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Community Connections via Social Media

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Kalamazoo Social Media Week 10-Year Anniversary

UPDATE: As of March 13, Social Media Week has been postponed due to public health concerns. Please stay connected for details as they are released.

At KzooConnect, we are all about connecting with others. After all, it is a part of our name. For more than a decade, Kalamazoo Social Media Week (Social Media Week) has instilled a sense of collaboration and exploration in its audiences.

We sat down with its founder, Kalamazoo Community Foundation’s Director of Marketing Communications Sarah Lee, to get an idea of how the week has grown into the impressive event that it is today.

“It all began organically,” said Lee. “The idea started from a group of people who just loved social media, community, and connecting with each other.”

In 2009, Lee was able to connect with other professionals who shared a passion for social media and community. Through TweetUp Kalamazoo, the group met on a monthly basis. Eventually, discussions evolved into expanding social media expertise within the local community and, in the spring of 2010, Social Media Week was born!

“The first five to six years of Social Media Week consisted of demonstrating how to establish and use social media platforms with a variety of events in the community,” Lee shared. “Now, conversations have changed from how to start a Facebook page to how to use analytics and protect data.”

This change reflects the greater shift in the public’s understanding of social media in the last decade, as social media users are not always sure how to make the most out of their resources. To meet this need, the events shifted to a condensed conference format in 2016.

“People are more aware about how the information and images that they put on social media are being used,” Lee explained. “Algorithms have changed, and users aren’t seeing content as organically. We now need to ensure content is distributed the way we want it to be, while still being authentic.”

Looking back on what Social Media Week has been able to accomplish in the past decade, Lee is most proud of the personal relationships that it has created.

“There are so many great connections that are formed through the week’s events,” she said. “People partner up and do different projects together. Social Media Week only exists because there are passionate individuals who bring the community together through professional development.

“I love that it explores ideas and introduces tools and education that Kalamazoo has not yet experienced.”

Lee hopes the co-creation she built with a small group of people more than a decade ago continues to elevate and sustain talent throughout the community as well as evolve alongside the changes in social media.

Kalamazoo Social Media Week 2020 takes place on March 23-27 at Western Michigan University’s Fetzer Center. Have questions regarding this year’s programming? Reach out to Kalamazoo Social Media Week for more details!

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