I was scheduled to participate in a panel on Social Media and ROI at the #sxswi conference this week. My schedule being what it is, I couldn’t be in two places at once and had to make the painful decision last week of cancelling my trip to Austin altogether. As much as I was looking forward to finally making it to Sx and being on this panel, priorities are priorities. Muchas gracias to the panel’s organizers for having invited me to participate. In spite of what I am about to say here, I am very grateful to them.
Anyway. After days of reading tweet after tweet about how wonderful and fun SxSWi was, how much of a blast everyone was having, seeing pictures of some of my favorite people meeting up and smiling big for the camera, it was with a heavy heart that I logged into Tweetdeck for the #sxsmroi session Monday afternoon, in the hopes of at least being there from a distance. My expectations: A great discussion, a professional discussion, an intelligent discussion about ROI and Social Media. After all, it’s 2012, right? This should be a mature topic. I released the book last year, the various presentations I put together on the subject have made their way around the globe, my blog posts have been read and read again, shared, retweeted and whatnot. ROI when it comes to social media is devastatingly simple to understand. Right?
I guess not. What I found myself confronted with instead of the intelligent session I expected was… a complete disaster. I knew we were in trouble when I started seeing eager tweets about ROI being tied to “Return on Efficiency” less than 3 minutes from its start.
Let me give you a taste of some of the brilliant “insights” retweeted from this unfortunate session:
What’s the ROI of NOT engaging in SM?
Asking if there is ROI for Social Media is like asking if there is an ROI of the telephone or a pencil.
If social is done well it builds trust. if done really well, it is true trust. then 2-way convo: speed and reach.
There is an answer for CFO – if social has done well, it builds trust.
Seems like the new question is “What’s the ROI on coming up with a formula for ROI?
That’s right: The same nonsense social media “gurus” were selling on their blogs and all up and down the social media “speaking circuit” back in 2008, when social media started being integrated into business models.
So… 2008 goes by.
2009 goes by.
2010 goes by.
2011 goes by.
We are now in 2012. How is it that the same bullshit is still being spewed as “insight” on a #sxswi panel on ROI? How does this happen?
I know I couldn’t be there so I bear some of the responsibility, but I have to ask: Where are the professionals? Surely, we can find 5 people for a panel on Social Media and ROI who know what the hell they are talking about, right? I don’t even mean “experts.” I mean just normal professionals with a fair fluency on the subject, who can speak intelligently about what it is, how it is calculated, and even offer concrete examples to illustrate how companies are determining the ROI of key activities and channels on a specific timeline.
Just 5 or 6 people. That’s all.
No? Too hard? Really?
What happens if I get hit by a car tomorrow? Nobody can handle this topic? I don’t buy that. Where are the professionals? Sound off. Please, for the love of puppies, raise your hands and step forward. This crap needs to stop. Now. Today. And I can’t be the one carrying this flag. (Unless by some miracle, my book finally starts making its way to every single desk in Corporate America, which would be fine too. #NotHappening)
Back to more of the session’s brilliant “insights” on ROI and Social media. Brace yourselves for the worst because it is coming:
Social doesn’t always need to be quantified. Its not a spreadsheet metric only – trust, relationships, advocacy.
Social extends beyond traditional ROI and you can’t quantify it on a spreadsheet.
You can’t put love and trust into a chart. Why? Because love and trust defies logical reasoning.
Because we lied and told people digital was measurable.
How do you put trust and love into a spreadsheet? silence
Measuring digital is different because we’re the first generation doing it.
We’re getting so granular with SM and trying to label it with a quantifiable ROI, that we’re missing the overall impact of it.
You don’t measure activity, you measure results.
The minute we standardize in #smroi, we will fail.
Innovation is miles ahead of where we are in terms of measuring ROI.
Don’t spend all of your money trying to measure social ROI.
There’s no ROI for measuring ROI – it’s just too difficult
Just because I can measure something doesn’t mean I should.
That was what was being retweeted from a #sxswi panel on ROI. Maybe it should have been called “beating around the bush of #smROI for the fourth year in a row.”
It isn’t surprising then that about twenty minutes into the session, a lot of the back-channel chatter started looking a lot like this:
Did I really just hear someone at #sxsmroi say a lot of data when trying to quantify social ROI is unnecessary? …On to another session…
This panel could benefit by examples of ROI measurement. Some people in this room probably have to report that. #SxSMROI
I am shocked that the #SocialMediaROI panel at #SXSW isn’t giving people the real “How To Measure SM ROI” they came for. #sxsmroi
Have to wonder who the #sxsmroi panel is talking to. Definitely not business owners or people who sign the checks.
I think I’m glad I’m not at #sxsmroi because it’s not a ROI panel. Maybe call it SM Value or SM Efficiency panel, but it’s not a ROI panel.
Sorry #sxsmroi panel, you can’t send people out of the room w message that social isn’t measurable. It is and it’s critical
Disappointing panel at #SXSMROI same song & dance we’ve been hearing for years.
People walking out. You really think they were going to magically tell you how to measure SM ROI? #sxsmroi
In a nutshell.
In case you think that my having been there would have made a difference, think again. I wouldn’t have endured 45 minutes of that. Though I have never walked off during a panel at any conference anywhere, be assured that I would have pulled off my mic and walked out of this one. I would much rather meet up with people outside the session and answer their ROI questions directly (my purpose for attending events like this) than endure almost an hour of complete and utter bullshit that has no place at a conference the scale of #sxswi.
No offense to the couple of pros who were on the panel and whose comments were either not retweeted at all or simply not mentioned in this post. A few solitary bits of general, elementary ROI wisdom did find their way through the barrage of bullshit, but not nearly enough and certainly not driven by either adequate vigor or accompanied by concrete examples. So understand that I am not taking a blowtorch to the entire panel but rather to the balance of its outcome.
Here’s what really disappoints me: A full complement of professionals (with or without me) shouldn’t be that difficult to come up with right? There shouldn’t have been a single dumbass comment retweeted from this session. Not one. So I ask again: Where are the professionals?
I am appalled.
As for those of you who walked away from that panel thinking it was wonderful, that Social Media ROI is a myth, channel-optional or even elastic enough to mean Return on Engagement, Return on Efficiency or Return on Conversation, do yourselves a favor: Search for every post containing the term ROI (or R.O.I.) on this blog and start there. Once you start to get what #smROI actually is and isn’t, feel free to spend $10 or $15 on the #smROI book (link below). That’s all you need to get started. The rest will come naturally once you start applying what you’ve learned here to the real world.
* * *
Here it is. A whole book on how to make social media work from a business standpoint. ROI is covered, along with a lot of process elements that tie back to it. If your favorite social business “expert” doesn’t seem to get this stuff yet, don’t feel bad about sending them a copy. Knowledge is never a bad gift.
