11 Social Media Conferences Every Marketer Should Know for 2014

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sky from planeHaving a job in social media is sort of weird.

There are still lots of people who might think you’re just “on Facebook” all day while in reality you’ve got a big job: figuring out your social media strategy, perfecting the right times to post, understanding your analytics and building strong connections with your community.

That’s why it’s nice to be able to take some time to connect with others who have the same challenges as you. Luckily, there are lots of great social media conferences worth your time.

But how do you know which conference is right for you? We asked Jason Keath, CEO of Social Fresh (more on that conference in a minute), to help us out with that question.

“Most events will list a ton of information about the event online ahead of time. And more events are offering online networking opportunities before the event through communities, email lists or Facebook groups,” he says.

“Take advantage by researching the schedule, speakers (even watch past video of them), sponsors, attendees and the venue. Pick out companies, speakers, sessions that will make your trip the most productive to focus on.”

We’ve gotten you started on your research by collecting 11 (and a half!) social media conferences every marketers should know about for 2014. Read on to hear their pitch, see details of each and check out some tweets from past participants.

After you’ve picked the right event, read on for great tips from speakers and organizers on making the most of your conference experience!

One note: This list is only U.S. events, but I’d love to gather up a future list of great conferences worldwide. Let me know your picks in the comments!

1. Social Fresh Conference

Social Fresh
Social Fresh has two conferences a year, but first up in 2014 is East. Stay tuned on their site for more details of Social Fresh West in San Diego this fall.
What: “Social Fresh is the social media conference you have always hoped for. We keep it simple and focus on quality content with actionable insights. No panels. Just one speaker at a time focused on success stories and tactics. One track. We curate a single track of great speakers, so you don’t have to. Real quality networking. Enjoy multiple happy hours, speed networking, snack breaks and a brainstorming event to meet and get to know other social professionals.”
When: July 17-18
Where: Orlando, FL
Cost: $597-$1,097 (Use promo code “BUFFER” for a 10% discount!)
Organizer: Social Fresh Conference
Speakers: Social media strategist and Youtility author Jay Baer and social and digital strategist Sarah Evans are confirmed so far.
Best for: With one track and one room, this one’s great for hyper-focused networking and getting face time with speakers.
Random Tweet:

 

2. Social Media Marketing World

Social Media Marketing World
What: “Social Media Marketing World 2014 is the world’s largest social media marketing conference. By attending, you’ll make connections with 80+ of the world’s top social media pros (plus 2,000 of your peers) and you’ll discover amazing ideas that’ll transform your social media marketing.”
When: March 26-28th, 2014
Where: San Diego, CA
Cost: $1,097-$1,297
Organizer: Social Media Examiner
Speakers: The Impact Equation author Chris Brogan, Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith and social media strategist Jay Baer, among others.
Best for: Social media generalists looking for a deep dive into strategies and tactics.
Random Tweet:

 

3. UserConf

UserConf
What: “UserConf is the only conference of its kind, built to bring education and insight to people working in customer support and community management. We think customer support is just as important as sales and marketing. We tried to find a conference that reflected these values. We couldn’t. So we created UserConf, a conference for people like us.”
When: May 2, 2014
Where: Chicago, IL
Cost: $249-$349
Organizer: UserVoice and CoSupport
Speakers: None announced yet, but past speakers have included folks from companies like MailChimp, Vimeo, Microsoft, WordPress, AirBnB, and Uber.
Best for: Community managers or social media managers heavily focused on customer support.
Random Tweet:

 

4. Corporate Social Media Summit

Corporate Social Media Summit
What: “The Corporate Social Media Summit is the largest and most senior meeting of social media and marketing execs, giving you unrivaled insight into how social can drive your business growth & competitive advantage.”
When: June 16-17, 2014
Where: New York, NY
Cost: $1,395-$2,195
Organizer: Useful Social Media
Speakers: 2014 speakers include Dow Jones & Company Chief Communications Officer Paula Keve, MetLife Chief Customer Officer Claire M. Burns and Century 21 Chief Marketing Officer Bev Thorne.
Best for: Well established and/or senior social media practitioners.
Random Tweet:

