#SMWLA 2021 Preliminary Agenda Is Live!

We’re excited to announce our initial agenda of Main Stage and Academy sessions for the 12th edition of #SMWLA, June 29-July 1.

Secure Your Pass Today and Save Up to $140!

Featuring insights from REVOLVE, PepsiCo, Google, Hulu, Wieden + Kennedy, as well as creators including Hannah Bronfman and Luvvie Ajayi Jones, this year’s program is shaping up to be the best yet and you’ll gain actionable insights into the business of influencer marketing under the umbrella of our annual theme, “Reinvention.”

Take a peek at the new sessions below and don’t wait to register, tomorrow, Friday, April 16th is your last chance to save 40% on your pass.

Leading with passion, advocacy, and leveraging your brand voice

How to Be a Professional Troublemaker: Fighting Fear with Luvvie Ajayi Jones

Referencing insights from her new book “Professional Troublemaker” join Adweek and Luvvie Ajayi Jones for a conversation unveiling how we can leverage the power of our own voices, personally and professionally, for a greater good and how to drive actions needed to prove the truth of our words in a noisy social media landscape. Learn more.

Turning Passions into Businesses: A Conversation with Hannah Bronfman

Join Adweek in conversation with Hannah Bronfman, founder of HBFIT, as she shares insights and tips learned throughout the evolution of her presence as an advocate and a host, how mommyhood now shapes her views and strategy on social media, and how influencers can make small strides each day to drive positive change in our society from racial injustice to reimagining default standards of “beauty” and “healthy.” Learn more.

The Meme Economy, Building Brands and Catering to the Next-Generation Consumers

The Meme Economy with Reid Hailey

Memes have become one of the most culturally relevant methods for digital communication. Join Doing Things Media Co-founder and CEO, Reid Hailey, to learn how memes are applied to real-time Culturally Relevant Marketing (the new CRM) and how top meme creators (@Shitheadsteve, @Middle Class Fancy, etc.) produce branded content that capitalizes on real-time trends. Learn more.

Building Brands at the Speed of Culture

Join James Andrews, founder of Authenticated Ventures, as he addresses key questions as we navigate this next chapter including If culture is defined by where consumers are paying attention, what are you paying attention to? If authenticity is measured by credibility, how do you know when you are respecting or disrespecting the genres and sub genres? If we have now moved into a fractured and confusing media landscape, how do you know if you have the right personnel on the team with the right skill sets? Learn more.

How REVOLVE Caters to the Next-Generation Consumer

In this session, REVOLVE Chief Brand Officer, Raissa Gerona will explore how REVOLVE is approaching the business of influencer marketing, how they pivot their strategies as the space continues to evolve, and tips for ensuring partnerships move the needle and foster long-term loyalty. Learn more.

Academies: Cultural relevancy, collaborations, and “influence culture”

(Re)volution of Rockstar Energy Drink

2021 has been a year of reinvention and revolution for Rockstar Energy. It launched its first-ever TV commercial during the pre-kick off at the Super Bowl with Lil Baby and shortly thereafter announced a huge partnership with 100 Thieves. Hear from Gabe Alonso, PepsiCo’s Head of Digital Platforms and Community as he explores how the brand is developing key influencer partnerships to drive cultural relevancy and rebuild its brand equity with a new generation of energy drinkers. Learn more. 

“Influence Culture”: The Reinvention of Word of Mouth Marketing via Social Media

Join Hulu’s Head of Brand Social, Tatiana Holifield, to unpack this cultural phenomenon and learn practical ways to reinvent your influencer marketing strategy with credibility and authenticity. You’ll learn how word of mouth marketing creates a halo effect that drives Earned Media, why an Active Listening strategy is integral to mastering ‘Influence Culture,’ and what key forces and consumer dynamics are behind today’s hyper-competitive marketing landscape. Learn more. 

How Google is Evaluating the Return on Influencer Marketing

Join Google’s Global Influencer Marketing Lead, Tobias Rauscher, as he shares how he and his team managed to elevate influencer work to be a part of the broader marketing mix. He’ll also debunk commons myths around measurement frameworks and selling impressions and likes as impact. You’ll learn how to prove the return of influencer marketing and compare effectiveness across the marketing mix, how to think of vanity metrics vs. brand lift and how to think of long-form vs. short-form. Learn more. 

