For all of you who've walked out of a panel or a whole conference feeling like you just listened to people talk about totally company specific, personally inapplicable things, that's what happened to you.

So as for these social media conferences? Put your cash into a reputable freelancer who works in your industry and can speak to you particular strategy.

Have you been to a conference before? Did you leave filling fulfilled and knowledgeable or confused and downtrodden?


  1. That conf seems very corporate and icky-like. I think I've learned more about social media just by using it, than any course or panel could teach.
    I've been to two writing conferences (for decidedly less than $1000), and left both feeling inspired and fulfilled, as well as more educated and prepared. It was, as you said, after years of writing, researching, and essentially getting a virtual degree in publishing. Honestly, I would not have been as prepared for the conference scene if I had not had such a strong social media background (haha).