Review of the Social Media Strategies Summit in Dallas
Editor: You have attended many programs about social media. How was the SMSS different?
Laurie: We’ve finally moved past speakers trying to emphasize the significance of social, by starting talks off with “If Facebook were a country, it would be the fourth largest in the world…” Now, the focus is on the practical application of social–“here’s how I used social to solve a business problem.”
Marya: This conference really kept things on a more concentrated level; each of the talks and workshops felt very personalized and focused, and left adequate time to network with other practitioners, visit sponsor tables, and socialize with the speakers.
Editor: What did you learn that you could immediately apply to your business?
Laurie: Most of my focus is B2B, so I attended some interesting B2B sessions featuring speakers from Regus and Reach Local. In particular, I liked how Mike Merrill, Director of Marketing at Reach Local, explained how different phases of the Buying Cycle require different types of content and social content. I immediately used the content funnel to assess my marketing materials. Due to the funnel effect, a small increase in prospects at the Discovery stage can yield a significant increase in revenue at the Book/Buy phase. Although we make good use of webinars, I realized that we need more blogs, eBooks, and infographic types of content to meet the Discovery stage prospects.
Marya: Businesses need to remember to be purposeful not only with their content strategy, but with its implementation. Instead of merely ‘being present’ on a social channel, the point would be specifically how you are contributing there. If you are showing up in someone’s feed, are you a distraction, an interruption, or a welcome engagement? We were told to be intentional with our posts, and to be aware of the audience and how that particular channel is best used. Properly optimized content receives the best engagement, so this means it’s necessary to post in the form of what people expect to consume on that platform: don’t write a whole story unless you’re writing a blog, if you’ve got a photo or video, make sure it’s shareable or embedded across multiple platforms with tags, instead of just placed statically. This helps boost both the anticipated engagement as well as attracting additional traffic.
Editor: What was the theme or key takeaway from the conference?
Laurie: It’s hard to boil it down to a single theme. However, I keep hearing there is no single formula that works in every situation. Social Media marketing success is a function of trial and error, measurement, and over-indexing on that which works best for your company.
Marya: Now that social media has been adopted into the marketing mix, there are more strategists as well as practitioners. Instead of merely explaining the capabilities of different social channels or tools, the speakers now equip marketing managers with industry best practices and are able to make projections about the future of social. The conversation has shifted from just ‘being active within the social realm’ to ‘how can companies fundamentally become more social,’ especially with the mobile future in mind.
Editor: We are all looking forward to the Social Media Showcase provided by the SMC Dallas on September 19 because case studies allow us to learn from real world applications of the social media tactical theories. Were there some particularly impressive case studies at the SMSS?
Laurie: Keynoter Maya Grinberg of Wildfire/Google spoke about the concept of a “social hub.” A social hub is a library or compendium of information in one place created for major campaigns and events. This hub nourishes journalists with content for their stories prior to the event and lives on as a search engine optimized space after the event concludes. An example is the social hub Puma created called “The Yard” in conjunction with their sponsorship of the Jamaican national track team in summer London competition in 2012. The “Yard” was credited with an 80% increase in social stories for the social brand.
Marya: I won’t touch on a case study in particular, but I will mention that one of the neat things about the proliferation of tools in this space now is the amount of data and opportunity there is to connect and cultivate an audience.
Editor: What social platform is seeing the most success?
Laurie: In the B2B track, discussions were centered on use of Twitter and LinkedIn. Gavin Donovan of Regus commented that B2B looks a lot like B2C since relationships aren’t between businesses, they are between people. However, it’s easier to find that business decision-maker on LinkedIn, since you can target by company, by job title or by discussion group.
Success is a loose term here, because the objective may be defined in many ways. Should we count engagement or depth of conversation? shares? reach?
Marya: But when it comes to ‘which social platform is best’ it is more about ‘the perfect match’ of channel and strategy, and how your brand can best tell its story and reach its audience effectively. It’s about understanding how multiple the channels can work together to create audience engagement by focusing on the particular channel’s strength to drive leads. You would consider posting more pictures on Instagram and Pinterest than on other channels, but being there grows an audience that you could engage with separately from the set of people who are active Twitter or LinkedIn. Your posting strategy should be different as your brand adapts to the channels it is best suited for, and audience engagement will positively reflect that.
Editor: Is there a silver bullet or tip you would like to share with our readership?
Laurie: Prior to SMSS, I had never heard of a UTM string. It’s a way of tagging a website or content so it will show up in Google Analytics. You can then apply a shortener so you can do link tracking like you would with another service.
Marya: The topic of being a thought leader in your own social circle is huge. Here are a few tips:
Post about helpful things that are relevant to your brand and your audience. Blogs have 434% more indexed pages than non-blog sites. Be consistent, but don’t be too predictable and boring. Think about how you post content. If an article is bland as a blog post, can you make it interesting by turning it into a slideshare ppt or a pinable infograhic? And don’t forget about receiving all the credit you can, especially through SEO. Author rank is huge, so get listed through Google authorship and/or integrate your social channels with your other profiles so you associate as an authority within that topic and build a residual audience through search.
Editor: Marya and Laurie, thank you for sharing the insights you gained from the conference with all of our blog readers. We welcome objective reviews about other programs if the information would help North Texas SMC practitioners.
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