Passing the Pen: The Importance of Collaboration in Brand Partnerships

In this session, join Wieden+Kennedy’s Head of Social, John Petty III, and explore what modern brand partnerships need to look like to succeed in internet culture. You’ll learn how to identify the right collaborations and partnerships for your brand, the essential factors behind creating the best brand partnerships and how to make cultural waves and authentically engage your audience. Learn more.

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Introducing the First Wave of Speakers for #SMWLA 2021

We’re excited to introduce the first round of leaders who will bring our 2021 theme, “Reinvention,” to life at the 12th edition of #SMWLA taking place June 29 – July 1.

Featuring insights from REVOLVE, PepsiCo, Google, Hulu, Wieden + Kennedy, and creators including Hannah Bronfman and Luvvie Ajayi Jones, gain actionable insights into the business of influencer marketing under the umbrella of our annual theme.

Register today so you don’t miss out any agenda updates in the coming weeks and save 40 percent on your pass when you register before Friday, April 16th.



Hannah Bronfman

Hannah Brongman

Author, Founder of HBFIT, Activist & DJ

Hannah Bronfman is the Founder of HBFIT, a unique destination for all things Health, Beauty + Fitness, a DJ, author of the book “Do What Feels Good,” and entrepreneur. On social media, she inspires her followers to embody a life of health and wellness by sharing her workout regimens and favorite homemade recipes. She is a vocal advocate for social and racial justice. Beginning in June 2020, Hannah began posting “History with Hannah” videos to her IGTV where she tackled voting rights, civil rights history, and the contributions that Black artists and chefs have made to American culture.


Luvvie Ajayi Jones

Luvvie Ajayi Jones

New York Times Best-selling Author and Podcaster, “Professional Troublemaker”

Luvvie Ajayi Jones is an award-winning author, speaker and podcast host. Her books include New York Times bestsellers I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual and Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual. Her podcasts “Professional Troublemaker” and “Jesus and Jollof,” tackle culture with both humor and criticism with an underlying aim of making people laugh, think, face their fears and use their voice for the greater good. Luvvie is also the co-founder of the #SharetheMicNow global movement.


Building brands


Raissa Gerona

Raissa Gerona

Chief Brand Officer, REVOLVE

Raissa Gerona is the Chief Brand Officer of REVOLVE and Co-Founder of Alliance Apparel, which REVOLVE acquired in 2014. In her role, she leads the brand’s strategy at the forefront of marketing to connect with the next-generation consumer through social media and experiential events. In support of this, Raissa oversees brand marketing for more than 20 REVOLVE-owned brands in addition to the company’s owned brand collaborations. These involve global lifestyle influencers such as Chrissy Teigen, Nicole Richie, Aimee Song, and Camila Coelho.


Ben Trinh

Ben Trinh

Global Head of Entertainment and Cultural Marketing, Uber

Ben Trinh is the Global Head of Entertainment and Cultural Marketing at Uber. Previously, he served as the entertainment and influencer marketing arm of Postmates, leading successful campaigns which featured John Legend, Chance the Rapper and Billie Eilish. Prior to Postmates, Ben spent several years at Lyft as a city launcher and then Head of Influencer Marketing. Earlier in his career, he led his own agency, Bredfor, which also focused on influencer marketing and served as a foundation for his current role. In his spare time, Ben is also an investor and advisor as well as the host of the celebrity featured podcast, “First and Featured.”


Gabe Alonso

Gabe Alonso

Head of Digital Platforms and Community – Energy Drinks, PepsiCo

Gabe Alonso is a seasoned digital strategist, with experience across multiple marketing disciplines spanning digital products, social media, and CRM. In his current role, he spearheads digital Platforms and community for the Energy Drink portfolio at PepsiCo. Previously, he served as industry-defining brands like Activision and Nike, where he drove best-in-class digital storytelling across platforms with an obsessive focus on the consumer. These roles included Global Director, CRM Strategy and 1:1 Marketing and Global Director, Member Programs. In his free time, you can catch Gabe hitting milestones on his Peloton.


John “JP” Petty, III

Head of Social, Wieden + Kennedy New York

John Petty, III — “JP” — leads engagement strategy development for the likes of McDonald’s, Bud Light, Ford, Heinz, and Delta at Wieden + Kennedy New York. Prior to his current role, he spent five and half years at advertising agency, Translation. In November of 2017, he was instrumental in launching artist services company, UnitedMasters. He is a hip-hop and sports fanatic well-versed in project management and data analysis, a mix that allows him to combine a connection to culture with a methodical, data-driven approach.