 

5. MozCon

Mozcon
What: “Three days of forward-thinking, actionable sessions on SEO, social media, community building, content marketing, brand development, CRO, the mobile landscape, analytics, and more. MozCon speakers share next-level advice on everything from building a loyal community to making data-driven decisions in your marketing.”
When: July 14-16, 2014
Where: Seattle, WA
Cost: $799-$1,299
Organizer: Moz
Speakers: Moz’s Rand Fishkin, The Web Psychologist author Nathalie Nahai, Wil Reynolds of SEER Interactive and more.
Best for: Cross-trained social media marketers who also dabble in (or want to learn more about) SEO, analytics and more.
Random Tweet:

 

6. Content Marketing World

Content Marketing World
What: “Content Marketing World is the one event where you can learn and network with the best and the brightest in the content marketing industry. You will leave with all the materials you need to take a content marketing strategy back to your team – and – to implement a content marketing plan that will grow your business and inspire your audience.”
When: Sept. 8-11, 2014
Where: Cleveland, OH
Cost: $495-$2,395
Organizer: Content Marketing Institute
Speakers: 2014 speakers include such brands as Kraft Foods, Microsoft, Facebook, SAP, Cisco Systems and Coca-Cola Brazil.
Best for: Social media managers with a content marketing focus.
Random Tweet:

 

7. Inbound 2014

Inbound 2014
What: “Join thousands of marketing and sales professionals from around the globe for the world’s most remarkable business event. INBOUND provides attendees with the inspiration, education, and connections needed to transform their businesses to match the way purchasing behaviors are evolving in a connected and digital world.”
When: September 15-18, 2014
Where: Boston, MA
Cost: $749-$1,499
Organizer: HubSpot
Speakers: 2013′s event included talks from Arianna Huffington, President & Editor in Chief of Huffington Post; author Seth Godin; Scott Harrison, CEO & Founder of charity: water; and FiveThirtyEight.com founder Nate Silver.
Best for: Big-picture social media strategy and inspiration; seeing big name speakers.
Random Tweet:

 

8. Social Shakeup

Social Shakeup
What: “This isn’t Social Media 101: this is a celebration of how social media practitioners are creating exciting new ways to connect people within and outside the enterprise – customers, employees, managers and leaders. It’s an exploration of how we’re shaking up traditional organizations and communication channels to create a brand new form of business: the Social Enterprise.”
When: September 16-17, 2014
Where: Atlanta, GA
Cost: Prices ranged from $497-$1,299 for 2013′s event; they haven’t been announced yet for 2014.
Organizer: Social Media Today
Speakers: 2013′s event had speakers including Coca-Cola Digital Strategy & Content Director Neil Bedwell, The Body Shop Director of Brand Communications & Values Jennifer Barckley and Bravo Senior Social Media Manager Abigail Cusick.
Best for: In-house social media marketers working for (or aspiring to work for) large and enterprise brands.
Random Tweet:

 

9. Social Brand Forum

Social Brand Forum
What: “The Social Brand Forum, a top 10 social media conference, brings national social media and digital marketing thought leaders to Iowa’s Creative Corridor for two days of impactful keynotes and interactive discussions.”
When: Sept. 25-26, 2014
Where: Iowa (Specific location TBA)
Cost: Last year’s event cost $325; this year’s prices aren’t available yet.
Organizer: Brand Driven Digital
Speakers: Past speakers have included Spin Sucks author Gini Dietrich, Toprank’s Lee Odden, Youtility author Jay Baer and more.
Best for: Social media marketers looking for great value on a budget.
Random Tweet:

 

10. Brands-Only Summit

Brands Only Summit
What: “This event is focused on the core skills you need to be a successful social media executive. This two-day conference features 16 intense peer-to-peer discussions, 12 how-to classes, 12 real-world case studies, 3 brilliant authors, and 3 amazing keynotes.”
When: Oct. 27-29, 2014
Where: Orlando, FL
Cost: $1,500 plus some optional add-ons
Organizer: socialmedia.org
Speakers: None announced yet, but past speakers include folks from brands like AutoTrader.com, Salesforce.com, USAA and Best Buy.
Best for: In-house social media manager at large brands.
Random Tweet:

