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So What Do You Do, Toby Daniels, CEO of Crowdcentric and Founder of Social Media Week?

The social media guru talks trends, strategy and 'The Future of Now.'

- February 19, 2014
Toby Daniels is an entrepreneur with a passion for emerging media, technology and open innovation. He is the co-founder and CEO of New York-based Crowdcentric, whose mission is to help people and organizations effectively collaborate and share information in order to create a more open, connected and sustainable world. The company achieves its goals via media conferences, digital marketing and by developing web and mobile products that help businesses thrive in the areas of communication and technology.

Crowdcentric Media, a division of Crowdcentric, runs Social Media Week, a worldwide event that captures, curates and shares ideas, trends and best practices on social media's impact on business and society. Over the past six years, Social Media Week has expanded to 26 cities around the globe, exploring the cultural and economic impact of social media and gathering more than 6,000 media impressions.

The theme of this year's Social Media Week, which kicked off in cities, including New York, Milan and Tokyo, on Feb. 17, is "The Future of Now," a reflection of our always-connected lifestyle.

Mediabistro recently caught up with Daniels to tap into the Crowdcentric philosophy and get a sneak preview of this year's Social Media Week.

Name: Toby Daniels
Position: CEO and founder of Crowdcentric
Resume: From 2000 to 2009, managing director of Online Creative Communications, a London-based interactive agency. Came to the States in 2006 as a rep for social design firm Mint Digital and soon headed up the company's U.S. launch, acting as director of business development from 2007 to 2009. Created Social Media Week in 2009 and founded Crowdcentric in 2010. Daniels, a regular contributor to a number of nonprofit organizations, serves on the senior board for CampInteractive, which empowers at-risk, inner-city youth. He's been featured by, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, the BBC, PSFK and Fast Company.
Birthday: Aug. 11, 1976
Hometown: London
Education: University of West London
Marital status: Married
Media mentor(s): Seth Godin
Best career advice received: "Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are. Take a look at my team and you'll see what I mean," he said.
Guilty pleasure: Triple IPAs
Last book read: Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products, by Leander Kahney
Twitter handle: @TobyD

What is the Crowdcentric approach to social media?
We believe in a genuine and consistent approach. We approach new platforms not just with interest but also with an understanding that any platform we invest in requires a full investment. You can't engage halfway; so, each platform receives solid and consistent attention and strategizing for ensuring we're being respectful to our audiences on it. We also strongly believe in creating something of value. We can't be there to hear our own voice; it has to be a presence that we know will create something for our community.

Can you describe Crowdcentric's involvement in crowdfunding initiatives? Where is crowdfunding headed in the future?
We believe crowdfunding is a huge potential for us all. Businesses no longer need to rely upon big banks, but it puts their future into the power of the community. As a collective, we can decide what we want to see succeed. What's remarkable is that studies show that those invested in crowdfunding tend to be discerning and accurate judges of what will succeed.

"Crowdfunding is a huge potential for us all. Businesses no longer need to rely upon big banks, but it puts their future into the power of the community."

We believe crowdfunding will expand personal projects. With the further expansion of the JOBS Act, businesses will slowly start to optimize this, engaging their communities in more tangible ways, with rewards consumers care about. This is why we have a host of events during SMW focused on crowdfunding, from looking at crowdsourcing real estate with Prodigy Network to having [filmmaker and actor] Pawan Kumar talk about funding your dreams.

After Social Media Week we will be announcing the launch of new project that will build on the CROWDFUNDx conference we hosted in New York City in July 2013.

What inspired you to create Social Media Week and when did you know it was a success?
I had a simple goal of bringing people together to share ideas for how social media was changing society, business and culture. Inspired by the presidential election in 2008, for which social media played an integral role, I wanted to make the conversation about the societal changes that social media could bring about, as much as the business and cultural implications.

For us, knowing that we have hosted more than 5,000 events in more than 30 cities around the world and brought together more than 100,000 people offline, while reaching millions more online and through social and mobile -- that is success. We've seen local teams convene government officials in Lagos, Nigeria; musicians and actors in Los Angeles; technology entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley; brand marketers in the UK; and agency heads in Bogota, Colombia, who have connected, engaged and shared their experiences and expertise with the rest of the world.

Content marketing seems to be on everyone's lips these days. Is it a passing fad or here to stay?
It's the way forward. With an information abundance, brands need to make their content relevant and crouch their marketing more in what their audience cares about. It's not just product placement but giving your consumers something they care about. We know it's the future, which is why we're working with Percolate for a half-day track specifically on the topic this SMW.

"Communication technology unites us, relays news equally with opinion, transports us to worldwide events and shrinks distances between our relationships."

Why is building trust and personal relationships with customers increasingly important for today's social networks?
All relationships are built on trust. Without it, there is not a relationship; it becomes just transactions then. So, whenever you're engaging with someone, online or off, you must be thinking about the long-term relationship. Zappos is a great example. It's not about whether they lose money on return shipping. It's about ensuring their customers feel like they are a part of something important and will always get what they need out of it.

In an interview with SocialTimes, you mentioned emerging trends, such as wearable technology and "the quantified life." Can you expand on this concept?
Our lives are becoming increasingly digitalized and we can use this to improve our lives. What's great about wearable tech is that it can allow for tech to get out of the way of our lives, while gathering data. The more we know about our habits, our tendencies, the better we can structure our days, lives for success in relationships, work and health.

What else does Social Media Week have in store for us in the "Future of Now?"
"The Future of Now" is an inclusive theme -- all of us are struggling with the appropriate balance in our lives. Communication technology unites us, relays news equally with opinion, transports us to worldwide events and shrinks distances between our relationships. We're tuning into events that we've never before been able to access and witnessing other people's experiences unfold in real time.

Our latest video really highlights what we're wanting to discuss at SMW.

Christie Barakat is a freelance writer based in Florence, Italy. Follow her on Twitter @christiebrkt.

NEXT >> So What Do You Do, Toan Lam, 'Chief Inspirator' For Social Activism Site

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This interview has been edited for length and clarity. The foregoing is the sole property of Mediabistro Inc. The opinions and views expressed in the interviews and/or commentaries are solely those of the participants and are not necessarily the views of Mediabistro Inc., its affiliates or subsidiary companies.

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