This is getting very exciting! We have a load of volunteers coming forward, though no sponsors as yet, and a ton of ideas given freely by all sorts. I have to thank Barbara Chidgey, @waveriderswidow, @mrsmoti, @edwardoregan, @Brandnatter, @tinhuttales, and @joel_hughes in addition to the others already mentioned, and those that have RT’d the message, as they have come up with specific help / advice directly. But if you are reading this, you’ll also know that there are a load of other people spreading the word too.

But the big news is that Mark Schaefer, author of the Tao of Twitter and Return on Influence, has confirmed that he will attend and deliver the keynote, as well as do book signings and VIP / Sponsors Dinners etc. Lets me just say this, Thank you Mark, you have been amazing already, and I am now really looking forward to meeting you!

Mark has also offered the benefit of his advice, given that for the last two years he has put on his own Social Media conference (  he took the time and effort to write me an email with some great ideas.

Canvassing opinions over the weekend and today especially, it seems the issues for most of us when it comes to social media, is not about, despite what previous conference in Wales have talked about, getting on Twitter and Facebook, rather its about being sure that it’s actually working for you and your business. Mark’s latest book is about the ‘Return on Influence’ one may expect from a consistent and considered social media approach, and  I am thinking this should be the theme of the day.

There is s lot of really clever thinking going on around the world about how to quantify ‘response’ to this stuff, how to codify best practice, what works, whether you see it working or not, where to be, where not to be etc etc etc. And its this high level of conversation I want us to have. I don’t want someone to sit in front of me selling me their social media services, I want to know how to drive engagement. I don’t want to find out what the latest ‘must be on’ buzz-tastic social media is, I want to know what other like-minded businesses experience. Does that make sense to you guys?

I want to know how I craft a personal online brand. Not how do I get a Facebook Page. I want to know I grow my social influence, not how to buy Twitter followers. I want to know exactly what I get out of my carefully crafted online presence, I want to know how my brand can connect better with my customers, I want to know where people are going and what they want from their social media.

I don’t want another ‘5 steps to make your blog the highest read blog on the planet’ only to have to subscribe to something, or buy something or click and read and click and read through tons of rubbish.

I want the best thinkers in Wales, and I want to share knowledge and enthusiasm and advice. I can tell you Mark Schaefer is an amazingly bright, articulate, well-regarded social media expert, and its that sort of level of experience I want, here in Wales. (If you’d like to know more about Mark and what he does, check out this blog)

I want a very special social media conference for Wales. I am tired of hearing about the media, I want to know about the message. The way to do it, what to say and who to say it to, that sort of conference.

I also want your ideas. What do you want? Am I miles off? What am I missing? What don’t you like from what you have seen so far in Wales, and what would you rather have? Let me know. Talk to me, this will be your conference more so than mine.

I also want a name for it! Lets call it something identifiably new and interesting and fun. Theres nothing wrong with the Social Media Conference for Wales I guess, but we can do better than that?

Here’s a couple of other plans I’d like your thoughts on please:

Looks like it will happen in September, this fits with Mark’s travel plans and allows us plenty of time to make this work.

Keep it simple: One hall, one day one linear programme – if this takes off it may get bigger and bigger, but let’s make the first one a success

I think a mixture of panels and speakers? With Mark Schaefer delivering the Keynote?

I am thinking it would be cool to have a pre show sponsors dinner for VIPs to meet Mark and the team behind the event the night before, followed be a pre show party for all the delegate to gracefully introduce themselves to one another with the aid of a delicate libation or two!

I’m thinking the Celtic Manor for the venue, it’s a world-class facility, and I can get a great deal on rooms for delegates, its accessible to the rest of the UK as well.

We’ll do a book signing over lunch on the day of the conference, and supply Marks latest book to all delegates, and get to meet the man himself. And we’ll close the thing with an After Show Party too.

Its been suggested that despite my first instinct, we charge delegates to take part. This ensures a good turn out, and you negate the chance of everyone sitting around fruitlessly wanting for the crowds to turn up! It also ensures a certain standard of attendee, being the sort of high quality event this is.

I don’t want to make money out of this, so I will most likely look at a deal that just covers the costs of the day, coffee on arrival lunch etc?

Again, unless anyone has any other ideas? Should we support a charity?

These are just preliminary thoughts at present, and I am in no way precious about this stuff. Let me know what you think, I can take it. And I am grateful for any advice anyone wants to give (I may not take it mind you!)

And finally, once I get some breathing space, I’ll be arranging for a meeting of me and you guys and the interested parties that are willing to chip in to help make this happen. I’ll be needing logistic help, marketing help, Website help and all sorts.

Lets make this happen people!

Comments as ever below, or mail me directly, [email protected]

  1. jameslramsay
    jameslramsay says:

    Event name? I vote for ‘SocialSlam” – sounds grand to me!

    This sounds like a terrific event – and having Mark endorse is great

    Im in Oxford – but would like to know how can I contribute


  2. Mike Bersin
    Mike Bersin says:

    Tony, I’m not Welsh, (although my folks are Cornish, does that count?) but I would love to be able to attend. How would I secure a place please?

  3. Barbara
    Barbara says:

    “its about being sure that it’s actually working for you and your business” – now that I think is spot on …… but what does that really mean? Reason I ask that is that needs to be the starting point to ensure that there is a common understanding and language.

    Also “I don’t want another ’5 steps to make your blog the highest read blog on the planet’ only to have to subscribe to something, or buy something or click and read and click and read through tons of rubbish” – hallelujah – 100% in agreement.

    Into this format – to release the thinkers and the ideas and to bring them together – we need a creative approach to facilitation that supports involvement, thinking as well as the input to generate understanding and thinking.

    Title: “What’s in it for me and my business?” ….. i.e.”Social Media: WII4M?”

    Well done Tony – exciting stuff. September sounds good too – but later September – early is still not a good time in my experience!!

    • Tony Dowling
      Tony Dowling says:

      Thanks Barbara, essential reading as always. I think we need one of our discussions about this stuff. I would welcome your ability to stretch my brain out of shape!

      I’ll speak to you directly, via email or F2F soon as I can get to you!

  4. Nick Smith
    Nick Smith says:

    What about The KISS conference
    Stands for keep it social stupid which could be the positioning statement?
    I think it’s quite funny and a bit of a thinking mans brand.
    We can create the logo if that would help