#SoMeT Wrap Up

[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]I’m back home from one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended.  I’ve even had a few days to digest all the great information, but honestly, my head is still swimming.  There was just so much to learn.  Some of the information served as a refresher, or even a kick in the pants to get started on things I should already be doing.

Other presentations shared information that was new to me, and my mental wheels are seriously turning.  In addition to all the great content, probably what excited me the most was the opportunity to meet people IRL that I had only known online previously.  What a fantastic group of smart and creative people!

So what conference had such an impact on me?  The Social Media Tourism Symposium – or #SoMeT – held in Loudoun, VA from November 17-19, 2010.  Kudos to Dave Serino of Gammet Interactive for putting together the conference of the year – regardless of the industry you’re in.

I won’t go into the back story on #SoMeT because there are some excellent posts about that already.  Like the ones from Bill Geist, Jenny Matheny, and Andy Hayes.  I’m sure there will be many more.  Suffice it to say, that this was a conference that embodied social media from start to finish.  What I’d like to share with you here instead are a few of my take aways, and probably some random thoughts thrown in for good measure.  You know me – I can’t write a post without a few good random thoughts.  So let’s get started, shall we?

Embrace Randomness

See?  Randomness right off the bat. Tom Martin showed us that it’s okay to be spontaneous when using social media.  In fact, it’s probably one reason why your fans and followers like you or your brand.  Spontaneity and randomness let people see what’s real, what’s happening in the moment.  And it can be very effective.  Using his social media experiment to change the perception of Mardi Gras as an example, Tom proved to us that being real matters.  And it sells.

Don’t Neglect Your Website

Sometimes we get distracted from the important things by the shiny, new, or sparkly object for a while.  Andy Hayes (my new BFF) brought us gently back down to earth by reminding us that our websites are most likely what all our social media channels are pointing back to.  In other words, our DMO websites “shouldn’t suck”.  Andy shared simple and effective tips for making sure our DMO websites are not only user-friendly, but that they provide useful and relevant information to website visitors.  And to ensure they don’t suck.

I “Like” It.  I Love It.  I Want Some More of It

Facebook is rivaling Google to take over the world.  Their means?  Apparently, it’s the increasingly ubiquitous “Like” button.  The friendly little button is popping up on websites and blogs everywhere.  And with good reason.  Aaron Babbie with Sparkloft told us about some staggering Facebook statistics that demonstrate the Like button’s effectiveness.  Seriously mind-blowing stuff.  So what are you waiting for?  Run, don’t walk to the nearest computer and install that baby on everything in sight!

Yes, Virginia.  There Are Such Things as Unicorns

Unicorns, like the ever-elusive social media ROI, might actually exist.  And thanks to Karin Mast with Miles Media, we just might be able to catch one.  Karin showed us where and what to start measuring.  And why.  She also clued us in on one possible answer to the ROI enigma – campaign codes.  Now, I’ll admit this flew right over my head … just a little bit.  But, Karin gave us just enough to get us started.  Now it’s up to us to take a deeper dive behind the campaign code unicorn, and put it into action!

More Randomness

Here are a few more tidbits I picked up from attending #SoMeT.

  1. A bag of rice will bring a wet iPhone back from the dead: My then 3-day-old iPhone 4 fell in the sink while I was washing my hands.  Who better to turn to for advice on a geeky subject than a room full of geeks (and I mean that in only the nicest of ways)?  The advice I was given was to cover the phone with dry rice in a zip lock bag overnight.  The theory is that the rice literally sucks the moisture out of the phone.  I (and my iPhone) am living proof that this works.  Thank you!!
  2. My suspicions have been confirmed: Tourism people are the nicest, most genuine, and most fun people around.  Period.  We are blessed to be in an industry with people who are so helpful and big-hearted.
  3. And then there’s the bathtub Hootch … Katherine Hoppe – aka @OregonKat – won the #SoMeT video contest with her hysterical Google Search Story featuring her bathtub hootch (it’s really homemade Kahlua).  She even made sure we were able to <ahem> sample her famous bathtub hootch during those late #SoMeT evenings.  But that’s another blog post entirely …  Let me just say that “I’ve been hootched.”  Some of you know what I mean. 😛
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16 Responses

  1. Excellent wrap up. I “Like” this 🙂

    Thanks for the BFF shoutout too 😉

    • Thanks so much, Andy! I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you, and am impatiently looking forward to March in Austin for #sxsw.
      Sincerely,
      Hootched (aka Sarah) 😉

  2. What a great wrap-up post, Sarah! Glad to see you got so much great info from it. This conference is a must-do for me next year.

    • You were definitely missed, Katie. Glad to hear it’s on your “to do” list for 2011. You won’t be disappointed.

  3. Great wrap up to an even greater conference. Thanks for the inclusion.

  4. Rice, stats, hooch, Facebook, Google….yeah, we stayed busy in beautiful Loudoun County, VA. 🙂

    • My head is still swimming! #SoMeT was an overall great experience. From the content, to the people, to our lovely hosts in Loudoun, this was hands down the best conference I’ve attended. And you know I love you too, Sheila! Your presentation was awesome, as usual. 🙂

  5. Sheila – you rocked it at SoMeT! Loved your E3 presentation (E-cubed) energy, enthusiasm, and education! I learned a lot and and look forward to following you to learn more. Thanks for visiting Loudoun!

  6. Thanks again for attending Sarah! And, thank you for calling it “the conference of the year!” As always, it wouldn’t be “SoMeT” without all of You!

    • Thanks Dave for putting this together for the industry. We collectively took a giant step forward, but we owe it all to you. Is it 2011 yet? 😉

  7. Great follow up to a great conference, Sarah!! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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