In just a few weeks, hundreds of social media-savvy professionals will descend upon the W Atlanta-Midtown hotel for The Social Shake-Up Show.
Three years ago, I road-tripped to the Shake-Up, and although I recall that each session I attended was valuable, it was my direct interaction—or lack thereof—with three attendees that altered the course of my career in three very different ways.
First, Dan Gingiss. Back in 2014, Gingiss was a high-ranking social media executive at Discover with a distinct interest in learning more about marketing to millennials. I'd never met or even heard of him before that conference, but by keeping an eye on the event's hashtag, I came across one of his tweets and felt inspired to reply.
That decision—to peer down to my iPhone and tweet back to Gingiss—would kick off a lifelong friendship. With a shared passion for the (now World Champion) Chicago Cubs, he and I co-hosted a live-streaming show on Blab, ended up working together last year at Humana and now continue to collaborate regularly as he and I are both newly published authors. And he and I are both speaking at this year's show.
Secondly, Bryan Kramer. He is one of the most well-known social media influencers on the planet, all the more so today than three years ago when he delivered a keynote about his popular #H2H (human-to-human) theory. I wouldn't consider myself shy, but as a conference rookie who looked much younger than my 28 years, I was too intimidated to introduce myself when I saw Kramer conversing with attendees after his speech.
I left Atlanta that year kicking myself that I never said hi to the guy whose speech moved me the most—but since then, thanks to the power of live streaming, I've been able to share that story with Kramer and now I consider him a good friend. In fact, I did a Periscope stream last week outside of a bookstore in my hometown and took it in stride when @bryankramer jumped in, commented and even retweeted the Scope to his more than 202,000 Twitter followers.
Take advantage of the networking opportunities at The Social Shake-Up, which will be held May 22-24, 2017, in Atlanta. Brand communicators from Coca-Cola, Dunkin' Donuts, Nissan, Microsoft, Arby's and many more will speak on a breadth of topics from content marketing to measurement to Snapchat strategy.
As amazing as that is, I still sometimes wonder how different my career choices would've been had I been courageous enough to strike up that conversation with Kramer in the first place.
And last but certainly not least, the founder of The Social Shake-Up Show herself, the late Robin Fray Carey. Her spirit is sure to be omnipresent at The Social Shake-Up Show this year and for many years to come. The vibe of the Shake-Up felt like a mix between a days-long learning session and an exciting, intimate party, and the singular moment I remember most clearly from that first conference was Carey taking the stage to dance, joyfully, with keynote speaker Baratunde Thurston.
It was that free-spirited nature that inspired me to feel comfortable chatting with her at the event's conclusion, explaining to her the merits of a selfie stick. She and I kept in touch after the event, trading emails and phone calls. But I'll forever cherish those couple of minutes.
I was devastated to hear of Carey's untimely passing in the fall of 2015, and it was similarly heartbreaking to share the news with Gingiss. It will be a melancholy feeling for me and hundreds of other Shake-Up alums to kick off this year's conference without her, but I'm certain she's watching down, hopeful that we'll all make a lifelong friend, build up enough courage to chat with a speaker we look up to and most importantly, dance and embrace every last moment, just like she did.
Chris Strub is the first person to live stream and Snapchat in all 50 U.S. states; the author of "50 States, 100 Days: The Book" and a proud speaker at The Social Shake-Up Show. He assures us he's got the courage to introduce himself to Shonduras this time around. Join Strub for the live-streaming panel on Tuesday morning, and then again on Wednesday afternoon as he leads a roundtable discussion about Snapchat.
Connect with Chris: @ChrisStrub