This spring, the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration took place at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. In order to reach a broader audience and share magic with more bloggers, the Disney Social Media team took their show on the road during the summer with stops in Chicago, Philadelphia and Phoenix. I was fortunate enough to have been invited to the Phoenix event, where fantastic speakers shared knowledge, magic, tips and tricks that will help me achieve my personal business, career and blogging goals.
With three of my cousins living in the Phoenix area, I was able to maximize this short trip by arriving early Tuesday morning to spend time with my family. If there is one thing busy, working moms know how to do - it is fitting family time into any schedule! Although our time together was very brief, were able to make a few magical memories of our own. I taught my 8-year old cousin how to use Snapchat so that we can keep in touch a little more often. Based on the photo she shared, I think she's a natural social media butterfly, destined for greatness.
The big day arrived early Wednesday morning. The conference room had been transformed into a Disney social media oasis, buzzing with excitement and the faint sound of Disney music in the background. There were photo booths and props set-up for us to get silly and show our Disney Sides, cool prizes neatly arranged near the stage area, plenty of room for networking and a slideshow featuring family photos. Our tables had been decorated with social media phrases, vintage style mini-suitcases and food. Yummy pastries, water, coffee and, of course, a Mickey treat were waiting for us when we finally sat down.
Because Arizona is so close to Disneyland, we were lucky enough to have Disneyland and Walt Disney World Social Media powerhouses on-hand for our event:
- Michele Himmelberg, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort
- Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort & Disney Parks Blog writer
- Leanne Jakubowski O’Regan, Disney Parks Director of Social Media
Leanne O'Regan, whose smile is completely contagious, welcomed us all to the conference and shared the history of Disney Social Media Moms as well as the history of the Disney Parks Moms Panel, a site where hand-selected panelists answer Guest’s travel-related questions. As some of you may recall, I have applied to be on the panel twice. Visiting Disneyland, writing about current and vintage Disney, running Disney races and helping friends, family and strangers plan their Disney vacations is what brings me joy. My favorite thing of all? When I receive phone calls and texts from friends asking for trip advice - while they are IN a Disney park! It makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over to know they are thinking of me while they are deciding between a FASTPASS, a churro and a corn dog. (By the way, you can have them ALL!) Applying for the Mom’s Panel has been a really interesting experience, and although I think a tattooed mom may never make the cut, I am keeping my dream alive for 2015 and beyond!
Next, Michele Himmelberg, quickly spread pixie dust all throughout the room by saying two words: "pin trading". Way to bring the magic to Scottsdale! Pin collecting and pin trading became a part of our lives when we first visited Disneyland on my daughter's 5th birthday in 2002. Since then, she and I have really enjoyed meeting new Cast Members via pin trading. You would be surprised how many wonderful stories are contained in a seemingly simple lanyard. By bringing pin trading to DisneySMMoms, Michele got us out of our seats - but not to trade business cards - to trade pins and stories! I learned neat things about my peers right away. Some were looking for a special pin for their child, others were looking for a particular character, and some were very happy to have their first ever Disney Parks pin. Great way to kick-off what was sure to be a pixie-dusted event.
In keeping with this theme of making magic, Michele went on to share with us the many great events that took place at Disney Parks recently, like the 24 Hour event in May. She also discussed upcoming special Disney only experiences, such as the Star Wars themed runDisney races taking place at the Disneyland Resort in January 2015. From running backstage through Disney parks, to enjoying an award-winning meal at Carthay Circle, these are Disney only experiences that Guests treasure.
Next year, Disneyland will be celebrating it's 60th birthday! Be sure to visit the Disney Parks Blog for a huge announcement on July 17th, 2014 - Disneyland's 59th birthday - at 10:00am PST. I am excited for what's to come in 2015! Follow along on Twitter @Disneyland and use the hashtag #Disneyland60.
Disney's social media presence has skyrocketed in recent years, and the best person to dive deep into the magic of Disney Parks social media with us was none other than Erin Glover. Also known as America's Sweetheart and the co-star of "Standing in Line 101", Erin is a fan favorite.
Sharing the backstage details of how the Disney Parks Blog comes to life, Erin described the newsroom style manner in which the team works. Every post we see on the Disney Parks Blog is the result of hours worth of planning, research and information gathering. With an extensive catalog of photographs to choose from, the team is able to write about a variety of topics and share many historical photos of Walt and Disneyland. I loved hearing about the inspiration behind the "Standing in Line 101" video, as well as learning about the behind-the-scenes work that went into the #DisneySide Grumpy Cat video. My favorite video shared by Erin was the one featuring Walt Disney Imagineers discussing how the 7 Dwarfs Mine Train project has taken Walt’s classic Audio-Animatronics to a whole new level! As a huge fan of Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room, it is exciting to see how far animatronics have come.
Utilizing Google Docs, the team is able to coordinate and communicate effectively on projects and posts. Organization is key! I use Google Docs professionally and personally as well. Having the real-time capability to share and edit documents with your team is key!
Erin went on to share with us her best social media practices, which include:
- really being thoughtful in your posts and taking the time to think of their longevity
- looking outside of your organization for inspiration
- finding the voice that makes you special
After her presentation, Erin had a few moments to take questions from the audience. When she called on me I immediately complimented the @DisneylandToday Twitter team for being so amazing! They are extremely responsive to Guests' questions and comments, and the in-park games and opportunities to earn buttons throughout the Disneyland Resort has taken their ability to interact with Guests to a whole new level. Clearly I am a fan of @DisneylandToday, so what was my question? I asked Erin, "How many people does it take to run @DisneylandToday?" The answer remains a mystery, but Erin DID tell us that the @DisneylandToday elves are on stage 1 hour before park opening and 1 hour after park closing. Whoever they are, I am sending love, snaps and pixie dust to them all! ;)
Next we heard from, Lori Lorenz, Director of Marketing and Biz Dev at HP. HP has developed technology designed to make printing easier and more creative. Their motto: if you can dream, we can probably print it! From instant ink - as in ink that is delivered to your home so that you never run out - to a variety of fun and high quality gifts and photo creations, HP really is the smart mom's choice!
