The fast pace of agency life doesn’t always allow for as much education as we all would like. Sure, we are constantly scanning news feeds and rapidly flipping through trade pubs with any extra minutes we can collect, but it’s difficult to take an afternoon to attend an industry luncheon or read the newest addition to The New York Times Best Sellers.

So when I saw that Social Media Examiner was hosting the 2013 Social Media Success Summit – and I could attend without leaving my office – I was instantly interested. While I do love to travel and meet face-to-face, this virtual format was perfect. The schedule is also really smart: Four weeks of sessions, three days per week for three hours each day. Any session I miss is recorded and sent to me, along with downloadable PDFs of the presentation.

The first week was definitely a challenge, as meetings and hot projects erupted that caused me to record more sessions than I would have liked. But the sessions I attended “live” set the tone for a knowledge-packed month.

Three key takeaways from Week 1:

1. Social is not a silo. Social media doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Social strategies MUST align with all other strategies (i.e., business, marketing, content, digital) to ensure goals and objectives are being met. The same holds true or the execution of tactics. Unity and cross-promotion are critical to message deployment and audience action. While I love Allstate’s move to bringing Mayhem to Twitter, I wish social integration wouldn’t have been such an afterthought. Think of how powerful the campaign could have been these past three years if Allstate would have leveraged social from the beginning.

2. We are all influential. Whether promoting individual experts, brands or ourselves, we all carry influence. Of course, influence is earned on all sorts of levels, but it’s important to not only recognize but also promote expertise. People crave it. They want to know, talk with and learn from the best, as evidenced by communities like SlideShare, OPEN Forum and others. But just like anything else, consistency is key to harnessing the full power of influence.

3. Books are still relevant. As noted above, our ability to read a 500-word article can be a giant feat in a world of instant gratification, impossible deadlines and 140-character headlines. But already #SMSS13 is reminding me just how many smart people have written books about important topics. I’m old-school and have yet to transition from paperback to eReader, but there are a few new titles I’ve added to my Goodreads.

Week 2 is looking really strong with presenters like Amy Porterfield, Jeff Bullas and more. I’ll report back this time next week with more insights!

Are you attending #SMSS13? What sessions did you find most interesting and knowledge-filled?