Michael Stelzner is the Founder of Social Media Examiner, author of the books Launch and Writing White Papers, and the man behind large events, such as Social Media Marketing World and Social Media Success Summit. He is also Host of the Social Media Marketing podcast and Founder of the Social Media Marketing Society.
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Click here to learn more about Social Media Marketing World and to register. I’ll be sending a Freedom Journal to those who do! I hope to see you in San Diego!
Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [01:08] – Michael is a father to 3 girls and lives in Southern California
- [01:37] – JLD shares a side story of how he got Michael on the EOFire podcast for the first time
- [02:40] – “NO” is part of the reason why Michael is successful
- [03:08] – Michael’s specialty is in content production
- [03:28] – One BIG and Unique Value Bomb: “People underestimate the marketing power of content”
- [04:07] – Your free content is really marketing for your brand
- [04:20] – Michael created the epicenter of the Social Media Marketing World
- [05:05] – Michael believes that people should attend conferences because nothing beats face-to-face conversations
- [06:15] – JLD is the perfect example in regards to attending events
- [07:00] – JLD shares his story where he was a last-minute substitution for New Media Expo
- [08:06] – Michael goes to events not to speak, but to network
- [08:53] – Michael shares a story about how he attended an event serendipitously
- [09:49] – Go out of your own way if you see a chance to help others
- [10:33] – People want to learn something from a conference
- [10:38] – Look at the speaker lineup and the topics they will talk about
- [11:12] – Ask yourself if the event will have opportunities for networking
- [11:59] – How Michael puts together Social Media Marketing World
- [13:59] – San Diego is always the location of Michael’s events because of its climate
- [14:20] – The laid back and mellow culture of San Diego is also a good compliment
- [15:48] – JLD loves the networking at Michael’s events
- [17:01] – Marketers love to connect with people
- [17:21] – Michael just created something that he’d like to have at a conference
- [18:53] – The calibre of the speakers is unparalleled, which makes the event unique
- [19:58] – Michael also has a speakers’ party for the event
- [20:42] – Social Media Marketing World will be March 22 – 24, 2017 and virtual tickets are available for people who can’t attend live
- [20:55] – There will be 12 sessions for Facebook & Facebook Ads, 6 sessions for Instagram, 10 sessions dedicated to Live Videos, 10 for Youtube, 10 for blogging, and a lot more!
- [21:30] – The workshops are included in the ticket, plus you get the recordings of everything without any extra cost
- [22:56] – JLD will be speaking at and attending the event
- [23:03] – For people attending the event, head over to EOFire.com/SocialMedia and if you join via our affiliate link JLD will mail you your own Freedom Journal!
- [24:01] – “Don’t underestimate the value of being inspired”
Mike: Boom, my friend. Let’s ignite this thing. I’m ready to ignite, and I am excited to be number three and number 1500 and whatever.
John: And number 487, and number 1,200. So this is your fourth time, Mike, and Fire Nation, he is the founder of Social Media Examiner, authors of the books Launch and Writing White Papers, and the man behind large events such as Social Media Marketing World and Social Media Success Summit. He’s also the host of the Social Media Marketing podcast, and founder the Social Media Marketing Society. I think you love those words, Michael, and they’re great words.
Mike: That’s the trend, yeah.
John: Take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro, and give us just a little glimpse of your personal life.
Mike: I am a dad. I have three girls. And I live in Southern California, and I feel like I love my job. I don’t even think of it as a job, and it’s just awesome to have a huge cadre of people that love the stuff that we produce, and that are interested in social. So that’s kind of a quick nutshell.
John: I wanna do a quick nutshell of a story, real quick, because when we just talked about how you were number three, it actually flashed me back to this, and I hadn’t thought about this for a long time. But I was working with Cliff Ravenscraft and Jamie Masters trying to figure out my first number of guests. And don’t ask me why, Mike, but I was pretty obsessed with getting you on the show. And I reached out to you to be one of my first power 20, and you were actually, I think, the only person of all 20 to come back and say, “No, this is just isn’t a good fit for me. I’m not interested.” So much so that I was like, “I know it is.”
