10 Best Social Media Conferences to Attend in 2012

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In the many public engagements that I’ve been invited to present at as a social media speaker, people often ask me to recommend which social media conferences and events they should go to, both for networking and educational purposes. I’ve observed that lately, more and more companies are staging and/or sponsoring social media events, and I attribute this phenomenal growth to the maturity of social media and it’s acceptance by major businesses as well as adoption by industry after industry. With that in mind, I’m glad to share with you what I believe are the best conferences and events social media practitioners should go to this year, all in the United States (sorry but I don’t know enough about events outside of the United States to be able to offer my international readers any advice). Each event has garnered a lot of praise from its past participants, with sought-after speakers and expert panels in attendance discussing the most relevant social media topics of the day. Some of these events, like Blog World, have multiple events where they have not announced dates and locations for their conferences later in the year.  Make sure you check back here for updates.  And feel free to add other social media conferences that you recommend in the comments. Thanks!

Social Fresh Conference – (East) February 6 – 7, 2012, Tampa, Florida; (West) September 27 – 28, 2012, San Diego, California

With a distinct focus on social media for business results, the Social Fresh Conference is staged with the end goal of inspiring marketers to create social media strategies that produce tangible results. The upcoming Social Fresh WEST will feature some of the best social media marketers in the country, who are executing high level social strategy every day. Brands like Hershey’s, Pepsi, Cisco, Intuit, and Citi, and TaylorMade will share the data, case studies and best practices that they use to succeed.   Also joining the event will be vendors and agencies that help build the tools and tactics that drive the industry forward. Software solutions like HubSpot, Spruce Media, Expion and Argyle Social will present on social media automation, Facebook ad success, content marketing strategy, and community management best practices. Sign up today using this link and save $100 off when you use the promo code WINDMILL at checkout.  .

As BlogWellJanuary 24, 2012, Dallas, Texas; March 27, 2012, San Francisco, California; July 18, 2012, Chicago, Illinois; September 12, 2012, New York City, New York; December 5, 2012, Los Angeles, California

BlogWell is a unique event where 8 great case studies on the best social media programs at large companies are presented to audiences. Staged by SocialMedia.org, a community of social media leaders where members help each other by sharing ideas, best practices, and solutions. Held in 4 locations in 2012, BlogWell speakers will present case studies from many well known brands, including companies like AMD and Farmer’s Insurance who have been blogged about here before.

BlogWorld & New Media Expo – June 5 – 7, 2012, New York City, New York, January 6 – 8, 2013, Las Vegas, Nevada

BlogWorld is undoubtedly the largest in scale and longest running social media event on this list. Originally for bloggers, BlogWorld now includes enough social media speakers and workshops so that I can say that if there was only one event you could go to in 2012, this would be the one I recommend. With past speakers that include tech guru Guy Kawasaki, you can be assured of high-impact exchanges plus the chance to meet and collaborate with fellow practitioners and innovators. BlogWorld is also held in Los Angeles late in the year will also be held in Las Vegas in early 2013.

Content Marketing World 2012September 4 – 6, 2012, Columbus, Ohio

Dubbed as the largest gathering of content marketing professionals in the world, CMW is where content marketers converge to tell their stories. Covering topics that include Managing Content Marketing and the ROI of Content Marketing, Content Marketing World is the brainchild of the “Father of Content Marketing,” Joe Pulizzi, and his Content Marketing institute.

iStrategy ConferenceJanuary 31 – February 1, 2012, San Francisco, California, October 9 -10, 2012, Chicago, Illinois

iStrategy’s mission is to spread passion for existing and emerging digital media throughout the world, where each event offers original experiential learning opportunities for participants. It is for senior executives who espouse the belief that the success of their business requires a solid digital strategy. While the concentration is on digital, there is more than enough social media content to keep you satisfied, including an emphasis on “results-oriented social media strategies.” Note that iStrategy also holds international events, with London and Sydney conferences slated for later in 2012.

Inbound Marketing SummitFebruary 28 – 29, 2012, New York City, New York; June 12 – 13, 2012, San Francisco, California; October 23 – 24, 2012, Boston, Massachusetts

The Inbound Marketing Summit is one of the leading national conferences for digital and social media marketing professionals. Featuring inspirational speakers coupled with cutting edge content and real-world case studies, IMS is where innovators from media and marketing meet their peers, engage in lively and productive sessions, and broaden their networks – all in two power-packed days. The upcoming Boston event features the following tracks: Inbound Marketing, Mobile Content, Content Automation, and Convergence.

