Thursday, March 24, 2011

Disney Social Media Moms Celebration Recap Part II

On Day One of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, we got into the meat of the conference with speakers ranging from Meg Crofton who is president of Walt Disney World Resorts to Matt Jacobson, Head of Market Development for Facebook, to Rene Syler to Fran Capo to to conference favorite from last year Chris Brogan to a performance by Susan Egan and Georgia Stitt. Whew!

I loved the setting of the stage, and the white baby grand piano was ... a real mystery. Fortunately, that was cleared up by the end of the afternoon. Based on the above list, can you guess how?

And of course the centerpieces at each table were pure Disney. It looks ready for a wedding, no?

Meg Crofton shared a ton of detail with us about Disney, much of which really made me think. It is amazing to contemplate how big Disney really is. They are the largest single site employer in US. Their laundry washes more than 300,000 pounds of linens and towels each day. Washing two loads a day in a home would take 27 years. I don't want to even think about that. Disney buses log more than 20 million miles per year. In an entire year, I drive less than half what their buses drive in a single day.

I was most impressed by Matt Jacobson, the eighth employee of Facebook, who is now the Head of Market Development. While he shared lots of facts and figures about Facebook, some of the questions he answered were by far the most enlightening of the day.

Ninety-two percent of moms are using Facebook to check on what friends and family are using Facebook. About eighty-two percent of people are using it to keep in touch with family and friends - meaning ten percent are just stalking their friends and family? Interestingly, fifty percent are finding about brands and companies on Facebook through their friends - and I know I'm amongst their number.

A lot of his discussion was about building a social media presence using Facebook. He discussed a few items I wasn't familiar with - since I only just put up a Facebook page for my blog, after all - from using a notes feature to import your blog directly into Facebook instead of using Networked Blogs to integrating social plug ins into your blog (which I know I need to do, once I figure out how!).

He was also very adamant about keeping your personal and professional identities separate. Your friends should be your "real" friends. If necessary, go through and put them into buckets and lists with different privacy standards (blog, surfing buddies, PTO moms, etc). It sounds like what I ended up doing with my in-laws (shhhh!), but it makes me extra grateful that my blog email isn't the one I used for my personal Facebook account so that I can keep myself separate.

My favorite moment of the day, though, came from one of my pet peeve about Facebook questions. Molly from My Go Mom asked about ensuring that people on Facebook truly are over age 13 as the restriction states. Considering that my nine year old (at the time) niece friended me - I declined immediately - I can see where this is an issue. I don't want or need a nine year old knowing what I'm doing all the time, nor potentially exposed to anything inappropriate, which thankfully my friends tend to be more conservative on that level.

Matt admitted that there is little Facebook can do to guarantee ages, which was a disappointing answer - but also probably realistic. Instead, he used the example of his own daughters. When they turned thirteen, they didn't just get a Facebook account. And he's there; he practically is Facebook.

In fact, he didn’t give his 15 year old daughters Facebook accounts until they could give him a case for why they needed one. And it took awhile. Once he agreed, he didn't just let them set up an account and go. The email account on their Facebook page is an email he has access to. While he doesn't stalk their page or read every email, he sees who they get friend requests from and volume they get versus those they accept – which is a HUGE delta for them.

He set them up so that they are invisible and so have to find friends. It was a pain for them, because they have to work through their friends to find people. This was hard, but the privacy is critical. The good news is that they understand it and are very careful of their privacy and settings. And really, figuring out responsibility and restraint on the Internet is something not enough people figure out. I really like this solution and suggestion.

Our next guest was Rene Syler who was such a hoot but so full of wisdom. She was a news anchor who ... no longer is. She should be back on tv, and I'll leave it at that. She reinvented herself after her firing and eight weeks later her radical mastectomy. Eventually, and finally, she became The Good Enough Mother. And she absolutely is.

As she puts it, "Washed up is just another word for reinvention." After her firing and mastectomy, she still held hope for resurrecting her career, but her agent for 15 years didn’t have the same vision anymore. She had shot a couple pilots, and when she got word that they weren’t going, she fell into a deep depression. She wasn’t the same person anymore – "scuffed up, tattered and torn" is her description.

