In my esteemed role of Digital Prefect, I attended this week’s Social Media World Forum.  On Tuesday I was champing at the bit and eager to learn new and exciting things about the world of social media, because as any digital market knows – there are always new and exciting things to learn.

However, my spirit was soon dampened after sitting through eight workshops, five of which were really nothing more than a glorified sales pitch from exhibitors at the show.  I may only have opted for the complimentary path, but I expected to receive a plethora of useful, stimulating and informative workshops…

And credit where credit is due, there certainly were a few diamonds in the rough:

Nixon McInnes consultant, Beth Granter, provided a practical and extremely useful workshop on free tools for social media.  She gave a whistle stop tour of some of the key free tools that she uses for research and measurement in her social media campaigns.   Wonderful!  Something I can go back to the office and use.  Particular favourites of mine included Addict-o-matic, which collates results from different social media search engines and the Firefox Grease Monkey plug-in, particularly because I like the name but it is also useful for customising the way a webpage displays.

Realwire incorporated some handy hints about social media releases – what you should be including in your releases for an online world.  Interesting stat, a social media release can improve your editorial coverage by 108% – presenting your information creatively makes it more appealing to journalists.  It’s not rocket science but it’s always nice to have a stat to confirm that.

The final gem for me was Immediate Future’s workshop on social media engagement, which included some practical tips on managing your social media presence – what it involves, what you want to achieve and what you need to get buy-in from your colleagues.  Hard to sum up the many handy hints on offer in this one, but the phrase that stuck in my mind was “I am not a digital expert, how can you be?  But I have picked up some tips along the way.”  My sentiments exactly; how can anyone profess to be an expert in such a fast moving industry?! (I feel a separate blog entry coming on…).

Aside from the above learning curves, I felt a little cheated by sales pitch after sales pitch.  I think the point that many presenters and companies miss is that if you provide useful snippets of information to your audience that they can actually use, they are more likely to consider you an expert within your field and look to use your services in the future.  Pitching your latest product as part of a workshop is more likely to make people switch off…

Try harder next year smwf!