James Andrews

Founder, Authenticated Ventures

John Petty, III — “JP” — leads engagement strategy development for the likes of McDonald’s, Bud Light, Ford, Heinz, and Delta at Wieden + Kennedy New York. Prior to his current role, he spent five and half years at advertising agency, Translation. In November of 2017, he was instrumental in launching artist services company, UnitedMasters. He is a hip-hop and sports fanatic well-versed in project management and data analysis, a mix that allows him to combine a connection to culture with a methodical, data-driven approach.


Reid Hailey

Head of Social, Wieden + Kennedy New York

Reid Hailey is the CEO and Co-Founder of Doing Things Mediam a digital content and entertainment company that houses the fastest growing library of viral videos on the internet. Under Reid’s leadership, Doing Things owns and operates over 25 of the most culturally relevant brands on social media including ShitheadSteve, NeatDad, AnimalsDoingThings, MiddleClassFancy, DoggosDoingThings, GamersDoingThings, and NoChaser. Since 2017, the company has doubled in size every year, organically garnering an audience of more than 60M followers across social platforms that consume more than 1B videos monthly.


Platform leaders


Tatiana Holifield

Tatiana Holifield

Head of Social, Hulu

Tatiana Holifield is a seasoned marketing executive with 15 years of experience in media, sports, and entertainment, As Head of Brand Social for Hulu, she leads the streaming giant’s social media marketing strategy to drive earned media and brand awareness. Her unique ability to lead high-performing teams, reach Millennial & Gen Z audiences, and elevate legacy brands through digital innovation has named her one of the industry’s top change agents. Prior to her current role, Holifield was the Vice President/Head of Digital Strategy for Pacers Sports & Entertainment where she one of the Pacers’ highest-ranking women in leadership.


Tobias Rauscher

Global Influencer Marketing Lead, Google

Tobias Rauscher is the founding member of Google’s social media team, the Social Lab, and Influencer Marketing Lead where he oversees more than 80 collaborations with social media influencers and YouTube creators to meet marketing objectives. Prior to this role, he served as Social Media Marketing Lead where he drove Google’s global social team, creative excellence, and innovation partnerships across over 100 teams including Google Assistant, Google Maps, and Pixel. In addition to starting #teampixel he built the first social network at the age of 14.


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Announcing Our Initial #SMWNYC 2021 Agenda!

Our preliminary agenda for the thirteenth edition of Social Media Week New York (May 4-7, 2021) is live, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to share it with you!

Featuring insight from professionals with Snap, TikTok, Peloton, LEGO and many more, consider this your first look at our curated lineup of speakers and sessions dedicated to unlocking the power of “Reinvention,” our 2021 global theme.

Secure Your Pass Today and Save Up to $360!

Building meaningful connections, brands and businesses in an era of disruption

Love it or Leave it: How Red Antler Builds Brands that Matter

What does it actually mean to be a disruptor in our industry today? Why are great ideas. a massive social following, or better prices no longer differenatiors for success? In this session, Emily Heyward Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Red Antler, will present a new image of brand, the role it plays in driving social media strategy, and the principles today will create obsession in 2021 and beyond.

The Great Reset: Building Meaningful Connections in a Disjointed Media Landscape

About half of U.S. adults (53%) say they get news from social media “often” or “sometimes,” and this use is spread out across a number of different sites, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey conducted Aug. 31-Sept. 7, 2020. In this session hear from Nadja Bellan-White, Global Chief Marketing Officer at VICE Media will unpack how to navigate social media’s evolving role in the news cycle and modern journalism, what the future holds for media brands, and how marketers can prepare.

The Reinvention of You: How to Grow in an Age of Data-Driven Storytelling

We live today in a date-driven age with many marketing functions being augmented and often replaced by algorithms and automation. To succeed, we need to prioritize what we add to the machine. This is what will actually add value to us, our companies, and to society. Otherwise, we risk losing the plot by forgetting the human, the culture, and the storytelling. Hear from Rishad Tobaccowala, author of Restoring the Soul of Business and former Chief Growth Officer at Publicis as he tackles this theme through the lens of the four P’s: perspective, provocation. point of view, and plan of action.

