I had the pleasure of attending the sold-out third annual Frederick New Media and Technology Conference on February 24 (photo of me presenting here). The location was good, the WiFi worked well, and the conversations were awesome.

If I had one complaint, it was that there was too much content happening simultaneously. I often had to choose between competing sessions and missed out on some great stuff, including my friend Beth Schillaci’s session on mobile and Whitney Hahn’s discussion on using video.

That said, here are my top five takeaways:

1. Your conference doesn’t need a keynote speaker. FredNMT3 opened up the traditional keynote slot to morning networking, and it gave everyone (okay, me) an opportunity to meet new people and reconnect with old friends.

2. Lots of people know very little about social media. That’s okay. They want to learn. Which means that we need to stop talking about the ubiquity of social media and spend more time teaching people how to apply social media strategies and tools to grow their businesses.

3. In a session about building online communities, Ali Allage talked about incentiving members to be productive, helpful, and relevant. He explained that, in one community, he had created a points system and special benefits to encourage people to provide meaningful contributions. This is a useful way to think about turning a thread of “great point” and “I agree” comments into a discussion.

4. Christopher Penn conducted a terrific session on e-mail marketing. He talked a lot about testing, and recommended using Google’s Search, Wonder Wheel, and Webmaster tools to identify the words (and terms) that people actually use. Penn also pointed out that engagement is the new whitelist (i.e., solid click-through rates mean your content is less likely to be marked as spam) and reminded us to make our calls to action big and obvious (think big red button). Oh, and those annoying pop-up forms that ask you to sign up? Yup, they work.

5. A well-designed closing session will keep people in their seats and engaged. Jessica Hibbard, who organized the conference, accomplished this with a rapid-fire session featuring 10 speakers, three minutes each, talking about 10 less-well-known social tech tools we should know about.

Were you at FredNMT? What was your top takeaway?

Photo by Shashi Bellamkonda, Social Media Swami, Network Solutions.

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