The State of Mashable Media Summit: Part Deux, With Drinking Game

The afternoon sessions began after a lunch of vegetarian and tuna wraps and sushi, with really good cookies, and really long lines for the free Motorola phone.

Ms. Harman, American Red Cross:

My successes in social media are created in moments of unspeakable tragedy. Social media and the American Red Cross connect people who need help.

The American Red Cross belongs to everyone, because we make up the network that allows communities to help each other.

“We are only as strong as the network that we have.” (S: In this room, we are shit out of luck, then).

They do try to have fun, even though they are engaged in serious pursuit of helping people. Trying to bring stodgy organization into 21st century. They want to change the way people respond to tragedy: giving via text to Haiti, for example.

I sat with the speaker at lunch so I know she’s planning something.

Dan Rollman (URDB – Universal Record Database)

The Universal Record Database: a collection of user-generated world records. Like “Most images of Full House’s Uncle Jesse Open in a Web Broswer at Once” (This is a highly contested record).

The founder really likes Guiness book of world records. It’s his passion. The site was born out of 2004 Burning Man: he set up The Playa Book of Records, where people could invent their own world record and they would record it.

The record for “Most Giraffe Tattoos on a Shoulder” is so very very excellent. Close to 4000 records from around the world – all based on love of Guiness world records.

They partner with brands: Most frozen Turkeys Fit in a Ford and Delivered to a Food Bank.

They’re going to try to set a record today. If it involves texting, they are fucked in this room.

Yup, it’s a text challenge of social good world records: they want to set a new recored of the most people in one location to make a charitable donation via text message. Survey says: 220 people. New record!

I tried, but oh well – message failed!

Here’s the blowing-my-mind part: the Mashable COO admitted that AT&T was aware that there was a complete dead zone in the New York Times building – which I could have told them from walking down 41st street and losing calls and Pandora access every damn day.

The New York Times IT department couldn’t do a thing to fix it, and AT&T had sent in representatives to examine the issue, but it was still unresolved for the entire building. So we were stuck with crap wireless, a known issue, in the face of a challenge to send a text message.

I tried. AT&T failed. Poor Red Cross.

Chris Bruzzo, VP Brand Content and Online at Starbucks

A Social Brand Story: once upon a time, with a lot of “Uhhhhhs” and “Ummmm.”

“My job is to help.” (S: Help what, caffeinate me at a higher price point?)

Starbucks’ online presence is practical evidence of how a social brand is building reputation & customer base in new and different ways.

Beginning at the end: “We are connecting directly with our loyal customers who will be driving our future growth.” – Howard Schultz. Global social media strategy is a materal component of Starbucks.

Brand journalism for Starbucks is good storytelling. Just like everyone has a world record inside them, everyone has a story.

Global brand is part of issue based on customer that is already interested in their product. Encourages participation in the product and with the company through 16000 stores and 200000 employees talking about events – like event to trade in paper cup for free reusable cup this past April.

“It ran on tv” gives it some credibility but majority of engagement has been through social media.

Biggest event Starbucks social media accomplished: mySBUX. Suggest ideas for the company, both hyperlocal and global. They want to hear the customer.

Content, great content, is a terrible thing to waste.

Starbucks, let it be said, has mastered the art of generosity-as-promotion. Vote and get coffee. World AIDS day: buy coffee, they donate to Project Red.

“You and Starbucks, it’s bigger than coffee.”

(S: Note: when KFC started Komen buckets of fried chicken for cancer donation, that backfired significantly.)

Using content to create a social experience is key to Starbucks’ brand effort. They were under pressure and needed to reclaim their authority as premium coffee.

(S: the absent word in the entire presentation: profit. This is part of a marketing mechanism. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – but I wish there were questions for the speakers, because I’d love to ask whether they track profit increase along with FacebooknTwitter follower increase.)

Oooh! “Ways to build community in authentic and brand-building way, and turn it into physical behaviors that can drive retail.” (FINALLY).

With Free Pastry Day: more than 1 million people came in to get free pastry, despite obstacles. They had to RSVP, print coupon, and come in during specific hours and buy coffee – and more than 1mm people came in.

“Don’t Outsource Your Voice:” Their point is to emerge from a place of authenticity, that their voice must be consistent and meaningful.

Keynote Conversation with Pete Cashmore, Sanjay Gupta, and KC Estenson.

Most Tweeted moment:

Cashmore: “I learned that Michael Jackson died on Twitter, but I also learned that Justin Bieber died on Twitter.”

Gupta: “Dare to Dream.”

There’s a spectrum of quality, with CNN and brand at top level, then mid level blogs, and low level—but not too much discussion of lowest level.

