Social Media Week 2013 (SMW13) is on the horizon, and that means that various cities around the globe will be attracting folks like y’all who gather together to learn, schmooze network, and stay on top of the latest and greatest trends in social media marketing.
It’s like fashion week, with comfortable shoes. (We hope. See tip #4.)
Because these sorts of unconferences can be a bit overwhelming from a logistics standpoint, we’ve put together a survival guide to help ensure that your #SMW13 experience is as blister-free and productive as possible.
And so, without further ado:
Meltwater’s #SMW13 SURVIVAL GUIDE
1. Bring your phone and its charger… everywhere.
Not only will this ensure that you can tweet happily and with little provocation, it will allow you to Skype your Mom in for sessions to prove that you do have a real job. Also, someone else will inevitably forget their phone charger, and letting someone use your power is a great way to meet new pals. If you really want to go for it, bring an adapter so that you can help out folks with different kinds of smartphones.
2. Show up early for sessions.
Being in a rush is a bummer, and sometimes sessions fill to capacity before they begin. This blogger missed seeing Elon Musk’s keynote at SXSW last year due to being late to get in line, so take it from me: if you really want to see a session, get there early.
3. Divide and conquer.
If you’re going with a group of work colleagues, look at the sessions together before you travel. Choose who’s going to what, and take digital notes (even if your handwriting is spectacular) so that you can share them with one another. Google Docs works great for this. It’s also helpful if you sum up a few key takeaways from your sessions in those notes.
Yes, you can still wear shoes with sass, but remember: this unconference doesn’t have a central location, and you will be hoofing it around a potentially new city for most the day (another reason to always have your phone: Google Maps).
5. Use your hashtags.
You tweet, therefore you are. The hashtag for the event itself is #SMW13, and you should use it in all your tweets about the event, in addition to any event-specific hashtags. Find out your session hashtags before you get there so that you can join the social conversation without having the awkward moment of having to text your coworker or putting a plea on Facebook.
6. Be strategic about networking.
Research speakers, attendees and parties before you get there so that you can determine whether there are any folks you’d particularly like to meet. If there are, you may get lucky: they might have forgotten their iPhone chargers, and nothing says “Nice to meet you!” at a digital conference like lending a power source.
No, seriously. Walking around, talking and learning all day can be exhausting, and being dehydrated is only going to exacerbate that. Bring a water bottle with you (dump it out before you visit TSA, please) so that you’re not getting cotton mouth just as Jack Dorsey decides to say hello.
8. Snacks: they’re not just for kids.
It’s a good idea to have a plentiful supply of nutrition-in-bar-form in your bag, just in case you need to skip lunch. I usually stock up at SFO’s drastically overpriced but entirely serviceable Napa Farms Market, but of course I’m a staunch farm-to-table eater (and usually on an expense report). For those on a tighter budget, some airlines are still willing to toss unlimited bags of peanuts your way by request…
9. Don’t forget your backpack and map (app) for THE MOST IMPORTANT EVENT ALL WEEK
If you’re in London, go here. If you’re in Chicago, go here. If you’re in other cities, well, you’ll have to decide which event is the most important, but if Dora the Explorer has taught us anything, it’s that you should bring a map. And a backpack, really, because shoulder bags just aren’t good for your posture, and you’ll most assuredly need something to hold your snacks, phone charger and water.
10. Use a social media monitoring tool to listen to the buzz before, during and after the event.
Hey, did we mention we make one of those? If you’re ready to turn social media into social marketing, check out the Meltwater Buzz social media management suite. If you want to take a test drive, go ahead and sign up for a FREE SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING SOFTWARE TRIAL.