James Mayes

Blog: Review of SMART conference

In Community, Conference, Personal Development, Recruitment, Social Media, Twitter on January 28, 2011 at 7:43 am

I wrote this review of SMART on behalf of Keith Robinson at ECom Digital, published by them earlier this week.  It appears here now for personal record, but comments and feedback are, as always, welcome!

First impressions were certainly good – an impressive building in a central location, plenty of staff to greet delegates on arrival and quick distribution of the WiFi details. The speakers and programme for the day had also been distributed previously, which very much aided planning – especially with the workshop streams, where we were able to figure out a plan for the day in advance. Getting that kind of admin out of the way swiftly very much aids getting on with the event itself.

Moving quickly into the opening address, Charlie Osmond did a great job of getting people ready for a day of discussion. He made clear Social had reached critical mass and was moving from a thing of wonder and hype into something which would be viewed with a clear and critical business eye.  We would all be expected to reconsider our preconceptions and he threw out a few strong sound-bites to ensure people were thinking, not just listening.

I was live-tweeting as best I could, and therefore keeping one eye on the Twitterstream.  At the point I noticed the use of different hashtags on Twitter. For those who use Twitter regularly, hashtags are a great way of following a theme or event. When multiple hashtags are involved, it becomes highly counter-productive. This could/should have been avoided. Not the first time I’ve seen it happen, but with Twitter being such a part of the conference circuit now, split hashtags really shouldn’t happen.

As the day progressed, I went with the Talent Management tracks each time.  The speakers were certainly impressive, with the organisers having brought in a good mix of theorists and strategists, pitching them in with realists who actually deliver for business.  There was a late switch on one of the sessions, so special mention should go to Sarah White – she stood in with a few hours notice, created slides from scratch and delivered a session that gave many some valuable food for thought.

Personally, I really enjoyed one of the panel events – representation from Google and YouTube is a great start. I was initially disappointed when I heard the Twitter rep had dropped out, but was then advised Nick Halstead was to join. For those of you who haven’t come across Nick before, he has a legendary passion for deep data and knows the inner workings of Twitter far better than most. He also possesses an acerbic sense of humour, which I believe always leads to a better discussion.

The highpoint for me – Nick’s comment that SEO would be dead within five years.  Certainly a controversial thing to say when sitting next to the man from Google! My low point was unfortunately during the Economist presentation.  Mark Johnson had some great stuff to say about quality of content, using debate to rally your community etc.  He also railed against the use of RSS feeds when placing news articles into Twitter, claiming that every single tweet to The Economist’s half-million followers was hand-crafted.  The Twitter account was duly checked by a few people in the audience and whilst this might be an accurate claim, the tweets are nothing more than a continuous stream of links back to the Economist. Why spend time having a real person caress every tweet if there’s no actual engagement? Unfortunately, Mark had no answer for this point. It was a shame, because he otherwise had some great points to make.

All in all – excellent event.  Very much a recruitment bias to those in attendance, but the speakers certainly had a wider range of message than would be found at a purist social recruiting event. Well worth attending. To wrap up, I’ve been back over the Twitterstream of the day and curated a selection of Tweets and the data from the live polls – all available on my blog.


  1. […] 2011 seems to have kicked off with conferences everywhere. We were pleased to be at Smart, Enhance and TRULondon. The dust should settle a little now and make it easier to schedule in those […]

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