I cannot believe that after weeks of anticipation and excitement, the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration On The Road–Chicago has come and gone. It kind of feels like the day after Christmas, except instead of scraps of wrapping paper littering my home, I have Mickey tattoos and remnants of my rice krispie treat spread about my kitchen counter. The famous Dr Seuss once said “Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened” and smiling I most certainly am as my very first social media celebration was a most spectacular event and an experience that I will never forget!
|schedule of events for the day|
My morning began quite early on June 17th, as I had planned on driving in that morning of the event. I arrived about 45 minutes early which allowed for plenty of time to park, make my way to the hotel and check in. It was so exciting to receive my official conference badge with my name, twitter handle, and blog printed right on it!! Since I arrived early, I had the opportunity to meet some of the other attendees. This was probably the one thing about the conference that I was most nervous about. I am not a naturally outgoing person. As a matter of fact, I am so..um..reserved, that I do not even call out for pizza–ever (thank goodness for the invention of online ordering). To approach complete strangers in such a massive group setting was not only unnatural for me but was also extremely nerve wracking. But, that is part of the conference experience and it was a great way to force myself out of my comfortable shell and work on overcoming one of my biggest fears. It was really incredible to meet many of the people with whom I have interacted over the past few months via Facebook and Twitter. Everyone I encountered was so warm and welcoming and despite being a newbie to the social media conference scene, no one made me feel as though I did not belong. When the doors to the ballroom had finally opened around 8am, I had met some amazing people.
As we entered the the very Disney decorated ballroom, I was a little star struck upon seeing such people as Gary Buchanan, Leanne Jakubowski, Jamie Langdon, and Maria Bailey. These are people I have come to know over the past few years via social media and a couple of them have held (and will hold) the fate of my future with Disney Parks Moms Panel in their hands. It was almost surreal to be sharing actual air space with them. I don’t think I felt like that since my very first Jon Bon Jovi concerts–back in the day (Yikes! I think I just dated myself).
The conference began with a warm welcome from Jamie Langdon, Walt Disney World Public Relations and Social Media Manager, and Leanne Jakubowski O’Regan, Director Social Media Disney Parks. Both ladies are incredibly well spoken and really set the tone for a wonderful day. Next up was Gary Buchanan, Disney Social Media Managing Editor. He discussed what was new at the parks, like Magic Bands and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. We were given a few behind-the-scenes looks at the “Diaper Dans” (the baby version of Dapper Dans) and Disney Kids. Jenn Fickely-Baker, Walt Disney World Social Media Manager, was up next, giving us a behind the scenes look at the Disney Parks Blog. All of the Disney representatives were great and my favorite had to be watching the creation of the “Ultimate Tweet” that launched the “Rock Your DisneySide” campaign. As a photographer, I can appreciate the hard work that went in to getting “140 characters” into an organized formation!
After the Disney Parks presentations, the remaining guest speakers focused on bloggers and businesses. These incredibly informative guest speakers, Liz Lorenz (Senior Director, Direct Print, HP), Michelle Stepney (Content Director, Disney Parks Global Content Development), and Ramon De Leon (Sr Social Strategist, Rise Interactive), discussed strategies for growing your business/brand, tips for presenting yourself to the media, and the importance of building relationships with your followers/customers. The take home messages of the day were:
- Treat your customers like friends
- Nothing is ever “off the record”
- Choose your words carefully–in case you have to eat them
- Share things that reflect your values
- Give clear and concise messages to your audience
- Don’t think: Friends, Followers, Posts, or Likes. Think about the relationships you intend to create
I was extremely impressed by messages that were given, as they could easily be applied to both large and small blogs alike. I cannot wait to use what I learned during the conference to grow my own blog!
Disclosure: I was invited to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration On The Road–Chicago–2014. I was not asked by Disney, HP, BSM or anyone else for that matter to write about my experience. The opinions expressed here are my own. I did receive some very nice swag from Disney and other sponsors as an attendee of the conference.
|This was waiting for me when I returned
|Was only gone for the day, but I guess I was missed 🙂|
April Shuping says
Thanks for sharing your experience, sounds like a magical time! I've been on the fence about trying to go to the SMM or other blogger conferences because I have to push myself to be outgoing, I'm more of a wallflower in new social situations. I'm glad to read that you had the same fears but went anyways and had a great time! Hope to see you at a SMM event soon!
Marge G says
I say give it a try. I am really really introverted and this was totally out of my comfort zone. I was terribly anxious and nervous but it was so worth it! You should definitely apply next year. I hope we get to meet at a SMM event in the future. Thanks so much for reading 🙂