Last week, I was invited by Andrew Ellis and Scott Gould to attend the Like Minds 2010 conference in Exeter, Devon. Not only was it my first time at the Like Minds, but it was also my first time in Devon and in Exeter in particular. Scott and Andrew were kind enough to invite me to keynote at Like Minds so as to present what we have done in terms of using social media to back up our Internet strategy at Orange Business Services.
Like Minds 2010 gathers like-minded people in beautiful Exeter
The Like Minds conference was a great success in terms of attendance with more than 350 attendees and that’s without taking into account the fact that some tickets were sold for the morning and afternoon sessions so that we had different kinds of people at both periods of the day; notwithstanding, the room was packed at all times.
One of the most amazing things about Like Minds 2010 is that it was organised in less than six months and that’s extraordinary considering the fact that most Britons seem to be unaware of Exeter and its surroundings, which is a shame given the quality of life in this town and the beauty of its surroundings (OK, I’m a Kelt so I am a little biased, it’s true that we in Brittany originate from these areas).
Among the beauties of Decorated Gothic style (and not Perpendicular Gothic, which is a later version of that style) very much similar to St George’s Chapel in Windsor, only 10 times bigger., one of the finest examples of the
We were lucky enough – courtesy of messieurs Gould and Ellis – to be welcomed by the Lord Mayor of Exeter in the chapter room next to the Cathedral (see picture above).
This in itself, the sheer speed at which Scott and Andrew brought this crowd of like-minded people together for that conference, is enough to show the power of social media, mostly when it comes to organising events. You don’t need to be in New York, London or Paris, to be able to organise a meeting like this. But the quality of Like Minds was not only due to its audience, but mostly to its presenters; here are a few bullet points with things that should be remembered about their presentations:
- Jonathan Akwue from Digital Public made an astounding presentation demonstrating that “technology does not always make things better” and drawing an analogy between hip-hop and social media, describing the fact that hip-hop sold its soul to business and therefore disappeared in the minds of its supporters. This is a clear warning sent to all those want to jump on the bandwagon, that social media should not lose its soul and sell itself to the devil,
- Ogilvy’s John Bell presented the social media practice within the leading US advertising agency and showed the importance of training, by introducing the notion of “belts” as in martial arts, with the “black belts” being the uppermost qualification in social media understanding and mastery. This is similar to what was done for 6 sigma for instance; very clever and much needed too,
- Joanne Jacobs, the sole representative of Australia on stage and probably in the audience, made an astounding performance on the subject of augmented reality, and how it can change our lives, and mostly when: Joanne spent quite a bit of time explaining the Gartner hype cycle and how augmented reality fits in, as well as the good old Crossing the chasm diagram. Joanne’s training as an actor actually showed in that amazing performance of hers, which was greatly appreciated by the public,
- Olivier Blanchard, who was kind enough to recommend me to Scott and Andrew for this conference, made a great presentation about how and why companies have to shy away from tactics and make a strategic move with regard to their implementation of social media,
- Next was my presentation which is now available from Ustream in video format,
- Last but not least was Chris Brogan’s pitch. No need to introduce Chris, he is our favourite and I have been a long time admirer of his blog, one of the best in the blogosphere. He didn’t bother to put together a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation (actually I think he is right, we are more and more slaves to these tools and we need to rediscover the human factor) but he delivered a high quality and impressive pitch about why social media has to be human again and he made fun of these people boasting about the number of followers they have on their Twitter accounts as if when mobile phones came in people had bragged about how many phone numbers they had in their address books. Chris Brogan’s Like Minds 2010 presentation can be seen and heard at this URL.
That’s not all though. The Like Minds conference which took place on a Friday was followed by an amazing and fruitful weekend session entitled the Like Minds Summit on the following Saturday in beautiful Bovey Castle in Dartmoor (in actual fact not really a Castle, but more of a neo-gothic mansion from the early 20th century built by WhSmith’s heir).