We should probably start by outright stating the fact: we've enjoyed ourselves at Social Media week this year. It's been well put-together, and there's been a lot of interesting content (Our particular highlights were JonBurkhart's "Shock and Guffaw" panel about disruption & humour, andBloomberg's fascinating "Internet of Things" panel). The staff have been helpful and friendly, the venues awesome and shiny... but while we enjoyed ourselves, it wasn't always for the right reasons.
SXSE London is lucky enough to work with some of the most talented activists and entrepreneurs that the internet has to offer, and across the board, the unfortunate sensation we're left with is that Social Media Week has become something of a corporate shell.
It's easy to understand why, of course - we recognise that a huge number of businesses still really don't "get" social media even now, and so they come in their droves, desperate to catch a glimpse of what the most successful practitioners are doing in their fields. But with the growing success of SMWLDN, so too come the army of "experts" to fill out the ranks of those presenting - and herein lies the problem.
Where once all of the presentations at SMW were run by the "do-ers" of social, the huge wealth of traditional marketing agencies who are now "social" ("We used the word 'engagement' again! Now we look like we know what we're talking about!") has pervaded the week and definitively poisoned the well for those of us who aim to use social to bring people together for more than "brand awareness" or "sales prospecting".
As the week began, our colleague Jon Morter (RATM4XMAS supremo and "Condescending Corporate Brand Page" creator) posted his guide to the game of buzzword bingo that he played throughout the week - points awarded accordingly for each of the following:
"engagement" = 100pts
"gamification" = 200pts
"organic" = 50pts
"content" = 50pts (DOUBLE SCORE if preceded with "rich")
"earned media" = 40pts
"staying on-brand" = 125pts
"data" (only score points if in same sentence as "traffic") = 75pts
"crisis management" = 40pts
"community strategy" = 77pts
"mobile success" = 100pts
It won't surprise you to know that in at least one of the sessions we attended we scored a full house. Twice. We sat in another session where a well-dressed lady tried to explain how marketing was like sandwiches. SANDWICHES, for God's sake!
If you didn't manage to make it to any of the sessions this week, some genius has collated some of the more ridiculous statements tweeted from sessions to illustrate our point here beautifully:http://thisisnotaninsight.tumblr.com/ ("Did we make people actually think before they tweeted? We fucking hope so!")
To us, it's a reminder that, no matter what content we showcase at SXSE London, it will be delivered in plain English and a down-to-earth manner with absolutely none of the marketing buzzwords that have populated SMWLDN. After all, isn't the point of social media to help us communicate better?