I learned two things at Social Media Week’s opening night party on Monday. The first is that The Macallan 10-year is an excellent scotch, with notes of sherry. Indeed, Ben Scheim, the global director of Social Media Week, told everyone that the sponsor’s scotch was his favorite—just before he presented the evening’s raffle winner with an X-Box Kinect. But try it for yourself. And when you do, be sure to use the hashtag “Macallan” to let others know what you taste.
The second thing I learned—an extension of the first—is that Social Media Week is less about the people who create social media than it is about those who seek to capitalize on it.
“Tonight is mostly about the sponsors, partners and organizers of Social Media Week,” Scheim told me. ‘Everyone here are the people that made this happen, and that’s people from our five content hubs, which is JWT, Google, Paley Center for Media, Red Bull Space and Hearst Corporation.”
And the developers? “Those guys are here too,” Scheim said.
But I couldn’t find them anywhere. What I found instead was what you would expect from a New York City media event: a handful of corporate hipsters, some terribly beautiful and well-dressed women, and plenty of networkers. It took me more than an hour to find someone who even looked like he might have developed a social media platform.
I found him—Nicholas Cavet—with laptop in backpack, eagerly trying to get his tweets onto Social Media Week’s global map, which was projected onto the room’s main screen. He turned out to be a social strategist from 360i, working with Kraft and Mattel.
“The nerds are all back at the office,” he said and later added, “It’s funny how many people are here just because they heard about it on Facebook.”
Bola Akinsanya, an account manager at Meebo, echoed the sentiment: The developers “are at home in front of their computers, working on their side projects,” she said. “The brains just aren’t social.” The people who are here, she said, are “sales reps, like myself, and agency media planners and decision makers.”
As with any industry, the sales and press reps are an essential part of social media’s success. But if the opening night is any indication, this week is more a celebration of the industry’s corporate entourage than of its creative forces. There are no new Zuckerbergs here, no one holding on to the next great idea. They’re all at home, at work.