Like Minds 2010 in Exeter

 In my continued journey to become more practiced in the art of Social Media and Communications I attended an event called “Like Minds” held in the Capital of the South West, Exeter. I wasn’t sure what to expect to be honest, especially as a relative novice, but I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. The event was very well put together by Drew Ellis and Scott Gould and they managed to attract some of the best known names in the Industry such as Chris Brogan, Joanne Jacobs and Oliver Blanchard.

 The theme was “People” more that “Tactics” and Drew and Scott created a great formula of varying depths. Firstly a “expert” Key Note presenter would address the audience for about 20mins, giving insight into some of their experiences and theories. They were then followed onto the stage by a Panel of 4 “experts” who took questions from the crowd; answering them from their own individual perspective. The final level of interaction was over lunch, where the “expert” engaged with smaller groups and created stronger connections in restaurants all over Exeter. A clever idea facilitated by the City Manager who was also fully behind the conference.

As well as the experts we also heard from several Charity Endeavours throughout the day. Some truly inspirational 5-10mins slots from people that not only are doing the right thing, but also using Social Communications to do it.

 So was the audience just full of Devon and Somerset folks? Well no. There were certainly lots of people from the South West, however I met people that have travelled down from London, Birmingham and indeed Scotland. It seems that Like Minds has the right balance between being an Industry event and encouraging the local community to embrace Social Media to create a little pocket of skills outside of Soho. Certainly the audience was very Agency heavy and at one stage I was almost nervous to raise my hand when the question was asked, “who is from a client”. But Like Minds isn’t a place where you’ll get sold to, its more of a community.

 So I guess the next question you’ll ask, is “what did you get out of it?” Well, quite a lot really; I was inspired by some great speakers, I made some excellent connections and a learned a hell of a lot. I joked on Twitter yesterday that I’ve had a 4 day headache since Like Minds finished and I suspect its because my brain is now full to the brim with Social Media knowledge. My Moleskin note book most certainly is full! Some of my favourite bits of advice are:

  • Social Media enables Communities and Networks, its doesn’t create them.
  • If you met your Brand at a party, how would you describe them?
  • We are not “Experts”, we are Influencers
  • Apple iPhone only has 14% on the market
  • Games make people want to participate
  • Focus! Always Strategy before tactics and tools
  • Make the Guest Experience fun and relevant

 I’m already looking forward to next year’s Like Minds event which will also be held in Exeter, which as a side note seems to be a great town! As I mentioned early the City Manager fully supported this Conference, and why not? Like Minds has brought in leading “Influencers” from all over the Globe to attend, as well as several hundred others who visited, ate, drank and stayed over in local establishments. I was really impressed by John Harvey; in a time that people have a dislike for politicians, he strikes me a forward thinking man trying to do the best for his City. Oh and he did a great job on the new Princesshay shopping area!

I cant wait to go back to Exeter!