Introducing Our Global Theme for 2020

Marketing is one of the most powerful forces that can shape a culture, spark a movement and change human behavior. However, as marketers, we have lost our way in recent years.

More than 10 years ago we were given the gift of Social Media; the means to be able to deepen a connection with our audience and consumers, understand them and tailor opportunities that would enrich their lives and the capacity to enter into a dialogue that would introduce a more human element to marketing.

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Instead, we’ve squandered this opportunity. We chased reach and scale and vanity metrics, we created technologies, algorithms, and content that was designed to distract and interrupt and we created an online environment that promoted narcissism and divisiveness. For what? So that we could sell more stuff? To attract more eyeballs? To peddle more advertising?

As marketers, we have to do better. We need to get back to the fundamentals of what makes marketing a force for good in the world and today, I am excited to announce our theme for 2020: HUMAN.X

HUMAN.X, will explore why businesses and brands will need to take a human-first and experience-driven approach to digital marketing in 2020 and beyond. It is underpinned by three fundamental concepts:


An obligation towards having a deep and profound respect for people’s time and attention


The business of seeking a deeper connection with your audience through understanding and shared experiences


Giving people the freedom and space to be themselves and connect and communicate more naturally and safely

HUMAN.X will serve as a blueprint for leaders who are looking to redefine what marketing will look like in the future.

The overarching goal will be to identify, highlight and support ideas, campaigns and brands that embrace the idea that a human-first approach to creating digital experiences is not only good for business but will advance us as a society and culture.

2020 Program: Content Tracks that Drive Strategy

During our flagship conferences in New York (May 5-7), Los Angeles (June 17-18) and London (Oct 21-22) we will expand upon the HUMAN.X and also examine the state of digital marketing through nine content tracks, each of which has been mapped to what marketers have told us will be top of mind in 2020, including:

  • Content & New Formats
  • Influencer Marketing & Creators
  • Measurement & Reporting
  • Storytelling & Creativity
  • Chat & Messaging
  • Monetization & Commerce
  • Paid Media Models
  • Society & Culture
  • Emerging Trends & Future Tech

Actionable Takeaways that Map to Your Business Objectives

Whether it’s a panel debate, a fireside interview or individual talk, or one of our SMW Academy sessions, the entire program will also ladder up to six actionable strategies, including:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Growing and engaging audiences
  • Acquiring customers and driving sales
  • Increasing customer loyalty and retention
  • Understanding which technologies to invest in
  • Tracking the competitive landscape

What’s new and improved in 2020?

We have spent much of the past six months speaking with attendees, sponsors, speakers, and partners to understand how we can improve the SMW experience. Here’s what’s new for 2020:

Expanded Brand Leaders Experience

Launched in 2019, the Brand Leaders Experience is a new program from SMW designed to provide a platform for leaders in the digital marketing industry to showcase their work, share ideas, best practices, and insights and discuss the most pressing challenges that the industry faces today and in the future.

This year we’ve already had over 200 brand leaders participate including:

Introduction of the Rising Stars Awards

The Rising Stars Awards exist to celebrate the extraordinary work of professionals we believe are the next generation of leaders. These individuals are identified based on their performance, career growth, and prior accolades and recognition received for their work.

Beyond being presented with an award, recipients are invited to participate in an interview on-stage to share their background, most significant challenges and proudest accomplishments, and their thoughts on the state of the industry.

Increased SMW Academy program

The SMW Academy program, introduced in 2019, encompasses a series of tactical sessions on critical industry category topics. Across #SMWNYC, #SMWLA, and #SMWLDN, these encompassed ways to harness successful influencer relationships, identify opportunities and challenges for sharing stories in today’s diverse social media landscape, amplify your brand story with short-form video, monetize your Facebook group, tap into strategies for picking and choosing the right social channels, and more.

Enhanced IRL and digital networking experiences

Building your connections is an invaluable opportunity to best prepare as you look to advance your career. During our conferences, we offer an enhanced assortment of digital and in-real-life (IRL) opportunities to generate ideas through communication. These include our Opening Reception, happy hours and VIP cocktail events, private meeting packages, and upgraded digital networking through our mobile app, Topi, and WhatsApp Group.

Understanding what it means to employ a human-first and experience-driven approach to digital marketing starts now and will continue throughout all of Social Media Week’s conferences and conversations throughout 2020. Join us and help redefine the future of our industry through experiences that impact people’s lives in fundamentally important and positive ways.

I’m looking forward to seeing you in 2020 and excited to share our vision for the future of marketing with you. If you have questions for me, feedback on the theme or if you are interested in getting involved, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Don’t miss out on your chance to attend New York’s premier media and marketing event. Save 40% by claiming your pass by 6 p.m. Friday, September 20th.

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