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'Future of Now': The Convergence of Social Media, Crowdfunding and Tech

'Future of Now': The Convergence of Social Media, Crowdfunding and Tech
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The worlds of technology and social media are racing forward at a blistering pace, and innovations from both worlds are increasingly crossing over and permeating our lives. It's this convergence that the producers of Social Media Week are aiming to examine at its events which are taking place this month in eight cities around the world.

If you've never been to or heard of Social Media Week before, the event was founded in 2009 by Toby Daniels, the chief executive of New York City-based strategy firm Crowdcentric. The producers of Social Media Week say this year's event in New York -- which is scheduled for February 17 to 21 -- is expected to attract some 6,000 attendees from all over the world.

This year's theme is called "The Future of Now," and it aims to examine our always-on, always-connected world. Topics will include the sharing economy, the future of social music, crowdfunding, the content-marketing revolution and building products that scale, to name a few.

We caught up with Daniels to pick his brain about all things social media and beyond. Here's what he had to say:

Related: A Social Media Makeover in Just 7 Days

Entrepreneur: There's a ton happening in social media and tech right now. What are some of the most significant trends entrepreneurs need to monitor?
Daniels:
Wearable tech is obviously huge right now, from the ongoing fascination around Google Glass to products such as the Pebble watch that have emerged from crowdfunding platforms. Connected to this is the growth of crowdfunding in general, which seems to have exploded internationally over the past year.

Central to this is that entrepreneurs can now access new sources of capital to help get their projects off the ground of help their businesses grow. With new capital and business growth comes job creation, which is fundamental to the growth of economies around the world.

During New York’s Social Media Week this month, we will be hosting an event with our global partner The Prodigy Network, which will look at how crowdfunding and the crowdsourcing of ideas is revolutionizing the real estate market.

'Future of Now': The Convergence of Social Media, Crowdfunding and Tech
Toby Daniels

Entrepreneur: What's new about Social Media Week this year? What should we expect?
Daniels: This month, we’re hosting SMW in eight cities simultaneously: Barcelona, Bangalore, Lagos, Milan, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Tokyo, and New York. In New York, we’re launching our new Campus with all official events and activities taking place in one single venue for an enhanced and immersive experience.

This year we’re seeing the continued explosive growth in social-media usage and engagement, and globally, we’re seeing that as smartphone access penetrates societies in the developing world and in emerging markets. In our view, the more we are connected, the easier it is to access information and education, which in turn leads to greater prosperity for us all.

Other more specific trends include how marketers and brands are leveraging content in real-time through social-media channels and how individuals can make their social interactions and relationships more meaningful.  From a cultural standpoint, consumers are also embracing a connected lifestyle and during SMW we will be looking at the social side of new growing technology categories, such as wearables.

Related: Are We All Idiots? Or Is Twitter Really Difficult to Use?

Entrepreneur: What can business owners do better this year when it comes to social media?
Daniels: First, they must get the basics right. There’s no excuse for not having a strong social presence, regardless of the size of your business. 

Second, business owners need to understand that social media represents a new way of doing business, not just a way of promoting themselves. From raising capital through new investment models, such as peer-peer lending and crowdfunding, to the utilization of platforms like OPEN Forum, which allow entrepreneurs and businesses owners to connect with each other, share ideas and information, and engage in meaningful dialogue around issues that are relevant to owning and running a business.

During Social Media Week, we are hosting a number of sessions that are specifically catered toward entrepreneurs, from our Startups to Watch in 2014, Growth Hacking for Small Businesses and Unmetric’s session, which helps marketers make data-driven decisions that help to reach and engage customers more effectively.

Entrepreneur: What's an example of a way that a business used social media super creatively and effectively that caught your attention?
Daniels: We’re somewhat biased because they are a partner of ours, but we loved the cheekiness of Nokia’s “To Instagram with Love” campaign, which launched late last year and the “Imitation is the Greatest Form of Flattery” reactive campaign, which poked fun at Apple’s new iPhone 5C designs in how they resembled that of Nokia’s Lumia design.

The original tweet ended up being the most retweeted from a brand during 2013, exceeding that of the Oreo campaign, which took off during last year's Super Bowl in New Orleans. Both campaigns showed us that it is possible for a major global brand to engage in social in a fun and playful way without taking themselves too seriously.

Related: Facebook Is More Addictive and Widely Used Than Ever

Jason Fell is the managing editor of Entrepreneur.com.

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