On a daily basis, she got up, took her kids to school - still in her nightgown with ski jacket - then would stay in bed for seven hours, waiting for the phone to ring (it never did) before going to get her kids again. It was really hard to see the things that were good in her life. Needless to say, she left that agency and was represented by another agency who knew very little about her and instead tried to get her to do something that wasn’t a good fit at all.

And now? She's Good Enough. Two quotes that really spoke to me about her rediscovery: “You may not know what you want to do, but you do know what you don’t want to do. And that’s just as important” and “Every day, I am happy. Every day.” The first speaks to me because I spent so much of my life in that place, fretting and dithering because I knew what I didn't want but couldn't quite put my finger on what I did want - and that wasn't good enough. And being happy every day? That is where I want to be. I know I'm not there yet, but I'm on my way, and I strive to get all the way there.

Real Growth hurts. I have learned more in the last four years than I have in the past 44 years of my life, but that kind of growth, that kind of character building, that soul stretching HURTS. It just doesn’t work if you don’t move and hurt and cry. Look at it in different ways. Listen to things that perhaps when you were up here you wouldn’t have listened to before. Follow your passion because you’ll never go wrong.

It is ok to take yourself off the bottom of the to do list. It’s ok to say to your kids “Mommy needs a break from you” and not feel guilty about it.

The thing I learned that’s most important is that I’m loved. I’m loved by my family, my friends. I have my family who loves me for me, not the image of Rene that the world sees with ever hair in place (sort of). The mercurial mom that they’re treated to, and they love me nonetheless. I have friends who are not of the fair weather variety. I was once the field trip mommy, and I went to watch wheat being threshed. It’s horrifyingly violent, but what’s left is only the good part of the plant. That’s what happened to me. It’s all the stuff that got stripped away, and it left only the good part. The part that’s the nutritional part. The healthiest part.

The fair weather friends are gone because they weren’t there through the nights when I cried myself to sleep every night. I have a core group of friends who were with me through it all, and they love me. Keep hold to your friends and family because they’re the ones who are going to be your lifeline when things are really bad.

I can't say it better than that. I simply can't. Rene is an amazingly powerful speaker, and I am inspired. Absolutely inspired by her.

After a bit of a break, Minnie came out to "talk" to us. She was dressed as Princess Leia, something I still can't tell Mister Man as he'll be too jealous - my little Star Wars lover! Disney officially announced the opening of the Star Tours II ride at Hollywood Studios, a ride that was closed when we visited over Christmas that Mister Man was still hoping to ride this trip. We were on the edge of our seats, hoping against hope that we'd be in the first wave to ride the new incarnation which was why Minnie was there. Sadly, not so much. The ride will open on May 20, and it still has a ways to go, but the next time we come, Mister Man will ride it. I promise.

The next speaker was Fran Capo, who has written fifteen books and is a standup comic. Not knowing this, when she appeared onstage in character mode, I wasn't quite sure what to make of her. She holds the world record for fastest female talker, and I understand how that's possible. Wow can she talk, and it's amazing what she's done in her life but being open to possibility and figuring out how she's going to do something she's finagled after she's finagled it - from speaking gigs to writing books. As she put it, “Just say yes, and figure it out later. When a door opens, just step through it." That may take more courage than I have, but wow is it working for her.

Chris Brogan was up next - and yes, he was again tweeting before he spoke, requesting topics. He was a conference favorite from last year, and he was just as entertaining this year, while still imparting wisdom.

Trying to find your space in the online world can be a challenge, but he has plenty of advice. One of the ones that resonated most was "Don't ask how, ask why all the time." His point throughout was that we are all in the customer service business - and sales and marketing - and we need to think and act like it. As he put it, "There is no magic in the old silk hat. It's putting the work into it and making it happen. Ask 'then what' always."

As the world and our connections to it are changing, there is a lot of fear, but there is also opportunity. He advises that we "create the new dial tone. Now we can connect with people where they are and tap into it in their language. That is so vitally important. You can track them down now! You get information, and then you can do something with it. And you can listen, too – that’s important, as well." And really, isn't that what we're trying to do now?

