Why Social South Worked


Of all varieties of fopperies, the vanity of high birth is the greatest. True nobility is derived from virtue, not from birth. Title, indeed, may be purchased, but virtue is the only coin that makes the bargain valid.
– Robert Burton

Did you know I have a tattoo on my arm with the saying “Virtus sola nobilitas.” on it?  It’s part of my family crest. As cool as that is, what’s more important is what the words mean. Essentially, it means that virtue is the only coin that makes the bargain valid.

Why do I bring this up? Because the words mean a lot to me. They resonate. I like people who carry themselves without pretentiousness. Especially when they so easily could. I think it’s an amazing quality to possess. Humility. Especially in today’s personal branding, all about me world.

At Social South I was amongst the most unpretentious, unassuming, group of high profile social media thought leaders assembled in one place at one time. Sure, I could have gone to a half dozen “larger” more visible cities and had just as many social media thought leaders assembled. And I have. But I would have gotten the attitude thing along with the assumptive title of social media thinker, high brow, I’m better than you, thing.

There would be none of this at Social South.

Beyond a list that included the incredibly down to earth Beth Harte, the humble Mack Collier, the classy Toby Bloomberg, the social media handyman Paul Chaney who has a book coming out, the incredibly smart Jason Falls, the genuine Christina Kerley, the effusive Kellye Crane, the solid Tom Martin, the refreshing An Bui, and of course the giving Lionel and talented Richard from Dell, There were a host of “other” people that deserve recognition in their own right.

From Andrew Keen, Dave Barger, Mitch Canter, Robert French, David Griner, Tammy Hart, to Dana Lewis, Andre Natta, Phyllis Neill, Will Scott, Jeff Vreeland, Stacey Hood and of course Ike Pigott all of them brought value, humility, a sense of community and a sense of “leave the ego at the door and lets learn from each other.” You don’t get that at 95% of the conferences that you attend. That’s why Social South worked.

Of course I would be remiss to not bring up 2 more people. The first is as finest an individual that I’ve met from practically meeting for the first time. This person essentially pulled Social South together and shaped it into the conference that it was and did it in a way that it was seamless and looked effortless. Scott Schablow you rock.

Esra’a Al Shafei

What can I say. This person gave one of the most riveting non-keynote keynotes I have ever heard. And it was via Skype. The night before Scott Schablow mentioned that every time he heard her speak, it gave him goose bumps. I had no idea what he was talking about. Yet, this was no exception. Not only did it give me and everyone else goose bumps, it also reduced more than half the audience to tears and the rest were giving her a standing ovation.

Esra is the founder and Executive Director of, and what she did was she showed the crowd gathered at Social South the true power of crowdsourcing people for the cause of freedom and human rights via  social media, via video, via the internet and really any other means possible. She showed what’s possible. What is possible.

In short, it was the perfect keynote for a group of people who were so into what they were doing. People who were so genuine, that it made perfect sense for them. As I said, you don’t get that at other conferences. You hope to, but you generally don’t.  And That’s why Social South worked. Thank you #Soso!

I could go on, but it might take days to highlite everything! But one more thing before I go, here is that tattoo and remember,”Virtus sola nobilitas.” 🙂


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19 Responses to “Why Social South Worked”

  1. 1 Bo August 25, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Well said Marc!

    This was my first ever conference of this type. It was so cool to get to meet & learn from so many of the thought leaders in social media! Can’t wait for next year!

  2. 2 An Bui August 25, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    Marc – Thank you for expanding and explaining why Social South worked… I’ve been explaining it to people as the best of conferences and bar camps.

    Social South had the organization of a conference (h/t to Scott Schablow and his team) but the collaborative environment of a bar camp.

    Pure awesome.

  3. 3 Bill Powell August 25, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    I think it worked so well at Soso because everyone seemed to have checked their egos at the door. I don’t go to many conferences, but if more are like that, I will be sure to go.

