Social Media Day Phoenix: The Good & Not So Good

A couple of days ago I attended Social Media Day Phoenix. The event/day was created by Mashable to “celebrate the changes in media that have empowered us to stay connected to information in real time, the tools that have enabled us to communicate from miles apart and the platforms that have given a voice to the voiceless.”

According to Pete Cashmore of Mashable, the event brought together 5,000 people in 500 different locations across the world including one right here in Phoenix. The local gathering was organized by Social Media AZ (SMAZ), Social Media Club Phoenix and the City of Tempe (primarily the great Kris Baxter).

The Good

Lots of New People: When you go to enough local social media networking events, you tend to stumble into the same people, but this event was different. It was an odd gathering of young and old, business owners, marketers and bloggers most of whom I didn’t know well. It’s good to see a more diverse group of social media lovers.

The Organizing Team, or Should I Say Kris Baxter: I could say something about SMAZ and SMCphoenix here, but this event happened for one reason and her name is Kris Baxter. If you don’t know Kris, she is the Community Development Marketing Specialist for the City of Tempe, and a wonderful, generous person. She saw an opportunity to show how Tempe can support the larger community and made it happen. Nice job Kris!

The Band: The Bears of Manitou were awesome. Check them out here.

The Not So Good

The Venue: I want to love MADCAP. It could be an amazing meeting & movie space, but once again it disappointed me. The A/C wasn’t working well causing myself and everyone to sweat their butts off and, for this germaphobe, the dirty seats made my skin crawl. I hope the City or an investment group will one day return the theater to its glory days.

The Ridiculous Story Telling Time: While I appreciate there were some great stories of people using social media change the world, I could have done without some of the grandstanding by teeny bopers talking about how the met their girlfriend or boyfriend through mySpace. Go back to Thanks.

The Slide Show: It was all over the place. I think someone had one too many brews at Robbie Fox’s before operating the slideshow.

Final Thoughts

Two things:

  1. Do we really need a social media day? One of the things I have struggled with since hearing about the day was the idea of an official social media day. I thought every day was social media day. Why can’t we celebrate every day that gives us the opportunities this medium provides by simply using social media? The optimist in me believes it is a good way to connect the social media crowd offline. The pessimist part says it was good way for Mashable to promote themselves and gather some more data (names & email addresses) about us.
  2. An Annual Event is Enough. Based on a follow up email I received from Mashable and some murmurs from a few friends, it sounds like there are plans to make this a regular event. I think our time can be better time spent finding out ways to create meaningful on and offline experiences via social media than simply celebrating the medium. Once-a-year is enough for me.

Am I way off base here? If you attended, what did you think? Would you attend a monthly social media day? Why or why not?


  1. jmoriarty

    I think you about nailed it. Kris did a great job getting a lot of moving parts going quickly, and I really enjoyed meeting social media folks outside my usual circles.

    Some of the storytime stuff came as poor reaction to the heat issue, but definitely didn't work – at least on that scale. I liked hearing the different social media things people were excited about locally more than the individual stories. A casualty of limited planning for the most part.

    I'd be up for Quarterly, but Monthly as Mashable suggests is way too much. There is a ton of stuff going on in Phoenix already in the social space, and while networking is fun I think we'll burn it out if we do it too often.

  2. Totally agree. The networking part in the lobby was awesome, as you said there were a ton of new people and some great (free) food and a cool band. But then I was baffled by the part where we sat in the theater for 18 hours (OK…only one or two). To be quite honest that part felt a little forced to me and the erratic slideshow was equally confusing. That said, I was invited to help coordinate and wasn't able to make the meeting so I can only applaud the people who came together on such short notice and were able to pull off so many things for that day.

    As for repeating this event I have mixed feelings. I do feel like there could be a reason to bring people together for a more informal meetup. Most of the events we do are so focused on education, it might be nice to just relax and get a chance to mingle with people – especially new faces. Jeff mentioned quarterly and I think that might be a good middle ground between yearly and monthly. I think we could also do away with some of the pre-planned activities that can feel a little strained and just focus on the socializing part. Maybe we can set up small groups or round tables to sort of mix everyone up and get them talking to different people. It might work as a nice counterpart to more serious events like SMC and AZIMA.

    Anyways, great analysis, thanks for the post!

  3. Michael Barber (Author)

    Thanks Katie.

    If they could iron out the kinks, I might reconsider my opinion on making it a reoccurring event. It was good to come to a social media meetup and it not be about education.

  4. Michael Barber (Author)

    Thanks for the comment, Jeff. The storytime was great until the “I met my boyfriend/girlfriend” and “MRI boobs” stories started. Other than those, I tend to agree that it is exciting to hear about some of the new social media stories around Phoenix.

  5. Well said, Micheal. You basically took the words right out of my mouth as far as the good and the bad of the event. You're right on. Some of the stories/preaches were…just too much.

    I don't really know what else I can add to what has already been said other than I'm all for social-media-appreciative events so long as there's no forced agenda, and the focus is on informally connecting with local people who are passionate about meeting others and learning new things about how other people use social media to do cool things. The thing is, there were people there who have experienced something really cool using social media, or executed a really successful campaign, or know about something happening in the social space that's worth sharing with others; but the event didn't allow for these people to connect directly with the people who cared or wanted to know more.

    What I think we need is a place (offline) that allows people to connect, discuss, and discover new things based on their particular social media interests. Let the marketers mingle with non-marketers. Let the marketers share successes and challenges about current campaigns their working on. Let people talk about their favorite aspects of a particular channel or the new plugin they discovered for WordPress that everyone should know about. Roundtables could be a great solution, but so could tables at bars… Point is, Social Media Day (whether monthly, quarterly, or annually) should be about discovery and connecting, not Mashable, and not awkward sales pitches for your personal social media mission.

    Thanks for writing this!