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Sf skylineI like blogs for developing and sharing ideas, but if you really want to see progress, you need to spend time with people, face to face. Notice which problems get them animated, and which topics bore them. Look in their eyes to see which ideas are working and which are not. Considering the unresolved questions of measurement and analytics in social media, spending some time together sounds like a great idea.

That's why I'm excited to be a part of the Social Media Analytics Summit, taking place April 17–18 in San Francisco. As conference chair, I get to present a couple of sessions, moderate a couple of panels, and generally stay in the middle of things throughout the event. Offstage, I plan to spend a lot of time listening to what people are doing and seeing how they respond to the other ideas in the room.

I also plan to have a very pleasant time with the people who would go to a conference dedicated to social media analytics. These conferences with very specific topics are always good for meeting interesting people. And, you know, business opportunities have been known to emerge in these gatherings, too.

The program includes some very sharp folks (I would know, I invited some of them), talking about the burning questions, effective strategies, and practical applications of social media analytics. It's a safe bet that everyone will learn something from this group, starting with the pre-summit interview series. As always, the conversations after the sessions will probably be even better.

Psst. You want a discount?
If you read this blog—and I think you do—the Social Media Analytics Summit is worth a look. This isn't social media in the context of a larger conference; it's all ours. If you decide to attend, use the discount code NATHAN300 to save $300 on your registration. Super Early Bird pricing is good until February 17, so you have a couple of weeks to think about it before the price goes up.

See you in San Francisco.

Photo by Abhishek Chhetri.

How to Present at AnalyticsCamp

I got a very nice note from out of state—someone from a social media analysis company who wants to present (we prefer to say "lead a session") at AnalyticsCamp. I told him the super-secret process that's required to get your session into our unconference. If you promise not to tell anyone (shh!), I'll share it with you, too.

Here's how it works:

  1. Register for AnalyticsCamp.
    It's free, but please cancel if you're not going to make it; we use the total for food planning.

  2. Add your session proposal to the list.
    Just copy the format used by the existing entries. Please don't plan the session around a demonstration of your company's product. Selling doesn't sell in this setting.

  3. Show up on March 12th.
    We'll do the BarCamp session pitch thing at the beginning, so you'll get a chance to pitch the crowd on coming to your session.
If you want to participate but don't want to lead a session, skip step 2. Yeah, it's a demanding process. :-)

AnalyticsCamp is, at heart, a local event, but we're flexible about the interpretation of local. Despite icy roads that scared off some closer folks, two participants drove nine hours from Nashville to be with us last year. If analytics (any flavor) is your thing, join us. You'll meet interesting people, and you might just learn something.

AnalyticsCamp registration is open, and 120 people have signed up so far. We'll update the details on the wiki as we get closer to the event.

AnalyticsCamp 2011 in Chapel Hill

AnalyticsCamp went well last year, and we're doing it again on March 12.

Mark your calendars and start working on your session plans. This should be good.

Comic courtesy of xkcd. It comes as a shirt, too. Maybe we'll come up with a prize for wearing one to AnalyticsCamp.

Decompressing Defrag

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I mentioned earlier that I would again make the trip to Colorado for Defrag. While its schedule competed with other attractive events this year, Eric Norlin has assembled an outstanding event that attracts an exceptional community. If, in the future, you want me to come to your event, make sure it doesn't compete with Defrag. Here's a little of what you missed this time.

[Edited to remove embedded media that have stopped working.]

Defrag doesn't just start with coffee and good morning. It rocks the house, no cobwebs allowed.

This was my second Defrag, and I've noticed a tradition of early controversy feeding engagement on Day 1. Last year, Andy Kessler got people fired up with his take on productive/creative jobs (search). We started with a lot less heat this year, but then some of Vivek Wadhwa's comments on culture and innovation rubbed people the wrong way. The thing is, disagreement at Defrag is a catalyst—it really gets discussions going.

The high point this year had to be Jeff Jonas on the new physics of big data. The Twitter back channel (#defragcon) went nearly silent as a roomful of bright people struggled to keep up with a firehose of big ideas. I expect a high proportion of Defrag attendees will download his slides (PPT) for a slower review.

Maggie Fox dug up the roots of our notion of privacy in Privacy is a Commodity, Not a Place. Even as I disagreed with some of her conclusions, I appreciated the historical perspective. That's the thing about Defrag: it's not enough to pitch an answer; we want to see the foundation, too.

Paul Kedrosky is always fun, and this year he took us from the debris that falls on Southern California freeways to finding trends in police reports, an unconventional economic indicator, and the effects of the overinstrumentation of everything. Or maybe it was a comedy routine—it's hard to tell with him.

Dion Hinchcliffe's talk on the future of social analytics came just before my session, giving me a few minutes' anxiety about overlapping material. Not to worry, we had totally different perspectives. Here's Dion's deck.