 

11. SMX Social Media Marketing

SMX Social
What: “A two-day, tactic-rich conference that covers all key issues for getting the most out of social marketing, whether you’re tasked with driving organic traffic, managing paid campaigns, or stewarding your company’s brand with online reputation management and customer service.”
When: November 19-20, 2014
Where: Las Vegas, NV
Cost: Prices for 2013′s event started at at $1,495; they haven’t been announced yet for 2014.
Organizer: SMX Social Media Marketing is programmed by the editorial team behind two leading internet marketing sites: Marketing Land and Search Engine Land.
Speakers: None announced yet, but 2013′s event had folks like Moz Director of Community Jennifer Lopez, AOL Audience Development Manager Travis Bernard and Realtor.com Director of Social Media Marketing Audie Chamberlain.
Best for: In-the-trenches social media marketers responsible for driving traffic and proving results.
Random Tweet:

 

Make the most of any conference

And if you’re planning on heading to one of these events, make the most of your conference experience. We asked Keath, Jennifer Lopez, Moz’s Director of Community, and Monica Wright, Director of Audience Engagement at Marketing Land, for their top tips on maxing out a conference experience. Here’s what they had to say:

Show up the day before

My best tip for getting the most out of a conference is to get there early,” Keath says. “Getting to an event a day early is a huge psychological advantage. You are not rushing or unprepared. You can learn your surroundings before most of the folks get there. And you can typically meet speakers, sponsors, organizers and other early birds without the chaos and competition of the full event as a distraction.”

Go all in

“Don’t half-ass your conference experience, go with gusto. This means focusing on the conference, the people, the sessions, not work (I know, this is a tough one for most),” Lopez says. “This sounds odd, right, since you’re going to learn for your job. But if you’re too distracted by your daily work to get anything out of the sessions, or hang out at the networking events, then what’s the point of spending all that money to be there? You should be exhausted after a conference because you’ve gone all in and made the most of it.”

Make what you learn actionable

“Make a point to see if you can condense your takeaways to 10 things to do when you get back to the office,” Wright says. “There are so many great ideas, but if you can narrow it down to the top ten things, it’s much easier to take action.”

Attend the networking events

“While the sessions are for learning tips and tactics, the networking is where the ‘goods’ happens,” Lopez says. “You make friendships, start partnerships, build communities, by talking with people. So, no sitting in your room working, get out there and talk to people.”

Organize your own event (at the event)

“Bring folks together for coffee, lunch, a late happy hour, or a morning networking event,” says Keath. “If you are a runner, get some attendees together to go for a run in the morning – it is a constructive and memorable way to bring together groups of people at an event for intros, networking, and quality discussion. (Make sure to know the event schedule and to avoid conflicting with events or vendor rules if you are a business.)”

Don’t forget logistics and details

“Some more tactical tips include staying hydrated, keep a light sweater or jacket with you,” says Wright. “If you have a portable phone charger, bring that. Having some gum or mints you can offer to your conference mates (especially after coffee breaks) is always a nice gesture.”

Ask questions!

“Whether you’re in a session and ask the speaker a question, or you tweet to them later, or ask the person next to you what they learned from the session, or what they do… learn from the people around you,” says Lopez. “It’s not just the speakers who know all the answers, it’s the other attendees as well. When you grab lunch at the conference, ask the person next to you what they work on, you’ll be amazed at how much you can learn just by asking questions. It doesn’t need to be all about you. :)”

Take a break

“Many conferences will have long days to fit in as much content as possible. You do not have to go to everything,” Keath says. “Look for sessions less relevant to your needs where you can take a break and clear your head. Take a walk, get a snack. Check out the exhibitor space. Start a conversation with other attendees.”

Did we miss your favorite event happening in 2014? Do you have a great tip for making the most of a conference experience? Let me know about it in the comments (and definitely nominate those outside-the-U.S.) events for a future list)!

