Social media takeaways from Barcelona

Barcelona in late November: a colder place than I expected it to be when I arrived last Wednesday, my first visit since 2006 to this Spanish city on the Mediterranean coast.

The climate might have been cold but the buzz was hot at the New Media in Marketing and Communications Strategy conference on November 26 and 27, where 45 or so marketers and tech types from across Europe gathered to mix and match (in a manner of speaking) knowledge and experiences surrounding communication, engagement and social media.

It was a well planned and organized event.

iconguysbarcelonaDavid Lanigan and Niall Doorley, the two principals of Icon Events International (pictured with me in the middle: David on the left, Niall on the right), together with their skilled event team, put on a really memorable event combining business (the conference itself in a 5-star venue) with pleasure (dinner in a beautiful old hillside mansion overlooking Barcelona).

More than anything, though, David and Niall were able to attract a first-class and compelling range of speakers who did not disappoint. It’s worth outlining the topic of each speaker’s session to give you an idea:

  • When advertising on your TV is becoming interactive – Frédéric Vaulpré, Orange.
  • Broadcast your brand: optimizing online advertising – Laurent Cordier, Google.
  • Building ecommerce with Nike – Rune Solvsteen, Nike.
  • Wooing customers by helping them to learn – Gregor Gimmy, Sclipo.
  • Innovative communication in a B2B environment – Marcel Baron, IBM.
  • Blogging in a multinational organization – Kerry Bridge, Dell.
  • The media value chain – Christian Kunz, eBay.
  • eCRM at the tipping point – Beverly Smet, Across.
  • Case study on social media implementation – Keith Childs, GM Europe (and you can hear Keith and I in conversation in FIR #401 podcast).
  • Engagement mapping: beyond the last ad standard – Ciaran McConaghey, Microsoft.

As chairman of the conference, my job was to knit together the individual elements that made up the overall event and hopefully stimulate dialogue between everyone.

Get conversations going, in other words.

That definitely happened during much of the event, markedly so during Kerry Bridge’s session about Dell’s experiences online with corporate blogging in particular.

Prior to the event I’d set up a hashtag which anyone using Twitter could use in order for anyone else to more easily track relevant commentary. The hashtag is #socialbarcelona.

As it turned out, hardly anyone except me took part in my experiment by using it. I twittered during each presentation session; you can see the flow of comments in #socialbarcelona which might give you a sense of some of the atmosphere.

Still, if nothing else, talk about Twitter has prompted some conference attendees to join up and see what the fuss is all about. (Why not visit them and say hello?)

At least one participant did blog about the two days, with some pretty good commentary, here as well in Romanian (I guess it’s good!).

I think the event was worthwhile and, from first reactions I’ve heard from participant feedback, others think so too.

For me, the primary three takeaways are these:

  1. As with every conference of its type that I’ve been part of during the past two years, the hunger for understanding why social media is worth paying attention to is as strong as ever. We still have a long way to go in reaching that broad understanding.
  2. Reading about what’s going on in business with social media is fine, but nothing beats physically gathering with others to talk face-to-face that helps you put relevance to what you see and hear.
  3. Hearing first hand what others have experienced which includes their successes and their failures is the most credible and trusted means of learning.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Bryan Person

    Neville: Interesting that you were essentially the only person Twittering about the event, or at least the only one using the #SocialBarcelona hashtag. Any guesses for why that is? Is it that most of the attendees aren't on Twitter (maybe they're newcomers to social media, in general?), that they're not in the habit of liveblogging or livetweeting, that they don't typically make use of the hashtags?

    In any case, looks like a great event. Any chance the presentations will be pulished online somewhere? I'd like to listen in/view some of them.

    Bryan Person | @BryanPerson

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