CEO-Read – Amazon.com – www.smroi.net – Barnes & Noble – Que
Flerg. It really is beyond depressing, isn’t it? I mean, it’s one thing to see really crappy information flown about. That’s a bummer, but people tend to trend ignorant. So okay, fine. But then these same people are glorified as experts. Now that is really confusing to me. It tells me that people don’t know better and are willing to go down the roads that are being cleared out for them, even though those roads are leading into a reeeeeealy big brick wall.
There is going to be a lot of ugliness in the marketing and business world as some of this bad advice starts to bite people. I would say it could start happening in the next 6 months or so, frankly, as people scratch their heads and wonder why their doors are closing. We’re already seeing peeks at this via the ginormous changes Pepsi & P&G made. I don’t think those will turn out well.
I guess the good news is that most people I deal with in the business world haven’t heard about this argument at all, nor do they know who most of the bad advice-givers are. I think there is some hope there, maybe.
Keep fighting the good fight. It’s worth it.
I’m done fighting the good fight. I wrote, said and published everything there is to be said on the topic. I can’t be any clearer. I can’t explain it from an angle I haven’t already covered. 4 years and it’s still not sinking-in or reaching people. Even the gurus are still not making the effort to learn.
I’m done. I can’t fix stupid and I sure as shit can’t fix lazy. It’s a lost battle. Moving on…
Tripe tripe tripe.
You should read this post about global consumption of media. Oh, wait. You wrote it. Right down there – Ehm, don’t know how to make a down arrow.
Anyway, there are all these young ‘uns coming up who will be wanting to learn how to do their jobs well. Fresh new audience for the blogosphere. Fresh little chickens, bright-eyed and bushy-billed. Concentrate on those folks. You can win a fight by shooting or you can win a fight by outnumbering the bad guys through good recruiting.
Besides, dude…if you give up, I ain’t got a prayer out here.
The young ones are on their own. I can’t fix recruiting, I can’t fix the social media “thought leadership” space, I can’t fix conference programs, and I can’t make people not believe every bit of bullshit they run into. I don’t control Google and I’m not Batman.
Nothing is changing.
What can I do that I haven’t already done?
What can you do? Go raise some honey bees. That’ll raise some buzz you can feel good about.
I would be happy to be a bee farmer. It would make me feel like I am contributing to society, at least.
You tell me Marjorie, is this ‘the good fight’? Is this the way we go about it? Because if so I want no part of it.
Here’s some context: http://storify.com/mattridings/a-case-study-in-crossing-a-line
I have literally no time today and am speed-typing during my lunch break, which I just started and which will be cut short because i have so much work to do.
Since you asked, however.
By good fight I meant the fight to inform people of the basic facets of business that seem to be entirely misconstrued in the world of social media. It’s important to me that companies understand ROI because if they don’t, they’ll go broke. It’s important to me that companies understand that branding does not mean “a logo” because without that understanding they can encounter major gaffes that would be difficult to come back from. Olivier, among others, does a good job of combatting a lot of the lollipop sort of marketing advice that passes for professional marketing advice in the social media world. One need look no further than how viral “the ROI of your mother” became to understand how fertile the ground is for misunderstandings and misconceptions about these phenomenally important business issues.
Is this the way we go about it? Well, as I watch all of this escalate into increasingly ridiculous amounts of yuck and blegh, I guess I have to say yes, sadly, this is the way we go about it. This post here was written out of frustration. It’s like the frustration you might feel when you keep telling a kid, “Hey, putting your finger on that super hot pot is a bad idea” and they keep doing it. At some point, you’re going to either want to let the kid burn himself or throw the darned pot against the wall.
Might Olivier have approached this topic with less volatility? Probably. Then again, no names were mentioned. And then again again, people were sending Olivier tweets that they probably knew would get him riled up, cuz that’s what people do to get attention. Who knows? The more time I spend in the online world the more I’m convinced that it is not really a tool of productivity. It is a tool for manipulating other people so that you can get a regularly scheduled deluxe ego massage.
I am able to look at Olivier’s response and understand the frustration. I am able to understand your frustration, too, to a degree. I might have understood Craig’s frustration better had he approached his post in an entirely different way.
In the end, however, I suppose that this will just continue to grow into a layer of crap-sagna, because that’s the way things go around here. This conversation should not be about you, Olivier, Craig, Liz, or any other one person. This conversation should be a) Are we being careless about how ROI is presented? b) Are we being careless because we are stressing far too much the desire to have impact versus actually educating people with 100% solid information c) If the panel did not achieve what the attendees wanted, what could be done to avoid those mistakes in the future.
Things will carry on as they will in this situation. I’m sure that there will be some nastiness around your post. I’m sure people will insert themselves into the mix because it will give them a chance to get on the radar of some big names in the industry. And on and on and so it goes. I don’t have the time or inclination to spend my time siding with people. I don’t play those kinds of games. Olivier is my friend. I consider you a person I’d like to be friends with. There’s a lot about Liz I admire. But in the world of social media, clearly, the trend is gearing towards “Choose a team or go home.”
I hope that adequately answers your questions.
Matt, thanks for filling in for me at the panel. Much appreciated.
But you mean to tell me that in almost a whole hour, 5 professionals can’t (1) explain what ROI is and isn’t (3 minutes), (2) give specific examples (4 examples: 12-20 minutes), explain how to measure it no matter how big or small your business (7 minutes), and then answer questions? Seriously?
I’m not going to throw you under the bus because I saw in the stream that you tried. So again: “No offense to the couple of pros who were on the panel and whose comments were either not retweeted at all or simply not mentioned in this post. A few solitary bits of general, elementary ROI wisdom did find their way through the barrage of bullshit, but not nearly enough and certainly not driven by either adequate vigor or accompanied by concrete examples. So understand that I am not taking a blowtorch to the entire panel but rather to the balance of its outcome.”
My question is – aside from you, since you came in at the last minute – didn’t anyone but me on this ROI panel realize they were going to have to talk about ROI? Any one of you ought to have been able to do this, let alone 5.
The notion that I can’t go by the back-channel or I am speaking out of context because I wasn’t there isn’t without merit, but it doesn’t change what happened: the panel came unprepared, I suppose either assuming that I was going to do all the work, or just prepared to spew bullshit (as was obviously the case with at least one person).
I have said it dozens of times and I will say it again: My presence or absence would have made little difference, unless I had stood up and walked out (hopefully taking much of the audience with me). We could have started over outside the room and tried to make up for lost time. I couldn’t be there, so I did the equivalent of that via twitter and the blog: Calling bullshit (again) where it was called for and pointing people to actual, factual, accurate ROI information that would hopefully answer their questions.
$900 bucks for a badge ought to buy more than “networking” and bullshit-filled sessions.