When my turn came in the breakout, I pretended I had the main stage and gave 10 minutes on And Not Or, analytics silos, mixing sources and methods, and the strategic value of information. I may have talked a bit fast—did I mention I had 10 minutes for all that?

Lunch with speakers, drinks with people who don't always have time to hang around at other conferences, and a crowd that can mix social trends, technology, math, science, politics, and whatever else they think of. Most of all, a setting where I'm guaranteed to learn something important. Yeah, I'll be back.

Quality Thinking Time at Defrag

DefragDo you have your calendar handy? What are you doing November 17th and 18th? If you're serious about the topics we discuss here—social media, analytics, intelligence, and everything else that matters—you should be in Broomfield, Colorado for Defrag. After last year, it's at the absolute top of my conference list for the year, and it should be on yours, too.

This year's agenda is all over our topics. Plus, I get to speak this time. Considering the quality of the Defrag crowd, it's an amazing opportunity.

If you look at the calendar, you'll notice that Defrag is the same days as WOMMA, which is important to a lot of people who read this. The solution is simple: send your marketing folks to WOMMA to hobnob and your strategists to Defrag to swim in the deep water.

The Early Bird price is good through September 30th, and Eric says you can use take 10% off that with the discount code eb1.

Update: The early bird price has expired, but you can take 20% with a new code, spkrmagic1.

Defrag 2010
Omni Interlocken Resort
Broomfield, Colorado
Information | Registration | Blog | Twitter

If you're going, let me know. We can do a social media analysis meetup on the 16th.

AnalyticsCamp, 10 Days Later

It's been 10 days since the first AnalyticsCamp. 11 days since the last-minute preparations and wondering if the weather would force us to cancel, about eight weeks since we committed to the date. All in all, we had a good day, including the predictably painful decisions about which sessions to attend—and which to miss. For me, it was the BarCamp where almost every session was appealing, and I needed many more hours to spend with the people there.

"We" means "we"
I'm not using the royal we when I talk about AnalyticsCamp; a small group of volunteers put in significant work to make the event happen, and a few organizations provided crucial support. Without their contributions, AnalyticsCamp would still be stuck in the idea phase.

  • Tong Vudhikosit (@tong_Orn) took the lead at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, bringing together multiple student clubs and coordinating with the administration throughout the project. For those of you in hiring positions, she's about to finish her MBA and is interested in marketing, social media and analytics as a career. She's already demonstrated her ability to take on a project and follow through to make it happen.

  • I-kong Fu (@ikongsgf), Brian McDonald (@bmcd67), and Varsha Chawla (@VarshaChawla) took on various pieces of the project. They already have jobs. :-)

  • The Kenan-Flagler facility is outstanding, and we got nothing but support from everyone at the school. If you can arrange to host your event at a top business school with a beautiful, new facility, I recommend it. Really, when was the last time you went to a conference that had installed power outlets at every seat and solid wi-fi in every room?

  • We had great food and drinks, provided by our sponsors. With no t-shirts or banners, the sponsors didn't get a lot of visible recognition, so I want to thank SAS and Capstrat again for their support.
Blogging AnalyticsCamp
I could tell from the tweets that I was missing some good sessions, and all I could do was hope that people would blog them. Fortunately, some did. I like the positive reviews, of course, but I'm particularly happy with the reactions from folks who weren't sure about the unconference format going in (even some of the organizers). Get the right people together to talk about an interesting topic, and it's really all you need.

Lessons
For a first effort, I think AnalyticsCamp went well, but we did learn some lessons. The agenda ended up too front-loaded, probably because we advertised the availability of too many spaces. Next time, we'll have someone to help keep the schedule balanced. We assumed a 20% no-show rate in our planning, but we ended up with more like 40% no-shows. The weather was a factor, but we turned away people who could have been there, and we had a lot of extra food at lunch. We'll allow more registrations next year.

What's next?
Before the day was over, people started asking about next year. We do want to do it again next year, but planning won't start until late this year. There was some discussion of starting a regular analytics meetup, but nothing to announce yet.

I'm working with a few folks in the Washington area to put together AnalyticsCamp DC. I've also heard from some folks who are interested in having similar events in Dallas, Milwaukee (or Chicago), and Boston. The thing about BarCamps is, nobody owns them, so if you want to have one in your city, go for it. Just let me know, and I'll do what I can to help you promote it.

Look Out, London

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Hey, I finally get to go to London! I'm speaking at Monitoring Social Media Bootcamp* on 31 March, along with Marshall Sponder, Philip Sheldrake, and Katy Howell. Luke Brynley-Jones is putting together a full day of how-to sessions on monitoring and measuring social media, and I'm happy to be a part of it.

