Is Social Media Week Worthwhile for Small Businesses?

Social Media Week 1
Social Media Week held its seventh annual event February 23 to 27 in seven cities worldwide to explore what’s possible in an increasingly connected world.

Small Business Trends attended the main conference at the Highline Stages complex in New York, made up of three full days of panels and networking events and two slightly less intense days at the beginning and end of the event.

Leaders in media, innovation, entertainment, finance, advertising, politics and more gathered to share insights with an audience of nearly 11,000 people. Those in attendance hailed from academia, the blogging world, non-profits, and marketing and entrepreneurial fields. Martha Stewart, Pete Cashmore of, and Jesse Jackson participated.

Social Media Week 2
“Social Media Week is about what’s happening now and what’s yet to come. It certainly has some engaging, educational and diverse content to offer its attendees,” said Jeremy Skule, CMO of NASDAQ OMX, who also attended the event.

There seemed to be something for everyone. If you’re considering attending Social Media Week in the future, look at the agenda beforehand. Doing this is a time-saver because it’s so huge, and much depends on what you want to learn. Some lectures are good for SMBs. Some are perfect for B2C. While other panels have a B2B or an advanced focus, especially the data-oriented ones. For those interested in  learning more, a free mobile app was available for the event. The app allowed those in attendance to read posts from others  also at the event and ask them questions in real-time.

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Matt Rappaport, director of social media at spoke with various #SMWNYC partners and speakers during and between sessions. “I enjoyed meeting others in the industry: seeing Martha Stewart flying drones, hearing from editors and data scientists about how they use social media, and the amazing interviews and panels,” said Rappaport.

Networking, of course, ruled the week. The same official real-time app helped attendees network with each other and plan which events would prove most interesting to them . Anyone who preferred just to hear lectures remotely could listen in via each city’s livestream, supposedly through the app, but I didn’t try that. What the week boiled down to for me was a mix of strengthening relationships I already had, making new ones, and learning.

The invitation-only night parties and partner-hosted gatherings were definitely for old-fashioned networking and being social. Small Business Trends was provided with both a press badge and an “Insider” pass for the entire week. The event was memorable not just because of the networking opportunities. The week’s Net Neutrality decision by the Federal Communications Commission also seemed to hold great significance for those attending.

Whether future conferences are worthwhile for SMB’s depends on what a business owner wants to learn from the event.  And beyond the opportunity to attend are sponsorship options small business may want to consider depending upon their niche. There are several opportunities to be an active sponsor or partner, and all sponsorship opportunities are customizable depending upon a business’s needs.

Nicole Brown, director of marketing and communications at Crowdcentric, said, “The reason we customize for our sponsors is because we don’t want anyone paying for methods or options they don’t need.”

Crowdcentric is the company responsible for organizing the event.

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Toby Daniels, CEO of Crowdcentric and founder of Social Media Week said, “This week is an extraordinary opportunity to explore how we connect and communicate. It’s a collaborative affair made possible because of amazing partners, sponsors and speakers. We look forward to more conversations in the future.”

Before the NASDAQ closing bell on Thursday, Feb. 26, Daniels received a Nasdaq Crystal from Skule as he was congratulated on seven successful years of hosting the event.

Social Media Week 5

Image credits: Crowdcentric,, NASDAQ Creative Services, Hootsuite


Alex Yong Alex Yong is a staff writer and host of the Small Business Trends Livestreamed Livelihoods interview series featuring sessions with today's movers and shakers in the livestreaming world. Alex was named a must-follow PR resource in Cision North America’s list of the top 50 Twitter influencers utilizing rich media tweets, alongside Guy Kawasaki and Lee Odden.

10 Reactions
  1. It’s going to be a great event to learn new things and meet new people. So regardless if you’re there for a reason, you will still reap its benefits if you attend.

    • Hi Aira. There was even a badge for just networking. It said “Networking” on the front. There was a large flatscreen that showed us every Instagram, tweet, FB post, etc in real-time as long as it had the #SMWNYC hashtag.

  2. Preston Odenbrett

    Alex, I plan on being there next year, looks like you had a blast and learned a ton. Information overload?

    • Hi Preston. They had a few Q&A’s on the media industry, so naturally I went to those because that’s what I’m interested in. I did feel like exploring topics outside of that, but yes, it was info overload in that regard. Also, it was my first time, so that was another factor. It reminded me of when I went on a cruise ship, because there’s so much going on, you really do need to look at the schedule – and everyday too. Also, seeing some of the same faces every now and then, and the fun aspects, reminded me of the cruise ship experience.

  3. Thanks Alex for your reporting here! I caught a few free virtual sessions and I have 2 words for them … simply. awesome.

    • Hi Marisa, thank you. On day 4, I had to watch from home because I was feeling under the weather, otherwise I would’ve done all 5 days. People there joked about FOMO but they were serious. I also felt that feeling and I think (based on the app and what folks were saying) most people tried to do 3 days to combat FOMO.

  4. Alex,
    Would you say there was a definite focus on ROI when it comes to Social Media in 2015?

    • Hi Lee – Not that I remember. Personally, I feel that organizations who had the smarts (instinct?) to measure and experiment a number of years ago (Let’s just say 2009-2012, whatever, just whipping out arbitrary years) have put the ROI question in the rear view mirror –they’re “doing” active ROI measurement right now – In other words, it was asked it back then and not allowed to gnaw without end, whereas other organizations are either “still” asking the ROI question now, or, for the very very green, just starting to ask. Instead of asking, I think it’s much better to act, because if the ROI issue still has you on the fence, you’ll stay on that fence indefinitely. The longer you ask, the longer it’ll gnaw at you. Some organizations overlay ROI’s uncertain nature on top of their fear of experimentation and it just goes on and on in never ending circles. And as Gary Vaynerchuk says to these types of people, what’s the ROI on your mother?

    • Just to expand on my comment about ROI, ROI takes time and tweaking… That’s why I feel the organizations bold enough to “stop asking” years ago and “just do it”, well, they’re in a much better, more informed position versus those who are incessantly ask. The antagonistic ROI (fearful) people demand black and white, fast answers in advance to an issue that, let’s face it, is a large to-do and is far from pure black and pure white.