He gave a few bits of great advice that are definitely not always followed online. First: If you want attention, give attention. Retweet what they're saying. Give them linky love. Respond to what they're doing, and create that connection. It will be noticed. Second: Another secret? Raise other people up. This is something that he finds tends to be uniquely lacking in the mommy blogging sphere. His comparison is that of crabs in a bucket – you shouldn’t get out of the bucket because I’m in this bucket. Really, we're better than crabs, right? Find people who are doing something interesting and lift them up. I love it.

When people ask how to become valuable and sought after in a particular area, he knows what to do. Always be the go to person, the connector. If you’re always putting people together, you’re the one at the elbow and you’re the trust agent that people turn to. It’s less yucky than you just selling your stuff all the time. I don't think I need to expound on that, do I?

He suggests that we look at our websites as our home base. Engage people and make them interested on Facebook and Twitter so that they want to click over to your blog. The other places are outposts. Your job is to use the outposts to get people to the home. Per Chris, Use the Facebook Like Button to share your content but bring them to your home base (blog).
And remember, comments aren't currency. Comments are proof that you hit a note somewhere.

Chris also gave us some really great acronyms to live by. And yes, we all giggled at them - serious though they are in the end.

Always be connecting (ABC). Feed your network every day.
C = Connections everything I do lives and dies by my network
R = Referrals You need them so you can sell to the next person
A = Attention and/or awareness You have to be everywhere, doing great things and sharing it on your blog. Better to write it on the blog than to write it via email
P = Presence You want to be places. You want to be ready & available to be consumed. It's how people get noticed. Post more often, and you get more notice. Get your pics up fast. Post frequently. Be active.

I really loved his recommendations for productivity. Look for pockets of time. Write notes to yourself of things to do and then do them when you find those scraps of time. Stop saying "yes" to things. Stop keeping all your extra tabs open on your browser. It doesn’t work as well as you think it does. Uhhhh, guilty guilty and guilty? And yes, I write this with Twitter open, another four browser windows, and the Food Network on in the background. Ahem.

Did you know he writes his blog posts in 20-40 minute apiece? It makes me feel a whole lot better about the rapidity with which I write and post sometimes. That said, there are some posts - this one especially - that take far more time and effort, and it's important to put that into it when required. He isn't fast for fast's sake.

Chris also spoke last year about not liking when people put their RSS feed directly into Twitter. He expanded on that a bit this year. Don’t put your RSS feed automatically into Twitter. Ask an interesting question or make a point with the answer to go to your blog. Don’t (HootSuite) post the same thing on all social media, as they’re frequently the same audience. What will they do? They will unsubscribe in one or more channels. Likes are more powerful than retweets. Give people a maximum of 2 social media options on your site. Why? Because too many choices leads to inaction – the user pushes nothing. And how many people do you know who do this?

He also chatted briefly (ha! - the joke is coming, sorry) about vlogging. While I don't vlog often, I do put video on my site. Video is the next thing (as he’s said since 2007). Be brief. I’m constantly amazed by people who think I have 11 minutes to watch their video. Talk clearly. Speaking with umms and uhhhs doesn’t help. And edit. Editing is good manners. Brevity brevity brevity – it makes all of those much easier. I'll keep to my three minute maximum. Phew.

Last up for the day were Georgia Stitt and Susan Egan. I'll have to admit that I'd never heard of either before that performance. I know them now. Georgia is a lyricist and composer who plays a mean piano - and sings! Susan was the original Belle in Beauty and the Best on Broadway and was also the voice of Meg in Hercules. They sang, and they chatted. And they were wonderful.

I loved the lyrics of so many of the songs by Georgia Stitt from "The Me of the Moment" to "Nina Doesn't Care" (which almost brought me to tears) to "My Lifelong Love." There was even a song about social media that had us all giggling and nodding our heads sagely. Susan's voice is incredible, and we were treated to her singing "I Won't Say I'm in Love" from Hercules - with the screen showing the scene from the movie in sync with her singing. So cool!

They were a hoot, and I would have loved to have sat and had coffee with them - or better yet - dinner and drinks. I'm so glad they were invited to share an hour with us, especially since they ended with "The Mom Song" - one that the wee ones insist sounds just like me. They tell me it's because I sing. I hope that's the only reason why!

