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.
David 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. Itâ€™s worth outlining the topic of each speakerâ€™s session to give you an idea:
- When advertising on your TV is becoming interactive – FrÃ©dÃ©ric VaulprÃ©, Orange.
- Broadcast your brand: optimizing online advertising â€“ Laurent Cordier, Google.
- Building ecommerce with Nike â€“ Rune Solvsteen, Nike.
- Wooing customers by helping them to learn â€“ Gregor Gimmy, Sclipo.
- Innovative communication in a B2B environment â€“ Marcel Baron, IBM.
- Blogging in a multinational organization â€“ Kerry Bridge, Dell.
- The media value chain â€“ Christian Kunz, eBay.
- eCRM at the tipping point â€“ Beverly Smet, Across.
- Case study on social media implementation â€“ Keith Childs, GM Europe (and you can hear Keith and I in conversation in FIR #401 podcast).
- Engagement mapping: beyond the last ad standard â€“ 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 Bridgeâ€™s session about Dellâ€™s experiences online with corporate blogging in particular.
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.
I think the event was worthwhile and, from first reactions Iâ€™ve heard from participant feedback, others think so too.
For me, the primary three takeaways are these:
- As with every conference of its type that Iâ€™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.
- Reading about whatâ€™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.
- Hearing first hand what others have experienced which includes their successes and their failures is the most credible and trusted means of learning.