At CNN, trust and accuracy is important. (S: Snort). Will they go to the end of the content spectrum where speed increases and quality decreases? No.

They should be able to stretch CNN brand in new direction.

(S: I wish they’d discuss their topics and subject of conversation prior to conversation so I’d know what they were talking about. In the beginning it was Three Guys Wildly Rambling and I couldn’t follow it.)

Estenson spent a lot of time name dropping Cashmore and Gupta and their sections of CNN with little substance. So frustrating. Stuff like, “And our medical section is led by experts like Sanjay,” and “With Pete and partnering with Mashable, CNN is able to…” bore me to tears, really.

The most distracting thing about this panel was that Estenson was not wearing socks with his shoes. I couldn’t figure it out. I’d be hearing name dropping and all I could think about was “Huh. Man ankles.”

After this panel, I needed a break. My brain was fried. So I left before the session on Improv Everywhere started, wandered around, thanked the Motorola ladies who handed out phones to everyone, and called Hubby. He was having a very hectic day at work and when I suggested I leave early from the Summit and relieve him of having to leave early from his office to pick up the dudes, he was terribly grateful.

I don’t think I missed much by skipping the last 90 minutes. I know my brain was happy for the break and the fact that my laptop was dead and my cell phone had no wireless service made the prospect of more promotional sessions completely unappealing. I left, and I don’t think I missed much during the last 90 minutes.

Kate Rothwell asked if I’d blog about why I felt frustrated and uncomfortable. I was frustrated because the internet was spotty. I was uncomfortable because I was in a theatre chair.

But what enraged me was that I paid to be spoken to like a potential customer, not as someone interested in learning more about social media. There was no collaboration, and a paltry number of opportunities for audience interaction. I was a captive audience for new products, new promotions, new efforts… to sell me things. The only phrase I heard more than “without further ado” was “we’re really excited to announce that today we’re….”

Moreover, what was the value of my presence there? If this seminar was being live streamed, what’s the value of my being present? What did I pay for? Bagels? Exclusive access? The opportunity to share oxygen? If the majority of the day is going to be spent fighting with the wifi and tapping my notes into a document, it’s not like I’m meeting the person next to me.

I did meet some very cool people at breakfast beforehand, but that was 25 minutes vs. eight hours of presentations of uneven quality. It was not enough to pay $400 to be in the same room as Mashable people. I love Mashable, but not as much anymore. Is my perspective from the event live different from yours at home watching the stream? Not really. I am not needed as a filter if you can access the information directly, and I can’t wade through my email and work on other things on my to-do list when the wifi is so poor.

What could have been done differently? Better. Speakers. With educational aspects to their presentations. If experience is akin to documentation now, give some unique value to the experience that makes it worth both my money and my time AND my physical presence. As it is, this was hours and funds I’m not getting back and I gained far too little for the expense.

If the key to virality is revealing something about yourself by spreading the word, what did I reveal, other than the fact that I was cranky? I can’t say I learned something life shattering. I didn’t have enough wifi to connect and work on ideas that the environment inspired—and usually I have big ol’ crazy ideas at conferences like these. The fact that it wasn’t creatively inspiring says a lot.

It was mostly a self-admiration society. Sadly, that is not the point of social media. I’ve been told time and again by various social media experts that at its heart, social media is a conversation, not a hard sell broadcast. And with few exceptions, this was a day-long broadcast.

And now… WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, I present my conference tradition, The Mashable Summit Drinking Game for 2010!!

First Mashable Summit: 1 sip

Entrepreneurial spirit: 1 sip

“Without further ado”: Find hard object, hit Sarah in head until she passes out.

Driven by original content: 1 sip

Branded content: CHUG

“sticky”: 2 sips

“Seed Strategy:” 2 sips

Monetizations: No drinks for you. You’ll get liver disease if you sip every time.

Contradictory statements about value of web vs. other media, and which one feeds the other: 1 sip

“Content producers”: 1 sip

“Leverage:” go refill your flask

“tv legitimacy”: see above re: contradictory statments, then drink 2 sips

Content and new media: 3 sips

AUTHENTICITY: 1 sip. Barely a sip. Just let the booze touch your lips and tease your liver with cruelty.

Pondering leaving to go home to better internet, pajamas, and free live feed: drink full glass of wine – at home.

“Move the needle”: 3 sips

“This just came out today!”: DRINK! DRINK MORE! Dull the pain of knowing you’re not in an aisle seat and can’t leave!

“Informal meetups in your communities”: 2 sips

“Celebrate social media”: 1 sip

“What’s your hit count like? What are your stats?”: 2 sips*

*Honestly. This is such a flawed measurement, and it’s akin to asking someone what they make in salary.

