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April 22, 2012 | Tom Ballard

Week ahead very busy for those interested in social media

The week ahead is going to be a big one in Knoxville for those interested in social media.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) will hold its inaugural “Social Media Week” Wednesday and Thursday on campus. The second annual “Social Slam 2012” is expected to draw a capacity crowd of 600 people to the Knoxville Convention Center one day later on Friday.

UTK “Social Media Week”

Co-sponsored by Dell Inc., the UTK event is organized by the School of Advertising and Public Relations in the College of Communication and Information (CCI). In a recent conversation with, Assistant Professor Courtney Childers said that the two-day event responds to students who have emphasized that “having a knowledge base about social media is critical for them.”

Childers, who is helping plan the event, said that the organizers want students to “know how to use (social media) professionally and strategically, not just personally.” She noted that CCI offered a social media elective last spring with a “packed” classroom. “We found a hole that we needed to fill,” Childers said.

Offering a two-day event without a registration fee was possible because of the philanthropy of two alums of the college – Adam Brown, executive director of social media for Dell, and Ed Patterson, senior director of public affairs for Cox Enterprises. Childers said that the two alums have also been helpful in identifying speakers from other locales who will join with Knoxville-based professionals as event presenters.

As far as her goals for the event, Childers said, “First and foremost, we want to have enriched the knowledge base of students about social media.” She added that the format, including an April 25 networking session, is designed to enhance internship and job opportunities for students.

“Social Slam 2012”

Mark Schaefer, who coordinates “Social Slam 2012” in conjunction with the Social Media Club of Knoxville, emphasized in an earlier interview that registration will be capped at the 600 number due to logistics.

“Social Slam” features four keynote speakers throughout the day. The individuals and their topics, in order of appearance, are:

  • Gini Dietrich – “Waking Up to a World of Integrated Communications.” She is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Arment Dietrich, Inc., a firm that uses non-traditional marketing in a digital world.
  • Tom Webster – “Drowning In Data: How To Save Yourself.” He is Vice President of Strategy for Edison Research, a custom market research company best known as the sole providers of Exit Polling data during U.S. Elections for all the major news networks.
  • Mitch Joel – “Six Pixels of Separation: How Marketing Connects in a Connected World.”  He is President of TwistImage, an award-winning digital marketing and communications agency based on Montreal.
  • Schaefer – “Return on Influence: The New Rules of Creating and Leveraging Power on the Social Web.” He is a globally-recognized college educator, speaker, business consultant, and author.

Schaefer noted that this year’s “Social Slam” will also feature break-out sessions, loosely based on social media marketing skill levels, and a new “slam” concept that will rotate 10 speakers through fast-paced and innovative presentations.

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