So I went back and I found this video where you were talking. I think it was at New Media Expo, back when it was blog world, and you were saying, “Podcasting is something everybody should be looking at.” I mean, you’ve been saying this for years, but you were even saying it back then. So I forwarded you that video and I was like, “You see, podcasting’s gonna be so big. You should come on my podcast.” And you were just like, “Who is this kid?” So then you asked Cliff Ravenscraft. You were like, “Who’s this John Lee Dumas guy?” and he was like, “Oh, he’s harmless. If you have the time, you should do the show with him.” And so I got you on. Pat was number two, because, you know I had my first little intro episode, then you were number three. So thank you for being my second ever interview on EO Fire.
Mike: Well and thank you for being persistent, because honestly, no is part of the reason I’m successful, and I’m sure you’ve heard this from many different people, right, because when you don’t know someone, generally speaking, you kind of have to default to no. And I’m glad you were persistent. Now I definitely consider you a friend. So thanks for being that way.
John: Yes, absolutely. Love it. Thank you. And I wanna talk real quick before we dive into the meat of this interview of your area of expertise. What would you say you specialize in?
Mike: I would say content production is my specialty, and that includes blogging and podcasting, and now live video. I would say anything along the lines of how to create content to attract an audience to you, which is what we’ve done with the blog at Social Media Examiner, with the podcast, and now with our live show that we produce every week.
John: What do you think something that we don’t know about content production that we should know as entrepreneurs? Can you drop one value bomb there?
Mike: I think that people underestimate the marketing power of content. And the reason is because the reason content that is free is so successful is because of that four letter word, free. And everybody wants to learn something. And if you’re willing to put it all out there for nothing, you can draw a huge audience to yourself. And when you draw a huge audience to yourself, you’re not beholden to big daddy Google or big daddy Facebook. Instead you can become fully independent. So thinking from that perspective that all the free content that you produce is really marketing for your brand, and that a sub-segment of that audience that comes someday will be a customer is a way that a lot of people don’t think, but it’s the way that we think, and it’s the reason that we’ve been successful.
John: Mike, you’ve created what I consider the epicenter of social media, with Social Media Marketing World. This is a conference where thousands and thousands of people descend upon lovely San Diego every single year, just to experience this experience that you’ve created. So before we kind of get into the specifics of social media marketing world, let’s talk about conferences in general. Because I know you got your start at conferences. You met a lot of really cool people that kind of allowed you to start that process. The same with me back in 2012. My first Blog World ever in New York City was such an eye-opening experience. Can you talk about why Fire Nation should attend conferences in general?
Mike: We live in an online world, and obviously the name of my company is Social media Examiner. And so the promise of social is the ability to connect with people online. But there still is nothing, John, that beats the face-to-face connection. And you know this to be true. And anybody who’s ever met someone locally, at a local event or at a conference, there’s something that can happen in 15 to 20 minutes that could take years to happen online. And I think that that has always been the underlying strategy for me, for the growth of my business, and I think it could be for anyone that’s listening right now, which is the following: who is that I wanna build a relationship with? Who are those people that could influence the future of my business?
They might be people that are a little further along than I am that could be part of my next Master Mind group. They could be people that, perhaps, have an audience that I do not have, and I’m thinking about going into a different space. Anyone of those kinds of things, if you could meet those people and you could get to know them, and provide a mutually beneficial relationship with them, how could it help you. And John, you’re a perfect example of this. You have done conferences a lot, and you’ve met a lot of people that ended up on your podcast.
And it’s just a great way even to find podcast guests. I mean, I used to do this constantly. I would go to events and I would know that the people that were speaking at that event were there because they wanted exposure. I would sample those people, I’d peek in their room, I’d see if they’re good communicators, and then they would end up being on my hit list of people I wanted to ultimately get on my show. So I just think it’s kind of like an accelerant to any kind of business development if you go to the right conference where the right people are that matter to your business.
