Izeafest 2017 – A Tale of Two Conferences
Living in Orlando has many advantages – and not all related to the weather. Local conferences are one such perk. I was able to attend Izeafest 2017 in February at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando. Izeafest is a yearly influencer marketing conference held by Izea, the influencer platform based in Winter Park, FL. This is my review and recap of the conference.
Love ’em or hate ’em, conferences are all the rage now. From pets to retail to technology and beyond, you can find a conference on just about any topic today. My love-hate relationship with conferences continues – on one hand, they can offer quite a bit of inspiration and networking opportunity. On the other hand, they all start to sound the same.
Enter: Izeafest 2017.
Traveling to a conference can be a huge pain, and can really create significant barriers for attending. I wanted to attend last year’s Izeafest conference, held at Disney, but I wasn’t able to make it. I was thrilled when I learned I’d be able to attend this year at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Conference Center.
My relationship with influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing is really gaining traction in some industries. I have two distinctly different perspectives on the topic. On one hand, I manage digital for a healthcare brand “by day” while in the evenings I write posts like this, do marketing consulting work, try to act like a real photographer and also write blog posts on my dad blog as well.
Not everyone gets to see both sides of influencer marketing like I do.
I was able to bring these two perspectives to this year’s conference and apply both of them to my review and recap blog post.
Izeafest 2017 – Day 1: One part inspiration, equal parts interruption.
The conference started on a Friday, so the team and I were excited to break the monotony of the week and head to Gaylord Palms for the day. If you haven’t been to this resort hotel, you should check it out – it’s a very cool place!
For me, day one of any conference sets the tone for the entire schedule. Izeafest 2017 started off on an awkward foot.
Opening Performance Light Show
The performance itself was fine. I found it to be a visually cool experience. My issue was with the music during the performance. The music was so loud it was impossible to hear the drummers. When the performance centers around drums that you can’t hear, I consider that a bit of a fail. I could see them drumming but I couldn’t hear a single sound coming from them.
I looked around a bit during the performance and saw what I would say was a pretty subdued audience. Perhaps they were having the same thought I was thinking? Applause erupted after the performance, and as I mentioned, it was a great visual experience. There was just something that fell flat to me, though.
Audio and noise issues would plague the entire Izeafest conference. I’m not sure if it was the fault of the venue or of the event planners, but not being able to hear would prove to be very distracting in future panels and speaker sessions.
Opening Keynote and Feature Demo (Too Much In the Weeds?)
Putting on my brand hat for a moment, the opening keynote was really quite interesting to me. I’m a software nerd, so I totally appreciate a live feature demo. I also know how risky and scary it can be to demo an actual software product and not just a prototype.
Izea CEO, Ted Murphy and SVP of Engineering, Chris Staymates conducted a live demo of one of the features described by Ted during the opening remarks of the conference. It was very cool to see the software doing what Ted described. Despite it being a pretty high-level walk-through of a feature set, I think the demo may have lost a few people that it either didn’t apply to or that don’t really find live demos to be all that engaging.
Favorite Session of the Day: “Thinking Differently” with Duncan Wardle
The session with Duncan Wardle was my favorite for day one. Duncan’s mix of creativity, enthusiasm and English accent were an engaging combination. I could tell that he knew his stuff, but he wasn’t a know-it-all. He also had the audience stand for various “exercises” on numerous occasions as well.
Here is the session description, from the Izeafest website:
Do you ever wonder why most of your best ideas come to you in the shower? Have you ever pitched a new idea to watch it diluted or killed as it moves through the processes? Ever wanted to know how Walt Disney came up with the idea for a Disneyland or how Netflix completely revolutionized the movie rental industry? Or perhaps found yourself amazed at how some brands develop killer insights that enabled them to break into major new categories. Building on over 25 years of experience with the Walt Disney Co. around the globe, most recently as Vice President of Innovation & Creativity, Duncan will lead an immersive, engaging forum that will not only answer these questions, but leave you with the tools to take on your own challenges in new and different ways that deliver tangible results.
Be sure to attend a session with Duncan if you ever have the opportunity to hear him speak.
Surprisingly good session with Michelle Dauchy of Mercury Marine
I have a confession to make – I actually didn’t intend on seeing this session. I accidentally stayed too long in the session prior and got stuck in my seat when Michelle Dauchy, SVP of Marketing at Mercury Marine began to speak.
I didn’t really have any interest in boats – I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like them and all. I just didn’t think an influencer marketing discussion was all that appealing.
