Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Favourite & Not-so-favourite NXNEi Sessions

As promised in Monday’s post, here’s a quick look at my favourite and not-so-favourite NXNEi sessions.

My Top Three (in order that I saw them)

1. Lessons Learned from Building 100 Facebook Apps in a Year
with Alkarim Nasser
I loved this session because it was practical and I took usable information away from it. It was packed with real life examples that the speaker had actually worked on, meaning he had solid insight into them. Yeah, the speaker used buzzy phrases like “engage” and “social aspect” but then he backed them up by showing examples of that phrase in action. For example, he showed how easy it was to put together a contest that includes a social aspect to make it more engaging and more likely to spread.  And while at times the session did focus more on the technical/developer side of Facebook apps, it was always in a way that was quite understandable.

2. The Black Hole of Facebook. How Fans Disappear on your Pages & Ways to Engage Beyond Like
with Lee Dale, Lauren O’Neil, Aikta Chugh and Sean Howard

This Facebook session looked at things more from the community management side and was a great “companion” session to the above one. However,  initially it bothered me because it was so packed with buzzy words and the main example, vitaminewater Canada,  was too good of an example (its community management goes to the Cannes Film Festival to interview celebrities and reinforce the vitaminewater “lifestyle”). But as the session went on, I found myself thinking more and more about what the panellists were saying. Sure, I didn’t agree with everything they said but they definitely got me thinking, especially when some more realistic ways of engaging fans were presented.

3. Wheel Of Fortune/Misfortune: Conversations About Music & Stuff
with Jeff Waye, Meghan Currier. Jake Gold and Joseph Patel

Maybe this wasn’t the most educational panel but it was definitely the most fun and entertaining. Using a wheel to decide on topics, the panellists shared stories from their time in the US and Canadian music industries.  And while Jake Gold did dominate the conversation, the others did manage to squeeze in some of their own stories. I hope that this session becomes a standard part of the conference.

Honourable Mentions

1. Nom3: The Foodie Digital Revolution
with Cathy Kurzbock, Alexa Clark, Andrea Chiu, Shawn Rusich

This session, which looked at food blogs and the whole "online foodie" movement, was actually surprisingly applicable to me and my blogging life. I quite enjoyed the frank talk about accepting free things and the ethics around that (while two of the panellists accept freebies and make it very clear that they were free, a third one is old school and refuses to accept free meals for her restaurant review site).

2. Crunching Numbers: Measurement Options to Demonstrate Success & Improve Messaging
with David Jones, Richard Ng, Rob Clark

While this session on social media metrics didn’t focus too much on actual measurement options and message improving, I did quite like its format. The moderator, David Jones, really involved the audience and that resulted in a lot of real-world situations and questions being asked. I also liked the discussion around social media and customer service (advice: don’t train people to use social media as a customer service tool).

My Bottom Three (in order that I saw them)

What the World is Watching and How to Design for It
with Heather Traher and Rebecca Bortma

I thought that this session, which featured two YouTube employees, was going to look at how to better incorporate YouTube into one’s own sites/social media networks. But it turns out that it was more of a “get to know YouTube and some of its favourite videos” panel. It did touch briefly on YouTube’s actual design but since this design is getting a makeover (to make it feel more like your favourite dinner plate, explained the speakers) that wasn’t looked at too closely. Overall, a rather confusing and pointless session.

The Future of Graphic Design
with Lionel Gadoury, Ryan Wolman, Barry Quinn, Vanessa Eckstein, Paddy Harrington

I’m not a designer but I went to this session anyway because I thought it would educate me on what was hot and upcoming in the world of design. Instead, all I learned is that designers are rather pompous people who place themselves somewhere between ground-breaking research doctors and the Pope in terms of importance and patience. The panellists were at times insufferable and they offered very little hard insight into “the future of graphic design”. It probably also didn’t help that they spent almost half the session offering advice to young designers (only take jobs you love and feel passionate about!). No, no one asked for any career advice. They just started there and kept talking like they were at some graphic design course’s “meet the professionals” day.

User Generated Content: The Audience Delivers
with Steve Hulford

Everything this guy was saying was so familiar and in most cases, so obvious. Then near the end of his presentation, he started talking about a trip he’d taken to Jamaica and I realized that the reason why everything sounded so familiar was because I’d already seen this presentation last year. While there were some changes to it, including a new real-world example, it was basically the same session, including a lengthy plug for the speaker’s discovery of a Jamaican reggae singer. I didn’t get much out of it the first time and the second time was no better.

Dis-honourable Mentions

1. Friend or "Frienemy" with public engagement?
Darren Chartier. Joseph Percelli and Colin McKay

This session was supposed to look at the government and its use of social media and the web in regards to the public and yeah, it did this but in a very boring way. Yes, the term “Big Brother” was dropped (as was “little brother”) but somehow we managed to get through the entire hour without anyone mentioning the Conservative Party’s recent use of Facebook to screen out undesirables from its campaign functions. Amazing…

2. How to Grow your User Base!
with Stephen Henrik

The phrase “case studies” is what got me interested in this session. Unfortunately, the speaker’s best case study was The Blair Witch Project and how it successfully planted its “story” online to generate publicity. No, this guy had nothing to do with the movie and no, he had no numbers to actually show how this technique grew the movie’s audience (though I agree that it did). Other amazing ideas that were presented included tying content into events and the sessions. Wow, it never occurred to me to do something Christmas-y at Christmas time.

Damn, this is a long post, I probably should have split it into two. I promise that Friday’s post on the bands I saw will be shorter since I didn’t see as many acts as I wanted to.

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