And the Social Media Week Austin Oscars Go To….

It’s award season, people! The Oscars inspired me to single out some of the outstanding performers from Social Media Week Austin, three days packed full of (you guessed it) social media tips, tricks, and triumph.

Rather than do an exhaustive–and exhausting–SMWATX recap, I’ve carefully chosen winners in a few key categories.

Best Presenter

Brian Massey presents on building social landing pages using science at Social Media Week Austin 2018

Hands down, this award goes to Brian Massey, author and “conversation scientist,” who used solid info, great graphics, and geeky humor to explain how informed data can help build the best landing pages.

The man rocked his lab coat while instructing a receptive audience to “go wherever your scientist emerges.” Massey wove an entertaining mix of behavioral science, data sampling, “business porn,” and a really awesome Rick Moranis “Ghostbuster” slide into the most engaging talk of the event.

Most Inspiring

Huston-Tillotson president Colette Pierce Burnette speaks on a panel at SMWATX
Colette Pierce Burnette, with microphone. Photo Credit: Leah Nyfeler

The rest of this panel needs an additional stage moment because Colette Pierce Burnette, president of Huston-Tillotson University, stole the spotlight during  “Return on Inclusion: Three Generations of Women at Work.”

Burnette and I share a generation, but that doesn’t make me biased; my notes tell the story–her words so completely dominate the pages you wouldn’t think anyone else had spoken. Burnette made me gasp (OMG, that early workplace “nickname”), applaud, and nod my head in agreement. Brava, sister!

“Your gift will make room for you”~Colette Pierce Burnette

Best Hands-On Expert

Michelle Stinson Ross mentored small groups about Facebook Live at SMWATX 2018It’s rare that an expert presenter teaches one-on-one but Michelle Stinson Ross, digital marketing consultant with Apogee Results, not only mentored our small group but figuratively (and fairly literally) held my hand through my first Facebook Live experience.

As you can see from her photo, Ross is a charismatic teacher who quickly recognized a great way to illustrate social media best practices while creating a fan for life.

[Click here to watch Ross in action!]

Outstanding Location

How often do you take time to photograph the conference space?

That’s exactly what I did at The Refinery, a downtown co-working space. Why? Natural light, open floor plan, color-coordinated folding chairs, tasteful decor (yeah, I’m a sucker for succulents and midcentury modern), and a beckoning bar–which, sadly, was not utilized, but here’s hoping for 2019!

Just a short walk across the block from SMWATX home base, The Refinery showcased smaller presentations and group mentoring sessions. I liked having a short walk and pleasant change of scenery to break up the day.

Note: With its cool robot motif and giant cog logo, the main venue–Austin’s Capital Factory–was also quite Instaworthy.

Most Aspirational

Brandy Pham discusses Planoly and Instagram for Business at SMWATX 2018You know that one session where the presenter’s drive and talent leave you feeling a bit, well, unworthy? Hello, Brandy Pham.

Not only does Pham have a successful jewelry business, beautiful Instagram account (thanks for those awesome business tips), and bevy of social media followers,  but this busy woman founded and runs Planoly, an online social media management tool (“the first visual planner for Instagram”). 

Sigh. And if that’s not enough, she’s the soon-to-be mother of a second child. What I wouldn’t give for a small bit of her amazing ability…

Honorable Mention

Anna Westbrook introducing her play "Isabel and the Runaway Train" at SMWATX 2018Though she didn’t even have her own session, this woman made a huge impression.

At the beginning of Day 3, author Anna Westbrook had a few moments to talk about her play, Isabel and the Runaway Train: A Healing Experience.

This musical is packed with respectful, careful action steps for talking about difficult subjects: PTSD, sexual assault, and child abuse. In those few minutes, she taught me how to let survivors know I’m there to listen as they need, on their terms.

I hope to see and hear more of Westbrook in the future.

#SMWATX No. 1 Takeaway

Claire Winslow gets ready to give first day opening keynote at SMWATX 2018
We have Claire Winslow to thank for officially bringing Social Media Week to Austin in 2018. Photo Credit: Leah Nyfeler

Claire Winslow, president and senior strategist at Best Practices Media and the woman behind bringing Social Media Week to Austin, gave the opening keynote.

Winslow was talking social media trends when she provided my single most important takeaway for the entire event:

“Content should be mobile first, not mobile-friendly”~Claire Winslow

That’s a simple but distinctive shift, impacting everything from website design to graphics creation using Canva.

Thanks, Claire, for waking me up and putting together another awesome year of SMWATX–I’ll be back for 2019!

Badge and some of Day 1 notes for Social Media Week Austin 2018

(Visited 125 times, 1 visits today)

Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

3 thoughts on “And the Social Media Week Austin Oscars Go To….

  1. You really made the most of this event. I’m not super interested in social media, UT those descriptions made me super interested in the women who participate. Catherine

    1. Thanks, Catherine! There were truly many exceptional women at this event. I’m looking forward to going to a Women in Digital meet-and-greet next week at SXSW–I’ll pass along the good stuff about this group, too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.