The sessions are all about practical, let's-get-to-work topics:

  1. Getting Started with Social Media Monitoring
  2. How to Choose The Right Social Media Monitoring Tool
  3. How to Build Your Own Social Media Monitoring Service
  4. How to Monitor Sentiment and Benefit from The Insight this Provides
  5. How to Identify influencers and Build Valuable Relationships with them
  6. How to Monitor and Engage with Customers in Real-time
  7. How to Measure the Success of your Social Media Marketing Campaigns
A couple of years ago, I realized that my business network was stronger in London than where I live (probably not the case now). Now, I finally get an excuse to meet more of you in person. Wednesday, 31 March, Bootcamp.

*haircut not included.

Consulting Days in London
While in town for MSMBC, I'm going to have time for other meetings, too. First priority goes to paid consulting days, though I hope to connect more casually, too (tweetup?). I'm offering full- and half-day appointments, where the content will be tailored to your situation—perhaps a market update on SMA software platforms or a planning session on listening strategies. For details, send an email to nathan@net-savvy.com.

Analytics CampHere's a crazy idea: if an event you want to attend doesn't exist, organize it yourself. Which brings us to AnalyticsCamp (@AnalyticsCamp), a free day of networking and learning for folks interested in any kind of analytics (web, email, social media, marketing. big enterprise BI, you name it). The plan is to attract a mix of different analytics specialties and stir.

It's a Barcamp-style unconference, and anyone can pitch a session (we have some ideas), but we're also planning to seed the agenda with some serious experts to make sure we have solid content. Sessions will include technical, business and career topics, from beginner to advanced levels, so everyone is sure to learn something.

AnalyticsCamp grew out of a panel discussion on measuring social media at a recent Web Analytics Wednesday. It's intended to be primarily a local event, building community among interesting people working in analytics silos in the Triangle. But if you'd like to join us from out of town, you're welcome. You could lead a session while you're here, too. ;-)

Details
AnalyticsCamp will be held on Saturday, February 6 at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School in Chapel Hill, NC (directions). Our hosts for the day are UNC's Marketing and Business Technology Clubs. Details are posted on the AnalyticsCamp wiki, and registration is open (it's free, but please register to help us plan appropriately).

UPDATE: Here's my wrap-up post from the day.

Are you going to the WOMMA Summit in Las Vegas next month? I'll be there (sporting a "member" ribbon on my nametag this time). WOMMA is the best event I've found for meeting people from the social media analysis branch of my network, which makes it my best chance to meet you this year. To make it even more interesting, we're going to have a meetup for social media analysis folks who are in town.

This started when Sam Flemming pinged me about organizing a meetup for folks involved in social media analysis internationally. Sam's visiting from Shanghai, and WOMMA draws an international crowd, so it's a reasonable theme. If you happen to meet peers from the same country, that's ok, too.

    What: SMA Vendor Meetup

    Where: Spago Las Vegas
    Forum Shops at Caesars
    (702) 369-6300

    When: Wednesday, November 12, 6:30 PM

WOMMA has good receptions that you won't want to miss, so we won't compete with them. If there's no reception on the 12th (research day), we can look at something earlier. If WOMMA has an event, we'll look later. Either way, it's probably dinner.

Update: It looks like there's no WOMMA reception to compete with on the 12th, so we're going at a more East-Coast-friendly 6:30 pm (I'd like to stay awake through dinner). If you're planning to join us, please add your name below so I can update the reservation.

Need a head count
Here's the part where I need your help. I need to know if this is going to turn into a few folks going to a restaurant together (easy) or 50 people looking for a place to talk (harder and $ in advance). Once I get a sense of the numbers, I'll investigate the details, but we're going to do something.

Are you going to be at WOMMA on the evening of the 12th? Will you plan to join us?

Say Hello at ESM Atlanta

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With all of the interesting conferences that I miss because they're in New York or San Francisco, it's nice to have one closer to home. Executing Social Media is in Atlanta next week (15–16 October), with its focus on practical applications and corporate examples. I have the perfect gig as moderator: I get a license to speak up (as if I need one), and I don't have to prepare a session.

At the last ESM, I appreciated the plentiful opportunities to spend time with other participants on their real issues. Changes in the format look to tee up even better conversations at the roundtables this time.

We live in interesting times, so the organizer is offering a few ways to reduce the budget impact of ESM:

  • Two-for-one pricing on all registrations.

  • Save $300 by using the discount code esm08300 when you register.

  • Win two tickets with your answer to the question, "what tactics would you use to introduce one or all of the following social media tools (blogs, wikis, RSS, podcasting, online video or social networking) into an existing, conservative organization?"
ESM is smaller than other conferences I've been a part of, which gives it a more intimate vibe and encourages in-depth conversations. I'm particularly looking forward to presentations from companies whose stories aren't I'll call you.overexposed.

A number of folks on my want-to-meet list are going to be there. Are you?

About Nathan Gilliatt

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  • Voracious learner and explorer. Analyst tracking technologies and markets in intelligence, analytics and social media. Advisor to buyers, sellers and investors. Writing my next book.
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