Oiconf13 Review: Mixed Emotions


Oi logo bigWell, six months of hard, hard work later and its all over again. We’ve finished another Oiconf (Online Influence conference) in Cardiff on the 11th June 2013. Its an important date, more on why in a moment.

I am proud to say it was once again extremely well received by a fantastically engaged audience. There were close on to 200 people in the room and it seemed like every single one of them left with a great big smile on their face!

Mark Schaefer was simply awesome.

He rocked three hours of social media marketing gold to a spell-bound crowd who lapped up every joke and every nugget of wisdom with equal relish. The man is quite simply a consummate professional.

Mark at Oiconf13

Mark at Oiconf13

His well-practiced and top-notch material flowed freely and keeping the energy levels high for the entire time, he took everyone from intense contemplation of the future to humorous and on occasion, self-deprecating fun poking.

We soared on his images of a virtual reality future brilliantly realised with his sparse and elegant prose, and trembled at the implications for our businesses and brands of not ‘getting’ this stuff.

I’ll summarise Marks amazing talk in a separate post.

Trying to do the impossible, to follow the master, Pippa Davies had a pretty good stab at it! Following a buzzy and chatty lunch, Pippa picked the energy up again, and left us laughing at ourselves and our online peccadilloes. Her slides are here.

I love watching Pippa work, she is a joy and always looks so bright and fun. She at least, is determined to enjoy herself, and she is so engaging that you would not begrudge her that for a second. I just wish we could have given her more time, I could listen to her stories all day!

Last up, at least before the panel, was Oiconf newbie Ian Cleary – and what a debut!

Ian set a challenge to the audience to keep up with him and his encyclopedic knowledge of social media management tools, and we were treated to exactly that. A tour of whats available to help you with your social media marketing the like of which I’ve never experience before.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much concentration in a room that big before. As everyone scrambled to capture on phones, tablets, laptops and even scraps of paper the gems that Ian flung like little hand grenades of illumination.

Ian Clearys presentation (PDF)

The panel that finished the day off included all our speakers and in addition some brilliant people in their own right. Like all our speakers, they also gave their time for free and you should check them out, they are leaders in their respective fields

pic from Lloyd Morgan Productions review

pic from Lloyd Morgan Productions review

Paul Fairburn of Aimiable Consulting in Solihul

Karen Strunks – a social media coach from Birmingham

Paul Sheppard – Owner of Coup Media and main Oiconf sponsor

Joel Hughes – Oiconf web developer and all round white hat

Julie Kissick – bringing the intellectual weight to the discussion, Julie lecturers in Radio TV and Social media in the university of South Wales

They were fantastic. It was a truly great day, with tons of learning to be had. Exactly what I hoped for. More than I could have hoped in some ways.

But, I think, its the last one I’ll do. Thats why the date is important. A brilliant, fan made, person to person driven event has probably had its final hurrah.

Simply put, Oiconf cost me and my buddy and partner Nick a fortune. Thousands actually.

We took a bath, a kicking. We gambled and lost. And it really hurts. Not just the money, but the six months of slogging to sell Oiconf around the UK and the final realisation that we have come out of it on the negative side of the equation.

Don’t misunderstand. Cardiff was great! We sold our target figure, and had a great turnout and on its own, the event wiped its feet with ease.

But we’d had the previous months cancellations to deal with. Three events crashed and burned and left us with big debts.

Lucky for us, you, the Oiconf going public pitched up. Lucky for us, the class of the original line up let us off the hook of contractual obligations. I’ll always be grateful to Mari Smith, Tom and Tamsen Webster for the grace they showed in our hour of need.

But most of all, most special of all, lucky for us Mark Schaefer is the human being he is.

Upon hearing of the disaster of the cancellations that had befallen us, without hesitation, Mark offered to still come over to the UK and to waive his fee. This allowed us to try to make our money back on the Cardiff event.

Ok, we failed, but it would have been a spectacular disaster without Mark Schaefers help. The man is a gentleman of the highest order. I urge you to support him. Buy his books, read his blog and if you ever feel the need, I can even recommend his consultation services.

He is very reasonable, and you wont believe what a great experience you can have with his advice over a Skype connection! (Please note, I have no commercial relationship with Marks or his services)

So the day was almost saved, it was close, but overall we were deflated. Six months of work come to naught, or worse, ending up costing us handsomely. I just hope Nicks business will survive.

So I think thats the last one. I dont feel like going through all that again, especially with the new job. I couldn’t face asking Mark to come over again, and putting him through that again either! And I can’t face the pressure that this has put my friend Nicks business under.

But it was great on the day, I loved it. I love the room, I love the people, the talks were brilliant.

But thats it I think. No more. As Nick said at our lowest point when I tried to encourage him forward ‘I’m fed up with learning lessons’! It was a bright point, at the time, and at least we are still laughing about it!

