Social Media Week (SMW) is a leading media platform and worldwide event with local presence and global reach across five continents, including Europe, North America, South America, Africa and Asia. Because of the changes happening in our lives, society, culture and business, their mission is to capture, curate and share the most meaningful ideas, trends, and best practices with regard to technology and social media’s impact on business, society and culture. Over the past six years, Social Media Week has expanded to 26 cities around the globe, exploring the cultural and economic impact of social media and gathering more than 6,000 media impressions.

The beauty of Social Media Week is its shareability built into the conference
Interviewed by Gorazd Čad, Editor in Chief, Kongres Magazine 

Q: What are Social Media Week (SMW) highlights this year?
TD: There are so many to choose from. In New York, Reverend Jesse Jackson had a riveting discussion on diversity in tech, and Martha Stewart participated in an epic drone-jousting battle. There was even a hitch-hiking robot in Hamburg, a Nigerian football captain in Lagos, and countless other tremendous speakers spanning seven cities and four continents.Another big highlight this year included SMW global team together with local teams from Mexico City, Los Angeles, Sydney, Rotterdam and Chicago were invited to ring the closing bell at the Nasdaq.

Q: What is your approach to social media?
TD:  The fact that social media can connect each other across the world with just a few clicks is amazing. I love sharing information and stories with not just my friends and colleagues, but also complete strangers. When I share an article on Facebook, I’m genuinely excited each time a friend comments. We all have different opinions and insights on information, and social media is the playground that allows us to interact with each other and share these ideas.
[pullquote]Virtual conferences lack one huge factor, and that is shaking hands with a fellow attendee.[/pullquote]

Q: When you started Social Media Week, how did you promote it?
TD: Talking with friends and colleagues in the industry helped spread Social Media Week in its early days. Word of mouth was huge to get SMW off the ground, especially on top of the social layer we used to reach people online. The beauty of Social Media Week is its shareability built into the conference. A speaker, sponsor, or any stakeholder will naturally want to share their involvement in SMW with anyone they know, and that really ignited everything for us early on.

Q: How is the sharing economy impacting the meetings industry?
TD: The sharing economy is making several aspects of life easier, more affordable, and more convenient for individuals in the meetings industry. One example is car sharing, and offering attendees and alternative to public transportation. Car-pooling to the venue not only is convenient, but also presents a new, simple opportunity to meet new people all within the car.

Q: How important is content marketing for meeting planners and organizers?
TD: Incredibly important. Content is one of the top priorities for Social Media Week. Leading up to SMW, we produce articles, videos, and infographics targeted towards a specific type of attendee. “16 Sessions At SMW New York That Marketers Will Love” and “13 SMW Events To Understand, Reach, And Attract Millennials” are two examples. We also continue to produce content that is non-SMW related throughout the year to drive people to our website, and once he or she is there, they’ll see all this great conference material.

Q: What are some of the big trends you’re seeing in the meetings industry?
TD: I think the common “press release” and the meetings industry is fusing together more and more. We now see product launches, major announcements, and new technology featured at conferences and events. I think this is because the meetings industry brings together several stakeholders all at one, ready and able to amplify that announcement. Attendees are consumers, press, influencers, and want to be the first to hear new announcements.

Q: What about the debate about virtual meetings versus live events?
TD: Virtual meetings are great. They connect individuals regardless of location, and the scale is essentially limitless. However, virtual conferences lack one huge factor, and that is shaking hands with a fellow attendee. Perhaps in 25 to 50 years it will be different, but right now, and the near future, meeting face-to-face, whether for new business or just making a new connection, has a ton of value that virtual meetings cannot match.

Q: Technology will personalize meetings. What do you think about that?
TD: Yes, but there’s a very fine line. For example, the SMW mobile app allows conference attendees and the global SMW community to network and connect with each other. We enable users to meet each other and chat through the app, but the technology does not go much further. If we bring more technology into the mix, it de-humanizes the experience.

Q: Greatest idea you have ever had?
TD: My greatest idea is also my biggest failure, which was a website I launched in 2004 called findmydoppelganger.com which used facial recognition technology and a match.com style interface to help people discover people who look like them. It was obviously way ahead of its time. ;-)

Q: Which are your favorite meeting destinations and why?
TD: I have had the privilege of attending SMW in a number of our most interesting cities, including Bogota, Mumbai, Los Angeles, Chicago, London, San Francisco. Sadly I haven’t been to them all (we’re in 25+ cities at this point), but I would very much like to visit Jakarta. We just hosted there it sounded amazing.

TOBY DANIELS, CEO and Founder and Executive Director of Social Media Week

Toby is the co-founder and CEO of Crowdcentric and the founder of Social Media Week. Crowdcentric is based in New York and works with a global network of partners and collaborators across three divisions: Media, Creative Services and Labs.

Toby is also the founder and Executive Director of Social Media Week, a leading news platform and worldwide conference that takes place in 20+ countries around the world.

Prior to Crowdcentric, Daniels was the Managing Director of Online Creative Communications, a London based digital agency which he managed for 7 years. As a thought leader on a range of topics at the cross-section of media, technology and communications, Toby has been featured extensively in mainstream and trade media, including articles on CNN.com, The NY Times, The Next Web, Huffington Post, BBC, PSFK and Fast Company. He speaks regularly at conferences and has given talks at PdF Latin America in Santiago Chile, Social Media Brazil in São Paulo, PDMA’s Co-Creation Conference, Phoenix, SXSW, Austin and Digital Hollywood, Los Angeles. In 2013, The Next Web named Toby as one of New York’s 50 NYC Tech Entrepreneurs You Need to Know About. [pullquote]In 2014 Toby co-curated the hugely popular book The Future of Now: Making Sense of Our Always On, Always Connected World, with the proceeds going towards supporting clean water projects in the developing world.[/pullquote] In addition to his professional endeavors, Toby is also a passionate contributor to a number of non-profit organizations, including CampInteractive, whose mission is to inspire and equip underserved students with the skills in computing, leadership, and professionalism needed to thrive in the Internet economy and beyond.

TOBY DANIELS DEFINING MOMENTS

Moving to NYC from the UK in 2006.

The Cook Islands, South Pacific

Burning Man

The Elms, Worcestershire, England (Where I proposed to my wife)

U2, Joshua Tree

U2

SOURCEKONGRES MAGAZINE
A long-time meetings industry addict, Gorazd is the Founder and owner of marketing and event agency Toleranca Marketing. He has many years of experience in planning, preparing and carrying out large international meetings and exhibitions. As the founder of the "Power to the Meetings" methodology, he still firmly believes in the power of live events and human to human communication. He is also the author of numerous articles and editor-in-chief of the meetings industry magazine Kongres Magazine.