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Sabine Ewald, Organisatorin der Social Media Week Hamburg - © Anton Ahrens

Five must-keep dates this week

"Hamburg News" interview with Sabine Ewald, organizer of Social Media Week Hamburg

The countdown is underway to the fifth edition of Social Media Week Hamburg, which starts Monday. The international digital conference counts among the key events in the sector and is being organised by hi-life Uriz von Oertzen – an agency for events, concerts and cultural projects. Hamburg News spoke to hi-life’s Sabine Ewald, Project Manager. Hamburg owes her thanks as she has been instrumental in bringing Social Media Week to the Elbe city.

Sabine Ewald: It was not just me alone. Nina Bertulli, Media Manager and Uriz von Oertzen, the head of our agency, were involved also. But yes, in 2012, we believed Social Media Week would be great for Hamburg. Our pitch in New York proved that Hamburg is not a suburb of Berlin, but an incredibly creative, vibrant and economically strong city.

Hamburg News: During the last five years, a steady fan community has taken shape. Last year, over 3,000 participants arrived. But the question is still permissible: Why should I definitely not miss Social Media Week?

Sabine Ewald: Because we are offering a great mix of exciting themes for very different target groups – for newcomers, users, professionals, young and old. And this varied, free offer encourages people to have a look at sectors that they may not encounter otherwise and can bring them up to date with the latest digital developments and at their ease. Then there is also networking in different locations. I’d really love to go there, even if I were not organising Social Media Week Hamburg myself.

Hamburg News: Last year’s programme had around 220 events. This year’s has 170. Is Social Media Week on the way out?

Sabine Ewald: On the contrary. We intentionally cut back in order to improve the structure of the programme. That includes more targeted summaries of singular events about focal themes. They can be read up on on our blog: www.socialmediaweek.org.

Hamburg News: Still, 170 events is a huge offer – what are your personal top 5?

Sabine Ewald: Do not pin me to a sequence, but these five dates should be marked in your diary. A keynote speech by Deanna Zandt at 6 pm on 23.02. called “Stop Being Such a jerk in the internet”, the “Start-up Day” on 23.02. in betahaus and of course the closing party on 26.02 in the Markthalle which is THE opportunity for networking. One question that social media users are always asking is: “Do I spend too much time at the computer and too little with my loved ones?” Ellen Kuder has plenty to say about that at 6 pm on 22.02. in her talk entitled: “Technology is time swallower. Family life is changing”. And one subject that all our team members are passionate about: “#RefugeesWelcome”. The Facebook page of the clothing store in the Messehalle showed how social media could really spur on real life. A whole string of such examples will be presented at 3 pm on 22.02.

Hamburg News: About real life – social media is a widespread marketing tool especially in technically-orientated firms. But has it established itself in traditional commerce? How do you feel – in what direction is the journey headed?

Sabine Ewald: Social media always lets companies make better use of their information about an individual and vice versa as they can get very close to their customers’ wishes and needs. It is an important channel in the service sector and big companies like Deutsche Bahn are using it increasingly. When problems arise, social media allows companies to make contact with the service centre in real time. That means more personnel for the company. But that kind of service was unthinkable 10 or 15 years ago. I am certain that it will become far more important.

Interview: By Yvonne Scheller

About Social Media Week Hamburg

The Social Media Week in Hamburg is Germany’s biggest, free digital conference and will be held simultaneously in New York, Jakarta and Lagos from February 22-26, 2016. This year’s theme is “The Invisible Hand: the hidden power of technologies (and how we can put them to our use)” and is the framework for nearly 170 different talks, disussions and panels in various locations including Hochschule Macromedia, Hamburger Markthalle, betahaus Hamburg, Superbude St. Pauli, Mercedes me Store Hamburg and the Chamber of Commerce Hamburg. Registrations are already underway on www.socialmediaweek.org/hamburg. The fast lane pass is new this year. Guests with this pass have access to the sessions on the main stage without registering and waiting times.

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