Wikipedia states “Social media are computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks”
Personally, social media is now a daily activity which not only provides an important percentage of the services delivered by my growing agency, my team but also my time. I wake up in the morning, typically when my smart watch vibrates at 4am reminding me to stretch my legs and take my eight year old Labrador for her morning walk and flick through the top news stories which have been fed to me.
The morning of the 7th August 2013 started similar to this, but little did I know later that day I was to start a software trial and join a community which has changed the way in which I view social media management and take me on a journey of almost 4000 miles.
Who Is Sprout Social And How Far Do You Go With Social Media?
I should begin in explaining who Sprout Social are, and why I felt I should travel across the globe to meet their team, industry leaders and other agency Sprout Partners. Sprout Social was founded in 2010 and makes social media management, advocacy and analytics software for businesses which we now use on a daily basis by the majority of my team.
As a full service agency, we offer social media management – maintaining over 120 profiles for our clients across a range of sectors – Sprout helps us communicate with customers on all major social channels (including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+ and more) collaborate with teams and measure the effectiveness of our efforts.
Back in August last year we were invited to attend an event which was held at Twitter’s HQ in London. With a host of guests and speakers including Ian Cairns from Twitter and Gemma Hyslop from Monarch Airlines (at the time still very much trading) amongst others it was an amazing and informative day.
A year on, and a social team which has doubled in head count and a sizeable client base to be proud of – I received the invite “Come and join us for the Sprout Partner Day on 17th October 2017”. Before my morning coffee had cooled I was in! The only problem was that it wasn’t in London this year, oh no – this year it was at Sprout’s HQ in Chicago. Those of you who have attended conferences will know just how worthwhile they can be, but also how much time it takes to organise these types of trips.
A couple of months passed since this invite arrived in my inbox and we confirmed our attendance, many new client meetings, strategy and marketing calendars planned…Oh wait – I had forgotten to book the flights! Yes that’s right, our trip to Chicago had slipped through the busy net and appeared on the calendar in front of me sooner than expected.
Not to worry, in a digital world of real-time activity and online purchases this is easy! A quick check online, book some flights and a hotel – done, right?
No Time And No Entry Without A Passport
It’s common sense, you can’t travel to another country from the UK without a passport. What most people forget, as did I, your passport is only valid for 10 years from date of issue and as such I was faced with trying to renew my passport in less than a week!
The process, according to the online help guide seemed pretty simple. Fill out a rather long application, supply some photos – signed by an authorised individual then simply wait 3 weeks and get your passport all being well. I didn’t have 3 weeks – I started to panic, clicking around the government website until I saw the magic words “1 Day Premium Service”.
After a quick online application and payment to secure my interview it was off to Peterborough after a quick stop at my long term accountant and friend then on to my local HM Passport Office to process my application. My appointment was at 8am. Amazed, by 2pm after a quick client meeting in-between, my new passport was ready to collect hot off the press!
Can You Be In Two Places At The Same Time?
With a valid passport in hand the next step was to confirm the flights and hotel. Having used online services and a broker to check the best routes, it appeared the most sensible route was to drop into Iceland for a brief connection and then onto Chicago. Having not seen Iceland previously, it was worth a visit! As my internet window refreshed to show the confirmation screen I proceeded to add it to my calendar – at this stage the feeling of Déjà vu set in!
The calendar, already busy with appointments highlighted an entry for a local exhibition. Events for our agency have always resulted in a fantastic ROI – as most businesses should experience – but the problem wasn’t the event. Our account managers are more than use to attending these events, what I saw was the guest speaker slot on Google Analytics with my name next to it!
Having been booked to speak at the conference knowing that in a few days I would fly out to Chicago I did what any tech-savvy agency owner would do – I reached out to our suppliers FoxWylie to setup a webcast for the morning. Boom – The trip is back on!
Social Media Is Always Quicker Than The Post
This weekend I spent with my two wonderful kids, watching them perform at their ballet classes and wondering – as most of us would – just how much I’ll miss them. I had been scribbling ideas into a draft post for the past few days as I wanted to share the experience and cover as much of the digital journey as possible.
I finally finished contributing to this post and as I signed into the Sprout platform to schedule the posts and noticed the count down to the big day with contributions from others sharing their excitement of attending – It was great to see it wasn’t just me!
So there we are…Tomorrow we’ll be over in Chicago listening to some of the most interesting speakers talk about the future social landscape for agencies like ours, growth strategies and ideas on how to measuring campaigns with KPIs. The line-up looks amazing with speakers including:
Justyn Howard (CEO), Ryan Barretto and Tara Robertson of Sprout Social
Brooke Sellas, Founder & CEO of B Squared Media
Jared DiVincent, Founder of Social Compass
Lucas Vandenberg, Managing Partner of Fifty & Five
Spencer Smith, Co-Founder of AmpliPhi
I look forward to sharing these insights as a follow-up article and as an active feed during the day on the 17th October. If you want to follow this on twitter please monitor #sproutpartnerday.
Thank you for reading this article and I hope you found it funny, interesting and insightful.