We will go onwards and upwards. We have had a blast these last couple of years, and yes learned a lot.

But most importantly we have made a ton of friends.

Thank you all for your support, you’ve been awesome!

See you all soon.

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17 replies
  1. Jay Perkins
    Jay Perkins says:

    Truly disappointed that next year won’t see another Oi Conf, thoroughly enjoyed the day Tony and sad to realise how difficult a time you and the others had at the end of it all.

    Hope to see you in other endeavours soon, and hope you the best in the new job. Good luck!

  2. funkidrama
    funkidrama says:

    Happiness and sadness all in one piece TD. Thoroughly enjoyed the day, seeing Mark Schaefer alone was worth it. Hopefully Oi will continue in some form.

  3. philippa
    philippa says:

    In the 1990s my right hand woman and myself got a deal with Reuters for biz worth about £50,000.
    We jumped off the tube at Knightsbridge on the way home and spend thousands in Harvey Nichols getting appropriate clobber for the gigs.
    The next day, Reuters rang up and said they were very sorry, but due to an unexpected turn in their trading, they would be unable to honour our arrangement.

    We learnt something…

    You and Nick may not feel like it now, but you have built something valuable in Oi – an enthusiastic audience of highly engaged and intelligent social media pros. It was amazing to see from the stage for instance, just how many of them ran professional media streams alongside their own.

    How many useful and productive connections have been made through your event?

    You and Nick have been pioneers here – and I am sorry it has been to both your cost. But you are to be thanked and appreciated.

    • Tony Dowling
      Tony Dowling says:

      Thanks Pippa! We are certainly aware of the special potential of Oiconf, and extremely grateful for the out pouring of support. I have to say, I am not surprised in some ways as the Oiconf fans have been amazing from the start, and as I have mentioned on Twitter especially, the reason why all this is so worth while!
      Money aside, its been a huge success, and I think we have more than achieved my original aim to help the businesses of South Wales understand the potential that social media marketing offers them.
      I’ve made many friends through this journey, yourself included and would not swap that for the world!
      We are really positive people I think, and this has got us down a bit, but we were both back up and on it almost immediately, there is nothing more important than being up for the fight!
      Thanks again for all your done to support us 🙂

  4. Dave Quinney
    Dave Quinney says:

    Hi TD sorry to hear about the misfortune you’ve had on this years oiconf, i missed this years offering but thoroughly enjoyed it last year. huge respect to you both for giving it a go. A lot of people can and probably do only dream about hosting a gig like oiconf, the difference is you guys put your balls on the block and did it, “he who dares Rodney, he who dares” look forward to hearing about your next project! Regards DQ

  5. Helen Murdoch
    Helen Murdoch says:

    I missed last year’s event, but was delighted to get to this one. Congratulations on bringing this sort of event to Cardiff – fantastic! I am sorry the other regional events didn’t work out, but who knows what opportunities the future may bring. As for next year, there are lots of different ways to consider configuring this event and maintaining the momentum. Keep faith, keep the focus on Cardiff and keep in touch with all those who are now “in the know”! Happy to be involved or to help in any way I can. Thanks for an excellent event and amazing connections.

  6. Karen Strunks
    Karen Strunks says:

    A bittersweet read.

    First of all, big congratulations on a truly awesome event! It was everything a marketing & social media conference should be. It was wonderfully organised and your choice of speakers was first class! No one can deny the amount of value that your conference and Mark, Pippa and Ian delivered.

    Secondly, you have a lot of support should you want to continue in some form other, mine included, so tap into that if/when you are ready. Don’t underestimate what you have achieved.

    Thank you for an amazing day, for involving me and for creating a social media highlight of 2013.

    Karen

    • Tony Dowling
      Tony Dowling says:

      Thanks Karen _ I owe all you guys a debt of thanks for all you did for the event, and us the fans!
      I will certainly take you words to heart, and think on 🙂

  7. esthernagle
    esthernagle says:

    I was talking about this the other day, how much it must have cost you. I’m so sorry it has been so difficult for you Tony, you and Nick put on two truly incredible events, and I am delighted that I was able to be at both, truly amazing learning opportunities, and I met some incredible people. While I appreciate that you must feel pretty raw about all this at the moment, I hope you are really really proud of yourselves and can look back on these two events with real pride!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] in the ashes of the wash up, and despite the tough end to this years event that we experience inside the ropes, the positive feedback and support has been […]

  2. […] ever be grateful to Tony for creating such an amazing event.  Tony wrote on his recent blog post: Oiconf13 Review: Mixed Emotions, that this will be the last conference.  Tony is one of those people that I am so proud to have […]

  3. […] and Mark Schaefer (@markwschaefer) on the Oi Conference site. I’d also recommend looking at this review of #Oiconf13 by the incredible @MrTonyDowling, who is behind the whole […]

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