Lori shared the photos of her daughter's college graduation, which coincided with Lori's own MBA graduation. As a mother who is also in that phase of her life, a student with a student, those images really spoke to me. That is what life is about - making memories and sharing them with your family and dearest friends. HP makes the sharing the simple. In fact, they brought us all gifts to share! Print-outs of photos we submitted to Maria Bailey in the weeks leading up to the event were delivered to us, and a few people had special gifts made of their photos. I instantly fell in love with my friend, and fellow runDisney addict, Patty's gift: a water bottle featuring a fabulous photo from a runDisney race! What a fantastic gift idea for runners. Get ready folks, you're all getting a water bottle with my Avengers Half Marathon finisher's photo on it for Christmas. You're welcome!
The entire conference was being broadcast live on MomTV.com, so during the breaks we took turns walking up to the camera to wave to our friends watching at home. Some of our friends just happen to live in the UP house! Thanks to Disneyland Mom's Panel Specialist Lynette for posting the first ever pic of me in the UP house.
Tracey Clark, one of the Disney Sisters who we all know and love, shared tips and techniques on making mobile magic with our smart phone photography. For Tracey, it's all about "elevating the everyday" by utilizing "your vision and your intention as part of your tool kit". Her presentation was a favorite for the entire group, because we all take similar photos of our kids, the castle and the parks. Finding your reason for taking the photo, looking for the magic in the mundane and embracing all moments - not just the milestones - are keys to capturing creative unique shots.
Tracey really inspired me to take more pride in my own photography, and I plan on sharing my top 5 Disney Instagram photos in a future post. More tips from Tracey:
- Compose your photos considering: the elements, balance, space and focus.
- Snap out of snapshot mode! Get creative, make it fun!
- Observe the light; see how it changes your pictures.
Next up was Maria Bailey (@MomTalkRadio) who hosted a panel of mom entrepreneurs who shared their experiences and advice with us.
- Romy Taormina is CEO of @psibands, a medical device for the relief of nausea
- Allyson Philips (@tiltycupmom) is CEO and inventor of Tilty Cup
- Lisa Cash Hanson (@Mompreneurmogul) is CEO of @SnuggWugg, one of Entrepreneur Magazine's 10 Most Innovative Small Businesses
As winners of the Huggies MomInspired Grant Program, these ladies have turned their ideas into solid businesses, with product development and placement. They were awarded $15,000 in seed money as well as business resources to further the development of original product ideas and startup businesses.
Key tips and points shared by the panel:
- A good mentor is key in this journey. - @LisaCashHanson
- Go to someone who doesn't love you for honest feedback. - @Mompreneurmogul
- You'd be surprised at how many people are willing to help you and want you to succeed. - @tiltycupmom
- Do not wait. If you have an idea - develop it and apply for the grant! Your product does not have to be complete - a drawing will suffice. Do. Not. Wait. For. Perfection.
Applications for the 2014 Huggies MomInspired Grant are accepted Monday, June 2, 2014, through Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. EST. The website has several resources - check it out and take your idea to the next level!
Our final speaker was mom, wife, TV personality, host, speaker, blogger and author, @NadineBubeck. With Bay Area roots, Nadine told her story of growing up as a child of divorce who worked hard to chase her dreams. I was impressed with how motivated and independent she was even as a young teen. She reminded me of my own daughter, someone who was born with an old soul and a spirit so alive with desire.
Key takeaways from Nadine's inspirational speech:
- Don't burn bridges
- Grow tough skin
- Be proud of yourself and your accomplishments
- Self promote
- Using your name is imperative to making your brand
- People come into your life at the right time, for the right reasons - be open to them
I truly appreciated Nadine's tips for success! Once again, lucky Patty won a prize, this time she won Nadine's book Expecting Perfect.
Just as we thought the event might conclude with a mouse (because Mickey Mouse went on the road to the other conferences), we were actually surprised by a visit from Erin's friend, Grumpy Cat. The cute little diva kitty - who really doesn't seem Grumpy at all once you get to know her, allowed us the honor of basking in her presence as she slept.
Aside from the knowledge gained, the best thing about all of these events and conferences are the relationships built, friendships created and priceless interaction with peers. I am firm believer that I can learn something new from someone every single day. These ladies, my Scottsdale roomies, taught me something everyday, and I was happy to have had this time with them.
I had a wonderful time at Disney Social Media Moms on the Road Phoenix, and would like to thank the entire team, from backstage to on-stage, for their hard work & on-going dedication to moms in Social Media. The conference was extremely beneficial to me in many ways. I left with more knowledge and confidence than I had when I walked through the door. Thank you so much to Maria Bailey for the invitation, to Michele Himmelberg, Erin Glover & Leanne Jakubowski O’Regan, for sharing the magic of Disney with us and to all the speakers who shared their passions in unique ways. You too can join the celebration! Follow @DisneySMMoms on Twitter and DisneySMMoms.com for more information.
Alas, all good things must come to end. And so, with swag bag in hand, It was time to leave and say goodbye to all our company...
M-I-C ... See you real soon
K-E-Y ... Why? Because we like you ;)