Social Media Marketing World, an annual conference in San Diego, isn’t a social media event… it’s the social media event of the year. With over 5,000 attendees from all over the world, and hundreds of speakers, panelists and event hosts over the better part of a week, it’s a massive and unforgettable experience.
Four current board members (as well as one recent board member) attended this year. But while we were there we bumped into — and met! — tons of great Madison marketers.
Since everyone had such a different experience, we thought we’d do a recap post, letting all the Madison folks who attended share one or two of their favorite moments, takeaways or experiences from the conference.
If you are a Madison marketer and you were there, but you didn’t contribute to this post, drop us a line today. We’d like to connect and add your contribution to this post!
Josh Klemons, Board President @reverbalC
Whoa! What. An. Epic. Event!!! This was my first SMMW and it was something. How do you pick a speaker when there’s 15 happening simultaneously and you know they are all going to be great?! The answer is: there are no wrong answers!
I saw a lot of great speakers and met a ton of great people. The takeaway that stuck with me the hardest came from Mr. Convince & Convert himself – Jay Baer. He asked, and then answered, the simple but oh-so-important question: we know we need our audiences to be a part of telling our story, but how do we empower them to do so? The answer: Talk Triggers. Talk Triggers are things your brand does that people want to talk about. It can be as simple as above-and-beyond customer service at a hotel to CVS’s insanely long receipts.
In order to be successful and useful for engaging not one or two people, but your entire community, Talk Triggers must follow the four Rs. They must be Remarkable, Relevant, Realistic and Repeatable. Lower prices are great, but not Remarkable. Changing your logo is nice, but not Relevant (at least not for your audience). Overpromising might deliver quick results, but over time aren’t Reasonable. And doing something special for influencers might get you some quick buzz, but your Talk Trigger must be Repeatable for everyone who is involved with your brand.
All marketers and business owners want their audiences to be a part of their story — but what are we doing to bring them in and make them feel like they own a piece of the brand? Give the people a Talk Trigger, and watch them join your team!
Margie Romani, Board Vice President @MargieRomani
From the opening keynote to the final session, Social Media Marketing World was incredible! As a first-timer to both SMMW and a major conference, I was happy to see several familiar Madison-area faces as well as getting to make tons of new connections.
Common themes in what’s trending resounded, no matter what the platform:
- Use Video – Use video (live or recorded) in FB/IG/Li FB/IG posts, stories, YouTube. Video continues to outperform static image posts. Videos do not need to be highly produced. Be human!
- Create compelling copy. Whether it be for a post or a video script, Ray Edwards had these great tips for writing great copy:
- It’s all about them, not about you
- To make it about them, you have to talk about you
- Great copy addresses a PROBLEM, makes a PROMISE, offers PROOF, and ends with a PROPOSAL
- Your copy must be useful and valuable in and of itself
- There is no copy this is too LONG, only copy is that too BORING
- You must present the reader with a preponderance of proof. People don’t read, believe or do..at first. Skim, scan, and scroll
- Great copy leads the reader to a fork in the road
- Facebook isn’t leaving, but it is changing the rules – Mari Smith, “The Queen of Facebook” shared her thoughts on what Facebook’s priorities for brands will be in the coming year
- 1) Video
- 2) Ads
- 3) Messenger
- 4) Groups
- New Tools to explore! I love to check out new tools to make my job easier and help me create better content for my clients. Speaker Donna Moritz offered some great new tools and tips. A few of them being:
Shane Cicero, Immediate Past President @ShaneCicero
After 3 years of attending Social Media Marketing World, I am always amazed by who I reconnect with, who I meet and of course what I continue to learn about the field I am so passionate about.
This year the biggest takeaway for me is that User Generated Content (UGC) is the new leader of the pack if you want to build an authentic reputation with your customers. People trust the authority of others just like themselves. Think of how many times you’ve read a review for a product before buying it or how about seeing a post from someone you follow doing something or using a really fun product? Chances are it left you with that fear of missing out, so you bought it so you too could enjoy that experience too. Truth be told, this is happening on social media every single day and here are a few things to try to increase your company/brand’s use of UGC:
- Ask for reviews/ask for people to post about you
- Create shareable moments on site/at your business
- Evoke emotion
- Contest & Giveaways
The other thing I was reminded of is that if you are doing paid ads on social media and you are not advertising on Instagram (and Instagram stories) you need to be. We are now seeing a shift from Facebook being home base to that becoming Instagram. This means more and more users are starting on Instagram, watching their stories and then moving to the newsfeed before moving over to Facebook to see what is going on there.
