Inaugural “Gravity Summit” Attracts Social Media Leaders and Learners to UCLA Campus

If you consider that gravity is a natural force which causes two separate particles to accelerate towards each other then the inaugural “Gravity Summit,” which was held on Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at the UCLA Faculty Center, was perfectly named.

Attracting a sold-out crowd of senior executives and decision makers from over 60 Fortune 500 companies and small businesses — more than 120 social media leaders and learners in all — the event gave attendees a forum through which they could share knowledge in person. It also gave attendees an opportunity to create new online connections following the event using the Gravity Summit network on Ning.

Gravity Summit seminars are designed to educate, inform and empower marketing professionals, small business owners, advertisers, and c-Level executives about social media.  Matthew Gilbert and Rodney Rumford at UCLA Gravity Summit on February 25, 2009

This unique educational event was launched by Rodney Rumford (author, consultant and CEO of Gravitational Media) and Beverly Macy (the managing partner of Y & M Partners and a UCLA Extension instructor specializing in social media classes).

“The goal of Gravity Summit is to help bridge the gap between the new social media marketing tools and the business community, “ Rumford explained. “And we continue to educate and share information with our Gravity Summit alumni through an exclusive online social network community where they can continue sharing and building on the relationships that formed at the event with trusted peers and industry thought leaders.”

Beverly Macy and Matthew Gilbert at UCLA Gravity Summit on February 25, 2009This was the first of several similar events to come that will take place on other college campuses nationwide. At each event individuals representing top brands are invited to speak based on industry expertise and their potential to provide unique insights into their social media marketing strategies.

Speakers at the UCLA event included:

  • Rodney Rumford, CEO, Gravitational Media
  • Beverly Macy, Managing Partner, Y & M Partners
  • David Reis, CEO, DEI Worldwide and Founding Member of WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association)
  • Justin Goldsborough, Social Media Manager, Sprint
  • Ann Glenn, Senior Web Producer, Sony Pictures Imageworks Interactive
  • Tony Adam, SEO Manager, Yahoo
  • Ricardo Bueno, Blog Director, Real Estate Tomato
  • Renée Barrett, Principal of Awareness, Action, Accountability
  • Karl Kasca, CEO, Kasca & Associates

Of those listed above,  PowerPoint presentations are available online from the following individuals (via SlideShare):

Beverly Macy, Managing Partner, Y & M Partners

Rodney Rumford, CEO, Gravitational Media

David Reis, CEO, DEI Worldwide and Founding Member of WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association)

Justin Goldsborough, Social Media Manager, Sprint

Ann Glenn, Senior Web Producer, Sony Pictures Imageworks Interactive

Tony Adam, SEO Manager, Yahoo

365 Days: 87/365 (February 25, 2009) [Matthew Gilbert and Justin Goldsborough at UCLA Gravity Summit]The event presented a tremendous opportunity for attendees to learn with and from each other.

I actually tweeted a good portion of the event live as it happened while sitting alongside Justin Goldsboroughfrom Sprint who was doing the same (as were several other attendees — all using the official Twitter hashtag: #gravsum).

This generated complimentary online discourse while the presenters simultaneously shared their information in person. Warren Sukernek of Radian6 engaged me at one point and I also connected with Carol A. Stevenson, a public relations professional and fellow Santa Clarita, CA resident who introduced herself to me from across the room!

By all accounts, the inaugural Gravity Summit was considered a great success — especially by co-founder Beverly Macy.

“We were able to build a brand in 60 days,” she noted. “We started planning the Gravity Summit event in late December 2008 and after the event we were quoted in the Wall Street Journal online. That’s the power of social media and specifically Twitter.  We ‘tweeted’ our way to the Wall Street Journal.”

Ricardo Bueno and Matthew Gilbert at UCLA Gravity Summit on February 25, 2009The next Gravity Summit will be held on May 5, 2009 at Stanford University and another is in the works for Harvard University in the fall.

Notably, the Stanford event was originally planned for June but it was moved ahead one month due to significant demand.

“At the conclusion of the UCLA event, we realized the overwhelming need for social media marketing thought leadership in the business community, so we moved the date up by one month,” Macy added.

Importantly, registration for the Stanford event is extremely limited: less that 100 registrations will be accepted. However, a new option for this session is live online participation!

For more information and to register for Gravity Summit Stanford go to http://gravitysummitstanford.eventbrite.com. And, for additional information about Gravity Summit in general, please read the following articles:

In closing, I feel quite fortunate to have attended this event. Although I had to leave early at 3 p.m. to teach a class at DeVry University in Bakersfield (a three hour adventure), the learning from this experience continues online and in the personal relationships that I created.

I also want to personally thank both Rodney and Beverly for making special accomodations so I could participate despite some significant personal limitations. I am definitely looking forward to future Gravity Summit events!