Now to answer your not so rhetorical question to Marjorie. This is the good fight, brother:
1. Respecting your audience enough not to feed them even an ounce of bullshit.
2. Making sure every bit of information you give your audience will help them and their businesses. That’s why they’re there in the first place.
3. Telling people who fail at either the first or the second to sit down, shut up and stop being part of the problem. If you are speaking or teaching, there’s no neutral area: you are either helping people or hurting people. You are either part of the solution or you are part of the problem.
Here’s something you need to realize, because it can serve as an instant litmus test for anyone, myself included: The only people who find that 3rd part offensive, annoying or arrogant are the offenders.
When someone disagrees with me, I listen. If they are emotional about it, angry, even seething, I listen even more carefully. I immediately go back and check my work. I make sure I didn’t miss something. If they’re right, I let them know. The only part of me that feels bad or hurt is the part that feels bad for having given people crap information or the wrong insight. My ego doesn’t even come into the equation. The rest of me is just elated that I’ve learned something useful that I can now use and share.
Every time I call bullshit on someone spewing bullshit and they push back, accusing me of burning bridges or crossing the line or not playing nice, all that is is ego. All I see is an offender with no other argument to stand behind than “you’re an asshole for pointing out that I am really full of shit.”
Too many middle-school egos in this space and not enough university-level learning: That’s what you should all be angry about instead of pointing the finger at me. All I do is steer people towards good information and away from bad information. It shouldn’t even be a fight, let alone “the good fight.” If “experts” in this space don’t want to attract my ire, here’s a simple solution: Look to #1 and #2 up there. That’s it. Is that really so hard?
To bring this back to the panel: I shouldn’t have to be in the room every time someone brings up ROI. A whole panel of “experts,” and what people walked away with was either “can’t be measured” or “shouldn’t be measured.” For shame.
Do you really think for one second that it would be responsible for me to let that happen and be quiet about it? Why? So that the panel’s delicate sensibilities might be spared?
I feel like I’m in 7th grade again. It’s appalling.
There’s really no need for me (or you for that matter Olivier) to try and address. They can see it in real time in my link above and make up their own judgments.
If you can read that whole stream and only come away with the notion that you’re representing the overall feelings of that audience with your post and comments, then there’s not really much I can do for you. If you can read that stream with context now, and then read your actions and your post and feel that your response and timing were appropriate for a professional adult trying to ‘help further someones education’, then there is again nothing I can do for you. If you can’t understand that by not showing up you also forfeited at least *some* of your right to voice your opinion without making damned sure you checked, and double checked, all of your perceptions I can’t do much for you. If you can’t understand that the fact that you have a perceived ulterior motive (selling books) and thus have to be very careful about the *way* in which you go about expressing that opinion so as to not make a very large group of folks doubt your intentions, I can’t do much for you.
All of those things require a very deft hand in communications if your intention is to actually do some good for that audience. And your efforts here were anything but deft. They seemed petulant, petty, and ill motivated. They seemed to come from a place of angry intent. And they were most definitely purposefully hurtful with the language chosen.
If you want to help, then do so. But don’t hide behind some altruistic white-knight motive for what you did here, and don’t pretend that it’s only by ‘being the one brave enough to call bullshit’ that you can best effect change. Perhaps someone who finds that approach attractive will make for a good follower on Twitter and a good commenter on a blog, but they aren’t the decision makers in the companies that you supposedly want to help I can promise you that. I’ve said it before Olivier, you have SO much to offer, it’s just a damned shame that the ones you could be doing so much for can’t hire you. They wish they could, many of them have told me so personally, but you make it impossible.
Anyway, enough. It’s disappointing.
As I said, the only people who are offended by “you’re part of the problem” are the offenders.
Enough? Yes. Enough.
Astounded. Just speechless.
Howdy…last year at SOBCON, Brogan said it best about SXSW. I am not going to join the partying…I am going to go focus on making money. He did not go and focused on his business. When I read this post…I thought about his comment. Obviously SXSW is a great place to promote a book especially given the topic. But did you seriously expect any but what you read on Twitter? Is that event promoting thought leadership and professional growth or just a place to connect, see what is the next year’s buzz topic, and have some drinks?
Just thinking out loud?
A roomful of people expected answers. A roomful of people walked away without a single answer. That’s the balance of expectations vs. delivery. It is what it is. Unless everyone just goes there to party their asses off on someone else’s dime, which I refuse to believe.
Seriously…like 75% of the people are there to party their assess off on someone else’s dime. The other 25% are there to either market to that 75% or to give a presentation to them.
This is why I’m going badgeless next year. It’s not worth dealing with the rubes and horrific logistics around sessions. I’m better off networking and doing biz dev. SXSW is NOT the place to learn anything. The wrong people are “teaching”. The real people who have found success doing real work are too busy DOING THE WORK.
Great write up Olivier. I’m not going to lie: In the beginning, I was spewing a lot of the same stuff in regards to Social Media ROI. The reason? Well, it’s pretty simple: Wasn’t educated enough.
Not saying these specific people aren’t educated about the topic, but it seems they may have got a bit too comfortable with the typical “build relationships, build trust” conversation.
Yep. Accountability’s a bitch. 😉
I have tried to download this book 4 times today…. not downloading to my Kindle Fire….. I’m hoping that means you are making tons of $$ …. will try again later tomorrow!!
Sorry about that. I doubt that it will let you order the e-version 4 times. 😉
I guess I’m glad I’m not cool enough to go to SXSW. And I guess I’m glad I bought your book… AND READ IT.
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef
Wish I felt even a tinge of regret for not having attended “Southby” – but if this was the sort of thing…then, I made the right decision.
Let me share a sports analogy, from back in my days as a college basketball broadcaster. The adage was “you can’t coach height.” Meaning: if a guy is 6’2″, you can coach him to play as if he’s 7’0″ – but he will never BE 7’0″.
We have a TON of social media blowhards out there who are playing as if they are 7-footers. When they get to the big leagues, they finally get exposed as those who are not 7 feet tall.
Keep the faith, bro.
I have faith in the unfortunate psychological mechanism in most humans that drives them to believe the dumbest arguments possible, so long as they come out of the mouths of the most unabashed hucksters.
Bah. I’ll sleep on it.
Rightly or wrongly, I don’t know anyone who goes to SxSw REALLY expecting to glean any profound insight. I’m sure those people exist, but the majority of people I have known to go – have gone for the networking opportunity. (i.e. party, party, party!)
I don’t know whether that makes you feel better or worse. 🙂
1. I want to believe that everyone who attended that session wasn’t there out of boredom. They could be answering emails, returning calls or just dicking around the conference. They were there to get answers. The disgruntled tweets surely support that theory, however strange it may seem.
2. I’m sure bosses would love to hear the argument that the $Ks they spent sending their digital peeps to SxSW was really so they could go party with their friends for a week and unock all kinds of sweet Foursquare badges. Oh, and the cowboy hats.
