About two weeks ago, we wrote about Social Media Day Phoenix, which featured an afternoon of marketing workshops followed by a chance to “engage, connect and play with over 40 local Phoenix business to win prizes, learn about new local businesses and celebrate their love of social media and technology.”
We didn’t view this as inherently controversial, but others vehemently disagreed with the entire premise. After attending the event last Friday, we ended up learning less about social media and more about the vastly different viewpoints regarding local event promotion, quality and review.
From the get-go, it did appear that the free schwag and sponsor promotion was being used to sell the event more than the social media workshops, but we gave SM Day Phx the benefit of the doubt that (seemingly irrelevant carnival/fashion show or not) the event would provide quality workshops and networking opportunities for those who elected to go.
We spoke to several people who attended the workshops, and got mostly positive reviews. “You think you know everything, but then you find out you don’t,” said self-employed Social Media Strategist Giselle Aguiar, who learned some useful SEO blogging tips from Amanda Collins’ “Growing Your Blog” workshop.
But while there was plenty to learn for self-starters and those newer to social media, someone working for an agency or Fortune 500 company would likely not have gotten much out of the “101 – 202” level workshops, which makes it even more inappropriate (and ironic) that last week SM Day Phx started individually targeting (or as some put it, “Twitter spamming“) local tech professionals, event coordinators and companies in hopes of getting them to attend, or at least re-tweet.
The networking environment and opportunities received some criticisms as well, as you can see from the #smdayphx Twitter stream and the carnival event page.
While some are calling SM day Phx a “success” and others a “bust,” the most crucial attendee complaint was the lack of emphasis on social media at all. While it was nice to mix and mingle with local businesses at the carnival, some of them didn’t seem to be doing much with social media, and were instead focused on collecting email addresses, which leads to suspicions that sponsors were chosen on a quantity and willingness to pay basis rather than a relevance to social media basis.
The Real Takeaways From Social Media Day Phoenix
While the event itself received mostly lackluster reviews, the controversy surrounding it sparked some interesting conversations about the motives and quality of local digital media/tech events as well as how to critique these events without: a) sounding like a troll, or b) getting personally attacked despite efforts to be constructive in your criticism.
At AZTechBeat, we want to see Phoenix events grow and flourish. We want to maintain a positive attitude about local events and focus on the overall atmosphere and attendee feedback rather than dwell on the fact that they ran out of snacks or the noise level made it hard to hear the speakers at times. We also want to keep an open mind about the types of events we cover and the industries behind them, and not judge an event before it happens.
Having said that, if there were significant shortcomings or widespread critical commentary from those who attended, we want to provide an honest assessment that event coordinators can use to improve their next event.
We thought local social media professional Clair Wyant’s SM Day Phx recap was an honest, fair review of the event (workshops excluded), and local cloud storage company CX posted a great review of the workshops.
We’d also like to hear your opinions on how it was marketed, executed and reviewed, however, so tell us in the comments below.