As a social media manager, staying updated with the latest trends, tools, and strategies is crucial for your success. Your role is evolving, and social media conferences can be an invaluable resource, not only for learning opportunities but also for networking with industry peers.
These conferences come in a variety of formats. Some are dedicated to digital marketing trends, others are more about content and influencers, while a select few cover the social ecosystem end to end with experts, channel representatives, and programming to make sure that social media has a seat at the table for strategic conversations.
What to look for in a social media conference
When choosing a conference to attend, it's essential to ensure it aligns with your needs and organizational goals. There’s so much work to be inspired by, but if your brand doesn’t have a use case for select tactics, then make sure your learning opportunities and inspiration are aligned with the right event.
Start with an understanding your organization's needs:
How advanced is your social media strategy?
Do you focus on heavy organic activity, or are you investing a lot into paid?
Does your brand’s social media efforts directly influence other parts of our business, like eCommerce and consumer care?
Could insights from your social media management platform help shape your brand’s entire customer journey?
Does your brand work closely with influencers, require ratings and reviews, or would it benefit from user-generated content (UGC)?
Would a deeper relationship with a particular social channel help your brand?
Is your audience only active on a few select social channels?
Are you having trouble reaching those audiences?
As you search for a conference that’s the right fit, just consider how impactful these factors are for you or your marketing partners:
Relevance of topics: Ensure the conference covers areas of interest that align with your current needs or areas you want to explore.
Quality of speakers: Research the backgrounds of keynote speakers and session leaders. It's beneficial to hear from those with first-hand experience and success in the areas they're discussing. It’s important to know if you’re learning about social platforms, career advice, or simply best practices before listening to an expert.
Networking opportunities: The potential to connect with peers, industry leaders, and service providers can be as valuable as the sessions themselves.
Hands-on workshops: Interactive workshops can provide practical skills and tools that you can apply immediately.
Cost and location: Consider the overall costs, including registration, travel, accommodation, and other expenses. Some conferences might offer virtual attendance options, which can be more budget-friendly, or it is possible to find local or regional events that could be of value.
Reviews and recommendations: Check what past attendees have said about the conference. Word-of-mouth and recommendations from trusted peers can give you insights into the value of the event. It’s likely – depending on where you are in your career – that you’ve heard of the top social media events, but definitely consider recommendations from peers, including your digital marketing partners to evaluate if a particular event might be impactful.
The social media conferences to consider in 2024
Okay, so you’re ready to pick a conference. Let’s look at the events every social media professional should consider in 2024, each offering a mix of valuable insights and learning opportunities for you or your brand.
Editorial Note: We will monitor and update this list of conferences for changes as information about 2024 event details are made available.
Location: Dallas, Texas
Dates: October 3-5, 2023 (Late 2024)
If you’re looking for a direct link to video influencers, VidSummit offers you that opportunity. Famous personalities like MrBeast are attenting the 2023 edition of the conference — only one of the ways the event offers a place to learn, network, and strategize with content creators.
Social Media Marketing World
Location: San Diego, California
Dates: February 18-20, 2024
Hosted by Social Media Examiner, Social Media Marketing World is perhaps the most renowned conference in the social media space. Attendees can expect to learn from top industry experts, discover the latest tactics, and network with fellow marketers.
Social Media Strategies Summit
Location: Multiple locations, including virtual options.
Tailored for both beginners and advanced social media managers, this summit covers a wide range of topics from ROI measurement to the latest platform trends.
There’s likely a good fit for any social media specialist, manager, or leader based on the event’s various offerings, from speakers, case studies, and career development opportunities.
Ragan Social Media Conference
Location: Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Dates: March 27-29, 2024
Ragan Communications offers its own event to discuss the impact of social media on public relations, communications, or content professionals. This event touches on a variety of industry and social media-specific trends to help you think through your own program.
Location: London, UK
Date: May 8, 2024
Discover the current trends affecting the social media landscape at SocialDay, which has featured top-industry speakers like Matt Navarra. Sign up early for this extremely popular gathering of top social media leaders, influencers, and professionals. Attendees can expect fireside chats, deep dives on the hottest channels like TikTok, and industry panels.
International Social Summit
Date: May 16, 2024
The International Social Summit blends knowledge from social media and digital marketing experts, sharing deep knowledge of international campaigns, how to scale social programs, and case studies for global brands.
Content Marketing World
Location: Washington D.C.
Dates: September 27-28, 2024
Though broader in its scope with a focus on content, this conference by the Content Marketing Institute offers deep dives into content strategies that align with social media marketing. Renowned speakers and practical sessions make this an event not to miss. The conference offers programming for beginner, intermediate, and advanced users with sessions that can inspire all phases of the customer journey and content strategy.
Location: Multiple locations worldwide
For those with a focus on video content — whether on YouTube, TikTok, or other platforms — VidCon offers insights into platform algorithms, audience engagement, and video strategies. The conference destinations include Anaheim, Baltimore, Sal Paulo, Abu Dhabi, Mexico, and a helpful on-demand option for event content. You’ll have an opportunity to connect with creators or other industry professionals as the event blends a true marketplace of video experts.
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Dates: September 18-20, 2024
Hosted by HubSpot, INBOUND is a broader digital marketing conference but has a significant emphasis on social media. From influencer partnerships to platform-specific strategies, there's something for every social media manager here.
Influencer Marketing Conference
Location: Various (global)
Dates: Late 2024
This conference, which is part of Digital Marketing World Forum, holds a global series typically in markets like London, Miami, Amsterdam, and Singapore. It blends a range of speakers and experts from social, digital, channel, and communication roles. Check the event’s website for updates on which events are in-person only or have a virtual component.
How to get the most out of the conference
Attending a conference is an investment of time and money. It’s your time, and if you’re like most social media managers, you’re likely juggling managing a brand account between sessions.
Here's how to maximize your return:
Plan ahead: Study the agenda in advance and prioritize sessions that are most relevant to you. This helps in avoiding last-minute rushes or overlaps. You might discover a speaker or session while onsite, so ranking or shifting your schedule is encouraged to get the most out of the event.
Engage in networking: Use breaks, social events, and networking sessions to meet new people. Don't be shy about introducing yourself and asking questions. You’ll be surprised to learn that many of your peers – or even people you assume are more advanced than you – are dealing with the same issues. So, laugh (or cry) and enjoy sharing knowledge with others.
Take notes: Whether it's old-school pen and paper or using a digital tool, jot down insights, ideas, and contacts. This is where brand examples or case studies become useful later when tackling your own brand social challenges. And if you don’t have time, take photos of everything.
Engage on social media: Share your experiences, insights, and key takeaways in real-time on your social platforms using the conference's official hashtag. This can also help you connect with fellow attendees.
Attend workshops: Practical sessions often offer hands-on skills and tools. Participate actively for the best experience — this could mean trying things on your personal accounts that you aren’t used to doing, but push yourself to learn.
Share with your team: If you attended the conference on behalf of your organization, consider organizing a session to share your findings and learnings with your team. In most cases, a social media best practice is really a way to connect a digital marketing or customer experience best practice. Use your newfound knowledge or inspiration to help your entire organization.
The takeaway: Select a conference that fits your requirements
Choosing the right social media conference depends on your specific needs, niche, and areas of interest. While the above list offers a good starting point, always keep an eye out for new events, as the world of social media is ever-evolving. It’s good to stay ahead of current trends, and if you do this enough, you may become the trendsetter.