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Oi logo bigWell, six months of hard, hard work later and its all over again. We’ve finished another Oiconf (Online Influence conference) in Cardiff on the 11th June 2013. Its an important date, more on why in a moment.

I am proud to say it was once again extremely well received by a fantastically engaged audience. There were close on to 200 people in the room and it seemed like every single one of them left with a great big smile on their face!

Mark Schaefer was simply awesome.

He rocked three hours of social media marketing gold to a spell-bound crowd who lapped up every joke and every nugget of wisdom with equal relish. The man is quite simply a consummate professional.

Mark at Oiconf13

Mark at Oiconf13

His well-practiced and top-notch material flowed freely and keeping the energy levels high for the entire time, he took everyone from intense contemplation of the future to humorous and on occasion, self-deprecating fun poking.

We soared on his images of a virtual reality future brilliantly realised with his sparse and elegant prose, and trembled at the implications for our businesses and brands of not ‘getting’ this stuff.

I’ll summarise Marks amazing talk in a separate post.

Trying to do the impossible, to follow the master, Pippa Davies had a pretty good stab at it! Following a buzzy and chatty lunch, Pippa picked the energy up again, and left us laughing at ourselves and our online peccadilloes. Her slides are here.

I love watching Pippa work, she is a joy and always looks so bright and fun. She at least, is determined to enjoy herself, and she is so engaging that you would not begrudge her that for a second. I just wish we could have given her more time, I could listen to her stories all day!

Last up, at least before the panel, was Oiconf newbie Ian Cleary – and what a debut!

Ian set a challenge to the audience to keep up with him and his encyclopedic knowledge of social media management tools, and we were treated to exactly that. A tour of whats available to help you with your social media marketing the like of which I’ve never experience before.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much concentration in a room that big before. As everyone scrambled to capture on phones, tablets, laptops and even scraps of paper the gems that Ian flung like little hand grenades of illumination.

Ian Clearys presentation (PDF)

The panel that finished the day off included all our speakers and in addition some brilliant people in their own right. Like all our speakers, they also gave their time for free and you should check them out, they are leaders in their respective fields

pic from Lloyd Morgan Productions review

pic from Lloyd Morgan Productions review

Paul Fairburn of Aimiable Consulting in Solihul

Karen Strunks – a social media coach from Birmingham

Paul Sheppard – Owner of Coup Media and main Oiconf sponsor

Joel Hughes – Oiconf web developer and all round white hat

Julie Kissick – bringing the intellectual weight to the discussion, Julie lecturers in Radio TV and Social media in the university of South Wales

They were fantastic. It was a truly great day, with tons of learning to be had. Exactly what I hoped for. More than I could have hoped in some ways.

But, I think, its the last one I’ll do. Thats why the date is important. A brilliant, fan made, person to person driven event has probably had its final hurrah.

Simply put, Oiconf cost me and my buddy and partner Nick a fortune. Thousands actually.

We took a bath, a kicking. We gambled and lost. And it really hurts. Not just the money, but the six months of slogging to sell Oiconf around the UK and the final realisation that we have come out of it on the negative side of the equation.

Don’t misunderstand. Cardiff was great! We sold our target figure, and had a great turnout and on its own, the event wiped its feet with ease.

But we’d had the previous months cancellations to deal with. Three events crashed and burned and left us with big debts.

Lucky for us, you, the Oiconf going public pitched up. Lucky for us, the class of the original line up let us off the hook of contractual obligations. I’ll always be grateful to Mari Smith, Tom and Tamsen Webster for the grace they showed in our hour of need.

But most of all, most special of all, lucky for us Mark Schaefer is the human being he is.

Upon hearing of the disaster of the cancellations that had befallen us, without hesitation, Mark offered to still come over to the UK and to waive his fee. This allowed us to try to make our money back on the Cardiff event.

Ok, we failed, but it would have been a spectacular disaster without Mark Schaefers help. The man is a gentleman of the highest order. I urge you to support him. Buy his books, read his blog and if you ever feel the need, I can even recommend his consultation services.

He is very reasonable, and you wont believe what a great experience you can have with his advice over a Skype connection! (Please note, I have no commercial relationship with Marks or his services)

So the day was almost saved, it was close, but overall we were deflated. Six months of work come to naught, or worse, ending up costing us handsomely. I just hope Nicks business will survive.

So I think thats the last one. I dont feel like going through all that again, especially with the new job. I couldn’t face asking Mark to come over again, and putting him through that again either! And I can’t face the pressure that this has put my friend Nicks business under.

But it was great on the day, I loved it. I love the room, I love the people, the talks were brilliant.

But thats it I think. No more. As Nick said at our lowest point when I tried to encourage him forward ‘I’m fed up with learning lessons’! It was a bright point, at the time, and at least we are still laughing about it!

We will go onwards and upwards. We have had a blast these last couple of years, and yes learned a lot.

But most importantly we have made a ton of friends.

Thank you all for your support, you’ve been awesome!

See you all soon.

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