I recently had the honor of attending a very special blogging conference in Phoenix: the Disney Social Media Moms on the Road Celebration. I trust we needn’t go in to my love of all things pixie-dusted; suffice it to say that I was thrilled with the opportunity to learn from the industry’s best, alongside my tribe of people.
The event featured a carefully-selected group of speakers who presented on some of the topics most relevant to social media professionals today. Oh, and Grumpy Cat was on hand for photos, too (which–you have to admit–is entirely awesome). With all of that said, I’m not here today to offer a detailed playback of the event. What I do want to do is share some highlights and what I took away as the overarching theme. I can’t say whether or not the speakers intended to align their presentations so perfectly , but I can tell you that–in their own ways–each of them drove home one very encouraging point. A point that I think is most succinctly summed up in the following quote,
“Your identity is your most valuable possession.” – Elastigirl (The Incredibles)
One thing I’ve always admired about the Disney brand is that, one way or another, they make their guests the central character of every story they tell. You might argue that it’s not difficult to make every little girl believe she is a princess, or to cause every little boy to see himself as a swashbuckling pirate. And you might be right. It’s a whole lot harder, though, for us adults to insert ourselves into the life of an animated character. Yet, I can say with certainty that there wasn’t a dry eye in the house during the last ten minutes of Toy Story 3 when Andy passed his treasured toy pals down to Bonnie. Why? Because Disney brilliantly inserted us into the scene. We saw ourselves as Andy, Andy’s mom or Woody. We felt the heartbreak of a final goodbye, and the joy of a new beginning. Disney has a knack for always bringing it back to their guests. They do it in their movies and they do it in their parks, so I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that they do it in their conferences, too.
For me, Erin Glover first shed light on this theme when, in her presentation, she asked, “What are the stories you can tell that nobody else can?” We all have those, whether it’s literally a story (like the time I fell to my knees when they told me Cassidy had Down syndrome) or a unique perspective (like watching the child I birthed at sixteen graduate with Honors), or even a treasured family recipe to share–each of us has a story all her own. Erin simply, but quite brilliantly, pointed out that our content is at its most rich when we deliver it with a unique voice. She didn’t stop there, though. She encouraged us to, “look for intersections of need and inspiration”. If you’ve ever been on Pinterest and come across a brilliant solution to a problem that’s been plaguing you for years, well, that is precisely what Erin was talking about. And that type of content doesn’t typically just do alright; that type of content goes viral.
Maria Bailey touched on the same theme later in the day when she asked how many bloggers in the room published product reviews on their blogs. When most every hand in the room raised, she followed up, asking, “If you’re so talented at selling someone else’s product, why don’t you sell a product of your own?” Ah, touché. To illustrate her point, Maria brought a panel of women entrepreneurs on stage . Based on her enthusiasm for sharing their stories, you’d think Maria had birthed each of those companies herself. Not so. The simple–and wonderful–truth is that Maria believed in them. She saw value in their ideas, their perseverance and–yes–in their unique perspectives and she wanted to shout about it from the rooftops. A spotlight was shown on each of those women not because it benefited Disney in any way, but because it empowered those individuals, and ultimately, every woman in that room.
There was a full circle moment towards the end of the day when Tracey Clark presented. Tracey spoke on mobile photography and gave tips on how to capture magical memories with nothing more fancy than an iPhone. She made several great points, but I think her most inspiring one was when she said, “Your vision–your way of looking at the world–is part of your toolkit.” It so is. Analytics shmanalytics–a unique perspective is the the most valuable tool any blogger has to offer.
Although Elastigirl wasn’t on hand to model her cool costume or show off her mad elastiskillz, her point was perfectly illustrated by the real-life women who were on hand to inform, inspire and encourage. All in day’s work for the Disney Parks social media team. I guess that’s why they call ’em magic makers.