I am honored in this episode to interview the one and only Michael Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner, as he talks about the upcoming 2nd Social Media Marketing World in San Diego, California in late March, 2014. Learn what differentiates his social media conference from others.
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welcome to maximize your social actionable advice on how your business can maximize your social media presence. Now the host of Maximize Your Social Social Media Author, speaker, consultant and founder of Maximize Social Business Neal Schaefer. Okay, everybody, this is Neil Shaper. Welcome to another episode of Maximize Your Social. Well, I don't always have special guests in an interview on this show, but today I have a very, very special guest. I've known for quite some time. I've admired for a long time, and we really got to know each other. When I spoke at his first conference Social Media Marketing World and he invited me to be on his podcast Social Media marketing with Mike Stelter, Mike's Delsener, the founder of Socially Examiner. For those you don't know him. For those who may know him before social media, he is the king of white paper. I still meet people who say, You know, I took Mike's white paper course and it changed my life. I'm really happy to have Michael starts here on the next major social podcast today. Thank you, Neil, So much. I'm a regular listener. Thank you very much. Do you want you know for those of you who might not have heard of you, I know how crazy that my sound just give a little introduction to complement what I just said. Yeah, sure. Basically, I run a blogger called Social Media Examiner. We started it back in October 2009 as an experiment. It exploded last year. We had seven and 1/2 1,000,000 people visit the site, and it's just helping people figure out how in the world to make sense out of the crazy jungle of social media. That's awesome. You really stayed true to the tag line, and the visual Brandon is well, so when so many sights try to change, that's awesome, I think. I think everybody still has that challenge, right? Absolutely. So you started with socially Examiner, and I'm a big follower of all the different social media conferences that are out there. I I belong about the regularly. I attend some. I speak it some and always looking for, you know, what's the future of it Now? You began social media marketing world last year in San Diego, California, and I know that you've done these virtual summits success summits before that. Can you tell me you know what made you launch from log Socially, Examiner into the virtual summits into the actual physical social media marketing world? Yeah, it's a great question. Well, back in October of 2009 you know, the world was really trying to figure out social media and we weren't really that well known. But before socially, the Examiner, as you mentioned we did, I had a company called White Paper Source and one of the ways that we funded white paper source was doing online, learning in kind of the form of like a conference, but instead online. And so we kind of cut our teeth and doing these virtual summits where hundreds and even thousands of people would come from all around the world to hear from experts about how to do you know why, paper stuff. And that's kind of how I knew when I started socially, the Examiner was gonna fund social media examiner, which was to carry the same model over to the concept of the world of social media marketing. So it was a natural evolution for us to just keep doing that, and it worked really well and it was great because it was low cost. And, you know, if you remember the economy, pretty much was in bad shape back then. So not nobody was traveling to conferences. So it was like a great alternative, low cost way for people around the world to come together and learn. But, you know, I myself and I'm sure you were doing this to Neil was traveling to just a few conferences a year like Blawg World and marketing props and marketing Sherpa And I just knew there was something special about the physical connection. I mean, don't you agree? I mean, online stuff is awesome, But when you connect with people face to face, that's when things were different and I just always had in the back of my mind while wouldn't it be cool if I could do something like this? Yeah, I think there's definitely, you know, when people asking about the value of going to social media conferences, physical ones, you do have the education. But then you do have the networking and you meet people that you may end up working together with, you mean that end up hiring, they may end up hiring you. Oh, you make friends for life. It's really a magical thing when you bring people together. So I couldn't agree with you more. Yeah, So I just, You know, the reason I went out on a limb and decided to start socially marking world was I was at my friend Joe Pulitzers conference called Contact Marketing World, and I was blown away at how calm he was during this conference. And I'm like, How in the world could you be so relaxed and calm? And he's all I've got this great team behind me and, you know, the light bulbs started going off in my head. Wow, wait a minute. I can have a physical conference and I can have a team behind me, and it just kind of lit my fire underneath me and I spent over a year planning to try to put together the right kind of team