What I learned about social media from a sword swallower, a YouTube sensation and a multi-millionaire

Julia Claire Campbell Entrepreneurship, Events, Marketing, Social Media 35 Comments


The fantastic Agents of Change Digital Marketing Conference was last week, and I needed a full seven days to process all that I learned in order to impart this wisdom on to you.

Here are my top 8 takeaways from AOC2013. Please add yours in the comments section.

1)     Always, and I mean always, open your conference with a sword swallower.

Roderick Russell’s presentation, How to Be Remarkable, was exactly that – remarkable.

It was 8:30 AM and he was reading minds and swallowing swords. Everyone was on the edge of their seats. Having such a unique and compelling speaker to open the day was a brilliant strategy.

First, it made all of us sit up and pay attention. There were no droopy eyelids in the house during his presentation.

Second, it broke the ice. We all found ourselves turning to our neighbors in astonishment over his latest trick, and we didn’t stop talking about it for the rest of the day. We all immediately had common ground.

It made me think: What wow factor can I bring to my work that will make people sit up and take notice? That will make people turn to complete strangers and say, “How did she DO that?”

2)     Cherish your email subscribers.

I was thrilled to meet Chris Brogan for the first time, as I have been a longtime fan of his blog and his books.

What I like best about Chris is that he is totally authentic and brutally honest. (And funny!) He doesn’t sugar coat things.

Despite having a social media following in the hundreds of thousands, he remains affable and accessible. So, I picked his brain about email marketing for a bit.  He gave me some of the best advice I received all day.

He said to look at your blog like dating, and your email like marriage. Your email subscribers are your VIPs – treat them as such. Great philosophy!

(He also gave me some other advice that I mercifully took – Don’t have 8 beers and then go to Bikram yoga the next day. Thanks for that, Chris!)Chris Brogan Julia Campbell Roderick Russell AOC20133)     Choose your channel and commit.

John Lee Dumas has a hugely successful podcast on entrepreneurship.

Michael Stelzner founded a high quality, high standards blog about social media.

Cynthia Sanchez focuses on Pinterest.

James Wedmore has a great YouTube channel with millions of views.

What I gleaned from their success, and the success of many people at the conference, is that it is best to focus your efforts on one, maybe two, channels, rather than spreading yourself too thin.

John Lee Dumas explained that in order to succeed, you must learn your craft, focus in, learn something new on a daily basic about your craft and reach out to experts in the field. This is all part of how he grew his Entrepreneur on Fire podcast from 0 subscribers or listeners to thousands daily.

For me, I focus on my blog, and I love Twitter. I dabble on the other social networks, but that is where I focus most of my time. We’ll see if the return is worth it… it appears to be, so far!

4)     Quality over quantity.

During Rich Brooks’ great presentation “Creating Digital Nectar” I finally heard what so few social media experts say – it’s better to post less frequently on your blog and have it be of higher quality.


Great quote: “You can’t beat the internet on volume, but you can beat it on quality clarity and perspective.”

5)     Appeal to the data-driven and the creative types.

In James Wedmore’s dynamic presentation on YouTube marketing, he explained all of his main points in two complimentary parts.

One part was for the left brainers among us, the data driven, the “show me the money” people.

The other part featured creative ideas for the right brain types – people that want to see how they can do this and learn visually.

I loved this approach, as I don’t think there is one style of learning that will work for everyone. Some of us want to see the absolute numbers and the data and some of us just want to know that it works with anecdotes, stories and examples.

6)     Make the time.

#AOC2013One question that I get all the time is – How do you find the time to blog, to post on social media, to connect with clients and to do your work?

James Wedmore also received this question. How does a small business owner or entrepreneur find the time to dedicate to video marketing.

His answer? You make the time for something that is valuable to your business. End of story.

7)     Don’t be afraid to ask.  

At the end of the conference, I found myself having a beer with Michael Stelzner.

Michael Stelzner is the extremely successful founder of Social Media Examiner, one of the world’s Top 5 business blogs. He is also starting an exciting new venture, My Kids Adventures.

Normally I would have been intimidated to be near one of my social media heroes, but maybe it was the spirit of the conference, maybe it was the Pumpkinhead beer, but I just started talking with him, asking questions and absorbing any and all advice he had to impart.

If I had shied away from talking with him, I would never have had this experience.

8)     Attend more conferences in Portland, ME.

I have vowed to attend many more conferences in Portland. It’s only an hour and a half drive; the vibe is very laid back; most people wore jeans.

Other event highlights: Free beer from Shipyard, free parking, no traffic!

If you attended AOC2013, make sure you fill out the evaluation emailed to you.

Please leave your thoughts in the comments section and let me know if I missed anything.

Comments 35

  1. Quay Hayden

    I wasn’t at the conference but sounds like it is one to think about. I love the sword swallower intro and will consider him for a conference I help plan to be held in April. Thanks Julia!

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  2. Rich Brooks


    Thanks so much for the kind words, and I’m glad you got a lot out of the day. Look forward to seeing you at #aoc2014…and before. 🙂

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  3. Pingback: Email Advertising News » Blog Archive » What can you learn at a digital marketing conference? » Email Advertising News

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