Since its inception in 2008, Social Media Week has grown from nine to 26 cities, and global expansion continues to increase. Eight cities around the world will be hosting Social Media Week events this month – everywhere from Bangalore to Lagos to Milan to Tokyo. We spoke to CEO and co-founder Toby Daniels about what’s new this year, and where the event is heading.
The theme of this year’s festivities is “the future of now,” a reflection of our always-connected lifestyle. The content and programming of this year’s event will focus on the emerging trends: wearable tech and the quantified life, crowd-funding – especially with regard to architectural design and real estate, and content marketing. “Brands are recognizing that not only do they need to understand how to create and curate content, they also need to know how to do that at scale,” said Daniels. Major brands will be in attendance to showcase their own work, and the organizers are also launching the ‘Now Studio,’ which will showcase the most viral content. “It’s an opportunity for attendees to learn how to become better content creators,” he said.
The New York event will undergo some pretty big changes as it consolidates from six venues to one: “Rather than focus on growth, we’ve decided to consolidate… and focus on quality of the experience,” said Daniels. SMW in New York has doubled in size year-over-year and this move will save harried attendees from running around Manhattan, trying to get to the panels and workshops they want to see.
Social Media Week’s new home in NYC is the 45,000 square foot Highline Stages, which will have co-working spaces, an experiential store, the Now Studio and more. Afterwards, SMW will take the Now Studio on the road, most likely building it out in London for Social Media Week in September. Given the trends of social networking and communication technology, SMW is set to continue its global expansion: “The role of social media is not just impacting the western world but also penetrating and impacting the developing world and emerging markets,” said Daniels. “While they might not be as sophisticated in their use of social media… they need to understand how [it] can be used.”
This year’s Social Media Week runs from Feb. 17 to 21 and will be attended by “really any communications professionals who [use] social media,” said Daniels. Brands big and small, journalists and PR pros alike will make appearances. Speakers include Steve Case (CEO of Revolution), Jonah Peretti (CEO of BuzzFeed), Baratunde Thurston (CEO of Cultivated Wit) and more. Checking out the schedule makes us wish we were capable of bilocation.