I may just shut down my biz and go to work as a WalMart greeter. I am pretty sure it will be a much better use of my time.
Want to join me in focusing on change management and using social media as a tool? 🙂
I’m not sure you’re right. People don’t pay $900 for badges just to NOT use them. Nor do they attend sessions if they don’t have an interest. Personally, I get more value meeting people “in the hallways” so I’ve never bought a badge but if I thought I’d get value out of it I would.
Bosses and clients with no idea what SxSW really is pay for a lot of those badges.
I didn’t say it was RIGHT – I said it happens. I only know what I have heard from the people I know (and follow) who have gone. Very little of substance is reported back – while we get the full scoop on the parties, red carpet and social hours.
If you pay the badge yourself, it is not cheap. Most people come here to learn about digital/social media. So, that is a rip-off, right there.
If your company/sponsor pay for the badge, justifying the lack of learning can be hard.
Either way, people come to learn from each other. the format is to attend sessions. If there is an alternative movement “badgless” going on, it is probably because the quality of the sessions is mediocre, at best.
Similar to Karima I went to get some insight benefit from the opportunities that might arise.
I understand where you are coming from since many people go there for the partying. If I go next year I will do less partying and more focusing on biz opportunities.
Candidly I think it boils down to your response to Marjorie: laziness.
It’s the same thing you see in “tech” departments all over the country. The mindset that “the vast majority of people don’t know that much about this and aren’t going to dig too deep so we can just tell them whatever the hell we want and they’ll nod and believe us – at least for a little while longer.”
“It takes 6 months to develop X,Y,Z using Ruby.” — No it doesn’t, you just want to waste half of that time dicking around, but most people can’t challenge you on it because they don’t know the first thing about coding and development.
Part of me blames the executives of companies who don’t demand ROI. “What do you mean there’s not a way to measure that? Find a way or find another job.” I suspect that with that ultimatum many people in our space could find a way to measure it or at the very least find a quantifiable way to provide some valuable measurement insights even if they can’t dive as deep as the presume #smROI to be in their heads.
I was in a prezo the other day from a local expert who put a slide up that said:
ROI = 1.5 million impressions. I audibly groaned so loud that others at my table asked me what was wrong. Rather than scribbling, “Impressions IS NOT, NOR WILL IT EVER BE ROI” and passing it around I should’ve called that speaker out, but alas. I’ll shoulder the blame on that one.
Good stuff, per usual, Olivier.
Spot on. Nailed it. Thanks, man.
I can’t help you the SM ROI question as I am too busy putting out the fires of “storytelling fixes everything. . .come be in our cool tribe” floatsam.
And as a side note, maybe you do need to believe rather than refusing. Even in the first days of SXSW’s people were complaining about parties and “everybody-checks-my-nametag-first-to-see-if-I-am-important” schmooze festing.
Epitaph: Drowned in an ocean of bullshit. That pretty much sums it up, I think. 😉 Hey, speaking of storytelling: http://pinterest.com/pin/154037249724924313/ That.
SXSW isn’t a professional conference. As you know, the panels are crowd sourced and chosen by popularity.
What did we expect?
I’m an optimist.
It’s not voted just by popularity. It does get curated. That being said, I go to meet people face to face that I wouldn’t get to see otherwise. Never have bought a badge. Never will.
Sooooo disappointing that this is STILL the conversation about Social Media ROI. In the podcast I recorded this morning at Sx I actually commented on how the conversation about Social Media this year had actually matured – less about the shiny objects, more about making strategic decisions about intelligent use of social media channels. And f-knows you can’t make informed strategic decisions if you can’t /won’t / don’t measure ROI.
I was disappointed when I couldn’t find your name in that final panel but now I’m not disappointed that I chose to attend a different session (Biz Stone I think was what I chose in that window, and there was certainly a conversation of substance there).
I don’t know where the ‘orher’ professionals were when they formed the panel, but thank goodness there have been plenty on the social media and marketing panels I’ve attended.
Hopefully you’ll make it next year and we can have the SM ROI conversation that Sx needs to have.
PS as chance (or synchronicity) would have it, as I clicked submit I met one of the panellists. He is a professional and just in a quick conversation I get that there *was* a hood conversation about different ways to approach ROI … Yes, there were some not-so-useful ‘soft’ comments about ROI of your telephone, but it sounds like it was a suitably robust discussion.
I don’t know, I wasn’t there. And perhaps the tweet stream doesn’t accurately reflect the breadth or expertise of all on the panel.
Apologies for typos, I’m posting from my phone.
Yeah, the theory is that the back-channel in a session isn’t a good indicator of what is really going on in that session. I’ve experienced the opposite. It’s actually a much better snapshot of a session than the impressions of a panelist who believes he or she is doing a great job. It’s a bubble vs. reality thing. We can sugar-coat a session like this and talk about how it created a great conversation, but in the end, people walked away pissed for a reason: The session about ROI didn’t actually do what it was supposed to do. My being there or not shouldn’t have made that much of a difference.
Expertise or not, like Olivier says, what’s important is what comes out of a panel not what goes in.
Every year that goes by, I am less and less psyched about ever attending SxSW. There’s probably more to my never going than just scheduling issues. Underlying subconscious reasons and whatnot. 😀
All the “white noise” wasn’t just limited to talks on SMROI. It flowed freely in other meetings too. I didn’t get to attend this year either, mostly by choice. I went last year and like @JeanKaneCo mentioned above, most of the people there were there to party hard.
So, like you, I decided to participate in an online meeting about APIs. The meeting organizer drummed it into us that we had better be on time. That he had allotted 2 hours for the meeting and that there would be a lot of code shared with the intent of resolving some mainstream issues with APIs.
I rearranged my schedule. I ran people out of my office so I could have focus. I turned off the damn phones and locked the doors and made a fresh pot of coffee in preparation. (Call me foolish)
The meeting started 10 minutes late due to technical difficulties which were nothing more than a web cam not working for one of the organizers. There was audio and screen sharing…just couldn’t see one participants ugly mug. The next 20 minutes covered a promo for a platform followed by an announcement the meeting was being terminated early so the onsite guys could attend a barbeque party.
Then the screen went dead.
As Tyler above mentions, there’s not professional about SXSW. It’s a party (and not a very good one) Don’t worry about finding SMROI professionals though. There out there just like there are plenty of coders out there who can build an API in a couple of hours. The rest will continue to promote smoke and mirrors (snake oil) until they get run out of town. Whenever I come across an SM expert, the first question I ask (it’s sort of fun) is how long have you kept a client on a retainer? I love the glassy look that I get next. Most business owners quickly drop what they can’t measure results from. Common sense if you ask me.
Thanks, Joey. Appreciated. 🙂
Sorry about your tech issues though. Pretty frustrating.