Sara Tetzloff, SMBMad Scholarship Recipient @que_sara
2019 marked my third Social Media Marketing World. While some of the conversation around declining organic reach and the importance of video have been a common thread each year, this year the conversation shifted more toward the importance of infusing humanity into your brand and business. Stemming from our longing for connection, consumers are more likely to engage with companies that make them feel heard and important. They want to share with friends and family the value that certain products add to their life. The brands that do this in a meaningful way will win.
I also attended several sessions on marketing for local businesses and I can boil them down into two takeaways:
- Find one area of your business where you can offer a completely unique, elevated experience and do that. An example of this is Taxi Terry. Serving in a commoditized industry, Terry managed to elevate the cab experience by setting the tone with a warm greeting…and a promise to have the best cab ride of your life. Terry’s mission to serve his guests has enabled his growth, establishing a private transportation company that serves as the exclusive transportation service provider of IBM.
- Find one marketing tactic that resonates with your audience, and that your competition is too afraid to try, and take it to the next level. An example of this is a pizza company that began using video to grow its business. Not enough brands are using video in a compelling way. Consider this your opportunity to be the exception to that rule.
Steena Cirves, Past Board Member @SteenaROAR
- The importance of bots in the future of Facebook. Hearing so many social media experts talk about how the future of Facebook marketing will be more Messenger driven had me immediately researching bots upon my return from the conference. It turns out that bots are complex! I’m glad that I’m taking the time to learn and gain experience in bot building now to stay on top of social media trends.
- The importance of consistent, fun, standout stories not only on Instagram, but Facebook too. Prior to attending the conference I prioritized stories to Instagram and dabbled in Facebook stories. Since adding more re-purposed stories from Instagram to Facebook I have noticed an increase in activity on the Facebook account.
- I attended some YouTube workshops and took note on how successful YouTube channels encourage binge-watching, as one does with Netflix shows. Some YouTube success tips are: find a target niche, focus on what the audience likes (not an algorithm), have visual branding, and have a reason they want to watch (what’s in it for them?).
Chris Rudolph, Founder and Freedom Business Coach @FreedomBizGuy
#1 90/10 Marketing Rule – Do One Thing Really Well 90% of the time and Experiment the other 10%
#2 Email Newsletter: “is the only place where people, not algorithms, are in control” -focus more on the “letter” and less on the “news” -write it for “Doris”, the specific ideal customer you have profiled
#3 Facebook/Instagram/LinkedIn/Twitter are like annual flowers…they make a big difference in the short-term, but you need to replant them often. YouTube and Search are like perennial plants, you need to nurture them, but they come back bigger and better each year.
#4 Ads are here to stay (but LinkedIn ads are still a year or so from being relevant)
Bonus: The future prospect of humans working in social media as AI grows and expands: “machines aren’t good at creativity, humans are, focus on creativity”
Becki O’Brien – Apple Wellness/The Healthy Place, Owner & Creative Director
My main goal with attending this conference was to learn more about how we can use video to showcase my company’s expertise in the natural health industry. Most of the sessions I attended focused on the importance of videos in social media, particularly live videos, because it is the closest to actual human interaction. What I learned with live videos is that you do not need a lot of fancy equipment, and it’s ok if it doesn’t seem as polished as a professional, pre-recorded video. Viewers want to engage in what feels like “real life” with you and your company and catch a glimpse of what’s going on behind the scenes. But also remember that most of the views of your “live” video will be as a playback after the fact. And finally, one of the most common live video mistakes is to start your live video and “wait for people to join”. Never do this! People decide VERY quickly whether they want to continue watching videos. Which brings me to my second takeaway…
My second biggest takeaway was that people decide whether they want to watch a video or keep scrolling within the first 5-8 seconds!! This means that when you’re creating any video content (live or pre-recorded) you need to stay on task and dive straight into the content. Show the viewer that your video is worth watching by immediately telling them WHY they want to stick around and hear what you have to say. I consistently heard speakers emphasizing that any branded title sequences should NOT be done at the very beginning (when people are deciding whether to leave or stay). Branded title sequences should be short and sweet and around the 15-30 second mark. Finally, treat all viewers as if they are loyal already. Skip the elevator pitch and welcome people into the experience quickly. “Hey, glad you’re here, let’s go!”
Finally, I was reminded that numbers don’t matter as much as engagement. Find your loyal, engaged target audience and market your posts and efforts toward them. When you’re genuine and focus on your niche, the numbers come organically.