As the session went on, however, I began to really warm up to Michelle. She was a smart and passionate speaker and clearly Mercury was pretty inventive considering boat motors aren’t all that interesting of a product to market.
Technical difficulties featuring Chris Brogan
Next up was a session with (nearly?) famous marketer Chris Brogan. I’ve been following Chris for quite some time now and was really eager to hear him speak at Izeafest. I was disappointed when I saw that he was going to present remotely from his home in New England.
The north-east had recently received a big snow storm, so I guess Chris wasn’t able to make it to Florida. Although, C.C. Chapman is also from the same area and he was able to make it (more below on C.C.).
I’m not sure if Chris had forgotten he was presenting or what happened, but when we finally saw him on the screen he was scrambling around a bit, walking through his house and talking to his screen. Add to the confusion that the connection was very poor and his talk was ultimately canceled.
I have a ton of respect for Chris and I hope to get another opportunity to see Chris present because I know he’s a great source of information in the influencer and content marketing spaces. The issues with Izeafest will barely be a bump on Chris’ path, I’m sure. I’m just disappointed I have to wait even longer to see him present live and in person.
Izeafest Day 1 – Photo Gallery
A few favorite Izeafest 2017 Tweets.
Izeafest 2017 – Day 2: Influencer Marketing Conference Worth the Price of Admission
The second day of Izeafest took a noticeably different path to me than that of the first day. Where the first day was defined by awkwardness, technical difficulties and confusion, the second day was a knock-out success.
If you missed Izeafest 2017 day two, you really missed out!
Peter Shankman – Hey man, nice shirt.
Peter’s presentation really sticks out for me for two reasons – his shirt and his energy. As a dad, I really appreciated a dude in jeans and a t-shirt talking with us from the stage (as opposed to at us).
Peter was funny and had a lot of energy and enthusiasm on stage and he wasn’t afraid to cut up a little bit. Izeafest is generally a more laid-back conference since creators especially are a relaxed bunch. The focus of Peter’s talk was on customer service and the role it will play in the economy over the next 50 years.
I totally agree with Peter that many brands are missing the point when it comes to customer service and influencer marketing. The totality of the customer’s experience is your brand today. That’s not only not going to change, it’s going to become even more entrenched as technology and social media evolves.
Parker Kane – How does he do that?
Who is Parker Kane? Oh, he’s that McD’s cup dubstep guy. Wait, what? You have GOT to see this video that propelled Parker into the spotlight.
Seeing Parker perform live on stage was absolutely amazing. It’s proof that hard work and a natural talent, no matter how unique or obscure, can serve you well.
Erik Qualman – EQUALMAN
Not to sound like too much of a fanboy, but day two continued to roll on strong for me with Erik Qualman. Erik’s an author like me, but what I quickly noticed about him was his great personal branding.
While elements of Erik’s presentation may have felt a bit too “canned” at times, I think overall his message was great and his presentation of his message was even better.
Daymond John – The People’s Shark
Daymond John was really the reason why I attended Izeafest 2017, if I’m being perfectly honest. My entire family has been watching Sharktank now for a few years – as many families do together. I couldn’t miss an opportunity to see one of the sharks live and in person!
The 30 or so minutes Daymond and Ted were on stage went by in a blink. There are a ton of great quotes from the talk out there. Below is the interview, in its entirety. It was great hearing more about Daymond’s story and his perspective during this talk.
C.C. Chapman – Bringing it all home.
The man, the myth – C.C. Chapman rounded out the speakers at Izeafest 2017. C.C. and I “met” as members of a Samsung influencer program a few years ago, but this was my first time meeting him in person and my first time seeing him present.
C.C. is, hands down, one of the most authentic, genuine and nice people I know. He carried all of those elements into his presentation where I really felt like he was talking with us and not just at us. I feel really fortunate to know C.C. and hope to see him again soon.
Izeafest 2017 Final Thoughts
Overall, I’d say Izeafeset 2017 was a success. It had a few hiccups, especially with sound issues and had a few awkward moments, but I can only imagine how difficult it can be to pull off a live event like this. Technical issues like sound can be solved. I think what Izeafest’s bigger challenge will be is to not act like every other marketing / technology / social media / influencer marketing conference out there.
Conference competition is fierce, especially in all things digital marketing and I hope Izeafest can build on its momentum from the past two years and really come out swinging for 2018.
Izeafest Day 2 – Photo Gallery
The Story Behind the PhotoC.C. Chapman - Closing Keynote at Izeafest 2017
Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center
Have you attended Izeafest?
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