    Many people say that folks from the South are more friendly-with this conference drawing people from all over the South, it was true. I think Soso set the bar for conferences in my mind. We’ll see if other Social Conferences can match the atmosphere, intelligent discussion and personality of Soso.

  4. 4 marc meyer August 25, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Bill thanks, I think you are right, it did have a very strong southern flavor. Thanks for stopping by and providing your input.

  5. 5 marc meyer August 25, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    An, I had to go back and add you, How could I have forgotten one of my favorite participants in the conference? Thanks, I appreciate it.

  6. 6 marc meyer August 25, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    Bo it was definitely a 2 way street of communication. I agree, next year will be huge,

  7. 7 Dave Barger August 26, 2009 at 12:46 am

    I TRULY appreciate your insights here. Social South also provided me with an opportunity to see some people in a better light than I had previously (and rightfully, a couple of people that I had pegged all along).

    Galactic echoes of appreciation to Scott Schablow along with the folks from Provenance and the other planners. Their approach to hosting the event was a testament of grace and statesmanship. Very inspiring and perhaps what subliminally set the tone for the days we all enjoyed.

    One of the biggest challenges we’ll face next year is the growth in participation. A key component I think we enjoyed was the intimacy of the group enabled by it’s relatively small size. BarCamp Nashville2 realized a loss of the intimacy with it’s wildly successful turnout of 400 (or was it 600?). It’s a great issue to be faced with, but also requires some forethought. No matter what, it’ll be a great reunion and who knows, maybe we’ll hear of “humble media” or some other ego-checked spin-off.

    Great post here. I’ve enjoyed it. Peace for Esra. Aye.

  8. 8 marc meyer August 26, 2009 at 12:53 am

    Dave I cannpt wait for next year and hopefully we can grow it exponentially but still keep the intimacy. I wish we could have talked more but alas-next year!

  9. 9 David H. August 26, 2009 at 1:05 am

    Excellent post. I couldn’t agree with you more. (My name links to my running blog, but I have a few thoughts about Social South at

  10. 10 Mack Collier August 26, 2009 at 1:22 am

    Marc I’m so glad you agreed to come and speak and participate in Social South. I know Scott really wanted to showcase the smartitude of the South, and that meant having people like you involved. You made Social South better than it would have been otherwise!

  11. 11 Ike Pigott August 26, 2009 at 2:51 am

    Marc, I hope we can identify that magic mix and replicate it next year.

    It wouldn’t have been the same without you there.

  12. 12 marc meyer August 26, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    I don’t know if it was so much a magic mix as it was just a solid group of people speaking and people participating. But if we can bottle it, maybe we need to send it to our friends on both coasts. Thanks Ike. I mean it.

  13. 13 marc meyer August 26, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Mack, it doesn’t work without you, Scott and Ike, leading the way. This event may be the ONE to go to, every year.

  14. 14 Alison Groves August 26, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Very well said Marc! It was a very well spent two days, and something I look forward to attending next year.

  15. 15 Tom Martin August 26, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    You know you nailed it… there was such a genuine, hey I’m not better than you, kind of attitude. Hadn’t thought of that yet but now that you put it out there…. I can’t believe it wasn’t more obvious to me. And thanks for the shoutout… kind of you to include me in the list.

  16. 16 marc meyer August 26, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Tom, you helped to craft that attitude like the rest of us. You were as big a contributor as anyone else. That’s why I said, you were solid. bro. Solid.

  17. 17 marc meyer August 26, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    I’m with you Alison!

  18. 18 Toby August 31, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Marc – agree. social south was a very special event. i couldn’t quite put the words into play as to “why.” i asked several of the attendees and one women told me that she never felt “left out” or that she wasn’t part of the conference. your post sums it up perfectly! plus it was a joy to finally meet you in person (smile).

  19. 19 marc meyer September 1, 2009 at 11:15 am

    @Toby I agree. I had a few people that I helped one on one, and I could just tell that I really helped them and that was icing on the cake for me. and meeting a lot of you there was the cherry on top.

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Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.


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