FYI, just purchased the book through my Nook. So far a great read.
😀 The silver lining is real? (Thank you.)
I’ll buy another book but you have to match the purchase (ala Toms) and send a copy to one of the quoted offending tweet’s author. If so, I’ll take five good sir.
😀 Who wins at this game again?
Spent Friday through Sunday at SXSW. Nice venue for lots of mindless drinking but a waste of money and time if you are seeking any content of value.
Good to know. Sad though, you know?
It is unfortunate that the panel took such a nose dive.
Olivier, we have talked enough over the years to agree that it is certainly possible to measure true ROI of aspects of social media and individual campaigns. Depending on the scope and nature of the Social efforts of a particular organisation, and if set up correctly, one may even be able to measure the ROI of entire channels.
We also know the formula…it is the same formula used to measure ROI of any other aspects of ones business. Gain from investment minus cost of investment divided by cost of investment.
IMO this panels job was to deliver insights into how to measure these components of ROI…especially the harder part of how to set up efforts and campaigns so you can accurately track the gain from your investment, and how do you make sure that Social Media gets accredited for its contribution to gains (or loss). This is latter part is especially important in the case of integrated campaigns. There is no silver bullet here – no one wayor method, but there are certainly principles and best practices that could be applied. It would have been nice if the discussion could have taken this path.
This is a great example of why I saved my money this year. Last year was my first year and all the sessions were piss poor for any level of social education. I WANT to know more about ROI of social for my clients but I can’t pay for a $900 badge to SXSW and get that? There’s so much wrong with this industry. I prioritized my work over the parties this year and am really happy about that.
Good thinking. And yes, there is something seriously wrong with this industry.
I wasn’t there to party my ass off, and it was (fortunately or unfortunately – depends on the angle) my own dime paying for it. I was there to get information and to network. Not entirely pleased with either experience.
I was at that panel session today and was disappointed. I already knew what was being given out as asnwers, and I wanted (read:NEED) more – and so do the clients I present to in justifying my fee and the costs that will go along with the strategy I present. Have to say I was looking forward to hearing you speak in person – it was a big draw for me to the session, but I did purchase your book before heading to Austin. Guess I will read it sooner than later – I need answers that are at least more concrete than I have so far.
One thing that I found interesting, is the panel session immediately after that one, was on media measurement, mostly relating to PR. Many tools were mentioned, much good advice and real world examples were given. Those types of measurements are instrumental (along with other factors) in helping to determine ROI.
For many of the clients I deal with – mainly small companies – Social, PR, Advertising, Marketing, Analytics – all of these roles are often played by only one or two people. Budget it important to them, just as in a big company with a whole C-Suite and multiple departments covering these topics. Most of what I hear is geared toward larger companies. I’ll be able to use your book and a few others I have along with some of the information from the second session today to try to piece together some answers that are at least *more* solid than I went in with.
The book’s examples default to larger company models, but you’ll find that the principles and processes can be simplified to fit small companies. (Easier that way than the other.) 😉
Sorry I couldn’t be there. The way things went, it might have been a good thing. It’s one thing for me to spend 45 minutes answering questions and explaining this stuff. It’s another to have me be one fifth of a panel. I would have had what, 5 minutes to call bullshit on some of the nonsense that was being preached to you guys? Not exactly the best use of anyone’s time.
If the book doesn’t answer all of your questions, let me know. I’ll be glad to fill the gaps.
Is it naive to think that at the end of the day businesses exist to make money and that anything they do has to either make, save or prevent the loss of money? Including building relationships and trust! Why do people think that the ROI of social is any different? I really like what you said on Business2Community in February: “ROI is ROI, regardless of the channel or the technology or the platform.” (http://www.business2community.com/social-media/social-media-and-roi-some-clarity-again-0138830)
I’m sorry that you missed Sx because I think you would have made a real impact. I’m sorry I missed it too but that’s because I wanted to see my friends, not because I expect any value from the talks or the people who don;t understand that networking and advertising aren’t the same thing. LOL.
Personally, I only really care about three measures: Thank You, Wow & Done. All the rest is commentary.
I’ve given up on feeding the dinosaurs. I’m focusing on startups. What do you think about that? 🙂
Kudos for using Pinterest btw. I am left cold by it.
I hear that a lot:
“Too bad you couldn’t be in my meeting today. You would have made a real impact.”
“Too bad it wasn’t you up there on stage. You would have made a real impact.”
“Too bad you missed Sx, because you would have made a real impact.”
It’s nice and I get it. And I know that whenever someone says it, they both mean and believe it. Only I don’t believe it. I used to, but I don’t anymore. I don’t think that my being anywhere in this space (on Twitter, on my blog, at events like SxSW) has any impact whatsoever. Okay, I sell a few books, and a portion of the people who buy them might actually read them. But let’s look at the facts: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. What’s changed? Nothing. Here’s the conversation today:
“How do you measure the ROI of social media?”
“You don’t. You measure engagement. ROI is too hard and doesn’t apply to social media. What’s the ROI of your mother?”
Nothing has changed. My impact has been zero. My impact is still zero. Reality’s a bitch, Arie.
You are SO 100% selling yourself short.
Problem is that people listen to what they want to hear not what they need to do. People aren’t even measuring engagement or whatever, they are measuring page views and likes. I can give people this sort of stuff but continually said, “So what do you think a good number is? 100 Likes, 2000?” I can understand that this sort of thing is a good early indication as whether people are hearing you but no more than that.
The last year has been a fairly depressing place in social I feel. It seems sometimes like I am back in 2006. There is a new wave of snake oil salesmen and women around. There was another one that someone sent me from Social Media Today that said something like, “We are breaking new ground here in defining what the ROI of social media is.” It was followed by a fantastic equation of made up numbers. Classic.
I thought you were an optimist 🙂
Arie, I say this with all love and affection, but so help me Powers that Be, if I see you picking on someone for being negative, I’ll come to England and kick your butt myself 🙂 Positively!
Marj, Marj, Marj, you may have missed it but I was referring to a comment Olivier made earlier: https://thebrandbuilder.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/where-are-the-professionals-reflections-on-the-sxsmroi-panel-debacle/#comment-27094 *throws pie*
I filter out #sxsw from tweetdeck, the whole affair is way too depressing. It has to be the digital hipsters hangout of choice. The people that mostly talk are of the “look at me I’m a God” variety rather than do any actual work.
It’s what I gather also.
This has been a very interesting and insightful read for me, both the article and the comments that follow it.
My team has not yet been called to deliver distinct and accountable ROI for social media yet, but I know that horizon is growing closer and closer. We are not being asked for “proof” yet, but the death knell for naivety and “farting around” in social media is ringing.
