In the digital era, it seems almost counter-intuitive to attend industry trade conferences. Meeting face to face, seeing people speak, watching presentations, attending panel discussions? Why not just Tweet? There

Think about it this way: Counter-intuition is exactly what’s needed to succeed in this environment. The rules change so often that going against the norm is a key component of progress.

That’s why some of us from Banking.com will be attending, and even actively participating in, the Bank Social Media Conference, which is set for April 7- in Newark, N.J. At a time when we’re all experimenting with new technologies, strategies and tactics, it’s vital for us to get together—yes, in person—to trade ideas and learn from each other.

There are so many contradictions inherent in this field. On the one hand, social media within retail banking is still in its infancy, yet it’s raging with innovation and experimentation (at least when budgets allow). But what we do know about what’s working elsewhere, and what isn’t?

Here’s what we do know: Social media and other inbound marketing strategies are now reported to generate 54% more leads than traditional paid marketing strategies. They also cost significantly less their older counterparts, saving companies an average of $20,000 a year. Those are just a couple of the reasons why a huge majority of marketers, no less than 83%, believe that social media is important to their business. Yet much of what we hear from our colleagues is anecdotal.

In fact, despite all the activity in this area, #BankSocial is the only event specifically dedicated to social media and content marketing for banks and credit unions. There’ll be a host of diverse attendees and speakers—including presentations from best-selling authors, cutting-edge data scientists, and leaders from the Independent Community Bankers of America—and it’s the ideal environment to network and build.

There’s surely plenty of scope for discussions and learning. For example, one of the odd elements in this rapidly expanding field is the dichotomy at the core. Each day we deal with new tools, new customer behaviors, new competitors and new opportunities. Other vertical industries, like technology, have the freedom to break from the past with ease and abandon, mainly because they don’t have much of a past. We do, of course, and that includes a welter of regulations that mostly date back to a time when very different technologies were in place.

That makes every new initiative a source of great concern. Banks and credit unions want to keep pace with evolving customer preferences based on new platform adoption, but they also want to comply with laws that may have been written when faxing was impressive.

#BankSocial is designed to provide current and relevant details on initiatives that different institutions and individuals have launched, the obstacles they’ve encountered, the results they achieved, and how they varied from what they expected. Those stories and others will feed the development of new content strategies, along with lessons on how to integrate them within existing business practices, and perhaps an idea of the resources required.

It’s entirely possible, even likely, that some of the strategies formulated and launched in the wake of this conference will enjoy huge success for a while, then be sidelined by new ideas that emerge subsequently. But that’s exactly why this kind of gathering is so important—it lets attendees to stay relevant by capitalizing on opportunities out there market now, while also enabling the flexibility to change with emerging technologies and capabilities.

That’s why, in cases like this, attending a conference actually makes perfect sense. See you there?

Written by Jack Dougal