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.
[00:29] Introduction of Podcast Guests, Mike Stelzner
[01:13] Who is Mike and What Mike Does
[02:15] Wat Made Mike Launch from Blog into Physical Social Media Marketing Summits
[03:43] The Value of Attending Physical Social Media Conferences
[05:07] How Mike Differentiated His Conference from Others
[07:01] Mike's Little Secret
[08:58] Improving from Last Conferences
[10:34] New Speakers Coming In
[12:26] Final Thoughts
[12:44] Connect with Mike
- When people ask me 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 may end up end up hiring, they may end up hiring you or you make friends for life, it's really a magical thing when you bring people together, so I couldn't agree with you more.
- I'd thrive on 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 were in nightclubs. And you could you just couldn't hear anything, you know, and it was impossible to network.
- 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 I think the real stuff that happens is when you make those kinds of connections, that could lead to future you know, collaborations, or, like you said, employees or, or just, you know, building deeper relationships with people that you love and respect so that you never know what will happen.
- 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
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 Schaffer. Hey, everybody, this is Neal Schaffer, welcome to a another episode of maximize your social. Well, I don't always have special guests on the interview on the 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 Stelzner, Mike Stelzner, the founder of Social Media Examiner, for those who 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. So I'm really happy to have Michael Stelzner on the Maximizer social podcast today.Mike Stelzner:
Mike knew so much. I'm a regular listener,Neal Schaffer:
thank you very much. Do you want to you know, for those of you who might not have heard of you, I know how crazy that might sound? Just give a little introduction to complement what I just said.Mike Stelzner:
Yeah, sure. Basically, I run a blog called Social Media Examiner. We started it back in October 2009. As an experiment, it exploded last year, we had seven and a half million 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.Neal Schaffer:
That's awesome. You've you you've really stayed true to the tagline and the visual branding as well. So when so many sites tried to change, that's awesome. I think I think everybody still has that challenge. Right? Absolutely. So you started with Social Media Examiner, and I'm a big follower of all the different social media conferences that are out there. I, I blog about them regularly. I attend some I speak at 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 summit success summits before that, can you tell me, you know, what made you launch from blog, Social Media Examiner into the virtual summits into the actual physical, social media marketingMike Stelzner:
world? Yeah, that'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 Social Media 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 1000s of people would come from all around the world to hear from experts about how to do you know, white paper stuff. And that's kind of how I knew when I started Social Media Examiner, I was going to 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 Blog World and marketing profs and marketing Sherpa. And I just knew there was something special about the physical connection. I mean, don't you agree? I mean, the online stuff is awesome. But when you connect with people face to face, that's when things are different. And I just always had in the back of my mind, wow, wouldn't it be cool if I could do something like this?Neal Schaffer:
Yeah, I think there's definitely you know, when people ask me 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 may end up end up hiring, they may end up hiring you or you make friends for life, it's really a magical thing when you bring people together, so I couldn't agree with you more.Mike Stelzner:
Yeah, so I just, you know, the reason I went out on a limb and decided to start Social Media Marketing World was I was at my friend Joe polities conference called Content 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, oh, I've got this great team behind me. And you know, the light bulb 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 because, I mean, you and I've been to a lot of conferences and I just kind of knew what I preferred. And you know, so it was like it was a heck of a lot of work. But, you know, a lot of people really said they enjoyed it, including yourself.Neal Schaffer:
Indeed. So how would you you know, you had been Do 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?Mike Stelzner:
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, Neil. But I know me, I just I'd thrive on on being able to meet people face to face and actually have conversations and not just like in nightclubs, where, where the music is blaring, and a lot of these other conferences, they had their parties, but they were in nightclubs. And you could you just couldn't hear anything, you know, and it was impossible to network. And I'm not much of a dancer to be frank and honest. So I just thought, wow. And I've been telling my friends in the conferencing 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 yeah, 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 they want to learn something. But I think the real stuff that happens is when you make those kinds of connections, that could lead to future you know, collaborations, or, like you said, employees or, or just, you know, building deeper relationships with people that you love and respect so that you never know what will happen,Neal Schaffer:
ya know, without a doubt, and I must say, from, you know, 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 meeting room where you have the coffee, just, you know, the networking Plaza we call the networking Plaza and Mari Smith sitting over there, and Kim Garst over there, and the mecca of roses over there and people that I hadn't really met in person before that we could just sit down have a cup of coffee, and that 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 very, very successful.Mike Stelzner:
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 at a lot of conferences, when you give speakers 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 that 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.Neal Schaffer:
That's awesome. And you know, any of you who are who are not familiar with Mike Stelzner, Social Media Examiner, Social Media Marketing World, it's that attention to detail that we probably take for granted that I'm sure of that one year planning. I'm sure there are a lot of details like that put into it and sort of my experience living in Japan, it gets me very excited, because I think of myself as they attend to the detail person as well. So 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, Social Media Marketing World Number two is happening in San Diego late March, I'm going to be on a great LinkedIn for corporations panel together with folks in Oracle, Cox, and Marriott talking about, you know, anything from social selling to employee advocacy to best practices and ads, really, really excited about that, and also doing my own solo speech on another topic. So with what I do seem that I'm going to 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 Marketing 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 are your plans for trying to, you know, improve upon what you did lastMike Stelzner:
year? Well, that'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 are you going to 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 going to 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 at six o'clock in the morning for the east coasters. I wanted to 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 we're serving our attendees of, and we're going to actually facilitate interest group meetups during the lunches and during the networking breaks so that people, you know a lot of people that are as podcasters as bloggers as corporate people, there's all these different kinds of people and they want a chance to get to meet each other. So we're going to actually come up with little stickers that they can put on on their name badge, so that when people introduce them also the people that can immediately recognize if they have the same stickers on their badge to kind of, 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.Neal Schaffer:
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 going to be providing a lot of value. And I'm personally looking forward to that as well. And I know that you, you know, you have some of the speakers same from last year, you have new speakers coming in. And it's always just a great,Mike Stelzner:
we've radically increased the quantity of speakers, we have nine simultaneous sessions going on now this year. And last year, you had like four or five, I think we had five or six. Yeah, okay. And we have a ton of brands coming to I mean, like, we have so many brands come in, you know, when you when you have the opportunity to have that many simultaneous sessions going on, you know, we probably have 50%, more, we have at least 100 different presenters. So 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, the tricky thing is, how do you create an intimate experience for 1100 people, which is what we had last year, right? But we did it, and now we're gonna have 2000. So it's like, okay, 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 of the number of people that are going to be there.Neal Schaffer:
Well, I know you were able to pull that off last year or so. And I know you're changing the venue to another one. I look forward to seeing you successful on that 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 on it, but just from experience as an attendee, late March, San Diego, California, you're gonna be able to 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 social media apps and tools that are going to be there as well. So you're gonna be able to learn about the, you know, the next best tool out there just in networking sessions, as well as you know, the general session. So it's gonna be a great event. Mike, anything else you want to tell?Mike Stelzner:
No, I mean, 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. Oh, really? 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, awesome, Google Social Media Marketing World, and you'll find all the details.Neal Schaffer:
Very cool. Where there you have it. Thank you very much, Mike, for agreeing to be interviewed on my podcast.Mike Stelzner:
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, thankNeal Schaffer:
you. And hey, if you listen to the podcast, and you see Mike, you know, tap his shoulder and say hi to him. Just a great guy, one of the people that I most respect in the 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 Neal Schaffer at Neal at maximize your social.com Thanks for listening and have a great day.