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Atlanta plays host today to a full house of social media mavens for the New Media Atlanta 2009 conference. The morning presentations have been interesting, to say the least.

Before the Presentations Began

The organizers of the conference, Matt Fagioli and Brad Nix, kicked off the festivities by introducing and recognizing the top-level sponsors of the event. As an attendee, I am not crazy about the event starting out with what amounts to commercials.  But, I can understand where they are coming from.

However, a large number of people didn't share my sense of understanding.

One of the first links to appear in the twitter stream for the conference was a link to a "backchannel" being hosted at Backnoise.com. Backchannels have been a part of conferences since conference organizers began offering internet access.

All you needed was access to the same IRC server as the other people in the room, and the snark flowed freely.  New Media Atlanta is no different.

Jeff Turner: Social Media is Here to Stay

The opening presenter was Jeff Turner and his original topic was to discuss the popular question: Is Social Media a Fad? But, the first thing Jeff did was address the aforementioned backchannel and how he intended to alter his intended message based on what was being said online.

Jeff's ideas coupled with excellent presentation skills, real passion, and the ability to adjust his presentation based on up-to-the-minute social media feedback resulted in a compelling message. 

The message being that thinking of social media as a fad is close-minded. Jeff described social media as a complex adapting system that we should be looking at through they eyes of science rather than something we play with on the weekends or over lunch breaks.

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Jeff Turner Displays the Classic CAS Model
 

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Jeff Turner Displays a Simplified CAS Model
 

Stay tuned to CMSWire.com for video of Jeff's presentation.

Brent Leary: Engagement is the New Marketing Metric

The next presenter was Brent Leary who brought a more traditional message about social media with regard to how social media is being used for customer relationship management (CRM).  Brent brought some great statistics to back up his point, but it was funny when the audience was able to quote the sources of his statistics before he could.

The basic gist of Brent's presentation was the fact that brands of all sizes are monitoring what is being said about them in the social media landscape and they are interacting with customers. Some brands get it and some brands are one step below being spammers.

If you haven't seen this phenomenon first hand, post a tweet about Klondike bars and see who starts following you and replying to you.

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Brent Leary
 

Thoughts so far...

  • The snarkiness of the backchannel has become a bigger story than it should have been, but I respect Jeff Turner for dragging the elephant out of the corner and exposing it for what it is.
  • As is common with conferences like this, bleeding-edgers can be bored because no new ground is being covered. Discussions about Twitter and Facebook fail to resonate with people who have multiple years on the systems and follower/friend counts in the thousands.
  • I am looking forward to the afternoon presentations primarily to hear Chris Brogan and secondarily to hear some Q & A.

Check back for further coverage including some video of the presentations.