A Conference with a Soul

By Lynn Ponder:  Left Miami to Chicago very excited to begin a new journey and meet people who I had been interacting with, about my professional and personal life, via Twitter for the past two years.  As an entrepreneur since 1999, I had been to many conferences from Argentina to France and always had great learning experiences, met with colleagues that I had either worked with on projects or through sales trips, but I felt in my heart that LATISM 2011 would be quite different, and sure enough it was.

LATISM 2011 felt like a class reunion of best friends and like a big united family.  The love and attention was felt every moment during the 3 day duration of this conference.  Ana, Elianne, Elma, Reina, Ernesto, Tony, Julito, Laurita, Jean Manolo, Byrdie, Alejandra, Abraham, Brian, Rafael, Daisy, Jennifer, Blanca, Salvador, Ray, Ruby, Silke, Sandra, Joe, Eric, Erica, Juan, leaders and directors of LATISM different chapters genuinely cared about attendants taking advantage of this unique opportunity to interact, participate and learn new skills in the digital world and was incomparable to any other experience I had.  They were always smiling and working very hard taking care of small and big details.  It was a huge task they took upon themselves plus 30 volunteers, so KUDOS to each one of them for sleepless nights and for showing us the meaning of devotion and determination.

Another interesting aspect of this conference was that in every breakfast, lunch and dinner/gala there was a wonderful integration of different kinds of latin music genres and artists that was fun and introduced another layer to the conference: a happy feeling!  @mzelma congratulations on great line-up.

The level of guest speakers and panel leaders was top of the line and I really enjoyed the fact that not only they had the standard Q&A at the end of each session but during the session there was interaction with attendants.

Some of the sessions I attended included: “When Traditional Media Meets New Media to Reach Latinos” which was interesting to me as webcitygirls is a media platform to educate and empower our latino social community. I learned how media conglomerates like Univision and Telemundo are reaching latinos in the digital space and the challenges to keep up with there audience. Panel leader: Kerri Allen @kerrita , Panelists: @jerryrocha , The Nielsen Company, TsiTsiKi Felix @Telemundo and @chiquicartagena Univsion.

Another great session I attended was “The New Metrics of Social Success” where I learned about measuring the impact of social campaigns and online strategies. Fact: 92% of people say that the recommendations from a friend, family member or expert is the single most powerful determinant of their purchase decision. Panel leader Hugo Perez, Zocalo Group, Amber Naslund, Radian6, Ryan Rasmussen, Zocalo Group. Panelists rocked this session!

As an emerging blogger, one of my favorite sessions was learning about the relationship of bloggers with brands. Let me introduce you to a FABulous panel: Barbara JonesStephanie Smirnov , Danielle Wiley  and panel leader Paul Rand.  I learned that it is essential to know your readers, where they are located, what is important to them and to keep track of reach and efficiencies.  Brands want to know about the value and solutions bloggers can add to the efforts marketers are doing in the digital space. Among many others, I also learned about the difference between earned and paid media, FTC guidelines and questions where posed to the panel about how brands could help bloggers grow, so it becomes a win on both sides of the equation. Bloggers have become a new channel of influencers for brands and for Latina bloggers there are huge untapped opportunities.

The conference included some great workshops to learn about WordPress, Twitter, Google, Facebook, SEO, and LinkedIn which were very helpful and informative. Exceptional Keynote guests like honorable Dolores Huertas, Social Rock Star Ramon De Leon and Inspiring Marry Anne Muller who all created WOW moments.

Participating sponsors like J&J had lots of information about their initiatives to make our world a better place, Toyota with fun test drives, Kmart & Sears “Noche Buena” Party with live still mannequins and a very popular cafecito break station, Nintendo Wifi lounge a must stop to charge up. Amway Closing Reception with Special Guest, Tony Melendez had the entire room inspired and in tears with his story. He was born without arms and had a remarkable story of how nothing is impossible as long as you are determined, persistent and use what you have to keep on going. Latinos are strong and Si Se Puede!!!

LATISM 2011 wins my award for the most engaging and heartfelt social conference experience I have had this year #WEPA!