I’ve worked for about a year now to gather up several metrics/KPIs for research and historical data. I’m also learning more about what will give my organization and my team the most succinct and accurate insight into how much we’re really, truly spending and delivering in this realm. I am not fooled by the “fluff masters” out there. If I sincerely want to continue down this path, I know I need to deliver proof. “We have to add our voice to the conversation” just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Remember, folks like me need brutal honesty like what you and others have shared here.
P.S.: I admit I did not finish your book yet, but rest assured, I’m going back to it full force this year.
Ha. Brutal honesty isn’t what’s being sold in this market. Platitudes, vanity KPIs and bait & switch services are. Peace, brother.
Is it correct to assume that most execs want to be hear “It’s not worth investing in because it can;t be measured”?
I pretty much tuned out the #sxsw tweets. Same old, same old. With responsibility for my own social media and that of the Lancaster, PA chapter of SCORE, I want to get some solid and meaningful ROI measurements in place that I can track consistently. I should have bought your book before…but better late than never! Thanks for “lighting the fire”, Olivier. 🙂
Thanks, Dawn. I might have to just start unfollowing anyone who tweets from #SxSW parties. It might be a good start. I hope the book will be helpful. If not, the blog should be. 🙂
Looking forward to when it arrives on my doorstep in 3-5 days (according to Amazon)! And your blog is always helpful – even referenced your “Fixing the Engagement Gap” in one of my blog posts last week. 🙂
So clearly, I am in the ignorant camp of people who thinks social media ROI is measured in trust, loyalty, etc. Because that’s all I’ve ever heard from anyone willing to actually talk to me about it. I have always been genuinely interested in social media marketing but only recently decided to push myself to learn more about the concrete ROI, etc.
I’ll be honest: I didn’t even know who you were until I read this scathing blog post this morning. And I’m terrified of you. But I’m going to grab your book and see where it gets me all the same. I hope I learn something and still manage to have hope for this industry when I’m finished.
Don’t be terrified. Mildly frightened will do. 😉
Nah, I’m harmless. Enjoy the book, dig through the blog for more stuff on the topic, and if I can ever be helpful, tweet me your questions.
I am writing this response from SXSW. I am still fuming at the caliber (or rather, lack of) of the speakers, panelists and keynotes I have heard.
I actually walked out on 2 sessions by heavy weights. How heart-breaking and disappointing is it to see the amount of rubbish that came out of those sessions; people you have heard about, whose reputation are probably bigger than their resumes, and whose words are heard by thousands of people.
I am a professional, a practitioner. I work every single day in the digital industry. I work to integrate social media into a large corporation. and today, I feel that if this industry does not clean up its act, it is explode in action.
why? because those who come and listen to those sessions in the hope to learn, will go back to their leadership with the wrong knowledge. They will only contribute to reinforcing the signal that “social media is not serious” and that “social media is for kids”.
I do not get invited to speak. May be because I am not in the right circles, may be because I am too busy actually doing stuff, may be because I don’t BS,…not sure why.
That being said, outside of the sessions, I have met some of the most talented people, who are also doing stuff in large companies. and those encounters where the most enlightening. But those people do not get invited to panels and keynotes. We are way too boring because we actually tell it like it is.
You know, I am actually happy I can contribute to the advancement of social media adoption within organizations and this goes beyond social media. it is business strategy, digital strategy, communications, .. but to those who hop from one panel/conference to the next, I have one message….PLEASE, RESPECT YOUR AUDIENCE. they pay to hear you, they hope to learn from you, they deserve that you respect them enough, that you cut out the crap. When your job is to be a professional speaker, you offer no more value to your audience. real life is not about speaking…
I feel your pain and your experience echoes not only my own but pretty much every professional I run into who is responsible for actually delivering results. It’s why I don’t attend these conferences unless I get invited to speak. I can’t stand it. I break out in hives listening to that much bullshit. It just isn’t good for my blood pressure.
I guess I can take solace in that I don’t get invited to speak at events nearly as often as the A-listers, which is probably an indication that I am only half as an airbag as they are.
The problem I have with that is that… well, half an airbag is still an airbag. So… maybe it’s time for me to shut down this blog, stop speaking and go find a quiet cubicle somewhere. Between you and me, I would rather be doing great work behind the scenes like I used to than have even one person mistake me for a social media douchebag/speaker/huckster. 4 years of being front and center like I have been has had ZERO effect whatsoever. The big names just get bigger, their sales pitch gets dumber, and nothing changes. We are having the same convos today that we were 4 years ago. No progress.
I’m kind of done. If people don’t see through the bullshit by now, it’s because they don’t want to. I’m not dumb enough to think I will ever change that.
Sadly it’s exactly this kind of nonsense that has been a large part of why I’m not banging the social media drum lately. The ambient chatter is just too archaic.
SxSW always seems to have disappointments – most of which are “point and laugh” worthy – but this is really disconcerting.
In the words of Joey Comeau – “I’m tired of playing dinosaurs. Let’s be meteors.”
I’d never heard that one. Thanks, Ian. 🙂
Hehe Been saying “Stop feeding the dinosaurs”for a while now. Part of why I’m focusing on startups now.
This surprises you? Shame, shame.
It does. I always expect progress. I have no idea why. I should have learned my lesson by now.
As others have eluded to, I think social as a whole is facing a ‘crap or get off the pot’ moment. I hope this helps with a paradigm shift in Social ROI. We’ve endured 4 years of economic hell and now, as we are (hopefully) turning the corner, this is the time where the rubber meets the road.
I enjoy the friction that’s been created here. You chose a path to catch people’s attention and you got us talking. For that, I commend you and your absence of political correctness and look forward to following you and engaging more on this topic.
Thanks, Peter. I am not always right, but I respect my readers enough to always be straight with them. No shilling here. I probably ring the bullshit alarm too often for my own good, but I suppose that is one of the perks of being self-employed. If I ever return to the corporate world, I will probably have to stop being the sheriff around these parts. Enjoy it while it lasts. 😉
And then there’s this: http://thoughtindustry.com/2012/03/13/thinking-before-blogging-a-case-study-in-bridge-burning-at-sxsw/
My response & comments are there somewhere.
Don’t let the bastards grind you down, mon Capitán.
We help those we can, and we do not lose sleep over those we can’t.
I might not have the business experience to be consider a professional in this regard, but this is not rocket science. It blows my mind how it’s STILL not catching on. It’s so simple.
What the hell are we doing, here?
How does it reduce cost or increase revenue?
How do we KNOW it’s reduced cost or increased revenue?
Let’s move on! Let the dullards flunk out. Plenty of us out here eager to continue learning about brand building. What would you write about if you lived in a world where everyone got it and actually measured SMROI properly?
Exactly. Well put, and succinct at that.
Okay, I’ll keep doing what I do. Thanks for the pep talk.
Thanks for posting this, with enough mordant passion to get me to go buy that book and hopefully get smarter. I measure ROI on everything else, and am crossing my fingers that your info will help me do it for social efforts as well.
