#SMCS18 : My Personal Experience and Thoughts

Whether you're a retailer, a photographer, a stylist, a bank or even an educational institute, having an online presence is crucial in a time where people spend a lot of time online. Every year on June 30th, since Mashable launched it back in 2010, we celebrate the International Social Media Day.

Today, social media is the heart of global communication; and since its inception, Mashable’s been using social media to connect between cultures, movements and super-fandom.
— daysoftheyear.com

The Social Media Conference Suriname was big in 2017, but bigger this year. The event is organized by INEFFABLE NV and supported by many other local companies. Entrepreneur, Rotarian and Suriname Ambassador and CEO at INEFFABLE NV, Jean-luc van Charante is the big brain behind the #SMCS18. The event lasted two days and many speeches and panel discussions were implemented into the program. Keynote speakers were both local and foreign speakers. During the first day of the event, guests had the option to constantly choose between the Creators track and the Marketers track. Topics such as "How To Monetize Your Personal Brand", "Crush It With Instagram" and "How To Own It On Social Media" were discussed. Some were keynotes and others were panel discussions.

How To Own It On Social Media

This was the last panel discussion, monitored by Ferranto Dongor, founder and managing director of Synergy Market Solutions LLC. Megan Lehé, Andy Tanoesemito, Rachel Kasketi and Gyanno van Kanten were the panelists of the discussion. One thing, unlike the other discussions I had attended before, is that in this discussion the crowd was actively being involved to ask questions and give their opinion on the topic.

A few statements were made to spark the discussion. Two of these were:

  • Your identity should be the base of all marketing, not your audience.
  • All employees should be involved with social media marketing, not just the marketing department.

My personal thought on the first statement is that you should stick to your identity, knowing that it will be shaped depending on what your core target audience wants and how the market is changing.

Something Other Than Panel Discussions and Keynotes

In the first two paragraphs of this blog post, I actively spoke about topics that are directly related to the conference itself. That shows how big the impact is that it made on me. But, I can NOT leave out the fact that Joey Healy, under the umbrella of his company Galaxy N.V., provided a #chillspot for attendants of the conference. There was even a Vinyl player with vinyl discs from Arctic Monkeys, Bob Marley and The Wailers and Amy Winehouse.  At first, everyone - I think - held back from the urge to jump into the lounge corner but we couldn't keep from it anymore after the lunch break.

After the first day, there was a networking party for attendants to interact with each other even more. My friend, Raco Son, and I went shopping for clothes that would suit the occasion. We eventually ended up diving into our current collection of clothing and it helped.

Fun Games and Contests

The organization threw a few games and contests into the program. Participants could win a ticket for next years conference by collecting goodies from the sponsors and filling up the stamp card. To join the worldwide celebration of Social Media Day and connect all kinds of people with eachother, there were fun games, locally known as Mens Erger Je Niet and Djoel. Galaxy N.V. also put up a contest.

And, of course, my photo could not be left out.

And, of course, my photo could not be left out.

Day 2 of the Social Media Conference Suriname 2018

The second day of the SMCS 2018 was packed with surprises. For me, at least. The day started with a keynote by Jean-luc van Charante titled "Social Media in Suriname". He spoke about how to help your company succeed as an employee. Statistics showing that people between the age of 13 and 17 are moving away from social media, were pulled up. In my previous blog post "YouTube; The Try-Out", I mentioned that video content is taking over the web. This has been confirmed by, not only Jean-Luc but many other speakers and panelists.

After Jean-luc's keynote, attendants could choose between two Marketers tracks, which happened to be Practical Panels: Looking Beyond Facebook and Social Media & E-Commerce. I choose for the latter since E-Commerce in Suriname isn't actually that big yet. Certain companies and retail stores put up webshops but the ability to pay through a secured online portal was never set up. That changed with HOP (Hakrinbank Online Payments). The panelists, Priya Soekhai-Mohan, Raoul Brahim, Sergio Samuels and Deepak Chandnani, sparked a discussion whether Suriname was ready for online payments or not. This discussion raised questions like "How would retailers and other companies go about Money-Back Guarantee?" or "Would companies have a Return Policy?". Head of the NOB, Wonnie Boedhoe, stated that Suriname is not ready. One other attendant thought the same. I have a different opinion about that. Suriname is a few years behind when it comes to technology and many other things. How long should we wait for locals to be ready? Will they ever be ready if banks and the government don't subtly force them to use online payment systems?

Shake Up and Gen-Z

Before the lunch-break Jennifer Radke, an international speaker, author, and strategic business leader spoke about taking your social media career to the next level. As if stuffing yourself with the magical food of The Garden wasn't enough, Marvin Polack - renowned speaker, educator, counselor, coach, and trainer - decided to shake attendants up. Not literally, but during his session, we were forced to start a conversation with other attendants we have never spoken to before. We had to find our Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and LinkedIn buddies, and exchange business cards. 

To close the speeches, Bastiaan Neurink - a senior advisor digital marketing at ROC of Twente - talked about the Generation Swipe, also known as Gen-Z. This generation views their identity as a curated composition and influencers beat direct brand interaction for them.  To be honest, I could not follow this keynote speech until the end, because I was tired. There are a few keywords I caught: Audience first, Mobile first and Tell Stories.

I look back at my experience from the conference as an amazing one. I am sure that I will be present at the next Social Media Conference Suriname in 2019. By the way, all pictures present in this blog post are from my personal Instagram story.

Will you be attending next year? What was your favorite panel discussion? Who was your favorite speaker? Who would you like to see as a speaker or panelist next year? What are your thoughts on the topics from this year's conference? Be sure to leave a comment or e-mail your thoughts to hello@acewilborne.com