Melissa Oftedahl – Apple Wellness/The Healthy Place, Social Media Coordinator
Becki and I were able to divide and conquer and share what we learned from the different sessions. My focus at SMMW was on how we can grow our Instagram page to impact more of our customers and build the business.
My main takeaway with Instagram is that we need to stop trying to grow our following and actually nourish our relationships with the followers that we currently have. We need to go deep and not wide. Our goal is to be highly relevant to a small group of people and to create happy followers that want to shout our business from the rooftops (hello, free brand ambassadors!) because they feel valued and taken care of. So how do we do this? We engage with them! Follow them back. Comment on their posts. Always share tags to your stories. Start conversations in the DMs. Learn to communicate with the people who have chosen to be there with you. Growth is going to happen naturally by engagement.
My second takeaway is that Instagram (and even Facebook) stories are the future of social media. If you aren’t using your stories, you need to start ASAP! Like Becki mentioned, video is so important. Stories give our followers a real-life snapshot of our lives and our businesses. It allows businesses to go behind the scenes and share experiences that a customer might never experience. So what do good stories look like? They are meant to be real and intimate, not rehearsed and memorized. They have text captions. (Did you know that most people who watch your stories don’t actually have the sound on?) They use the engagement tools, like polls, hashtags, @mentions, etc. to interact with your followers. DM people that interact with your stories and make them feel special. It all goes back to engagement!
Jacki Witkowski @JackiWitkowski
I love the creative session with Duncan Wardle who was the lead of innovation at Disney for years. He gave me a fresh perspective on how to get out of the norm when it comes to meetings that involve creative. You often say or hear the words “Yes, but…” and that kills the creative in your work environment. You should be using “Yes, and…” He also talked about getting out from behind the desk or away from the whiteboard. If you are set up like you are presenting something, you are killing the creative vibe in the room. You should sit in a circle and not write anything down until the end. And when you do write things down, do it in sentences and never in bullet points. You want those notes to be informative to anyone who might pick them up. He gave so many tips that I can’t wait to implement at my job.
At a presentation on social media management, the panel talked about how important it is to evaluate your team org chart and strategy every 6 months. Social platforms change almost daily. Why should the way we work not adapt to change? This is also something we are currently looking at as well within my team. Being agile should be a best practice in any social media work environment.
DP Knudten, @dpknudten
- SMMW has fallen out of love with Facebook. Not to the point of a hard divorce, but finally understanding that Zuck and Co. will always be focused on one thing: Facebook’s profitability—and your business model be damned. My big takeaway from Michael Stelzner’s keynote: don’t put all your eggs in the ZuckerBasket.
- If last year’s SMMW was all about video, this one was big for live streaming said video. A lot of respected social experts are jumping on this trend bigtime.
- Mark Schaefer’s closing keynote was powerful and delivered a lot of hard truth. His big headline: customer loyalty for loyalty’s sake is dead—and that most human company wins.
Andrea Vahl, @AndreaVahl
Main point: You need to test your ads in order to find out what is working and get cheaper results. But there can be a lot of things to test so that can be overwhelming. Focus on these top 3 factors:
- Audience – test this first
- Images/Video – the image and/or video is going to be the biggest factor in the creativ
- Placement – break out the placements in separate ads to see which one is best
Dexter Patterson, @iamdexterp
1. Content Marketing: Organizations need to view their content marketing strategy more as a business model. Publications are, and we need to support them with proper marketing and patience. Be thoughtful and strategic about what you create for your audience but do so to build long-term relationships built on trust and value not instant gratification.
2. The Future of Facebook: Say goodbye to the news feed as you know it and say hi “Facegram or Instabook.” Stories are currently growing 15x faster than normal feed-based content, and this is exactly what Mark Zuckerburg wants for Facebook. Zuck dropped a massive hint back in October 2018, when he stated; “We want to go from a Feed-only world to a Feed-plus-Stories World.” Whelp it’s happening. The Facebook algorithm will continue to show favoritism to more private and personal communications like Messenger, Groups and Live Video. Whatever your brand can do to bring like0minded people together around common goals the more successful you’ll be with your social media marketing efforts. Often we forget that marketing involves human interactions and the consumer has never had more control. Instead of focusing on technology, maybe we should spend more of our time thinking about what we can do to make the lives of our followers better. The consumer has never had more control.
3. Bonus Tips: Start thinking beyond the News Feed. Find the story and don’t shy away from the fun. Remember emotion is your friend and emotion can create meaningful opportunities for you to engage with your customers. The ultimate goal is to use social media is to move away from a broadcast audience to a measured or modeled audience. Personalize your marketing efforts whenever possible to humanize your brand.