I live in Austin, and given feedback like I see in your post and the comments wonder if SXSWi has had its “jump the shark” moment this year?
If I had known that this post was going to sell so many copies of the book, I would have written it a lot sooner. 😀 Maybe the session sucking as bad as it did was a blessing in disguise, both for me and those of you who discovered the book and the blog as a result.
Quick tip: Do a search for ROI and R.O.I. on this blog, Lori. The book doesn’t cover everything about it. In fact, it focuses more on how to build SM programs from a business standpoint. It kind of gives you a blueprint. For pure ROI tips and explanations, I have a few posts here that go deeper and might be more helpful to you. Bonus: It’s free.
As far as the jumping the shark thing, I think it might have happened sooner than this year. 😉
Great to meet you. Cheers.
You should gather just your ROI posts into an e-book and sell it.
For $200 million.
Heh! Will use your pro tip re: blog searches; gotta love that “free” thang! Great to meet you back – if you’re ever in Austin, feel free to ping and I’ll buy you an adult beverage, further adding value to your post. 😉
Sigh. I have mixed thoughts on this since, like you, I wasn’t there (SXSW or the panel).
However, I also followed the chatter along online and was similarly disappointed.
I’m still amazed that it’s crazy for people to think that if they join a panel, they’ll have to share specifics. “What do you MEAN I should explain how MY COMPANY/CLIENT calculates the ROI of our social media activities?”
It’s really not that hard, and I’m sure that I could have a 10-minute conversation with someone and cover how we measure the ROI of social at my organization, and that’s including Q&A time.
Hate to just chime in with an “I agree”… but I agree. Again, I wasn’t there so take it with a grain of salt, but the chatter online was pretty lacking and I was also reminded of the events I’d go to in ’09 – ’10 and there really didn’t seem to be anything different.
I’m content to do my job and have conversations outside of the conference atmosphere with people that either do what I do, or can help me improve what we do here re: ROI (and social media overall).
“The more time I spend in the online world the more I’m convinced that it is not really a tool of productivity. It is a tool for manipulating other people so that you can get a regularly scheduled deluxe ego massage.” – Marjorie Clayman
I wish I had talked with some of you after sessions at SXSW this year to get a better understanding of what you see as BS and what isn’t. This is my second year, and both times I’ve focused on content strategy and social technologies and mostly come away with a lot of quality learning, case studies and new ideas.
If a session is wasting my time, I get up and leave. Maybe it’s just the content strategy/journalism track is better than the social media and marketing sessions, I just don’t know.
By far the best part of SXSW for me is meeting people, especially those I’ve already connected with virtually, and having time to really connect and talk. Some of those conversations and the on-going connection they create are priceless for me.
At my age you can do SXSW during the day, or SXSW at night–but not both.
Maybe this keeps me away from the inane brain-sucking party-hearty people. Eight of us rented a house west of downtown, which gave us peace and quiet, which is in short supply at a conference of 20,000 people.
It’s not just connecting with virtual friends and meeting speakers. Almost without exception every day was also filled with meeting new interesting, interested people in the audience and the meet ups.
I think about two guys I met in their 20s from Cairo I met who started a social media marketing firm in Egypt two years ago. They said, “two years ago people were saying “what is social media, why would I need Twittering?” and now, after the revolution, everyone is yelling at us “give me social media!” You can’t find people like my new friends Tarek and Tarek (yes, they both have the same first name) at another conference. They came because it was SXSW.
I believe you need to take strong stands where you see clearly issues in social networks, because this movement is so new. But I also believe more strongly that you get what you give, and giving results in a much better world to live your life in. Sorry to hear the negative SXSWview in most comments, let alone the negative worldview in others.
I do agree with the criticism you’re taking that people come to SXSW in part because they will get to hear and talk to leaders in the field, which is the job you signed up for, Olivier. I met you–and learned a lot–at a Blogwell conference in Chicago two years ago.
And I hope better things come for SXSW and for you. Its unfortunate that the cancellation happened, but I’m more concerned about the dialogue over ROI.
See you around.
Sorry I couldn’t be there. I’ll hopefully make it to Austin someday. 🙂
Okay, about the BS thing. Let me try to bring some clarity to the issue:
1. ROI is return on investment. It’s a financial calculation that encompasses the relationship between an investment (cost) in a program or activity, and the gain from that program or activity. That relationship can be divided into two areas: cost savings and net revenue.
2. ROI is not return on innovation, return on influence, return on information, return on engagement, return on conversation or any other ‘return on x’ that isn’t return on investment. When a CEO or CFO or any executive with budget responsibilities asks about ROI, they are not asking about return on imagination.
So any session or speaker that mistakes #2 for #1 either doesn’t know what they are talking about or is purposely trying to sell you BS. Either way, not good.
3. An ROI session cannot under any circumstance recommend to people the following:
– ROI cannot be calculated.
– ROI should not be calculated.
– ROI is too expensive to calculate.
– ROI is trust and relationships.
– ROI is not applicable to social media.
Those sorts of answers are complete BS.
– #1 (above).
– ROI can be calculated. If there’s a cost and a gain from that cost, it can be calculated. It’s a simple equation.
– ROI should be calculated (when and where it matters)
– ROI is not expensive to calculate. All you need is data and a spreadsheet.
– ROI is NOT trust or relationships or loyalty or likes or any such thing. ROI is ROI. See #1.
– ROI is absolutely applicable to social media.
Some people claim to be experts in this field and yet couldn’t write down the ROI equation on a piece of paper, let alone explain how to use it in a social media setting. Rather than to learn this, they spew nonsense because it’s easier. Those of us who know what it is and understand not only how it fits in social but how to actually determine it for business managers and analysts don’t have a lot of patience for these hucksters: they bring this industry down, hurt companies by giving them bad advice, and hold everyone back just so they can keep making a buck off the gullible. That’s basically the 411 on that.
Olivier, I was in the second row at this panel. Folks lined up an hour ahead of time for it, and filled the room to capacity quickly, even though that capacity had been doubled (a neighboring panel had been relocated to a church down the street and the dividing wall between two ballrooms removed). There was much gasping and gushing over the popularity of the panel. I remember a panelist saying something like, “Wow, you folks really want answers!”
As the panel began, and some of the rhetoric you saw on Twitter was uttered, a shift happened. I was listening and retweeting (my way of taking notes) near the front, so I didn’t notice it until later, but the stream of people coming in turned into a stream of people going OUT.
When I noticed a backlash of disgust happening in the #sxsmroi tweets (or was that #smroi? The panel said one thing, their slide another), I turned around and noticed that this formerly full, SRO room was now 1/3 empty. I stayed because I wanted to see where all this was going, and hoped someone would pipe up (on Twitter, or in the Q&A portion) with the concrete tools and techniques that had been promised in the blurb.
