Going to SES San Francisco? Haven't quite decided yet? Sometimes it's hard to know just how valuable a few days at a search and social marketing conference like this can be without first giving it a hard look.
Take it from someone who has been to a lot of conferences, there's definitely a way to do it right. So let's look at some of the ways SES makes the experience unique and how you can get the most out of it.
1. Choose the Content That Suits You
Not everyone learns the same way; nor do all attendees have the same level conference pass. SES takes this into consideration and offers plenty of ways to learn while you're at the San Francisco show. Take advantage of any one of the following educational formats this year:
- Speaker sessions: SES brings together the industry's best and brightest to discuss the things marketers are facing right now. Because the speakers come from diverse backgrounds, their strategies speak to both big brands and small businesses. Choose the sessions that can help you address the challenges you're facing now, and that you foresee on the horizon.
- Training workshops: Come a day early to learn in an all-day, intimate training session with thought leaders on a variety of specializations like email marketing, agile marketing, PPC, keyword research and more. Attendees love the more personal touch these classes have, and because workshops are all day, the subject matter is very focused.
- Theater presentations: All SES attendees, no matter what level pass they have, can hear the same conference speakers featured in the rest of the show talk about important marketing issues in theater presentations, happening all week. The talks are typically shorter, but relevant and timely.
And in 2013, speaker sessions have been organized into a new agendawith categories that reflect how marketers are integrating their channels today. Paid, owned and earned are the categories you can choose your sessions from, whether it's social, PPC, SEO, content and beyond.
For those interested specifically in the latest tools and tips from Google itself, the "Learn with Google" track does just that, and features reps from the company talking about everything from mobile optimization to AdWords and more.
And don't forget that within the topical speaker sessions, there are various formats that some attendees prefer over others. Keynotes, panel discussions, debates and sessions with only a couple speakers all have a very different vibe. If you're new to the show, sample one of each to find the format you enjoy most.
2. Be Social on Your Own Terms
You've probably heard it all before, but the networking aspect of SES San Francisco can forge business opportunities, great ideas, collaboration and friendships that open doors for you and your business.
The social side to SES caters to all different types of personalities. If being social online is more your thing, you can get involved in the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #SESSF before, during, and after the show. Feel free to "live tweet" to let your colleagues back home and online know what's going on in the sessions you're attending.
And on the SES Conference & Expo on Facebookpage, the conversation is already starting and goes on well after the show as people share things they've learned and their experiences while there.
SES also has its own social community on Vivastream, which allows you to:
- Interact with speakers and fellow attendees before and during the show.
- Plan the sessions you're going to, and "check in" to sessions you're attending while there.
- Rate the sessions you attend and get interactive by taking real-time polls led by speakers.
If you prefer to network face-to-face, there are several options for you. Afternoon networking events during conference hours are a way to chat with peers in a relaxed setting. These end-of-the-day events often spur a lot of interesting conversation between marketers from all backgrounds.
If you're a newcomer to SES, there's a special event on Tuesday afternoon just for you, filled with tips on how to get the most from your time there. This is followed by the traditional "meet and greet" event that kicks of the show and allows attendees to get familiar with faces they'll see all week.
And then of course, there are the evening get-togethers that can happen on a whim with fellow conference goers, colleagues, and new and old friends alike. Be open to the networking opportunities that come your way while there, and you can make some great memories and lasting business connections in the vibrant city of San Francisco.
3. Get Expert Guidance on Your Business's Marketing
Both Day 1 and Day 2 of SES San Francisco host a "meet the experts" roundtable forum. Come with questions and ideas to share with the speakers and like-minded peers as you chat around a table focused on the topic of your choice.
Stay at one table or move around to many. Those who get the most out of this experience come with the intent to be part of a lively discussion. So don't be shy about leading the conversation.
Site clinics are another way to get up close and personal with industry expertise to answer those burning questions you have about what you're doing with your marketing. These one-on-one sessions with SES speakers will give your marketing strategy and website a critical eye. You'll walk away with useful insight you can apply right away. And the best part is that this event is open to expo pass and networking ticket holders.
If you take advantage of all SES San Francisco has to offer while there, trust me, you won't be disappointed. You'll leave with a renewed sense of focus on your marketing strategy, great business contacts and be re-energized to go tackle those challenges and opportunities with newfound marketing concepts and tactics.