Chicago’s first Social Media Week – which will be held concurrently in 12 international cities Sept. 19-23 – offers 60 events and prominent speakers covering every conceivable aspect of the social media phenomenon.
The conference takes place at four conveniently located downtown locations. It is free and open to all, but attendees must register in advance.
Chicago organizers are the Zocalo Group, a unit of Omnicom and Ketchum, a word-of-mouth and social media marketing agency, and the Chicago Tribune, which has come to appreciate social media for more than just “media,” and whose Trib Nation community outreach and audience engagement program includes a broad menu of live events.
The Zocalo Group was tapped to spearhead the Chicago conference by New York-based Crowdcentric, which launched the international linkup in 2009. “They were looking for a partner in Chicago,” says Paul Rand, Zocalo Group president/CEO.
“We were recommended to them by a number of people, and we knew that the ideal partner to have in an endeavor like this was the Chicago Tribune. It has been an ideal match.”
In early August, Zocalo Group and the Tribune began seeking topics and speakers for the upcoming conference. Response was almost immediate and the nearly 60 slots filled up quickly. “Attendees will be amazed to see how many valuable resources are in their own backyard – and are being offered free of charge,” notes Rand. “There’s something for everyone.”
The more popular events showing up on Twitter, Facebook and the Zocalo blog that people are showing interest include “Dining Social: Facebook and Twitter for Chefs, Foodies and Restaurateurs“; “Your Photos tell Chicago’s Story: Tourism Social Media in Action” (a neighborhood tour around Chicago with people using smart phones to upload photos) and “The Google+ Project: Pivoting Around People.”
Many events are already sold out, says Michael Shmarak, Social Media Week Chicago Consultant, such as the “Reinventing a Media Career on Alternative Platforms” panel, with Time Out columnist Robert Feder, Sun-Times’ columnist Richard Roeper, WGN/9’s Nancy Loo, the Tribune’s Bill Adee and radio personality Steve Dahl.
Capacity at the conference four venues ranges from 50 to 225 seats. The venues are Tribune Tower’s Campbell Hall, 435 N. Michigan; The Illini Center, 200 S. Wacker Dr.; CDW Technology Center, 120 S. Riverside and Tribeca Flashpoint Academy, 28 N. Clark St.
Click here for Chicago events and locations.
February conference drew 30,000 attendees worldwide
The 11 other cities participating simultaneously are Beirut, Berlin, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Glasgow, Los Angeles, Milan, Moscow, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Vancouver.
Social Media Week was held for the first time in February 2009 in New York. It was launched as a “distributed conference,” with events taking place in locations throughout the city, in association with such organizations as the New York Times, Wired, Razorfish and Nielsen. More than 2,500 people attended some 40 individual events, and thousands more participated online.
Since then, Social Media Week became a biannual event, with many new cities in eight countries and four continents taking part in February and September. The February, 2011 conference was the biggest to date, with more than 30,000 persons worldwide attending 600-plus events.