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**Updated Sept 19th :: Billy Dec and Rockit Ranch Productions Host Chicago’s Official Social Media Week Kick Off Party! Monday, 9/24 at Rockit Bar & Grill (22 W Hubbard) – 8pm Open to the public! Meet, greet and network w/Top Social Media Pros, CEO’s, Influencers, Movers & Shakers all night long!**

It’s almost September and you know what that means… it’s time for Social Media Week–the social media-centric conference that happens for a full week all around the world. This year’s keynote speakers at the Chicago edition include Rick Wion from McDonald’s corporation and Brad Keywell of lightbank. While I’m sure everyone is very excited about hearing a big brand like McDonald’s speak, I’m actually more excited to hear from Brad from lightbank.

If you’ve never heard of lightbank before, they’re the ones who are responsible for some of the best startups in Chicago including Belly, Boomerang, Toodalu, Contently, Sprout Social, SocialKaty, and they’re even partially responsible for the early successes of Groupon. It should be interesting to see what they have coming down the pipeline and what startups they’ve seen that they think will break out into the mainstream next.

Social Media Week panels go all week long and have a pretty wide range of subject matter with one of the most interesting ones being “Future Trends And Technology in Social Media” which is being given by the President + CEO of Flashpoint Academy, Howard Tullman. Take it from someone who has been to countless social media-related conferences–after you’ve been to a few, you’ve sort of heard it all. That’s why the panels that are always most fascinating to me are never about any one particular tool in general, but mostly about how to track current trends to predict what will be the next valuable social tool for your business.

I’ll never forget the day four years ago when I sat in the office of my CEO (for my old job) and he told me that people don’t/shouldn’t have time to do social media and that producing content as a brand was a waste of time. (This was after me doing a 10 minute pitch/presentation about how our company should start a blog, and start tweeting about what exactly it was that we did at our office.) This was before it was called social media, but that’s beside the point. I had been tweeting /writing blog posts for over a year and thought it would be cool if my company started doing the same to help build both culture within the office, but also to drive traffic and new leads our way. After being completely rejected by my old boss, (I quit two weeks later) I’ve since built a career on doing exactly what I pitched him on and I couldn’t be happier. This is why I always gravitate to the types of panels and presentations where it’s a topic that people maybe aren’t that familiar with yet—you never know which one is going to impact your career or business next.

Rockit Bar & Grill will also be hosting several panels during Social Media Week including:

“Social Media: You’re Doing It Wrong!!!!” Hosted by Jaime Black of Dynasty Podcasts with panelists:

Liz Strauss (Founder SOBCON) ME!!!!

Drew Rose (

Katy Lynch (@SocialKaty)

From 1-25,000: How To Build A Community From Scratch

Hosted by Jaime Black of Dynasty Podcasts with panelists:

Andrew Barber (@FakeShoreDrive)

Steve Green (@SteveGoGreen @Foodiechats)

Monica Dimperio (@monicadimperio @themidwasteland)

Along with our Tuesday/Wednesday panels we’ll also be hosting the Social Media Week opening party for the second year in a row, as well as a book launch for “Pinterest For Business”.

Find out more about Social Media Week Chicago on the official website here! – Tim Toomey

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