John: Fifteen minutes in person can equal light years of an online relationship, Fire Nation. Absolutely, and I mean, I don’t know why you bring stories out me, Mike, but it brought me back to 2013, New Media Expo. This is January, so I only had EO Fire going for like three months. I was the latest of the late-minute sub to speak at that conference, and the only reason I was asked to speak was because some podcast guy dropped out super last minute. Cliff Ravenscraft was my mentor at the time. He said, “John, I’m looking to fill this spot. Do you think you could put something together?” I’m like, “Absolutely. I’ll do it.”
So I got there, and all of the sudden I was the speaker at this conference that I was just supposed to be an attendee at, so I got to go to the speakers’ dinner. And then next thing you know, I’m doing this dance video on Instagram with Amy Porterfield and Pat Flynn. And I had had them on my show, but we were just like that’s all it was. They knew my voice, but that in person 15 minutes that we did there, that cemented a friendship that I was just talking to Amy today. She actually was in the intro of my Mastery Journal launch video. These relationships have gone forward. I’m sponsoring Pat Flynn’s podcast in February for this. It’s crazy what that 15 minutes can do, Fire Nation. It’s so valuable.
Mike: And I wanna reiterate something very important. I do not go to events to speak, so when I go to events, I’m not speaking. I’m exclusively going to network. And sometimes I serendipitously just show up and just know that I’m going to meet people that are going to make a difference in my life. I make sure that I am in the right place, and scout out people, maybe, that are attending or are speakers, and it works every single time. It’s absolutely – and those that are listening might say, “Well, I’m not a speaker at this event. Therefore, why should I go?” And I just gotta tell you, I don’t speak at any events, really, other than my own, and I’m constantly doing this, and it works.
John: Well, I told a couple stories. Can you tell a story of a time when you went to an event like this and serendipitously something great happened?
Mike: Oh my gosh. Well, in the early days, when I started Social Media Examiner, I went with a camera guy, and I bought him a ticket, and I bought me a ticket, and I just simply interviewed the speakers for about 10 minutes on camera. And this was back when I started Social Media Examiner, so it was only like three day sold. And I interviewed this guy named Chris Broken and I interviewed a bunch of other people who had no clue who I was, but I –
John: Did you interview Maury Smith, too?
Mike: I did, and I had this girl working for me, you might have heard of. Her name was Amy Porterfield.
John: That’s right!! Oh yeah!
Mike: She had just left Tony Robbins, and she was going up to these people and I knew these speakers were there, and I just went up and I interview them, and impressed the heck out of them. And as a matter of fact, Scott Monty, you can go to his website, you’ll still see one of the interviews I did from him –
John: I gotta watch that.
Mike: years and years ago. So moral of the story is, these people that I interviewed ended up becoming speakers at my event down the road, and now are very close, personal friends, just because I went out of my way to kind of help them get exposure. And I was an absolute no one when I started this process.
John: Mike, you’re somebody that knows what he’s talking about when it comes to conferences now. I mean, you’re the host, again, of Social Media Marketing World taking place in San Diego every single year. What is something that we should be looking for when we’re looking at a conference? What’s something that we should judge a conference good or bad by?
Mike: Well, here’s the thing. I know because I’m a data geek why people go to events. They go first and foremost, and I apologize because there’s a lawn mower right outside my window.
John: I was gonna say, someone’s mowing your lawn.
Mike: Yeah, and it’s unfortunately the business people out there. But anyways, I think that the reason I go to conferences and the reason most people go is because they want to learn something. So the first thing that I look at is I look at the line-up, and I say to myself, “Who is speaking, what are the topics that they’re speaking on, and will I, by going to this event, and going to these sessions, accelerate my interest in, for example, Facebook advertising, or podcasting or live video?” So I do that.
The second thing I do is I look at the speakers, and I say to myself, “There’s gotta be at least three to five people that I wanna meet that I know are going to be at this event, or I wanna get to know better.” And I study the line-up. And these are the kind of things that I, personally, do. The last thing that I do is I ask myself, “Does this event do anything to facilitate networking?” Because just like we opened this dialogue with how important networking is, some events are really good at it, and some are really bad at it. So if they’ve got built in opportunities for networking, that’s gonna be a positive sign.