Navigating the creator economy, the AR revolution and the rise of TikTok

Newcomers Versus Incumbents: Defining Success on TikTok in 2021 and Beyond

TikTok was the most downloaded app of 2020 and is on track to surpass 1.2 billion active users this year. What do newcomers need to know as they establish and how can established brands continue to grow their audiences? Why will TikTok’s rise in entertainment only the beginning of a long-term journey? Join Nick Tran, Global Head of Marketing as he explores these answers and more.

The Augmented Reality Revolution: A Guided Tour by Snap

Snapchat’s daily active users topped 265 million in Q4 2020, an increase of 47 million, or 22%, year-over-year. Guided by Snap’s Chief Business Officer Jeremi Gorman, join this session to explore the inspiring, immersive world of AR, from the voices of experts. Experience a 360-degree view of the opportunity, the technology, the business, and the big future ahead learn how we as marketers can prepare not only for the emerging technologies but the global shifts that are paving a path for a world of immersive, digital experiences?

The Future of the Creator Economy is Measured in Minutes

More than 50 million people now considered “creators.” How does personalization scale in a crowded landscape and how can this shape our social media marketing mix? Join Cameo’s Chief Executive Officer, Steven Galanis, in a fireside chat as he shares how the platform is capitalizing on this community, how it fits into entertainers’ business and brand strategy, how co-creation is altering the fabric of the creator economy, and how minutes can translate to long-term value.

Academies: Empathy, Agility and Creativity Re-Invented

How Facebook is Building an Empathetic Future through AR/VR

Keeping empathy and consumer value top of mind in an “always-on” augmented world laden with emerging technologies is more important than ever. How can marketers best find a balance in a mixed reality future? Join Instagram‘s Global Creative Lead of Augmented Reality Elizabeth Valleau for a deep dive into what‘s new, what’s next and how to keep our empathy muscles in top shape.

How LEGO Maintains Creative Inspiration in a World of Digital Reinvention

With digital channels in a constant state of flux – with the rise of new platforms like TikTok and new communities like Clubhouse — how can brands organize their creative thoughts and inspirations so they are not lost and can be actioned? In this session, James Gregson, Digital Creative Director for LEGO, offers helpful tips and tricks for staying creatively curious, the sources of his creative inspiration and how he goes about gaining inspiration from all areas of the web.

Empathy and Agility: Leading with a Digital Marketing Mindset

2020 proved that if brands can address their customers’ needs in ways that meet their expectations with speed, then they will have earned their customers’ business going forward. In this session, hear from Tatiana Urriaga, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Peloton as she shares valuable tips for empowering your team to navigate change, the role of digital marketing in enhancing your company’s ability to remain nimble, and more.

Adapting to Change at Scale with Google Social Lab

To cut through the noise and respond to societal issues and shifting consumer behaviors and interests in real-time, flexibility and relevance are table stakes. In this session, Head of the Social Lab at Google, Santi Pochat, unpacks the mental models and strategies required for active listening that will deliver insights that inform encompassing solutions in both the short and long-term.

Why Livestreaming is the Future of Shopping in America

Livestream shopping has taken China by storm and its growth shows no signs of slowing. U.S. brands are joining the phenomenon in a bid to woo consumers through unparalled experiences including engaging video elements, creators, and limited product drops. In this session, hear from NTWRK President Moksha Fitzgibbons for fresh insights into where the trend is heading and how to leverage consumer trend to deliver a successful, digitally-driven business model. 

How it Started, How it’s Going: Social Creativity Reinvented for the “New Normal”

The meaning of social creativity changed drastically over the past year forcing brands to ideate, iterate, and test their organic content and branded content — but where do brands and businesses turn to next? What defines successful creative in today’s environment? Join David Levin and David Schneider, founders of top UK social agency That Lot, for an actionable dialogue around post-2020 social creative and the techniques you need to prioritize.

Reinventing Data: From Spreadsheet to Edge-of-Your-Seat Page Turner

Think there is no connection between the methods of a detective from the 1800’s and your next data-driven digital marketing campaign? Think again. In this Academy session, Holland Martini, Chief Insights Officer and Maria Vorovich, Chief Strategy Officer at GOODQUES explore the reinvention of data through the lens of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes to show that big data can be sexy and fun and it isn’t all cumbersome and tedious.

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Announcing Our First Wave of Speakers for #SMWNYC 2021

We are thrilled to announce the first round of leaders who will bring our 2021 theme, “Reinvention,” to life this May (4-7).

Throughout their sessions, you’ll gain actionable insights into the different ways we can use this year to come together as an industry and reinvent the systems of social media marketing, a process that starts by collectively recognizing what isn’t working and addressing the tough questions such as how we can act with tact and empathy in uncertain times.

