The way we communicate has changed, in a very short period of time; a single tweet can become a global trend in minutes. This technology may frighten some. But for others social media is the wave of an exciting new era in communication.
Andrea Wood, executive vice president/executive director of operations at Zócalo Group, encourages consumers to embrace the technology. “Don’t be intimidated by how often social media changes,” affirms Ms. Wood. “The beautiful thing about it is there’s something in it for everyone. As a general consumer you don’t have to be an expert, but find the [platform] that meets your needs and interests you have.”
Zócalo Group and the Chicago Tribune are co-hosting Chicago’s version of a global event called Social Media Week, which actually takes place in over 25 cities twice a year. Some cities, including Chicago, celebrate Social Media Week Sept. 23-27, while others host it in February 2014. It features free social media panels, discussions, tutorials and networking events. As of now there are over 160 programs scheduled to take place throughout the downtown area.
The theme for this year’s global event is ‘Everything is Connected,’ but another highlight is the gender 50/50 program, an initiative to ensure balance among social media weeks’ global community of women and men.
“Social media week has really put an emphasis in making sure we are balanced in our advisory boards, balanced in programming and finding the right ways to highlight the roles of women in social media,” says Ms. Wood, who credits Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, for being a pioneer in the field of social media and technology. “She is a great example of someone who has helped foster a conversation about [gender equality].
The open to the public event will be a combination between professionals and event attendees. According to the company’s site, the audience of social media week is made up of 8 percent C-level or senior executives,12 percent business founders and entrepreneurs and 50 percent vice presidents or in director level positions. The remaining 30 percent are bloggers, journalists, social media managers, students, self-employed or freelance.
According to Ms. Wood, the goal for Social Media Week Chicago is not just to have a bigger event than the years prior but to ensure that programs reflect growth in the industry and the level of intelligence used by organizations to connect with their audience.
Ms. Wood also says the future of this technology is literally in the palm of our hands. “A huge aspect of social media right now is mobile. Some of us have a computer at some point through out the day but all of us have a smart phone in our hand. That dynamic between social media and mobile technology – there are huge things to come from that area. A lot of what the industry, brands and marketers are focusing on is figuring out the intersection between social and mobile.”
By Angelica Sanchez