Sanjeev Kotnala: Social Media Week: Brilliant sessions, but time to go completely online?

25 Nov,2015

By Sanjeev Kotnala


SOCIAL MEDIA WEEK is still the most happening event in its space. There is a definite growth in live stream watchers and a drop in the delegates physically attending sessions. Full houses were there but not that frequent. On the other side, SMW hit 2000+ people on the live feed. I was also one of them. I attended Day 2 at the venue and rest of the days I was enjoying a perfectly smooth webcast coming in live through April Broadcasting on my Hathway Internet plan. The tweet buzz was keeping me updated on other elements and few what’sapp calls told me of the situation.


The only shortcoming of the live feed was static camera positions and a pillar that physically divided audience in two sections. Thus on live feed you missed the audience feel.  Even during the Q&A, you could hear the voice but could not see the person making the point.


This is what makes me ask for SMW being a complete online event. May be with two live streams. May be with setup that can give it a more holistic feel including audience view. It can still have 40-50 ticketed or invitees as audience. I am told that stakeholders discussed such possibilities.


Workshops were a huge success. May be there is an element of selfishness. Every delegate in workshop cherry picks workshops according to their interest.  They are more focussed and with less gyanbazzi. Example ‘Come, Plan, Go – travel workshop’ and‘Think and Do Dum De Da’


May be there is a need to enhance the workshop part and even live-stream it to the paid audience.


I would believe that some of the organisation would want to live stream the workshops of their interested and if that can be organised in a non-pixelated projection, it could add another stream of delegates. It also saves the travel time what is of concern to all the delegates.


It was a pleasant experience to see that most of the SMW sessions were well-managed and they stuck to their timelines. Other than one or two sessions where few speakers joined late- all most all the speakers made to their sessions on time.  It was a bit of shock to see that very few speakers stayed back for other sessions.


Keeping somewhat thinned delegate presence, the crowd engagements across sessions were very encouraging. I do believe that SMW could have asked questions to be tweeted and leave the moderator to pick the one to be answered. This pushed for focussed questioning and saves time from interactive and not-well-articulated questions.  It also catches the online viewers.


One had to search out and seek event Wi-Fi password. In an event like the SMW, it should have been boldly flashed for people to use. Or may be there is some past experience that made them manages it differently.


Surprised to see some of the panel discussion engaging delegates far more than the single speaker sessions. It was surely a different experience. My feeling is that the panellists were honest, transparent; spoke more like a friend and a mentor which made it exciting. Most of them were so energetic that one had to re-calibrate the speaker volumein live stream.


In my scorecard, 5 out of 10 sessions were good. And 2 out of 10 were fantastic. It is a decent scorecard. Congratulations is due to the Rohit and whole of SMW team.  The event ran smoothly without very few technical snags.  Expectedly SMW was trending most of the time. Someone commented ‘SMW trending is as exciting as finding beer in a pub’. I am not sure how to interpret this.


There were many take-outs depending upon what was your area of interest. I am listing below some of the points that were pushed again and again.


Soon everything will be digital and you will not be able to any more avoid social media. There are three things that make Social Media (SM) work: it’s content, content and content.  To succeed, your content must be searchable and shareable. There is a hot time to tweet- is a myth. In SM, you must not fake things and personalities. Audience is able to smell that. In SM, the best policy is to be you. There is space for multiple platforms. Tier-II and III are digitally ready. To connect with audience, brands must remain relevant. It is the time for traditional with the power of social not social versus traditional. Your medium defines the craft and not the craft defining the media. Brand ambassador must remain relevant to you audience for a long time. Creating acts is about creating platforms, not slogans. It’s about seizing cultural moment. Consumers are no longer just willing to receive the logical rational messages


And then there were some interesting revelations and pointers like Baroda has the highest number of women buying sex merchandise. Arnab Goswani confessed that he woke up to social media in December 2013, in the same breath that believe journalism should drive the conversation and not be driven by it. Consumers are happy when you are transparent and honest.  Men tweet more than females. And the split gets skewed towards males as the evening mounts ( SMW data)


There were sessions that stood out with high attendence and level of engagement . I am listing a few here. The list is not in any order. Diffusing the taboo on sex, digitally. How #socialmedia is shaping Journalism!. How do you define and evaluate the ROI of trending or going viral?. Express, Impress and Progress – Social Media, Creative Up- starts and Intellectual Property. Digital Formats and Content. Cards Against Influencers – A hilarious game that will bring out the dirty secrets and grey shades of Influencer marketing.Let’s Get Real About Real Time Marketing. Digital video: Redefining long form content & brand stories


Interesting safe driving campaign used the SMW platform under #mysafetymylife. Delegates shot pictures with one or the other pledge placard and populated the message on SM. Tata Motors, the main sponsor, had its Shoot with Messi virtual reality both. It was interesting but not something that made you say wow. Disclaimer, I was one of the winner of #madeforgreat contest.


Sanjeev Kotnala is Founder at Intradia World. A Brand, Marketing & Management UnConsult Advisor. He conducts specialised workshops in the area of IDEATION (Harvest and Liberate) and INNOVATION (InNoWait). He focuses energy in enhancing client’s team’s potential and capabilities and decreasing their dependence  on external resources. Email  or tweet at s_kotnala visit


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