Now part of Adweek’s family of brands, we’re confident this will be one of our biggest, most insightul events to date.

Register your interest today so you don’t miss out any agenda updates in the coming weeks! Passes go on sale Thursday, February 11th at 9am ET.

Platform leaders


Steven Galanis

Steven Galanis

Founder & CEO, Cameo

Steven is the co-founder and CEO of Cameo, a marketplace where fans can book personalized video shoutouts from their favorite athletes, entertainers, and influencers. Since 2016, the platform raised more than $1 million for a wide range of charities through its Cameo Cares program and just last year topped Fast Company’s list of the “World’s Most Innovative Social Media Companies.” Cameo was also named one of the “World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies.”


Jeremi Gorman

Jeremi Gorman

Chief Business Officer, Snap

Jeremi is the Chief Business Officer at Snap Inc. where she spearheads global sales, agency partnerships, business and customer operations, platform integrity, and creative strategy. Since joining the company in 2018, she’s helped transform Snapchat into the go-to platform for Generation Z, using her expertise in sales and advertising to redefine the app’s purpose and push the boundaries for digital experiences without sacrificing the privacy of its users. Prior to Snap, Jeremi oversaw business intelligence and analytics, and the international expansion of Amazon’s advertising business and served various business roles at Yahoo, Variety Magazine, and Monster.com.


Nick Tran

Nick Tran

Head of Global Marketing, TikTok

Nick is TikTok’s first Head of Global Marketing where leads all aspects of TikTok’s B2C global marketing efforts, including brand strategy, media and advertising, social media, and co-marketing partnerships, campaigns and activations. His first TikTok’s first global marketing campaign, “It Starts on TikTok,” celebrates the global TikTok community for transforming unique and creative content into memorable cultural moments. Before joining TikTok, Nick was VP, Head of Brand and Culture Marketing at Hulu where he helped reinvent the brand and worked on memorable campaigns like “Better Ruins Everything” and “Hulu Has Live Sports.” In 2020, Nick was included in Fortune’s 40 under 40 as well as AdAge’s 40 under 40 list.


Elizabeth Vallea

Elizabeth Valleau

Global Creative Lead, Augmented Reality, Facebook

Elizabeth is an award-winning creative technologist and entrepreneur who currently serves as Global Creative Lead at Facebook with a focus on AR for the Instagram app. Her previous roles include Experiential Creative Lead at Grey NY, ECD at Trollback, and the founder of the Digital Experience department at R/GA NY. Her work with the United Nations, Nike, Unilever, the BBC, and Al Jazeera received some of advertising and design’s highest awards, including Clio’s, Webby’s, Pencil’s, and Lions, where the Nike Fuel Band was a Grand Prix-winner.


Santi Pochat

Santi Pochat

Head of Social Lab, Google

Santi is the Head of Social Lab at Google where he helps the organization develop, measure and deploy best-in-class activations in social across the company. Prior to that, he served as EVP at Edelman where he led teams for companies like Unilever, Campbells, Facebook and the Samsung business in the US, work earned nine Cannes Lions, an Effie, and the first-ever Tribeca Film Festival “Tribeca X Award.”


Modern brands and media properties


Nadja Bellan-White

Nadja Bellan-White

Global Chief Marketing Officer, VICE Media

Nadja is the Global Chief Marketing Officer at VICE Media Group, a newly-created global position, aimed to unify VICE Media Group’s portfolio and teams across marketing, branding, and communications internationally under one pillar. A champion of diversity and inclusion in the media industry, she previously served as Executive Partner for Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide and created Ogilvy/WPP Roots, an organization dedicated to driving cultural diversity and inclusion across Europe.


James Gregson

James Gregson

Digital Creative Director, LEGO

James is the Digital Creative Director for The Americas where he oversees a team of digital content strategists, creative designers, producers and video editors. His love for both the creative and analytical sides of marketing translates into over a decade of senior leadership expertise and a comprehensive understanding of the evolving digital and social media landscape. In his previous roles, he utilized a combination of technical understanding and conceptual creativity to create effective, measurable programs for clients and brands such as New Balance, Atari, and Mercedes-Benz.