P.S. If you liked this post, you might also like The 10 Most Popular Social Media Marketing Guides of the Buffer blog to Kick-start 2014 and 6 Random Social Media Tips to Help You Improve Your Marketing Today.

Photo Credit: mischiru via Compfight cc

  • http://codecondo.com/ Alex

    I’m definitely looking forward to reading wrap-up’s and other juicy bits from these conferences, unfortunately unable to attend many of them.

    • Courtney Seiter

      I hear you, Alex. Following along with the hashtag is a great way to get lots of value without traveling or spending a dime!

  • http://www.berncomedia.com/ iGoByDoc

    Great list Courtney. I wish I could go to all of the events. Will be at Inbound for sure.

    • Courtney Seiter

      That seems like a fantastic one!

      • http://www.berncomedia.com/ iGoByDoc

        Yes, it is a great one. Been the last 2 years, and has been amazing! =)

    • http://socialfresh.com/blog Jason Keath

      @igobydoc:disqus – Love Inbound. Was lucky enough to speak there last year and hope to be invited back. Amazing event, both in scale and quality.

      _
      Jason Keath, CEO
      Social Fresh

  • Casie [kay-cee; KC]

    AWESOME list, I’ve been researching a few — surprised to see two are right here in Orlando! Definitely will be keeping my eyes on those for sure! Thank you, Courtney!

    • Courtney Seiter

      Great to hear! It’s always nice to have a local option. :)

    • http://socialfresh.com/blog Jason Keath

      Hi @casiekayceekc:disqus. Please let me know if you need more info on Social Fresh EAST in Orlando. Email me if you have questions. jason AT socialfresh DOT com. =)

      _
      Jason Keath, CEO
      Social Fresh

  • http://www.jbh.co.uk Aran Jackson

    Thanks for the tips :). Would love to see a UK version *hint hint wink wink*

    • Courtney Seiter

      Would love to put that one together! What are some ones to watch there?

      • http://www.jbh.co.uk/ Aran Jackson

        Granted there’s not as many as the US. I’ll put together a list for you, though! I’ll send it over on Wednesday. I’m at the TFM&A conference tomorrow which should get the proverbial juices flowing.

  • http://socialfresh.com/blog Jason Keath

    Thanks for including Social Fresh Conference Courtney. Happy to include our best conference going tips in this awesome resource you pulled together.

    One thing I would recommend that I did not get to include is to focus your content goals. Two ways to do this:

    #1 Avoid Panels
    Unless you know all the speakers on the panel will deliver a quality discussion, just skip panels as a rule. One easy place to lose time and quality content at an event is at a poorly done panel or interview. Too often moderators are not trained or assertive enough to keep panelists on topic. Often it can take half the session just for each panelists to intro themselves and get across their talking points. Unless speakers or an event has proven otherwise, avoiding panels altogether can save you a lot of headache. I believe in this so much we avoid panels altogether at Social Fresh Conferences and focus on single presenters that can own the stage.

    #2 Focus Your Geography
    Pick a single room or area as your focus point. Too many conferences go for a high volume of content and speakers instead of curating one high quality track. Make sure you research the rooms or even the section of a hotel/conference center that has the most relevant content for you. Or better yet, attend more quality single track events (yes that was a shameless plug).

    Thanks again! =)

    _
    Jason Keath, CEO
    Social Fresh

    • Courtney Seiter

      Thanks for your insights, Jason!

  • http://www.jenniferhester.com/ Jenny Hester

    Thanks for this list. This is great info.

    • Courtney Seiter

      You’re very welcome!

  • Stacey Miller

    Great list Courtney! I’ve been to a few, including Social Fresh (fabulous) and INBOUND. One for your future list, that’s in the U.S.: http://vocus.com/conference :)

    • Courtney Seiter

      Thanks, Stacey–I appreciate your tip in making this resource even better!

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Thanks Courtney for mentioning Social Media Marketing World

    • Courtney Seiter

      Of course! Sounds like a great lineup.

  • http://www.danielfisher.com.au/ Daniel Fisher

    Great list, though for those of us not in the USA these awesome conferences might not be that accessible.

    I thought I’d just share one from Australia that I’ve gone to just about every year since it started.