After our day at the conference ended, we headed with our families to Hollywood Studios for a Disney Junior party on the set of "Lights, Motors, Action" - complete with band and dance floor for the kids. There was a fantastic buffet where Mister Man learned he loves prime rib (whoo?) and Little Miss got a whole plate of desserts just for her - dairy free cookies and tons of great fruit. Everyone was in heaven as we heard about the rebranding success of Playhouse Junior to Disney Junior.

Then the band appeared - from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. The music was so fun, and from the show, I believe (shhhh, we don't really watch tv in our house, so we've yet to see this show), as most people seemed to recognize each song. Regardless, they were absolutely age appropriate, something sorely lacking in many family events I attend.

As we continue through the evening, various Disney characters come out to dance with us. It started out with Captain Hook and Mr. Smee - with really only the kids on the dance floor.

The parents quickly jumped in, and more and more characters kept joining us from Daisey to Donald to Handy Manny to Agent Oso and more.

The wee ones were in heaven, and Little Miss continually threw herself at one character after another for a hug. And then she danced. A lot. And didn't want to leave when it was time to go - not that I could blame her!

Mister Man was not a fan of the "bad buys" at the event, but he had a blast nonetheless. He enjoyed dancing, but he was absolutely entranced by the giant television screen overhead. He had a hard time looking away from it to follow along with everyone else. That said, he did his best to dance along with the leaders and following the song's commands. So so cute - I love watching him dance!

By the end of the day, my brain was tired. Really tired. Thank goodness for fast typing at the conference events, or I wouldn't have had anything to write about at all, as my brain got overfull! The next day of the conference was less intense, though we had some great opportunities to interview some chefs and some who are focused on health and nutrition. More on that tomorrow!

First "recap" post on my family's take of the conference here
Day One recap here.

In the interest of full disclosure, I attended the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. The conference ticket also included discounted hotel stay, park tickets, and some gifts for myself and my family. I was not compensated in any way, nor was I asked to write about the conference. All opinions expressed are my own.


Heather March 24, 2011 at 10:09 AM  

What a COOL experience. I am really loving all the recaps! Can't wait for more! (and I'm glad that you're back!)

Rene Syler March 24, 2011 at 11:00 AM  

MIchelle: thank you for this! You're a doll and smart and will figure it out. Life is long, God willing, and there's a lot of time to try a path and if it's not right, to course-correct. Just remember, you can't steer a still ship, so set sail in any direction until you find the one that's right for you :)

Fiona @Banteringblonde March 24, 2011 at 8:27 PM  

Great recap! My brain was tired after that day as well, in fact I think it is still tired ;)

Cher March 25, 2011 at 12:17 AM  

Love your recap! I admit I am totally stealing parts of it when I have time to write it! I am breaking mine up into a few posts for each day.

Kelly's Lucky You March 25, 2011 at 10:41 AM  

Wow! Great recap - you should be proud of it, you did a great job capturing the info and the feelings...

I don't think we met there - next year!

Michelle March 27, 2011 at 8:13 PM  

Heather - It was such a cool experience. It was so much fun for all of us, but I learned a ton, as well. Glad you like the recaps :)

Rene - Oh you are too sweet! I'll find that direction and then set sail someday!

Fiona - I don't know that my brain has fully recovered yet, either. There was a LOT to pick up, wasn't there?

Cher - Awwww thanks. And feel free to steal... so long as you give me *some* credit :)

Kelly - There are so many people I didn't meet, even with more chance to socialize this year. Definitely next year - if I'm lucky enough to be able to go. Thanks for the kudos. I had fun writing them, even if it did seem to take forever!

septembermom March 30, 2011 at 1:17 PM  

Once again, another great post for all of us to benefit from. I love the insight of Rene. I'll remember those words and try to shake off the excess of life and get to the core. The pictures are great. I so want to bring my kids to Disney. One of these days!!!

Michelle April 3, 2011 at 10:43 PM  

Kelly - Rene was absolutely awesome. Go read her blog and listen to her. She was incredibly inspiring!

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