Tatiana Urriaga

Tatiana Urriaga

Senior Manager, Global Product Marketing, Peloton Interactive

Tatiana is an award-winning marketer with experience building brands with measurable results in the digital space. Currently a Senior Manager of Product Marketing at Peloton, she leads digital advertising efforts on the Bike business. Prior to Peloton, Tatiana worked at digital media companies VaynerMedia, Havas WW, and 360i, on iconic Global brands such as AB InBev, Frito Lay, Ben & Jerry’s, and more.


Thought leaders


Rishad Tobaccowala

Rishad Tobaccowala

Former Chief Growth Officer at Publicis, author of Restoring the Soul of Business

Rishad is an author, marketing guru, and former Chief Growth Officer at Publicis leveraging a 38-year career. His best-selling book, Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in the Age of Data focuses on helping people think, feel and see differently about how to grow their companies, their teams and themselves in transformative times. BusinessWeek refers to him as one of the top business leaders for his pioneering innovation and TIME listed him as a top-five marketing innovator globally.


Emily Heyward

Emily Heyward

Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer at Red Antler, author of Obsessed: Building a Brand People Love

Emily is the Co-founder and Chief Brand Officer at Red Antler, the leading brand company for startups and new ventures. In her role she drives purposeful, strategic visions for an assortment of companies ranging from startups to big names including Casper, Allbirds, Betterment, and Prose. She is frequently interviewed for her insights around brand strategy with quotes appearing in Forbes, Bloomberg, Inc., Fast Company, and Adweek. Her first book, Obsessed: Building a Brand People Love from Day One, was published in June 2020.


David Levin

David Levin

Creative Director, That Lot

David is a pioneer of social tone of voice and creative social content with That Lot, one of the top social media agencies in the UK that he co-founded in 2013. David has been the force behind a number of award-winning, massively-engaged accounts/platforms for clients such as Amazon, Microsoft, eBay, Spotify and National Geographic.


David Schneider

David Schneider

Creative Director, That Lot

Another co-founder of That Lot (alongside a third David), David Schneider is a writer, director and social media powerhouse with over half a million followers on Twitter. His award-winning credits span social, TV, film and advertising ranging from Cannes Lion nominations for the HSBC Deep Fake social campaign to Bafta nominations for his latest film, The Death Of Stalin. He recently directed on HBO’s new sitcom Avenue 5.



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Announcing Adweek’s Acquisition of Social Media Week

Since 2009 we’ve made it our mission to help you, our loyal community members, play a pivotal role in an engaged and elevated conversation on the impact of social media on marketing, media and culture.

Today, we are thrilled to continue this mission and share that Social Media Week will become part of Adweek. Toby Daniels, who founded Social Media Week in 2009, will join Adweek as Chief Innovation Officer, while also overseeing the SMW business. “Joining forces with Adweek represents an opportunity to work with a world-class team, accessing a full spectrum of capabilities which will not only help to extend the Social Media Week brand and offering but also help us better serve our community and our partners. We are ecstatic to have found a home and strategic partner in Adweek, a company we have long admired for its first-class journalism and coverage of our industry, its dedication to fostering community and its events and awards, which are the gold standard in our industry”, said Daniels in a statement.

“The SMW acquisition is an important step forward in deepening our connection with these influential and rising marketers,” shared Adweek CEO Jeff Litvack in the official press release, which you can read in full here. “Social media has always been a critical way for brands to reach and interact with their consumers and 2020 has further thrust it into the spotlight.”

“In 2020, the pandemic, the rise of Black Lives Matter, and a socially distanced world reinforced the demand for real-time social engagement and the criticality of social media as a marketing platform,” added Adweek’s Chief Content Officer Lisa Granatstein. “We’re excited to supersize our social media programming with next-level insights and best practices to help our audience continue to capitalize on these seismic consumer and marketing trends.”

SMW entered unchartered territory when we went virtual in 2020. We held our first virtual conference in May with more than 10,000 attendees and 175 hours of content and quickly followed this pivot with the launch of SMW+, a live and on-demand platform for marketers looking to level up their careers, none of which would have been possible without your support.

Under Adweek, we will continue to expand our virtual presence beginning with #SMWNYC, kicking off May 4–7, 2021. The theme of this year’s flagship conference is “Reinvention: Rebuilding the Systems of Social Media Marketing for a Better Future” Plus, we will continue to invest in SMW+ and are eager to share more incredible content, shows, and series and grow the audience over the course of the year.

We look forward to delivering you world-class experiences under our new leadership and the opportunity to share this exciting journey with each and every one of you.

