What I Learned from Disney Social Media Celebration “On the Road”

Jenielle LittleGrayThread

I can still feel that excitement when I checked my email and found the invitation to Disney Social Media Celebration “On the Road” (#DisneySMC) at the Disneyland Resort.  In previous years, this conference was known as “Disney Social Media Moms” (#DisneySMMC), but I love how they have opened it up to all content creators, not just specific to “Mommy Bloggers”.  This was my first official Disney conference that I’ve been invited to and I honestly didn’t know what to expect.  I attended the conference free of charge and was provided with complementary tickets to Disneyland for my family.  All opinions are my own.

What is Disney SMC?


Disney Social Media Celebration, or “DisneySMC” is a invite-only conference that takes place about every other year at a Disney Resort.  I attended DisneySMC “On the Road” at the Disneyland Resort hosted at the Disneyland Hotel.  There were nine speakers (mediated by Courtnee Collier, Influencer Communications Manager) throughout the day that spoke about different topics how we can improve our Social Media Reach:

  • Bob Hitchcock (Editorial Content Director):  importance of video content and the power of emotion
  • Mallory Wang (Digital Marketing Content for Disney DTCI Programming and Studios):  how social platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) can all work together
  • Louie Provost (Senior VP of Production at Walt Disney Studios): sneak peek of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil coming to theaters October 18
  • John Breckow (Director of Corporate Citizenship for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products):  Cultural Social Responsibility and how Disney partners with Make-a-Wish (130,000 wishes granted since 1980!), #ShareYourEars campaign, and Disney VoluntEARing
  •  Tom Smith (Editorial Content Director for Disney Parks Blog):  Custom Created Content using your Platform, Ecosystem, and Community
  • Michael Ramirez (Editorial Content Director for Disneyland Resort):  New things coming to Disneyland Resort–Halloweentime (through October 31, The Holidays Begin Here (November 8 – January 6), Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Rise of the Resistance (January 17, 2020), Magic Happens Parade (Spring 2020), and Avengers Campus (2020)
  • Colleen Nettekoven (Downtown Disney):  new Halloweentime decor and limited time seasonal offerings and live entertainment.  West Beat Sings Scareolers will be performing every Wednesday and Friday night in front of Wonderground
  • Kristin Dewberry (Construction Manager for Logistics):  empowering the next generation of imagineers through free tools from Imagineering in a Box (imagineeringinabox.org)
  • Ashley Eckstein (voice of Star Wars Ashoka Tano and creator of HerUniverse):  Reminding us to wish, believe, do, transform, and trust.

Key Note Speaker Ashley Eckstein

LittleGrayThread Ashley Eckstein

You might recognize Ashley Eckstein‘s name as a Disney Channel actress and voice of Star War Ashoka Tano, but you might have not known that she created women’s clothing line HerUniverse from the ground up.  In her key note address, she reminded us why we’re all doing what we’re doing in the social media world and what to do when we want to give up.

What is Your Story?

We all have a story, and we all have a unique voice.  A group of bloggers can all see the same thing and go to the same event, but our coverage–or the way we tell our story–will all be different.  Ashley reminded us that all of our stories are valid.  We are not in competition with each other because we are here to tell our unique stories.

When I think of my story, I think of the things that make me unique.  I like to tell my story through the eyes of my daughters who love dressing up, characters, and live entertainment.  My unique parenting style focuses on inclusion and I hope that my actions can start conversations or break down walls with other people.  Since I am Chinese, I also act as an advocate for people of color and speak up to amplify voices that are sometimes too small to be heard.  My audience knows to expect these things from me and I appreciate that they want to hear my voice.

Wishes, Goals, and Transformation

OurUniverse book

When Ashley had an idea to start a women’s clothing line, she had big goals in mind.  For bloggers, goals can be anywhere from being invited to events to making enough money to support your family.  Goals can be personal such as having a pinterest worthy clean house or being debt free.  Ashley broke it down on how we can start achieving these goals.

  • WISH.  Every goal needs to start with a wish or an idea.  There is no age limit to wishing.
  • BELIEVE.  Write down one impossible thing and believe you can do it.  Believe in yourself and don’t be consumed by the competition.
  • DO.  YOU have to be the driving force of your own destiny.  Do something every day to get you one step closer to your goal.
  • TRANSFORM.  Use the resources you have.  No one is an overnight success.  Figure out your “WHY?”  Remember why you have this goal and use it to refocus and ground yourself when things get hard.
  • TRUST.  Trust your gut.  Be ready for change because change is a necessary part of growth.

Ashley encouraged us to be Dream Warriors.  Make your dreams come true.  And when they do come true, help someone else’s dream come true.  Let that sink in for a little bit.

How to get Invited to DisneySMC

You’re not going to like this answer.  Nobody knows.  I still don’t know how I got invited  or who to contact to try to get on their radar.  But here are some things that I’ve learned that has helped me feel validated as a blogger.

  • NETWORK.  A good portion of social media is the people you know.  Be active in the community, meet people who you look up to, collaborate and make new connections.
  • PRODUCE QUALITY CONTENT.  If you want to be invited to a Disney conference, you need to be writing about Disney!  I’ve been sharing our Disneyland adventures for four years before Disney even knew who I was.  This means staying current about whats new at Disney, paying attention to trends, and making an effort to report things that will serve your audience.
  • BE A STORYTELLER.  Talk about things that make you YOU.  When I looked around the room at DisneySMC, I saw people from every walks of life.  The vast majority of the influencers at the conference do not ONLY post Disney content.  We all write about what makes us unique, the things we’re passionate about, things that we think are important.  Our distinct backgrounds, writing styles, how we share information was all different and that’s what makes people stand out from the crowd.
  • TREAT YOURSELF LIKE A PROFESSIONAL.  If you think of yourself as a member of the working media, you will present yourself with confidence.  Even when I have no idea what I’m doing, I try to give off an air of confidence not only to fool me but to fool everyone else in the room.  This also means that you have to do your due diligence to make sure that you are following FTC guidelines, keeping up with contracts, and acting in a way that would be pleasing to the company and brands.
  • REMEMBER YOUR WHY.  Like Ashley said, remember why you are doing social media to begin with.  Is it to inspire?  Make money? Be helpful?  If you stick to achieving your goals, you are still succeeding every step of the way.

Halloween Mickey and Minnie DisneySMC

I left the conference armed with new tools to help tell my story.  I felt validated and seen.  I’m beyond grateful that Disney is interested in hearing my voice.  Thank you Disney for this incredible opportunity.

1 thought on “What I Learned from Disney Social Media Celebration “On the Road”

  1. Pingback: The Surprising Lesson You’ll Learn from “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” | LittleGrayThread

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