John: Mike, I wanna talk about how you came up with the idea for Social Media Marketing World. I mean, I was talking with my buddy Joe Pulizzi earlier who is the founder of Content Marketing World out of Cleveland. I mean, there were conferences like this going on around the world, and you said, “You know what? I feel like there’s a niche here. I feel like that there’s an opportunity here.” And you kind of dove into it. So what was your thought process behind coming up with the idea for Social Media Marketing World?
Mike: It’s a cool story. Joe Pulizzi and I are good buds, and I was at his conference. And I said, “I wanna do this.” And he said, “You could crush this.” He said, “You could do this way better than I could do this.” And I just started taking pictures and started getting inspired. Then I was on the phone with Jeremiah Oyain interviewing him for my podcast, and I said, “I wanna do this conference. I’m thinking about calling it Social Media World.” And he said, “You know, you might wanna throw the word marketing in there. Call it Social Media Marketing World, because otherwise you’re gonna have everybody that just wants, interested in social media, and you really wanna call it Social Media Marketing World.” So I decided to call it Social Media Marketing World. I started a podcast about five months before the conference and podcast was called Social Media Marketing because I wanted those names to be tied together. Podcast took off, conference took off, and the rest is history.
John: Wow. I love that, and Fire Nation, that’s what happens when you just mix it up. When you’re going to conferences, when you’re talking to people, these ideas, you just open your abundant – like, if Mike had kept that idea inside, it might have never grown. It might have never actually given birth. But he was sharing with people that he knew he liked, he trusted, who had been there, who had done that. He was finding the right mentors to guide him. And then there it is. And speaking of mentors, Mike has been a mentor of mine. I mean, when I moved to San Diego, he took me out to lunch within a month of me moving there, and we got to do that a few more times throughout the couple years that I was there before I left for the island of Puerto Rico. But what – one thing that I definitely realize was how special San Diego is as a place. And I kind of wanna talk about that as a location as we move into the latter part of this interview. But first we’re gonna take a quick minute to thank our sponsors.
So, Mike, we’re back and before the break, I was talking about how special San Diego is. You’ve been living there for quite some time now, and you’ve held Social Media Marketing World there every single year. So kind of talk about the conference as far as being born in San Diego, and why that’s special.
Mike: San Diego is just, climate wise, a very unique place, and we always hold it in the spring, so it’s where it’s thawing snow in many parts of the United States and other parts of the world, we wanna be a place where you can come and enjoy sea gulls and palm trees, and catch a wave if you wanna surf or boogie board or something like that. There’s also a unique culture here in San Diego. It’s laid back, very surf culture kind of –esque, and very mellow. And it’s just a unique experience for a lot of people. In addition to the culture and the climate, I also think there’s just amazingly cool things to do in San Diego, especially if you have a family. We’ve got so many things here. We’ve got Lego Land, we’ve got Sea World, we’ve got the Safari Park. I’m probably forgetting a couple things. We’ve got Mexico that’s ten minutes to the south, and then we’ve got this place called Coronado Island, which feels like its own little resort, you know. There’s just – it’s just a crazy kind of place, and I mean, it’s like all these different climates in one place. And I just love it, and almost everybody that comes here is like, “Oh my gosh, I wanna live in San Diego.”
John: That’s exactly what happened to me.
Mike: It’s just a really cool place. Yeah.
John: I mean, I’m from Maine, and there I was in Maine, and I was like, “Go west, son, go west.” And I stumbled into San Diego. I actually lived there from 2009 to 2011. Work brought me back to Maine. In 2011 I was in real estate, but I kept missing San Diego. So when I was finally able to launch my own thing with EO Fire in 2012, I knew – when I become location independent, I’m going back to San Diego. And sure enough, that happened in 2013. And then Kate and I were there until we just moved in 2016 to Puerto Rico. But if we were going to be moving back to the mainland, it would be San Diego.
