Birmingham-native communications consultant Wade Kwon is helping to spearhead what he calls the first social media conference in the South with “corporate storytelling” as its theme. Y’all Connect debuts in downtown Birmingham on July 23 and will focus on the importance of embracing social media as a marketing tool for companies big and small.
Kwon, cofounder of the Alabama Social Media Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating people about social media, knows that corporate storytelling is the future of public relations and advertising. Kwon gives credit for the term to Ike Pigott, a fellow Alabamian and social media expert, who will speak on corporate storytelling at the conference. The topic refers to the use of social media as a marketing and branding tool to shape the public’s perception of a company and whatever that company is trying to sell or promote — their “story.”
“You have all these tools, like Facebook and blogs and Twitter, and some companies are engaged in it and some aren’t,” says Kwon. “They don’t know how to use it; they don’t know how to get their story out there, so corporate storytelling is a simple way to define how we can help those companies tell their stories over the long haul.
“Because I think we’re nearing the end of just doing one type of marketing, whether it’s billboards, radio commercials, print ads, or banner ads. I mean, each is effective for a certain type of audience, but I think a lot of companies are trying to diversify in how they get their message out, and this [conference] gives them more ways to develop that story over time.”
Y’all Connect is targeted toward chief executive officers across the Southeast, to whom Kwon hopes to demonstrate the potential scope and influence of social media for their businesses. He explains that it’s these decision-makers who need to understand the necessity of keeping up with the times; nearly everyone and every company now has an online presence, a fact which presents a number of both opportunities and challenges.
“People just don’t get their information the same way that they did five years ago, or ten years ago, or perhaps even two years ago,” Kwon says. “There are so many options for people to plug in or drop out of what’s going on around them that companies need to figure out what’s the best way to reach their unique audience.”
Y’all Connect will be the first social media conference to take place in Birmingham since Social South in 2009, according to Kwon, who says he is is excited about the opportunity to showcase some local talent.
“We have a lot of talent in this area — in Birmingham and Alabama — and we could spend the rest of our lives trying to get that talent out to [the business owners], or we could bring them here to Birmingham and show it all on stage. So we’re going to have James Spann, we’re going to have Ike Pigott, we’re going to have Mack Collier — who is probably one of the leading blogging authorities in the country, and he lives here in Alabama.”
Y’all Connect will also feature out-of-state business and media experts, including Peter Shankman, Andrea Weckerle, Nichole Kelly, and Whitney Breaux. Shelly Kramer was recently added to the lineup of speakers, and others may be announced as July approaches. Kwon hopes that the 2013 conference will only be the beginning for Y’all Connect.
“The challenge before every other company and individual who wants to be in the same arena is: ‘Who are you, what’s your story, and why should I pay for it?’ If you can’t answer those questions, this conference can’t help you. But if you know who you are, and you know what story you’re telling, and you know what it’s worth, we can help you get that out there.”
Y’all Connect will be held in the East Meeting Rooms of the BJCC on July 23. Tickets for the daylong conference, which will include meals, parties, and other events, are $129 and may be purchased online at yallconnect.com.