Siebel Scholars Gathers Minds on The Impact of Social Media

Category: Ideas, Strategy, Trends, Work

The Siebel Scholars Conference, a program established by The Thomas and Stacey Siebel Foundation in 2000, engaged MC² to produce a three-day thought leadership conference in downtown Chicago. The mission of the conference was to bring together a collective of bright minds to discuss the power and societal impact of social media. Speakers and attendees convened with eminent authorities— including scientists, lawmakers, authors, and Internet experts— to discuss pressing global challenges and ideate actionable breakthroughs. From a gala event, to roundtable conversations and panel discussions, along with a concert featuring Maroon 5, this gathering delivered an impactful experience, unlike any other conference. 


The Ask

Siebel Scholars tapped MC² to create and lead their annual thought leadership conference based on the theme, “Social Media: What Could Possibly Go Wrong”.  Siebel Scholars stressed the importance of striking an overall conference tone that aligned with the seriousness of the subject matter along with levity that underscored the fun-spirited nature of experiential. Furthermore, the event required a balance of stimulating content and immersive activations to optimize the attendee experience.  Ultimately, we needed to create an impactful conference packed with inspiration and fun.


Brainstorming for the Big Day

MC² worked with the Siebel Scholars team to understand and assess the Foundation’s agenda and goals. From the start, we understood the conference needed to go beyond the traditional and required an experiential touch to truly deliver the message.  While the Foundation knew they wanted to create a conference around social media, they partnered with MC² to define the scope of work including messaging, creative development, speaker acquisition and management, event production and logistics, digital/interactive, collateral development, vendor management, attendee registration, and venue selection.

Speaking of venue selection … during the early planning stages, we initially prepared for a Boston-based event but needed to shift the location to Chicago per the Foundation’s evolved direction.  Undeterred, we adapted to the new parameters and swiftly identified hotels and unique venues and reached out to spaces to reserve locations that offered a canvas for crafting a tailored attendee experience. Ultimately, Siebel Scholars put their trust in MC² and appreciated our ability to stay nimble and responsive to unplanned requests.

Once the venues were finalized, we worked closely with the Foundation to establish guardrails for the conference subject matter. We strategized together and created an interdisciplinary platform for sharing experiences, innovations, trends, and concerns around social media. Leveraging the community, we created roundtable discussions and breakout sessions where leaders could challenge and help one another, and achieve more through professional and social connections.

The results were high impact conversations regarding solutions to potentially regulate social media’s more negative impact on the future of society. Our team of experiential creatives, designers, and event producers combined forces to realize concepts through to completion. Form and function held equal weight. Every element needed to inform and impress. Once MC² had a fully formed theme, we drilled down to the logistics of conference management.


Pre-Event Invites and Project Management

With the conference date and location set, a marketing plan was created to engage attendees about the event. Email invites, confirmation letters, text reminders, social media posts, and a custom registration website were all set in motion to keep attendees aware of the latest developments.

We also implemented a digital infrastructure to ensure streamlined project management, staging and scheduling, staff and equipment coordination. Concurrently, we reached agreements with several notable speakers including journalist Rana Foroohar, President of the University of Chicago Robert Zimmer, and political thought leader Karl Rove, to name a few.


The Siebel Scholars Conference Gets Started: Day 1

The three-day conference was launched at the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago. The first day opened with an evening reception that included a fireside chat and dinner, along with a warm welcome from Thomas Siebel.

Registration booklets, collateral, and welcome gifts were distributed to attendees as they started to settle into the festivities

After a ‘meet and greet’ and general networking among attendees, the event launched with a conversation with Dr. Alex Kogan and Rana Foroohar.


We also developed a custom video that was shown to the audience to kick off the conference. Check it out below.


Siebel Scholars Conference Continues: Day 2

The second day of the conference began at The University of Chicago with a general panel discussion about the Art and Science of Persuasive Technology.

Questions were entertained from the audience and layers of discussions ensued with industry experts.

After lunch and networking, the general sessions continued with thought leaders leading the conversation on the consequences of social media. Dr. Alex Kogan, Jean Twenge, and Karl Rove were all active panel participants that shared their personal insights.

After a packed day of informative and thought-provoking discussions, the second day ended with a concert at the Field Museum featuring Maroon 5!

Apart from being entertained by the legendary band, attendees also got a taste of Instagrammable activations set up throughout the upscale venue. Bright lit pavillions, photo booths, Twitter zones, and interactive games served as wayfinding pillars and kept the attendees moving and engaged.

Photo Booths

Twitter Tablet Activations

Instagrammable Photo Ops


Siebel Scholars Conference: Day 3

The conference concluded with a collaboration at The University of Chicago. The topics were fostered through a series of roundtable discussions and breakout sessions. Attendees gained intimate access to thought leaders, including Thomas Siebel, in a friendly setting.

Question and Answer Sessions

Round Table Discussions

Brainstorming Ideas Together

MC² worked round the clock and provided on-site support throughout the three-day experiential conference. 


The Results

Siebel Scholars and MC² came together to deliver a well-attended conference with an impressive sharing of ideas.  In a post-event survey, attendees reported high satisfaction evaluations with the entire conference experience, most notably the panel discussions and evening gala. 

Comments Card Results Snapshot:

– 86% of attendees rated themselves as “Very Satisfied” with the Conference

– 76% felt the opportunities to network with other Scholars was “Very Adequate”

– The Saturday Night Gala was the event 75% of Scholars enjoyed the most

– Saturday Panel Discussions were the most enjoyed by 50% of the Scholars

– Shoshana Zuboff and Jean Twenge were rated the most inspirational panelists


Social media and its impact on society will remain a vital conversation for a long time.  Siebel Scholars was honored to host the discussion and MC² was all too eager to help support this significant moment in time.

Thinking about planning a conference? Drop us a line and one of our experts will be in touch. 


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