Get Your Social Media Events for $9.99!


When social media was new, conferences were rare special gatherings of early adopters eager to see how to use new tools. People looked forward to their local BarCamp or PodCamp. As the years progressed the novel barcamp, evening networking events and social media conferences became an every day occurrence in major markets. The best ones spilled over on Twitter into hashtag conferences.

Today, with adoption passing its peak, social media conference #hashtags and events trade faster than delivery pizzas on Saturday. There are so many events to meet the crush of information demand.

More is not better, ironically. It’s hard to get a consensus on quality events. In some cases, the event quality offers little more than an excuse to talk about Twitter and Facebook. Again. Get your pizza, faster cheaper, and tastier! For only $9.99!

Some signs that can clue a potential attendee that the event may not offer the robust content they would like. Does the event offer the same topics that get repeated over and over again in online memes? What’s new about this event, how will it take the conversation deeper? Or if it’s a 101 event, what’s the curriculum, what are the takeaways? Does it seem smarmy and hucksterish?


In addition, there’s a perception of an A-List who bring their song and dance to every local con across the country. Not that seeing a renowned speaker isn’t worth it, but what are they talking about? Is it the same old schtick as last year? One wonders if these folks will be speaking in 20 years in dimly lit coffee shops and pubs, headlining small gatherings of Facebook loyalists.

Some quality social media events that have retained their value over the years:

1) SOBCon, curated by the incredible Liz Strauss and Terry Starbucker, is by far the best pure social media event out there. This is where top ranked bloggers and influencers go to school.

2) SxSW, from the name dropping and shoddy crowdsourced content to the exorbitant partying and philandering, everything that’s bad about social media events happens here. It also attracts everyone in the business, making it dollar for dollar the best online business networking experience possible. Just bring your Advil.

3) NewComm Forum, run by the Society of New Communications Research, uses a research-based model to drive content. Led by experienced and often accredited communicators, this event often attracts some of the best of the corporate and nonprofit social media leaders.

In addition, industry specific events like NTC offer great value, too.

What social media events do you like?

Trackbacks on this post are turned off. This post does not seek to generate in-bound links, instead it will hopefully inspire people to consider the ideas discussed in the context of their own efforts.


  • I had the distinct pleasure of being invited to liveblog one of Gaspedal’s “Word of Mouth Super Genius” conferences in NYC over the summer (check out that particular conference here: ) Andy Sernovitz and his crew are great at mixing A-listers with people who are making the most of social media marketing–and who are super-ethical about it too. In fact, Andy usually does a panel discussion on ethics. So I got to hear not just Tony Hsieh and Hugh MacLeod (whose session I liveblogged) but also some folks whose small to medium sized business’s social media experiences/lessons have stuck wtih me. Sometimes, when explaining workable social media to small/medium business owners it helps to have examples that are closer to their daily experience than trying to explain the trajectory of an A-lister. And there’s always a great continuity between what the A-listers are saying and what we hear the smaller businesses doing successfully–far more than what I’ve seen at some other conferences.

  • Good post, Geoff.

    I really like the concept of unGeeked and will report more on that later. I love and respect Terry and Liz, but am not sure I feel the format of their event has changed enough this year that it warrants another trip, especially having participated in their recent Chicago event, because many of the same speakers for the two most recent events are again on their agenda. I’m looking for new, interesting, different. I’m focused on less “social media” crap and more strategic business building, thought sharing, devil’s advocating and tearing ideas apart and rebuilding them opportunities – kind of like what we experience in our super secret you-know-what thingiemabog (shhhhh).

    I’m also interested in specifics like content development, SEO and other nuts and bolts things like that, because those are things I use to help develop marketing strategies for my clients and use to help them build their businesses.

    I am focused on seeking out events where I am the dumbest person in the room (never all that much of a challenge, actually) because hanging around with the same crowd, having the same discussions and singing the same old song is no longer worth my travel dollar or, more importantly, my time.

    Like you, I love Sx and wouldn’t pass that up. But so far, that and unGeeked are the only things on my radar. Can’t wait to hear what others are doing and interested in. And hey, pass the damn pizza, willya?


    • Love that. I want to be the dumbest person in the room. I look forward to Sx and meeting up there!

      • And I must clarify, Geoff. I forgot that I wasn’t “talking” just to you, in private when I responded above. Like you, I don’t think there’s a better business incubator type of event than SOBCon. It is fantastic and focused on business building and a couple of days’ immersion with people who are all really brilliant. And it is wonderful to attend those events and see the gleam in people’s eyes when they really “get it” and learn valuable things to take back and immediately put to use in their businesses. The energy is amazing and the contribution that an event like SOBCon makes to business owners is huge.

        I’m looking for different things now. Personally, all focused on some very tactical things. So I think, that for me, more niche conferences and/or events is where I’ll find that kind of information.

        But for the cost and take away value, SOBCon is definitely hard to beat. Not to mention inspirational – which is hard to say about a lot of conferences.


        PS We were both at SOBCon this last year – you were but a table away – but we didn’t get a chance to meet. Sx, for sure!

  • I have gone to some of the social media club events where I live. They are kind of interesting because most attendees are not in marketing or advertising or media. They tend to be business owners wanting to get an edge. But also often they are people who have drunk so much Kool Aid I am not sure I would event want them as clients. Really hard reprogramming people!

    Thanks for the guidance of conferences that have the reality people when it comes to Social Media. I don’t want someone giving a talk who has a book to push. Or the CEO of network that benefits from the BS Hype. I want a place where people doing real work with real expectations can talk strategy and solutions. I love your take on this ‘problem’!

    I am dying to go to SxSW but as much for the music. And sadly it slightly overlaps with the Miami Winter Music Conference. Sigh.

    • Thanks, Howie. There’s quite a bit of kumbaya, but I think time is an investment, and spending it at quality events makes sense. Based on comments above, I’d include GasPedal in the list.

  • Geoff,

    Your comments are unfair when it comes to local DC events. Sweets and Tweets showcases DC-based (or related) thought leader/entrepreneurs talking about topics ranging from crowdsourcing to Gov 2.0. My speakers have included Anil Dash and Tom Peters. The series has drawn crowds of over 100. Tickets are usually $10 – 20. Free cupcakes are a signature part of the event and for the event producer, moi, they are expensive! Plus it takes a LOT of time and effort to organize and promote an event. Mine is one of the few in DC that offers an intimate venue for real discussion about the practicalities of using social media for communications and marketing. Like a Q&A at a conference but you get to eat awesome cupcakes too. Not bad for ten bucks. The final one of 2010 is Dec. 7th – I hope some of your many fans will attend. AddThis Community manager Justin Thorp will talk about his new job title, Dir. of Customer Happiness. Deets:

    • I call ’em like I see em. I have never been to Sweets and Tweets, so I can’t speak specifically to your series. I still stand by the generalization.

  • Geoff-
    You ask, what events do we like…Having the opportunity to attend two of the three you mentioned, I would also add Blog Potomac.

    One of the reasons I always walk up and say hello, is because of Blog Potomac. You stood at the door and greeted everyone. That meant a lot.

    Thank you.


    • Thanks, Pat. I was generally pleased with the BlogPotomac events. I am also pleased that they ended when they ended given the amount of events in the marketplace. There wasn’t much more to talk about and stay competitive.

  • I would place Blogworld over SXSW just because there is care put into the sessions instead of it being a popularity contest. SOBCon is always a great experience, agree there :)

    • Thanks for coming by, Chris. Having been to BlogWorld, I definitely stand by my recommendation, but that is an extremely subjective judgment on my part. So I think it’s good you came and offered your two cents, too.

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