Upstate Social Sessions, or how I learned to stop worrying and take a risk

downloadUpstate Social Sessions is a yearly meeting of social media mavens, local influencers, budding bloggers, and people from across the spectrum of social media use and knowledge from the Rochester region in New York.

What I really liked about the Upstate Social Sessions was that it was primarily based around conversations between speakers and the audience, rather than being a one-way lecture on appropriate methods. People use social media in dramatically different methods and with varying goals in mind- Upstate Social Sessions not only allowed for this diversity, they celebrated it!

Here, I want to share some of my top takeaways from attending Upstate Social Sessions, and the lessons that I hope to incorporate into my own social media.


Tell a story: We love a good story; something that pulls us in and makes us want to stick around for a while. Think about the story you are telling through your online brand or personality. Are you telling a story about a local person exploring the food scene? An outsider who is capturing the beauty in every day objects? Between images, videos and text, you want to share a meaningful adventure that others will want to take.

Be authentic: While talking about Snapchat, Mike McGinniz attributed his success on this platform to his authenticity, arguing that “you do you”. Corey Takahashi noted that popular YouTube channels were often less scripted and had a definitely non-professional look, which adds to their authenticity that it is just a normal person having a conversation with you. Be yourself, flaws and all, enjoy the process of being online, and let your personality shine!

Be playful: Play is important, often because it goes along with risk taking. Play with new tools, swap words for emojis, use interesting filters, and don’t take yourself too seriously. Let down your guard a little and have fun with the tools available to you (this also helps with authenticity).

Consider consumption: As Nick Cicero of Delmondo argued, consumption is more important than appetite. This means that we can’t just think about how many people are following us- we need to focus on what, why and how they are engaging with us. What makes them take the extra step and ‘like’ a post? What causes them to take even more time to comment on a post?

Use analytics: Your social media has analytics- use them. You don’t need a fancy paid tracker like Sprout (although is can help), all you need is the native analytics. Facebook pages, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat; they all have analytics of some sort so that you can see how many people are engaging, in what ways, who they are, and what works (or doesn’t). Use this data wisely to create new material or alter your current material.

Take risks: It shouldn’t come as a surprise that many of the people who were featured speakers for Upstate Social Sessions were also risk-takers. They stepped out of their comfort zone, they tried something a different, they pushed the boundaries, and were rewarded! Failure is just part of doing something new and untested. It comes with the territory of risk-taking. Take the leap, don’t be afraid to fall, and keep trying.

For more tips, highlights and advice, check out my Storify of tweets and instagram posts from the event: #UpstateSocial16

What stuck with you after attending? What is your top advice to individuals who want to engage in social media?

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