smileexpo17: A review of the day

This week saw the second of our smileexpo conferences, giving a day of discovery, skills, development and networking for 150 communicators through a series of thirteen hands-on workshops and masterclasses all designed to explore the latest developments and key IC issues in relation to social intranets and collaborative networks.  Alison Boothby reviews the day for us.

smileexpo 2017 audience


digital workplace event: smileexpo attendeesA stunning bright and sunny morning in London, no significant delays on transport and a wonderful breakfast spread and fresh coffee: smileexpo17 at etc venue St Pauls had all the makings of a great day! With Workplace by Facebook as the Gold Sponsor and keynote for this year’s event, expectations were high.  Judging by the Twitter activity and input from people watching on Facebook Live, the event did not disappoint with #smileexpo17 trending throughout the day. You can catch the Twitter highlights here.

In the opening plenary session Julien Lesaicherre of Workplace by Facebook highlighted the progress of perhaps the most talked about social platform with, “over 14,000 companies now using Workplace by FB, working faster, smarter, happier,” he told us. Matt James of RBS was on stage too to talk for the first time in public about their successful adoption of the platform in Europe’s largest case study. Put aside any cynicism: the statistics are staggering! 1000 daily active groups, more than 60,000 employees on the platform. “No-one argues that the platform hasn’t made a difference in the organisation” he says.

Matt James RBS and Julien Lesaicherre FacebookMatt James is clearly delighted with the success so far and even ventured that he thinks in time it could kill off the intranet – this created a bit of a buzz in the room around what the definition of an intranet is these days. Bearing in mind several other sessions throughout the day looked at the many other options for creating a social intranet or a digital workplace, I’m not entirely sure we have the answer!

With the day’s workshops clustered into three streams that focused on Collaboration, Platforms and Engagement, using the event app – courtesy of Crowdcomms – it was easy to keep track of what was going on where and when, and there was always something of interest to join in with. I particularly liked the fact that we didn’t allow ourselves to get too immersed in the technology itself. Even in a fascinating session about the rise of chatbots we managed to create our own little bot with sticky notes! (more on chatbots here).

Elements of IC at smileexpoThere were some enlightening sessions that really tackled core IC issues including a very interactive workshop from Alive with Ideas on The Elements of IC   – an essential toolkit for any communicator.

The Adoption Maze which, in a fun (but also quite a competitive!) way, examines some simple techniques to get people on board, working together and learning fast. In terms of its relevance to launching a social platform and building adoption, it certainly demonstrated quite clearly that pushing out instructions from HQ will get you nowhere. There are plenty of photos of the fun over on our Facebook page.

The Adoption Maze at smileexpo

In more serious sessions we looked at social amplification – the new kid on the digital block that blurs the lines between our internal and external comms. Jonathan Philips argued that by giving employees sharable content that they can use to build their reputations and position themselves as experts, companies support that personal brand-building and minimise their own reputational risks, all while extending the reach of their messaging with relevant audiences. Get the power balance right and this could be really effective.

For those in the process of considering a new social platform, there was a popular session on  how to get an accelerated start to an new intranet by choosing the right in-a-box solution, we caught a glimpse of an all singing all dancing analytics package from Grytics that works with Workplace and Facebook groups, and we took a step back and considered best practice in project managing the introduction of a new collaborative platform.

smileexpo workshopWhat really seems to work well with the smileexpo format is the series of more intimate workshops that allow guests to tailor their experience of the day, picking out what’s relevant to where they are on their own ‘digital journey.’  It’s the blending of conventional comms wisdom with the latest digital tools to bring agility and connection that sets smileexpo apart. As usual, the workshops were supported by an exciting range of exhibitors showcasing some of the leading platforms and latest internal communications apps. This busy day sent everyone away with plenty of food for thought. Did I mention the fantastic catering throughout the day too?

We were fortunate again to be joined by many well known influencers in the IC and digital workplace fields, making it certainly one of the key events in the IC calendar. We look forward to welcoming many of you back again later in the year to smilelondon on November 20th. Meanwhile, there’s plenty of new ideas to be getting on with…

smileexpo 2017 sponsors
…and of course a big thank you to our smileexpo 2017 sponsors

 Workplace by Facebook

 Unily by BrightStarr

 Poppulo (formerly know as Newsweaver)

Grytics (Facebook analytics)

 Crowdcomms – the conference app

 Kinura – video relay