A few years ago a very good friend of mine gave me the opportunity to manage the Twitter account of a fairly large business. Given that Twitter was still relatively new and businesses were still working out the details of how the platform could work for them, letting me do this was a pretty big risk for him. Then I read about this conference called TWTRCON in San Francisco, where businesses would be sharing information about exactly this topic. I wasn’t sure about what direction I was going in with this project, but I knew that this would be the place that I would learn.
I wrote a heartfelt letter to ask that I be considered for their Go Standby program, where people could attend for what they could afford to pay. I explained that Twitter had been an incredible outlet for me as I was fighting the foreclosure on my home. I wrote about the people I had met on Twitter that had encouraged me, others who had been through the same thing, and how the resources that I found through shared links changed my life. I wrote about how I had gone from being hopeless and nearly homeless, to someone with a purpose and a community of people to support me.
I added that I hoped to develop my own business model to utilize these resources to help others. The topic of social media for business at that time was still very new. I understood the basic concept but I had NO idea what to expect. I simply knew that I had the professional background and marketing experience to make a business of my own successful.
The brand has recently been changed from TWTRCON to The Realtime Report — to better reflect the scope of how the realtime web is redefining PR, marketing, customer service, and product development. No matter where you are in business — if you are utilizing social media, mobile marketing, or any other platform that works non-stop and in real-time, REALTIME NY 11 is the conference for you.
Three years after that first conference, I’ve created a small business as a virtual marketing assistant — managing social media profiles, maintaining small projects, providing administrative services, and consulting on digital media resources. Am I going to get rich? Probably not. Am I happy? YES. Am I an expert? Nowhere close. Am I doing what I said I would do? Absolutely. I attribute my accomplishment and my continued motivation to The Realtime Report.
I hold this conference to the highest standard and use it as a benchmark for any other event that I even begin to consider attending. When you work for yourself, you must choose professional development wisely and spend your resources on the things that will bring the most value to your business.
Here is what I think you will walk away with:
Big business, small business, freelancers — every group is represented. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about how people at all levels of business are creating new technology, implementing innovative ideas, and utilizing these resources on an every day basis to connect with their clients in a way that matters. It will inspire you to do the same.
Meet incredible people.
So, I waved at MC Hammer at the first conference I went to, and I chit chatted about nothing of value with Martha Stewart’s technical assistant at the second. That was the closest I got to famous people and I am absolutely fine with that. Obviously I did not absorb the greatness that these people had to offer — but that was my fault, not theirs. I was overwhelmed at both the San Francisco and New York conferences by the big business names around me and spent lots of time soaking it all in. I did meet some incredible people who did not intimidate me, including @jpeez & @tonia_ries. The networking opportunity at this event is AMAZING.
The people presenting at this conference are the best of the best from their respective businesses. While some of the technical aspects are beyond what I will ever understand — the presentations on marketing strategy and broader implications of social media on business and commerce are invaluable. It will keep your wheels turning for weeks after the event has ended.
So here’s the question that is asked over and over again in this field: How do you measure ROI? Lots of people will have different answers, depending on their business and how they are utilizing these resources. The return is sometimes measured in number of followers, number of interactions, number of retweets. Translating this into profit is the key to creating value for business. In this conference, you will hear how others translate this for their own businesses and consider how to create value for your own. We’re not all going to be responsible for starting a revolution, but the value in social media is just as diverse as the businesses and people who use it. I learned that and continue to learn that from The Realtime Report.
Hope you will too. The next conference is Realtime NY 11. It is an all day event and will be held on June 6, at BB Kings Times Square in New York City. There are still ways to save on the conference fee. Contact me for more details or visit the website to register.
Disclosure: I currently work as a Community Manager for The Realtime Report. I was not paid to endorse the conference in this blogpost. Amen.