Every region with a strong social media community has a great conference that serves that area. The Hawaiian Islands are no different, with Next Level Hawaii set to take place next Thursday through Saturday (April 29 – May 1). Conference attendees discuss ROI and presence for businesses (with case studies), how to engage and converse in meaningful ways, as well as best practices and media norms.
As one of the featured speakers, I wanted to learn more about the community I will be speaking with, and asked Next Level Hawaii Founder Kelly Mitchell some questions. Here’s our interview. And yes, I promise, lots of great photos from Oahu.
GL: What’s Next Level Hawaii all about?
KM: Next Level Hawaii is dedicated to giving businesses & non-profits the best resources to take their social media success to the next level. I started this event because I saw the very same problems arise back in the 90’s with the Web Development business. Something new comes along and all of the sudden everyone is an expert.
It’s the same with social media. It meant I had to work hard to get the right people in to give us the best foundation and tools for social media strategy. Choosing the right speakers was one of the most important components in Next Level. Then leverage the opportunity to involve and benefit Hawaii non-profits, businesses and our State. If it’s good for the community, it’s good for everyone.
GL: What will attendees get?
KM: They will learn social media’s importance and ability to generate profits, new customers and broader market awareness. We’ll help the beginners understand how to build an immediate presence on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. that will help you grow their organization’s visibility in the social media world.
We’ll also teach them how to start conversations & engage new customers & contacts to help them grow revenue & achieve marketing objectives. Finally, they’ll get a strong overview of some of the most critical standards, norms and behaviors for social networks so they can be successful in this emerging world.
GL: How has Hawaii’s social media scene grown over the past few years?
KM: Social Media had a bit of a slow start here. Individuals were much quicker to jump into the fray but it wasn’t until last year that it became more mainstream. Tweet-ups are now a regular occurrence. Businesses are a little slower because the waters are more challenging to navigate and incorporate into strategy and branding. Make a mistake and it can take you a while to unravel or you could miss a big opportunity.
Choosing the right person or people to manage the social media process for businesses and politicians can influence directly how high you fly or how low you sink. Many who are still learning themselves are now consulting.
GL: How do the different islands vary in their usage?
KM: Gosh, that’s a really good question. Oahu is the most populated so our highest concentration is here. I use social media to network with other Hawaii real estate people which was difficult to do in the past. It has erased many boundaries for us.
The separation of water means plane ride to connect with another human you don’t know. Social Media has erased the water and now we have friends from all the islands who we have met IRL because of social media. We supported each other during the tsunami and were able to get information back and forth much more efficiently. It’s also brought our community closer together in many ways. Our only hinderance is the few who want to be Chief. ;) Chiefs haven’t been in existence since the late 1800’s, but no ones told them.
GL: Has Hawaii’s relationship changed with the continental 48 as a result of social?
KM: The tsunami event was probably the best example of how it has changed our relationship. Many here reported a significant increase in followers because they felt the need to keep the community in the loop. It interested people on the mainland and we started getting reports that our tweets were more current than CNN.
Our remote location made it difficult to connect with people we didn’t know and broaden our horizons. Social media has completely leveled the playing field for us. I have bands and bands of friends around the US and Europe now that I visit or that visit me here. Many of the people who have supported me on this venture with Next Level came because of a mainland connection that originated in Social Media. People are also doing business across the country and making contacts before they get.
GL: What’s your favorite non business social media activity?
KM: I love connecting with people who share common interests and are positive. I have a blog unrelated to Real Estate that allows me to discuss my social media interests as well as others in a protected environment.
GL: What’s your favorite nonprofit use?
KM: My favorite non-profit use is the having the ability to give to a cause I support with the click of a finger. Inviting non-profits from Hawaii to come to this event. They’ve been the hardest hit by challenging economic times. They have the most to gain through the social media realm.