so that I could actually still do the online conference and do the physical conference and kind of do it to the level that I wanted to do it at, cause I mean, you know, I've been to a lot of conferences, and I just kind of knew what I preferred and you know. So it was That was a heck of a lot of work. But, you know, it's a lot of people really said they enjoyed it, including herself. Indeed. So how would you, you know, you had been to a lot of conferences when you created the first social media marketing world. How did you plan to differentiate your conference from all the others that are out there? Well, there's two things in particular that I noticed when I went to conferences, especially the bigger ones. It was really hard to actually get people in a room and just network. And I don't know about you, Neal, but I know me. I just I thrive on being able to meet people face to face and actually have conversations and not just like in nightclubs where the music is blaring. And a lot of these other conferences they had their parties, but they're in nightclubs, and you could you just couldn't hear anything, you know, it was impossible to network. And I'm not much of a dancer to be frank and honest. Ha! So I just thought Wow. And I've been telling my friends in the conference in world why Don't you guys build serious, dedicated networking for everyone you know and just watch what happens? And nobody Nobody listened. Nobody did it, And that was one of the real ways that I wanted to differentiate. And the other way was the sessions, and we can talk about that in a minute. But But I don't know. I think that I think the reason why people want to go to conferences, Neil is because well, a lot of times it's they're drawn in because I want to learn something. But I think the real stuff that happens is when you make those kind of connections that could lead to future, you know, collaborations. Or like you said, employees are or just, you know, building deeper relationships with people that you love and respect so that you never know what will happen. Yeah, I know without a doubt. And I must say from attending last year that you know the sessions were great, but some of my favorite moments were in the hallways or in that big you know, the big media room. We have the coffee just, you know, the Networking plaza. We call that the networking closet and Marie Smith sit over there and Kim guards over there and the neck of roses over there. People that I hadn't really met in person before. That we could just sit down, have a cup of coffee, and that was pretty amazing that not only did you have these great speakers, but you provided an environment that made it really, really easy for all of us to network. So I think you were river a successful. Now I'll give you a little secret. I did not make a speaker room by design. One of the things haven't been a speaker myself that a lot of conferences when you give speaker is a speaker room, they retreat to it. And I wanted the speakers because this is a social media conference. I wanted the speakers to actually be accessible, so we didn't actually give them a place to go just for them. Instead, we gave everyone the same place to go, which was this massively big place, you know? And I think that was part of the programming, if you will, that I built into the thing just to make sure that there was actually this great opportunity for people to meet a lot of these presenters and for these presenters to meet a lot of people, that's awesome. And you know, any of you who are not familiar with Mike skeleton or socially examiners, social media, marketing world It's that attention to detail that we probably take for granted that I'm sure that one year planning, I'm sure there are a lot of details like that put into it and so that my experience living in Japan gets me very excited because I think of myself as a attended the detail person as well, so that that's great. So, you know, last year was great. Last year was actually the first time where I spoke about my at that time. Upcoming book Maximize Your Social and Social Media Strategy. Creation was on a Twitter panel this year that, you know socially, the market World number two is happening. San Diego late March. I'm gonna be on a great linked in for corporations panel, together with folks in Oracle, Cox and Marriott talking about you know anything from social selling to employ advocacy Ada best practices and adds really, really excited about that and also doing my own solo speech on another topic. So with what I d'oh seeing that, I'm gonna be there a second year in a row. I always like to try to get to the next level. I always challenge myself to do something better, do something more unique, more valuable. And I know that you probably have the same mindset. But, you know, the social media market world now is not this unknown event like it was last year. It's known by a lot more people, and you're gonna have a lot more people. So how do you with all the logistical challenges of having more people and more speakers, I suppose. What? Your plans for trying tow, you know, improve upon what you did last year? Well, it's a great question because everybody said to me, Hey, this is literally the best conference I've ever been to. How in the heck you gonna top this thing? So there's a couple things that my team was able to do. Number one. We've secured a naval aircraft carrier for our opening night