And one thing that I loved about your conference from day one, because I’ve been to every single one of these, is I can remember the networking that you had in the Natural History Museum. It was so cool to be in this huge place with a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton right next to me as I’m talking to different people that are at this. And networking has always been huge for you. In fact, you kind of had to move it from there because it just got too big to the USS Midway, which is America’s most decorated aircraft carrier of all time. And every year we get to walk around the USS Midway and go into the planes and see the different skits that are being put on.
Mike: We have a retired guys that used to work on that ship –
John: That’s right!
Mike: that tour people under the ship. It’s really cool.
John: You can actually go under the ship with people that served in WWII. So networking has always been big at Social Media Marketing World. Kind of expound upon that. Why was that such a focus for you?
Mike: You know, John, you’ve been to enough events, and I’ve been to enough events to know that oftentimes the “party” takes place in a bar. And the music in the bar is just designed to be so loud that it’s impossible to talk without literally coming right up on someone’s ear and screaming into their ear, right? And social media – marketers in general love to connect with people. And I just wanted to kind of create a space and an environment that was totally unique, and that’s why I secured an aircraft carrier. I mean, the thing is so huge. You know, just the upper deck is like four and a half acres. So there’s definitely plenty of places that you can go and you can connect with people.
And I just wanted to create something that I know that I would like in a conference, and I was super careful about doing that. And we also, even after the first keynote, if you recall, we always bring up the lights and we allow random connections with our neighbors. And I’ve had so many stories of people that like had no clue who they were sitting next to, you know? And just these amazing people that they were sitting next to. And, of course, we just kind of built it into the core fundamental, if you will, fabric of everything that we do at Social Media Marketing World, because we know social media people are all about networking. And we just wanted to create something that was completely unique.
John: Now, Mike, I had to jot this down while you were chatting, because did you ever think you would say the words, “That’s why I secured an aircraft carrier?” [both laugh]
Mike: Honestly, you know it’s funny, when I first saw that aircraft carrier, I said to myself, “Man, I don’t if we can afford this thing, but I want that thing.” You know? And surprisingly we were able to get it, and it was just like, man, once you get an aircraft carrier, you just can’t top that guy.
John: You can’t go back.
Mike: You can’t get something bigger than that. What – you can’t get any bigger than an aircraft carrier. You just can’t, you know?
John: Oh, man. Well I love it.
Mike: I tried to secure a cruise ship to be honest with you, but I wasn’t able to make that work, but I think the aircraft carrier is still cooler.
John: It’s way cooler. I mean, it’s WWII, it’s vintage. I mean, the WWII veterans are there. You can see they’re so proud. I mean, one of the guys was like, “That’s where I used to sleep.” And I’m like, “Wow, that is amazing.” Now beyond networking, which you crush at Social Media Marketing World, what else makes this event unique?
Mike: I honestly think that the caliber of the speakers is kind of unparalleled. I mean, we have so many speakers that are normally keynoters, like Guy Kawasaki, Jay Bear, Michael Hiya, Chris Broken, Mark Schafer –
John: Well I’m not gonna put myself in that category, but I will say I keynoted –
Mike: You, yeah.
John: Podcast Movements, and I’m getting a side panel session at this, Fire Nation. That’s how big this event is.
Mike: Yeah. Almost every one of these speakers, honestly, are capable of keynoting another event.
Mike: People have called this kind of the super bowl of conferences because I built relationships over years with all these people, and they’re willing to come, and they’re willing to do a break-out session. And it’s just really exciting to – you’re never gonna get this kind of – you know this John – you will never get this variety and caliber of speakers ever at a single event. Period.
John: It’s never happened. I’ve been at every conference, every conference that’s worth going to in the states I’ve been to, nothing, nothing compares to this. I was telling you before we pushed the record button, Mike, and I meant this 100 percent, the speakers party that you have for those two hours, I look around that, I’m just like I can’t. Every single person that I look up to and admire is here right now. And these are the people that come in and, let’s be honest, these people could be keynoting conferences around the world, but they’ve chosen to come here for all of the reasons – for the relationship with Mike, because they know Social Media Marketing World is special, and all of these things.