“Growing a business”: 4 sips

“Approaching retail space”: 2 sips

“We’re a platform, not an application”: 4 sips

After an interview, half the audience leaves: 1 sip.

“core competency”: 2 sips

“trust”: 1 sip

“niche”: 2 sips

Any tweet about relative hotness factor of Pete Cashmore (I am guilty of this): Have a biiiiig drink.

And the key moment to Mashable’s Media Summit 2010 from my point of view, and this is absolutely true:


Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    So, I guess you missed Edward Norton, but doesn’t sound like even that would have made the day worth it.

    I enjoyed reading your very entertaining review of the day, anyway!

  2. 2
    Collette says:

    I don’t have much to say—I’m pretty out of the whole social media thing by choice but man oh man, I am freaking loving these updates.  My love for them is probably in direct negative correlation to how much the Mashable people are cringing at them.  Getting stronger by the minute. ;-)

  3. 3
    kat meyer says:

    Sarah – thank you. aside from being really entertaining, and interesting—this post is very helpful to me – bot has someone coordinating conferences, and someone who goes to a lot of conferences…you hit many nails on their heads.

    What value does my presence as an attendee bring? Maybe you meant this as “what value do i get out of being there as opposed to just following it online,” but the other side of that coin is – what value does an attendee bring to the event? How does their presence enrich the event for everyone (speakers, organizers, other attendees)? Conversation, interaction—there needs to be space for that at conferences. There also needs to be a lot more space and time given to purposeful networking. And, the sales/promo thing—that has to go altogether. Not to say that vendors and others with something to sell shouldn’t be a part of the conversation, but they need to be giving something more than a pitch.

    anyway, you’ve given me much food for thought (did someone say food?) AND what the hell? you paid $400 and didn’t even get to spend quality alone time with Cashmore? That’s messed up.

    you light up my life,

  4. 4
    SB Sarah says:

    @kat – Thank you! That’s high praise up in there. I meant my question both as “what do I get out of being there vs. following online” and “what am I bringing to that event?” My input and curiosity was of negligible interest, as there was extremely little time for interaction or discussion. Even the ‘conversations’ were not based on communicated topics or framed by a set of questions or points of interest. Which of course left the mic open for looong rambly questions that weren’t really questions from those who were chosen from the audience. 

    Conferences like these are prohibitively expensive, and making the stream available live for free was interesting… but diminished the value for attendees in my opinion. Pairing with a corporate sponsor like CNN was good for Mashable, but diminished the value of Mashable in my opinion following this conference. And there are so many more one-day conferences now devoted to specific technical topics, I can’t say that with a few hundred dollars I’d pay to attend this one again. I’ll half-watch it online and go to something else in person.

    @collette and @moviemavengal – glad you’re enjoying the updates. The drinking game is always the most fun to put together! I’m shocked I didn’t hear the word “leverage” more often.

  5. 5
    EbonyMcKenna says:

    Looks like you’ve taken one for the team. Your pain is our gain.

    favourite was: Branded content: CHUG

    I also hate the term ‘monetize’. Why can’t we just say ‘earn’? Oh shoot, that’s probably another CHUG!

  6. 6
    JenD says:

    I go to conferences to be inspired and I’m quick to find a spark to build a bonfire out of. This conference (day care?) sounds like the worst waste of money. It doesn’t sound like there was even any networking time- at a social networking conference that’s a huge waste.

    If I want to read a PR blurb- I have an app for that.

  7. 7
    Ciar Cullen says:

    My biggest question—is Sanjay Gupta hot in person?

  8. 8
    Malle says:

    Thanks for entertaining me! Always good to learn how not to hold an event—especially social media with no interaction!

  9. 9
    Mary Lamb says:

    Oh wow… sorry you had to sit through that.  Are any of your expenses for the conference tax deductable? Might help defray some of the pain….
    And to all the conference organizers out there -please listen!  This should be required reading on what NOT to do.

  10. 10
    Qadesh says:

    I attended a very large technology multi-day conference recently and am a bit amazed at some basic items that are overlooked at these events.  It seems to me if you are talking technology you need to have the means for people to use that technology, namely stable available wi-fi, places to plug-in laptops, and the like.  These are items that should be addressed right off the bat by the planners, and sometimes seems to be completely overlooked.  I’m just amazed by it.

  11. 11
    MaryK says:

    “there was a complete dead zone in the New York Times building”

    Uh Oh, sounds like the beginning of a SyFy movie.  It’s a portal to another dimension!

  12. 12

    This conference (day care?) sounds like the worst waste of money. It doesn’t sound like there was even any networking time- at a social networking conference that’s a huge waste

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