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The Future Index absorbs as much as possible and grabs the ideas that really stand out. We don’t spend hours researching them. We just tell them as we see them. This way we can get through more ideas and find the ones that will really inspire you.

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So why did the third Columbia School of Journalism Social Media Weekend really stand out? Two reasons really, although it is the second that mainly got us thinking.

The first reason was the event itself. Journalism in 2013 is as much about social media and new tech as it is about great editorial and reporting. Columbia totally gets this. #smwknd lives and breathes it. The weekend agenda was packed full of workshops, panels and speakers from the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Storyful, focusing on everything social from the latest platforms to the ROI and bottom line. There were even Social Media Doctors on hand to offer instant diagnosis and recommended surgery for an array of challenges. All in all, a great example of a school bringing the latest real-world social media / journalism landscape to its students, partners and the wider world. Cutting edge in fact. Definitely an example of living and breathing the brand.

The second reason why this stood out is how #smwknd was (and still is) communicated. Despite its hashtag name, #smwknd was not just about the weekend of Feb 15-17 2013. Not just about the event itself. It was also about the build-up and the weeks after. The hashtag is still going strong – keeping the brand experience alive with an undoubted positive knock-on effect on reputation and student engagement.

So how did this work? Well, there are some tried and tested approaches here. There is the hashtag itself and a sense of a meeting place for all communication. There is the dialogue and, of course, the actual content – all engaging, all online, all accessible to anyone. But what we really liked was how everything was, and still is, wrapped up in one community – all hosted by rebelmouse. If you’ve not tried it yet, rebelmouse is a fantastic way of aggregating all your posts, pictures and video in one place – integrating Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s still in beta mode but it’s well worth a look.

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So, you get a social media weekend. But you also get one place where anyone, anywhere in the world, can join in. And, for everyone actually in attendance, their videos and pictures are instantly displayed on the big screen. This is so much better than following the hashtags on twitter at a conference.

There’s a lot to learn about #smwknd. Apparently the hashtag was trending nationally at one point although here are rumours of a scurrilous hijack. Maybe that’s another story. Do go and have a look for yourselves. Just by digging into the story you will encounter some of those social platforms you have all been wanting to explore. Start at the Storify review and watch the Vine introduction. All 6 seconds of it! (tip – after the vine video loops a few times you may want to click off the sound in the top right.)

#smwknd inspired us as brand-watchers, trend-spotters and tech-geeks. We wish we had been there. Although, in many ways we now feel we were. Hats off to the Columbia School of Journalism for living and breathing the experience for us all.

For more snapshots of inspiration please follow us @futureindex and jump to our website to see how we can help you apply it to create your own breakthrough ideas.

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