Ahead of our 50th Member Meeting, we're spotlighting our top 10 Member Meeting All Stars — members who've attended the most Member Meetings during their time in the community. To continue this series, we chatted with FedEx Communications Principal Brian Johnston, who has attended 12 Member Meetings across his six years in the community.
He shared some of his major learnings from his peers at Member Meetings and why he continues to value these confidential conversations.
How would you describe your first SocialMedia.org Member Meeting?
It was eye-opening to see that there were other people 1) doing the same jobs as us, and 2) having the same struggles and looking for answers to the same questions. It was incredible to find out we weren't alone in this crazy, undefined world.
What are some of the biggest insights or “aha” moments you've taken away from Member Meetings and applied to your program?
The grass is always greener at other companies. You may see a company doing really great stuff, and then you actually meet somebody who works there and they're talking about how much difficulty they have with a certain thing. So it was nice to get a behind-the-scenes peek at a lot of different companies. You really can learn a lot from the people doing the same job.
I distinctly remember a moment when the CMO of a large retail operation was talking about selecting vendors and tools. He said, ‘Some companies will go try and tell you they have the best tool for listening, and it's great for publishing, and it also does influencer stuff — it can do everything!' But he said he would rather have one tool for influencers, one for listening, and one publishing. Because he wanted the best-in-class version of every tool, and it's hard for one tool to be best-in-class at all of them.
While we hadn't necessarily said that idea out loud quite as strongly, it was the same kind of model we were using. Hearing that someone at another huge brand was taking the same approach as us gave us a lot of confidence.
What are some of your favorite activities or memories from past Member Meetings?
It's hard to pick out a favorite memory from a Member Meeting. What's more memorable is the energy that the staff brings to every meeting and the way the members catch it, too. It's very unique.
The Member Dinners are always a highlight. They're great opportunities to catch up with people you've met at previous meetings and meet new people — always in a fun, relaxed environment.
Why do you make attending Member Meetings a priority?
The meetings themselves evolve very well with the changing landscape of the work because of the content that other people present. SocialMedia.org has also adjusted the structure of the meetings ever so slightly to stay fresh and to be as useful as possible.
The biggest hook for these meetings over any other kind of conference is that the people doing the presenting are the people doing the work. You don't have to sit through agencies and vendors presenting like you do at other conferences. You get to go right to what your peers are doing.
I also don't want to ignore the fact that the meetings themselves are very efficient and on time, and SocialMedia.org works to keep things tight and moving. When you go to other meetings, that's often not the case. Then you remember how much you appreciate being on time and not having a session that's an hour and a half or two hours long.
What advice would you give to someone going to their first Member Meeting?
I would say get involved and be assertive. If you see a speaker or a company and you're curious about what that person does or what the company is doing, everybody there is willing to talk about what it is they're doing, answer questions, and share information. So don't just sit on the sidelines and watch them and take notes. Walk up to whomever and say, ‘Hey, you can tell me more about this?' or ‘Can I get your email address so I can ask you more questions?'
These meetings are very interactive. The more engaged you are and the more you talk to different people and get involved, the more you'll get out of it.
Meet members like Brian at Member Meeting 50 in Chicago, October 8-9!
SocialMedia.org's Member Meeting 50 is coming up October 8-9 in Chicago, and it's going to be one of our best meetings yet — in large part to social media leaders like Brian who bring their amazing experiences and insights to every meeting and conversation that they join.
We're so grateful for our All Stars and all our members who continue to make every meeting so special and unbelievably valuable. They're the reason this community has been thriving for over a decade, and we can't wait for what's next!
Learn more about Member Meeting 50 here: https://socialmedia.org/community/meetings/mm50/
Brian Johnston has been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2013. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.