I was fortunate to attend Mashable Connect late last week — a great conference down in Orlando.  I don't have a ton of time to write right now, but I thought I'd jot down some observations.  Here were my takeaways:

  1. Surprisingly (to me at least), I didn't hear a lot of innovation from the speakers.  The bigger companies innovating were really just showing off or describing their incremental advances on the iPad and in social.  The agency folks didn't really share anything I hadn't heard before and the startups were "eh".  No big deal but I didn't hear anything earthshattering and that shocked me a bit.
  2. I though Michael Lazerow (@lazerow) from Buddy Media had an interesting vision.  It was almost a mini-pivot in that Buddy is moving from customized Facebook apps (where FBML once provided a "moat" but with the iFrame no longer does) to Social ROI.  Who knows how that will work.
  3. I did talk with a lot of "social media cheerleaders', which is fine but to me indicative of both the fact that I was indeed at an industry event and that we're in a bubble.  Bubbles occur in any industry where there is rampant optimism and where skeptics are unpopular and their opinions are almost shocking.  An interesting data point for me was when @districtjoe (great guy) pointed out that I'm skeptical about everything and that he doesn't hear that often.  It's called an echo chamber & most folks at the event were squarely in it.
  4. I loved @steverubel's clarity — overall his presentation was great.  His explanation of the cloverleaf really made a lot of sense to me — I had seen the illustration before but had not heard it described so well.
  5. As is typically the case, there are a few brands who are silently & humbly kicking ass.  You know who you are — and you know far more about the business than many of the invited speakers.
  6. @scrollmotion dragged me kicking and screaming into submission.  The iPad (and the "tablet movement") is indeed real and here to stay.  Really impressive stuff.
  7. I heard a great argument for Twitter from @jkrohrs, a new friend I made from ExactTarget.  I am not sure I totally agree with his points that Twitter is better for marketing than Facebook, but I understand the argument better just from spending a few minutes with him.  Smart guy.
  8. Finally, this one has been covered a bit but I'll say it again — tech startups are starting to behave more like agencies and vice versa.  Agencies control customer relationships and are finding small development projects that can be productized.  Tech companies are realizing the limitations of a software business model & can be much more profitable if they include a services/consulting component.  That's a dirty word for a lot of VC-funded tech startups, but it may make them financially viable and it can work out that way faster than the alternative.
  9. (bonus) I really like Gowalla's clarity now.  They seemed to get caught up in "check-in mania" last year & it confused their value proposition.  Now they are enhancing experiences with location and vice versa.  Much clearer.  Much better.  The messaging and the approach fits them.  I hope they succeed.

Congrats to the Mashable team for a great event — I really enjoyed it (maybe at times too much!!).