Online Marketing SummitFebruary 6 – 9, 2012, San Diego, California

The Online Marketing Summit puts education first. Beyond the usual conference and tradeshow set-up, through lab sessions with experts, thought-leadership presentations and peer-to-peer collaboration, OMS’s focus is providing direct, hands-on training workshops that are personalized and one-on-one. A four-day event traditionally about online marketing, there is a healthy dose of social media marketing content for those in attendance.

The Social Media Strategies Summit 2012February 7 – 9, 2012, Las Vegas; April 18 – 19, 2012, Chicago

The Social Media Strategies Summit has been designed in such a way that learning objectives are spread across six tracks, each outlined to focus on a particular industry – yours. So while sessions are focused on specific categories that are tailor-fit, such as case studies, ROI and tools, and legal risks & strategies, participants are free to move between tracks based on their own learning objectives. Note that the Social Media Strategies Summit also has an event in London as well as Miami. The Miami event is not listed above as it is focused on social media in Latin America.

Gravity Summit – February 22, 2012, Los Angeles, California

Held annually, the Gravity Summit event in 2012 is where leaders from the realm of sports and entertainment discuss social media marketing trends, innovations and tools and how these are reshaping the industry and audiences alike. The event is perfect for those involved in broadcasting, entertainment and sports. Created by the co-authors of The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing, Gravity Summit always promises unique and high quality social media content.

SocialTech 2012March 29 – 30, Seattle, Washington

Sponsored by one of the largest online marketing communities, MarketingProfs, SocialTech is the leading social media conference that focuses purely on B2B social media marketing. The first day will feature workshops on Content Marketing and Social Media Measurement while the second day will feature quality speakers on relevant topics such as “Using Gamification to Captivate Your Customers” and “Social Media Guidelines for Highly Regulated Industries.”

Have you been to any of the above events? Which ones are you the biggest fan of?

Neal Schaffer
The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professionals strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer


Author, @MaxYourSocial | Founder @msocialbusiness & @socialtoolssmmt | Trilingual Social Media Strategy Consultant, Coach, and Speaker
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  1. Mark Schaefer says

    Respectfully, you’re missing one of the finest conferences in the country and by far the best value: Social Slam which is April 27 in Knoxville, TN

    Where else can you meet world class speakers like Mitch Joel and Gini Dietrich, get two meals, a free book and an after party for under a hundred bucks??

    Jay Baer said this was the best social media event he has ever attended. We focus on an inclusive networking environment and NEW voices. There is no other conference in the world where you will hear a talk about the spirituality of social media next to one about how to gain power on the social web : )

  2. JoAnna says

    Will you be at the Social Media Strategies Summit in Las Vegas? I’ll be covering it for a client and would love to catch up if you’ll be there too!

  3. says

    Nice list, to be sure, but the absence of Jeff Pulver’s “State of NOW” conference (New York, 19-20 June 2012) significantly dulls its edge. Care to take another whack at it?

  4. says

    Mark, thanks for chiming in. It was not easy to boil this list down to a Top 10, so many other great events like Social Slam did not make the cut. In terms of social media relevance Social Slam is way up there. I do hope to have a chance to personally attend this year … if not I’ll be monitoring the tweet stream!

  5. says

    Unless I’m invited to speak or invited by the organizers, I don’t plan to be there this year… Too many social media conferences, too little time! Would be great to catch up, so if I do make it over I’ll let you know!

  6. says

    Kyle, thanks for the comment. Well, ExactTarget is known to be an email marketing company and this blog post is focusing on social media events – so is the Connections Conference a social media conference?

  7. Mikesparkstn says

  8. David Graham says

    Hi Neil. Which is the best B2B Social media marketing event to attend for a professional services company. Regards David Graham

  9. says

    Thanks for the question David! At this point in time, the dedicated B2B conference that I would probably recommend you attend is the one in Boston later this year being put on by MarketingProfs:


    I should also point out that, while not a dedicated B2B conference, you should definitely check out the corporate social media conferences being held by Useful Social Media, such as this one coming up in New York:


    Hope the info helps!

  10. Linaatehortuasolis says

    Great information; does anyone know of similar conferences in South America. Mil Gracias!

  11. aki123 says

    I am searching for the Education agent networking conference in U.K, please advice me the best one.

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