In just over six weeks, I’ll be co-chairing this year’s CASE Europe Social Media and Community Conference in Brighton with my Dutch friend and fellow rocker Steven Den Boer and I’d love to see you there too! From 31 March – 1 April we’ll get through loads of learning, make loads of new friends and, if last year is anything to go by, eat lots of great food.
Now, that opening paragraph alone should be enough to convince you to book your place but, in case you’re still undecided, here are 10 stellar reasons to convince you/your boss that it will be totally worth you coming.
- Lovely, quirky Brighton
Aside from all the good stuff you’ll get from the conference itself, if you us for this year’s event you get a legit excuse to have a couple of days at the seaside in one of the UK’s most interesting and quirky cities. Last year it was even sunny enough for ice creams on the beach! And, with the conference finishing on a Friday, you could always extend your stay on the south coast into the weekend.
- Not one, but two great plenary speakers
I’m thrilled to say we’ve secured two wonderful speakers to open each day of the conference; Columbia University’s Emily Morris will kick things off with a fascinating session exploring the potential of today’s online communities, with a talk entitled ‘From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg’, while day two will be started by my friend and (kind of) neighbour to Slipknot Eric Stoller, who will tell us how we can foster digital champions to win at crowdsourced content. I mean, come on! How good do those two sessions sound??
- Not one, but two great workshops
The conference won’t just be people standing at the front of a room talking at you, oh no. We’ve lined up a workshop for each afternoon to give you a chance to get stuck in and try something out. On day one, I’ll be running a session on social media reporting and ROI – if all goes to plan it will involve pens, paper and strong encouragement to be creative! Day two’s workshop will be even better; a session on video content creation from the University of Oxford’s pair of Toms – Tom Wilkinson and Tom Fuller. When you remember that video will account for almost three-quarters of the Internet by next year, it’s easy to see why we’re so pleased to have Tom and Tom on board.
- Not one, but great panel sessions
Panel sessions are brilliant – more voices to listen to, more faces to look at and, generally, even more questioning than other sessions throw up. This year’s conference features a couple of great panel sessions for you to watch and get involved with; on day one we’ll be hearing from the University of Birmingham’s fundraising team, while on day two the focus will be building successful alumni communities on limited budgets and resource. Both are set to be mega helpful.
- Trending topics presented by awesome speakers
As if the previous three points wasn’t enough, the rest of the conference programme is also shaping up wonderfully and features some more of my favourite HE people; the University of Nottingham’s Tom Wright will be telling us how his team are making prospectuses work for digital natives, while Keele University’s Alistair Beech will be delving into Yik Yak, Yeti and some of the other new social media players to see how you might be able to use them when you get back to your desk once the conference is done. Pretty good, yes?
- A live link-up with the other side of the Atlantic Ocean
Here’s a fun fact for you; at the same time as CASE Europe’s Social Media and Community Conference is taking place, the US version is also happening at the same time. For the second year running, we’ll be using technology to bridge those thousands of miles and run a live, cross-Atlantic panel session. Not only is this section going to be a lot of fun, it will be your chance to quiz the brains of your colleagues on the other side of the pond…awesome!
- Brought to you by your co-chairs: an Instameet and an early morning jog on the beach
As you probably already know, I love Instagram. As such, it would be a total waste of being in such a photogenic city as Brighton if I didn’t try and pull together an ad-hoc Instameet (a photo walk where we post our photos on Instagram afterwards) on the seafront, so that’s exactly what I’m planning on doing! Get some fresh air, snaps some photos and get addicted to Instagram if you’re not already – also, I’d be happy to chat to anyone about organising an Instameet at your institution – I’ve ran three at Warwick so far and it’s a great experience.
As for my co-chair Mr Den Boer, anyone who’s had the pleasure of meeting him before will know he enjoys going for an early morning jog to start the day, so you can almost certainly expect him to head out onto Brighton beach before we get started conferencing on day two…and you will be very welcome to join him!
- Give unconferencing a try
While conferences are great, unconferences are equally brilliant. For those who don’t know, an unconference is essentially a conference without an agenda. Instead, people pitch sessions that they could either lead or simply that they’d like to discuss with other interested parties. Based on these pitches, you then pull together an agenda that, in theory, works for the majority of people in the room as is taken from what they want to hear. In a first for CASE, we’ll be giving unconferencing a go, along with a few drinks, before our evening meal at the end of day one and it’ll be a lot of fun!
- Networking galore
One of the best things about a CASE Conference is the networking; if you join us in Brighton you will meet loads of brilliant people and make lots of really useful connections. In fact, networking is a key part of the day – looking at our programme I can count at least six networking breaks over the two days. Plenty of time to grab a brew, a cake and make some new friends.
- Great learning in the warmth of the CASE family
Above everything else, the best reason to join us in Brighton is to feel part of the CASE family. You’ll meet loads of like-minded, brilliant people and, trust me, you will learn an absolute shedload of great stuff. I’ve never been disappointed by a CASE event and I know that Steven and I will be doing everything we can to make sure you really enjoy this year’s Social Media and Community Conference.
The Conference takes place from Thursday 31 March – Friday 1 April at the Hilton Brighton Metropole, in Brighton (obvs). Book your place now and I’ll see you there!
*Photo taken by me at last year’s conference