    Ad-Tech || http://www.adtechaustralia.com/

    Whilst it’s not just social, it has plenty of streams so that you can tailor the event to best suit your needs. I’ve generally gone to the Sydney event, though Melbourne has just started up too in the last year or so.

    • Courtney Seiter

      Thanks, Daniel! This will really help me get my next list going :)

  • Wahiba Chair

    Hi Courtney,

    Thanks for this very useful collection. It can be tough to pick one to attend from so many interesting ones! Do you plan on attending any?

    I notice all of your conferences listed are in the US and would like to recommend adding to the list a major one happening in Canada soon – Social Media Camp – the largest social media conference of its kind in the country.

    It is hosted in beautiful Victoria, BC May 1-3 2014. Last year speakers included Mari Smith and Don Power and this year Julien Smith and Viveka Von Rosen. More info at http://socialmediacamp.ca/

    Hope to maybe see you and Buffer there too!

    Cheers,
    Wahiba

    • Courtney Seiter

      Awesome, thanks so much for the suggestion!

    • Sarah Frumento

      Hi Courtney,
      I would like to second the vote for adding Social Media Camp. Victoria has a strong tech-industry. I had the pleasure of attending last year for work. I was very impressed with the quality of speakers and the organization of this event. I enjoyed it so much that I planned to attend this year just for pleasure.
      Thanks for this great list – I hope to check out some of these US events someday too.
      -Sarah

  • http://www.praverb.net/ Patrick McNease

    Yes nothing like close social media conferences. I would love to attend the Social Fresh one. Looks promising.

  • Juliette Hauville

    Anything NOT in America?

    • Courtney Seiter

      Hi Juliette! This post is for U.S. events but I’d love to do another roundup of events outside America. Got any suggestions for ones I shouldn’t miss?

    • Karolina Haussa

      Hi Juliette, what do you think about Search Marketing Day in Poland on June 10-11 ?;) ( http://www.searchmarketingday.com)

  • http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Joe Pulizzi

    Hey Courtney…thanks for including Content Marketing World among this fine list. There were also a few on here I wasn’t familiar with (shame on me…and thanks).

    • Courtney Seiter

      Hi Joe; thanks for stopping by! Happy to include ya :)

  • http://www.pubcon.com/ Lane R. Ellis

    Thanks for the good list, Courtney! Although I may be just a wee bit biased, for your next list you may want to consider including one of the biggest and longest-running social media and digital marketing conferences around — Pubcon. Pubcon, which has been named a Forbes must-attend conference and an Inc. top conference for growing your business, began its storied history over 14 years ago and is doing some fantastic and innovative things for upcoming events including Pubcon New Orleans 2014 and Pubcon Las Vegas 2014. Thanks again, Courtney. Cheers! :-)


    Best Regards,
    Lane R. Ellis
    Lead Editor, Pubcon

    • Courtney Seiter

      Thanks for the info, Lane! Perhaps a future list focusing on all-around marketing conferences would be a good idea. Pubcon’s a great example of that, and I’ve certainly enjoyed my Pubcon experiences!

  • http://www.sparklesandshoes.com/ Kelly

    You missed Social Media Week that just happened in NYC

    • Courtney Seiter

      Yup, got this list out a little too late for it to be useful for anyone making plans for that conference. I’ve heard great things about it, though!

  • http://www.changeagents.ie/ Paul O’Mahony

    Hi Courtney – here’s one in Ireland (Dublin in May) you might like to consider http://www.digitalsummit.ie/
    It’s a one day event – but I haven’t yet been.

    • Courtney Seiter

      Thanks, Paul!

  • saulofhearts

    Didn’t realize there were so many social media conferences out there (and so expensive too!) This one’s not quite social media, but I just bought my ticket to the World Domination Summit in Portland, OR. Looks like a great event for anyone into online business/entrepreneur-type projects!

  • Emilie Colker

    These are great Courtney, do you have an international list, too?

    • Courtney Seiter

      Not yet, but I’d love to hear any suggestions for a future list!

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    According to me the necessary tools and information to help business
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  • Emily Haynes

    Is ther an international list yet?