Social Media and Conferences: Connecting with people - SMARK Conference 2013 in Bucharest

I have recently decided to start adding more of a personal or human perspective in my blog posts as opposed to just the professional view on things; I think sharing content on social media should aim to create human connections first and foremost, before thinking about SEO, or establishing oneself as a thought leader or even brand advocacy; the conversion journey from a complete stranger to an advocate of a brand starts with the first connection.


So in the old days this blog post would have begun with something like….:

On May 14th -16th, I travelled to Bucharest on the invitation of our local partner 360Insights to be a co-speaker with Mihaela Alexandru – Research Director at the SMARK Shopper Insights Conference. The presentation was about the use of private online communities for: insights, co-creation and advocacy; I spoke for a few minutes about the online platform and its tools: Mihaela presented the results of an actual bulletin board study on how shoppers create their shopping lists in Romania...
 



Wearing my new “human social media research blogger” hat, I will write about the same subject this way:

Visiting new countries and old friends can have an uplifting effect; I was recently in Bucharest to speak at a market research conference: SMARK Shopper Insights with Mihaela from 360Insights our partner agency in Romania-I was probably the only non-Romanian speaker in the room since I could not see anyone else with headphones on their head -. She is a brilliant researcher and a genuinely nice person, so it was a breeze preparing for our common presentation during the preceding days. Some of the online focus group findings that stuck with me where that: men don’t include beer on their shopping list and women do not include sweets, even though they plan to buy them.

The Chairman of the session that I was part of, was really kind to me – maybe because I was the only foreigner on the panel, he asked me 4 or 5 questions-if I was to use a baseball idiom, I would call them “softballs”; He allowed me to say everything I wanted to say but could not cram into my 10 minute presentation. For example he asked about what motivates members to join a private online community and then engage. The answer to this question is: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, very clearly explained and enhanced with gamification techniques.

At the end of the session, two ladies stormed at me asking for interviews – which allowed me a glimpse into a celebrity’s life: ‘so this is how it feels when you are famous’, I thought to myself; I enjoyed it for as long as it lasted…all 5 minutes.

I think the highlight of my trip was that I reconnected with my old colleague from the MEMRB and Synovate days the Managing Director of 360Insights, I intentionally do not mention his name here because unlike me, he does not like the limelight: I kind of admire him for that. I feel like in the frenzy of things I would be prepared to sell my soul for some PR that will lead to new prospects that will hopefully lead to new business; he would not do that.

So I honestly felt energised and uplifted after this trip because I met so many nice people from 360Insights who demonstrated a thirst for learning and gave me the opportunity to share some of the things we develop in the areas of active web listening and private online communities. I met great people from blue-chip multinational client companies who were open to spend time with us – 1-to1- to find out more about market research case studies and on extracting insights by connecting the dots.

It was also uplifting because I noticed a lot of progress in Bucharest; my last memory of the city from my trips in the late 90s was a city full of stray dogs, the surface of the potholes on the roads was larger than the surface covered by asphalt: all gone from what I could see during the 3 days. Bucharest is back on track to become the Paris of the East again!


Let me know if you can relate to any of this; connecting with people can have an uplifting effect too!

 




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