And Fire Nation, we’re gonna be giving you some more details about it right now, because we have some pretty cool stuff going on within EO Fire for anybody that’s gonna be attending Social Media Marketing World. But Mike, why don’t we kind of, as we close out here, give some specifics of the dates, just some other things that you might think that Fire Nation needs to know, because that’s what it’s all about.
Mike: Yep. So it takes place in March, 22nd to the 24th. And if you can’t travel, we do have virtual tickets, which I’m sure John can tell you more about. But what we have, what I think is exciting about this, is the different kinds of content we have. Like for example, we’ve got 12 sessions dedicated to Facebook and Facebook ads, six sessions dedicated to Instagram, ten sessions dedicated to live video. I mean, that right there – you know, live video is so hot. If you wanted to come, and you wanted to figure out how to make live video part of your business, you could literally just sit in live video sessions all day long.
Mike: Another ten on You Tube, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogging, ten on blogging, Snap Chat, Pinterest, measurement and analytics. And, by the way, something cool that we do this year, it’s actually a three-day event, and we include all the workshops, which are included with the ticket. Normally when you go to a conference, the workshops cost extra. So on the first day, we have all the workshops, and on the second and third day, we have all the normal sessions. And you get everything. And you also get the recordings of everything with your ticket, which nobody does. So that means if you’re in the hall, someone important that could be instrumental for your future business, having that important conversation, and you really wanna go into a session from Jay Bear or someone else, you can comfortably skip going to that session, knowing that you’re gonna get that recording. And that is something that I think is rather unique about the event.
John: And you are gonna miss a lot of sessions, Fire Nation, because there’s so many going on. But, no worries. Just go to the ones you wanna go to live, and then watch the other ones later. So, Fire Nation, March 22nd to the 24th of 2017. I, personally, hope to see you in San Diego, because I will say, and Mike can vouch for this, I’m one of those people that when you invite me to a conference as a speaker, I’m roaming the halls. I’m engaging with people. I love all the little extra things, like Mike, you asked me to do lunches, the podcasting table. I love doing all those things.
Mike: A little secret – we don’t have a speaker room, by the way.
Mike: We purposefully force the speakers into the halls, which is really good for the attendees. It really is.
John: Yeah. But you know, and we talked about this, though, even with that, sometimes speakers, they’re not just – they’re introverts. Let’s be honest. So sometimes they do go to their rooms. They don’t get out as much as possible. I’m not one of those, Fire Nation. You will see me. You will meet me. And, in fact, one thing that I’m really excited about is if you do go to Social Media Marketing World, and you visit EOFire.com/socialmedia, this is gonna take you to the page, you go and I’m gonna be alerted if you do, I’m gonna be mailing you a hard cover of the Freedom Journal.
Because what I want you to do is go to this conference, enjoy it, crush it, meet me, meet Mike, meet everybody that’s gonna be there. And when you get home, you’re gonna have a very clear goal of what you wanna accomplish for the rest of 2017. Use the Freedom Journal to accomplish that goal in 100 days. So, again, EOFire.com/socialmedia. Secure your ticket for Social Media Marketing World, March 22nd to 24th, I’m mailing you a hard cover Freedom Journal. In fact, if you wanna bring it, by the way, to the conference, I’ll sign it for you there. That’ll be amazing. But I’m gonna gift it to you. This is a free – I’m mailing, taking care of everything. And then accomplish your number one goal in a hundred days after you get back, and you’ll love it.
So, Mike, take us home, brother. What do you want to say to Fire Nation as we say salut?
Mike: Don’t underestimate the value of being inspired, and walking away from any kind of an event, really fired up and ready to do something to take your business to the next level. Because that’s the reason I go to events. And whether you make it to this event or any event, put yourself out there. Take the risk. Be willing to say, “Okay, I’m not sure what I’m going to – I’m not sure exactly what I want, but I’m willing to put myself out there.” And then see what happens, because I think you’ll be absolutely surprised at what can happen. And, John, thank you so much for inviting me back on the show. [Music starts]
John: Mike, you’re a mentor. You’re a friend. You’re a great guy. Fire Nation salutes you, and we’ll catch you on the flip side.
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