Well, that didn’t happen in Q&A…likely because anyone inclined to challenge the panel had left. And I didn’t feel qualified to challenge them…just knew that ROI and value are not the same thing, though they mostly treated them that way, and if I needed help calculating ROI, I should not ask these people.
THANK YOU for speaking up. THANK YOU for showing how passionately you disagreed with what they said. With less experience, I might have gone back to my boss and repeated what they said as fact.
I am a first-time SXSW attendee, and I didn’t come to party. I came to consult the thought leaders in my field so I could make good decisions for my company. If I couldn’t get that from the panel’s hot air, at least I can get it from you. I have bought your book.
Please continue what you’re doing. Don’t give up. There are a lot of people like me, even at SXSW, and we need people like you.
Peggy, you just made my day.
I’ve received some pretty strong criticism for speaking up about this (mostly from some of the panelists and their buddies). The notion that the back-channel wasn’t representative of what happened in the session kept being brought up. I didn’t buy it. The back-channel is usually pretty representative of what happens during most sessions. It’s just harsh and unapologetic in its criticism, which I suppose isn’t very good for fragile egos.
If anyone on that stage understood the topic they were there to discuss, they certainly made no effort to show it. Had I known that I was expected to carry the whole panel, I would not have agreed to be on it at all. (Might as well make it a training or a keynote.)
You are the first person who was actually in the room to describe with honesty what happened. I didn’t realize it was that bad, but I am not surprised. I am glad I didn’t drop what I needed to do here to be a part of that disaster.
Thank you for setting things straight. 🙂
It was my pleasure, Olivier. To the panel’s criticisms, I would just say this:
Your blurb said “We will ask the hard questions that your CFO wants answered, and we’ll talk about the tools they use to get those answers.” Can you name a single tool you didn’t slag off during the session, or a single technique you didn’t ridicule?
If they can, I will eat my favorite pair of eyeglasses, with mayonnaise.
By the way, the panel’s moderator, @eswayne, reached out to me via Twitter and offered to chat one-on-one about ROI strategies. I told him, “No offense, but you had an hour and a captive audience.”
Fucking hell! I don’t think i need to say anymore than that.
Your book is promoted on my home page and has been for months, plus myself and Tiffany St James pretty much always mention it in our training sessions. Some of us are flying the flag over here my friend.
Rock on! 🙂
Olivier, I first met you at LikeMinds in October 2009. On that occasion you were speaking at an event dedicated to ‘Measuring the ROI of Social Media’. I felt you were in a minority among the speakers for speaking on the published topic (which you did very well).
By the end of the day I was in a minority, because I felt disappointed, and the room was full of people who were filled with excitement at their faith in social media, and seemed to have forgotten about measurement entirely.
I don’t know what it is about social media that attracts this kind of response, but it does seem to be wholly self-contained, and yes, it reproduces itself year after, without progress. I think it’s just the contagious enthusiasm of people who like contagious enthusiasm.
True. There comes a point though where people need to decide whether these events are about self-improvement and/or motivational speakers with a social media theme, or if they are about exchanging and discussing ideas and knowledge with an eye towards moving the industry forward.
If people expect motivational speakers and don’t mind sales pitches, they’re getting their money’s worth. If they expect real discussions about important topics, unfortunately, we still have a long ways to go. … Although it depends on the event. Some are far better curated than others. SxSW has always had a dubious speaker selection process, so it’s no surprise that anyone with a blog can score a speaker/panelist spot as long as they can rally up enough fanboy votes. That model is great for attracting attendees but not so great when it comes to producing solid content.
As much as I enjoy signing autographs, posing for pictures with A-listers and tweeting about the cool parties I am attending, that’s not my reason for speaking at conferences. The same can’t be said about every “expert,” unfortunately.
We’ll get there eventually. 🙂
I deal with this same frustration in building sites. I don’t think you give up, but let the people who are blowing money, and don’t get it. just go on. They’ll run out of money eventually and have to actually start doing things in a measurable way.
I would also have been appalled and walked out. I ended a Master of Future Studies degree because they were into non-measurable feel good stuff for “modern” managers. Anything useful to organizations has to be measured.
My experience is that you get out of #sxsw what you put into it. I agree whole-heartedly with @rohnjaymiller, who I had the pleasure to meet this year at the Content Strategy Meetup. I’m not sure how many of the commenters here were actually at the SM ROI panel, but I’m surprised to see so much vitriol about it. I know there’s more to ROI than what was covered in this session, but I can always buy a book, read a blog or watch a webcast that walks me through the math. I got what I came for: lively conversation with people I respect sharing different perspectives and experiences.
Not sure there was much lively conversation in that particular session. I spoke with a number of people who were there (some have commented here) and it was pretty much an F. When almost half the room walks out, you know there’s a problem. There is a very big difference between being honest about a poorly executed session and “vitriol.” Vitriol is mean-spirited. Nothing here, from this post to the comments was mean-spirited. None of what you read here was vitriol. Let’s try to keep things in perspective.
Also, one session being horrible is not generally representative of an entire conference. I am sure that for every failed session, there was at least one solid one. (At least I hope so.)
Thanks for the comment.
Also, in case any employers are thinking they shouldn’t waste their money on #sxsw next year, because it’s just a bunch of hard partying, please read this sentiment from Duane Shulz, VP Brand and Marketing at Xerox, who was on the B2B Social Media panel: “I believe we opened eyes at SXSWi to the idea that social media is thriving and changing how marketing gets done in B2B, and the audience was fantastic, as you’ll see @ twitter #SMB2B. In short, if you’re doing interactive, SXSWi is the place for the right conversations. Bring batteries, an umbrella, and a love of music and there’s great learning to be had. As well as great BBQ.”
Correct spelling: Duane Schulz
Olivier, with all due respect, I think vitriol IS the right word. You may not have intended it to be mean-spirited, but it definitely came off that way. I WAS at the SMROI panel and found it to be lively and interesting–it wasn’t a failed session. (I’ve been in my share of those at sxsw as well, although not this year.) It would have been nice to have your voice in the mix in the room, as I appreciate what you could have brought to the party. I think you could also have contributed in a more constructive way from the back-channel, instead of talking about what a crappy panel it was without you. Professional courtesy, if nothing else.
The only thing I can do at this point, Carmen, is not contribute to BS and respond to it when it rears its ugly little head. I did both of these things. Had the discussion actually focused on ROI, I would have gladly participated in it. As the discussion sought to brush ROI aside and promote complete nonsense, there wasn’t much for me to contribute aside from what I did. If you think that making sure that people don’t walk away with bad information is vitriol, then I guess there isn’t much more I can say to change your mind.
I’m glad you and other folks got what you hoped out of that session. Good luck applying what you learned during that session in a legitimate business setting.
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