party. We were in a museum with dinosaurs last year. You remember that, right? Yeah. So now you get to go on a naval aircraft carrier which is gonna be awesome. The other thing is we've got a lot more networking opportunities. For example, we had, like, last year we had networking, walks, walking and running groups. You know, like it's six o'clock in the morning for the East coasters I wanted just get up and exercise and network. Well, this year we're actually putting together special interest groups based on all these different categories that were surveying our attendees of. And we're gonna actually facilitate interest group meet ups during the lunches and during the networking breaks so that people you know, a lot of people there's podcasters. There's bloggers, there's corporate people. There's all these different kinds of people, and they want a chance to get to meet each other. So we're gonna actually come up with little stickers that they can put on their name badge, so that when people introduce themselves to the people that can immediately recognize if they have the same stickers on their badge to come to kind of, you know, identify interest groups that they're in, and then we're gonna have all sorts of opportunities during the main conference for them to get together and network with each other. That's awesome. And, you know, it just goes to show that we often forget. But Social Media is about the social part, right? It's totally about meeting each other, and a lot of people forget about that. But yeah, I think you're gonna be providing a lot of value. I'm personally looking forward that as well. And I know that you you know, you have some of the speakers scene from last year. You have new speakers coming in, and it's always just wait. We've radically increased the quantity of speak. We have nine simultaneous sessions going on now, this year and last year, you had, like, 45 I think we had five or six. Yeah, okay. And we have a ton of brands coming, too. I mean, like, we have so many brands coming. You know, when you when you have the opportunity to have that many simultaneous sessions going on, you know, we probably 50% more. We have at least 100 different presenters just to give you some perspective. That includes panels and everything that's significant increase over last year. And, you know, we've got we had a lot of great brands last year, But gosh, we have now, like, double the number of brands you know, practitioners working for brands that are very well known. So, you know, those are just a couple of things, and there's just so many other things that we've got planned. But you're right. It is hard. And you know that the tricky thing is, how do you create an intimate experience for 1100 people? Which is what we had last year, but we did it. And now we're gonna have 2000. So it's like, OK, this is the challenge. We're up for it. We've almost tripled the size of the of the staff, and I think everyone's gonna gonna feel really intimate. Despite the magnitude. It's a number of people that are gonna be there. Well, I know that you were able to pull that off last year, So, uh and I know you're changing the venue to another one. I I look forward to seeing you successful. I'm not this year as well, So? Well, there you have it. You know, if you're looking for the Social Media Conference to visit this year, I really honestly believe this is it not just because I'm speaking at it. But just from experience as an attendee, late March, San Diego, California You're gonna be in a meet with anyone that you probably want to meet with in social media, whether it be a speaker, author, blogger, like myself, or people that work for big brands like Mike just talked about. Or I know that there's a lot of tool vendors, you know, creators of socially taps and tools that are gonna be there as well. So you're gonna be able to learn about the next best tool out there just in networking sessions as well as, you know, the general session. So is gonna be a great event, like anything else you wanna tell. No. I mean, you know, they can just Google social Media Marketing world and there's some really cool videos on there. A lot of testimonials. As a matter of fact, you're in one of those videos. Yeah, and the little sidebar. There's a little video of a bunch of the presenters last year saying how much they really enjoyed the conference, and you're in that video in the sidebar. So if you want to see Neil saying good things, Google Social Media market world and you'll find all the details. Very cool. We're there. You have it. Thank you very much. Mike, for green to be interviewed on my podcast. Thank you for having me. Neil and I look forward to meeting you and hopefully a lot of your listeners in San Diego in a couple months. Yeah. Thank you. And, hey, if you listen to the podcast and you see Mike, you know, top his shoulder and say hi to him. Just a great guy. One of the people that I most respected world of social media. I hope this isn't the last time we have you on the show, Mike. And that's it for today. So wherever you are in the world, as I like to say, make it a great day. Bye bye, everybody. Thanks for listening. To maximize your social. We appreciate your iTunes subscriptions, ratings and comments. If you would like to appear on the show or recommend content, please contact Neil Schaffer at Neil at maximize your social dot com. Thanks for listening. And have a great day