On March 26 – 28, over 1,700 marketers and businesses owners came together for Social Media Marketing World 2014 (#SMMW14) in San Diego, CA. SMMW14 has become one of the industry leading events in the country to learn about social marketing best practices – and the 2014 experience did not disappoint.
This is a truly exciting time to be in social media. Over the last five years, the field has changed by leaps and bounds. We’re no longer flailing blindly (be honest- we’ve all done a little flailing) trying to hack our way through the “social media jungle”. While it will always be challenging to stay abreast of the latest tools, tactics, and tips, there are now established pathways we can all use as a map to guide our journey to success.
The whole conference experience was a whirlwind, and I happily came away with dozens of ideas that I can immediately implement into my own social media program and those of my clients. While I’d love to share them all, I’ll spare you from an overly cumbersome read. In the meantime, here are my top 3 key take aways from Social Media Marketing World 2014:
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the metrics, we overlook the fundamental principals of building relationships on a human level. Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner brought it home, reminding marketers and business owners to approach social with a “give first” mentality – invest in listening and helping others before asking for anything in return. Building your brand capital through helpfulness, trust, credibility and authenticity will help you cultivate and nurture online relationships for future success.
Ever hear the expression ‘If content is king, engagement is queen’? Well, if that’s true then I’d venture to say that Value is the ace that trumps all. We can talk about engagement and content all the live long day, but if you’re not providing high value to your audience, no amount of shares or high-budget videos will save your social media program. As Marcus Sheridan pointed out in his ‘Timeless Qualities of Great Content and Social Media Marketing’ keynote, the channels and tools may change, but the fundamental principals will not:
Get back to the basics. Use tools to help you deliver value. Then build.
Build the Business Case
Goals, strategy, then tools (in that order).
I think we’re all (at least I am) guilty of being distracted by bright, shiny objects. Every day we’re discovering new ways to use social marketing, and it’s easy to get sidetracked by the tools and lose sight of high-level goals. That’s why putting a strategic filter on your social media efforts is more critical then ever. No more throwing spaghetti at the walls to see what sticks.
Once your strategy is in place, you’re on the hook to show business results. Measuring social ROI isn’t a mystery anymore – we have the capability to measure and track. Nichole Kelly, Nick Robinson (SAP), Scott Gulbransen (H&R Block) and Lewis Bertolucci (Humana) provided great insight on how big brands are solving the ROI mystery by tracking KPI’s like cost per impression (CPI) and cost per conversion (CPC), tying their social efforts back to meaningful business metrics.
That being said, everyone wants great tools that will help them improve the performance of their social media programs. On that front, Ian Cleary delivered in spades during his session ‘Tools to Better Manage Social Media Marketing’ where he satiated the crowd’s thirst for the latest and greatest with 25 social media related tools.
So What’s on The Horizon?
Spending time at SMMW14 gave me validation that the core principals of how we engage people (in person and online) hasn’t and won’t change in the future. Because of explosion of new tools and technology – it’s more important then ever to stay focused on the fundamentals. What will drive social marketing as a powerful platform for businesses, are the processes and measurements that are available to help us achieve our goals with strategy and precision.
Did you attend Social Media Marketing World? What were your takeaways? How is the field of social media changing for you?