Social Media Love: A Conversation with Savvy Social Curators Claire Winslow + Ashland Viscosi

A little thing called Social Media Week Independent Austin (#SMWiAustin) is right around the corner. Organized by Best Practice Media President, Claire Winslow (Executive Director), and Creatives Meet Business founder, Ashland Viscosi (Creative Director), this 3-day social media focused conference is pretty much the biggest testament of love to our industry that exists. We sat down with Claire and Ashland to chat #SMWiAustin, passions, and straight social love.

SD:  The schedule of events for Austin’s first Social Media Week is pretty fantastic. What are you most excited about?

AV: We’re really excited about the programming and how it all came together. I’ve been working on several logistic pieces like the schedule and the app which you can download with Eventbase and search for Social Media Week Independent Austin. You can see the all sorts of information about the conference. We’ve also connected all of our moderators and panelists, and there are a lot of moving parts that I’m VERY excited for.  

CW: The people who have committed to speak at our inaugural Austin conference are some of the best in the industry, and we’re really humbled to include them in our lineup.

SD: I can only imagine how much work must have gone into organizing this. What have your roles been throughout this process?

CW: As my company (Best Practice Media) has grown, I’ve been able to spend more time at conferences and events. Last year, I went to Social Media Week in LA last July and then Miami’s in September and finally #SMWiBristol this past November. Each of these varied based on the demographic – LA had VR porn stars, Miami focused on Cuban-American relationships and opportunity, etc. I realized during the July event that I could transfer some of this love I had for going to conferences into actually creating one. So with the decision to bring the conference to Austin and the ability to have a local focus and flair on the programming, we decided to skew towards our own demographic – technology and startups.

AV: Claire knew about my background in producing events and festivals, and as we’d already become fast friends, she invited me to help with the production aspect of the conference. Claire has influenced the topics but I’m engaging Austin every step of the way to make this a unique experience that differentiates itself.

SD: How did you both get into social media and what are the driving passions to bring a conference focused on digital marketing to Austin for the first time?

CW: When I started in grad school at UT in 2007, Twitter was only six months old. At the same time, my mother, who was a cosmetic dentist, was shelling out a lot of money on traditional print marketing that wasn’t working, and she was frustrated. As my time at UT progressed and social media became more relevant for brands, I started thinking about the opportunities it could afford people like my mother, who had previously relied mostly on word-of-mouth. When I graduated with my MBA in 2010, I ruminated on this idea for a few years and finally launched Best Practice Media in Jan 2015.

AV: You know, I’m not a master of this particular subject matter. But I am an expert in crafting an environment by bringing experts to let others experience. Community building is really where my passion lies. 

SD: What do you love about social media?

CW: I love social media for everything that traditional media is not. For three reasons. It’s malleable. In traditional marketing, you have one shot at copy and creative and you hope that it will resonate. It’s a two-way conversation where you can easily measure sentiment. In traditional marketing, it’s very hard to tell the response. And it’s much more trackable. A magazine can tell you it’s distribution but outside of that, they can’t tell you who saw that ad and reacted.

AV: What I love about it is that it’s a platform where anyone can express their opinions quickly. It empowers people to position themselves in a way to share in a way of equality.

SD: Since you’re working every day in the world of social media, I’d love to know what your favorite platforms are.

CW: Facebook is king. A lot of my clients don’t think they need to be on Facebook, but nobody can touch their ad targeting ability and information.

AV: Twitter is a quick place to follow up for news and solid bursts of information. I also like that I can choose and select what I want to learn more about. And LinkedIn has been a wonderful tool for planning Social Media Week. We connected with almost all of our speakers first through LinkedIn. Without it we wouldn’t have half of our programming.

SD: Ok, last question. What’s your final plug for #SMWiAustin?

CW: Registration is open. You can find the speaker lineup, full list of events and register at smwiaustin.com. And be sure to use the code socialdpromo at checkout to take 30% off of your badge! 

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