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Announcing our Theme for 2021: “Reinvention: Rebuilding the Systems of Social Media Marketing for a Better Future”

If we have learned anything from the tumultuousness and catastrophic events of 2020, it is that we need to make substantial and even systemic changes in society and especially in our industry. The spotlight of scrutiny has never been brighter and what is in plain sight for all of us to see is a business landscape that has failed to adequately respond to the moment.

Social Media Week’s flagship conferences will take place: May 5-8, June 30-July 2, and October 27-29

The Great Re-Invention

Author, marketing guru, and former Chief Growth Officer at Publicis, Rishad Tobaccowala, says that we are in the midst of a Great Re-Invention of society, business, and ourselves.

What he means is that at the macro-level, when we face societal change and economic uncertainty, systems undergo a kind of stress test. All systems go through it, government, healthcare, education, infrastructure, business, and of course marketing. In 2020, many of these systems failed, or at the very least, buckled under the weight of a global pandemic, civic uprising, misinformation, and economic uncertainty.

How Our Systems Are Failing Us

The system of marketing buckled and continues to be weighed down by a failure to be strategic, versus. tactical, an obsession with short term gains, the glorification of shiny social media, an ocean of unwanted and frankly irrelevant data, the latest technology or tools, and probably most importantly, a failure by marketers to put themselves in the shoes of their customers and lead with empathy.

There’s a reason why so many brand messages during the early days of the Pandemic were trite, cliched, and in many cases completely tone-deaf, or that marketers felt paralyzed as the ground swell of racial inequality led to an uprising, protests and civil unrest. As marketers, we were ill-equipped to quickly respond and adapt to the movement. The reason why is there are only a few stand-out examples during this period, including the likes of Postmates, P&G, Clorox, Aviation Gin and AirBnb comes down to whether their brand values, leadership and messages were grounded in something bigger than their own organizations.

These examples, both the failures and the successes, should force us to look at every aspect of our industry and ask important questions, such as, what does our brand actually stand for? Does our leadership embody empathic-led and human-first principles of marketing? Is our message right, and are we engaging appropriately through the mediums in which we communicate? Most importantly, how must we reinvent ourselves and how should we as marketers respond to the challenges of our time?

Reinvention v.s. Invention

During periods of massive disruption and societal and business change, we also experience something truly remarkable; invention and ingenuity. The creation of something new. The Phoenix rising from the ashes.

There are businesses and brands that exist today that have become category leaders including AirBnb, Uber, and Pinterest that were invented after the Great Recession of 2008. There will be businesses and brands that will be invented in 2020 and over the coming years that will be similarly disruptive. This is certain. Invention is good. Invention is sexy and cool. But what needs reinvention? What does this moment mean in terms of fixing what’s broken and designing new systems for how we do marketing?

In his October 2020 piece, “The ABCDE of Marketing Re-Invented,” Rishad addresses this question through a framework for how marketing has changed and is changing into the future.

A = Audience
B = Brand
C = Content
D = Data
E = Enterprise

In adapting the ABCDE Framework for reinvention we have put together a list of questions, which we believe represent the priority areas that we need to focus on:

Audiences: Who we are marketing to, how we find them, and how has their mindset shifted? How can we think about people and not consumers?
Brand: Brands continue to be important but the way they are built is changing greatly and our relationship with them is complicated. How should experience and purpose play into brand strategy?

Content: Has always been a key to marketing but here is much more of it, there are new ways to make it, faster and cheaper, so how do we cut through the noise?

Data: Data is key to the future of marketing, but very few companies will find a competitive edge in how they use it. How do we focus on quality versus quantity?

Enterprise: A progressive company is where information and decision making is transparent and leaders are accountable. How do we give power back to the people and inspire leaders to step out of their way?

Where Does Re-Invention Start?

We believe that reinvention starts with acknowledging what is not working, asking the hardest and most important questions, and being willing to embrace the idea that change, however hard, or potentially costly in the short term, is what will allow us to survive and thrive in the future.
Much of the change we’ve experienced in recent years has been technologically driven, and we imagine this change will continue and even accelerate, but as marketers, the change we should want to affect, the kind of future we should be working hard to realize, is one that is human-first, technology second.

With some much still uncertain about the future, we should come together and commit that 2021 will be the year where our industry undergoes the greatest reinvention of our lifetime and that the outcome we are striving for is more equitable, fair, and positive and less extractive, exploitative and divisive.

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