4 Themes from Social Tools Summit - #SocialTools15
Ben Travis, Former Marketing Manager
Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural Social Tools Summit in Boston, representing both Viget and one of our recent Pointless Corp. projects, SocialPiq. With a healthy mix of brand marketers, agencies, and vendors in the audience, the event centered around cutting-edge social tools and strategy. One unique aspect of the summit was the use of expert and “trender” panels, which led to some lively discussions on a variety of topics, including social listening, content marketing, social advocacy, marketing automation, and analytics.
As the number of social media tools increases, it’s becoming more and more difficult to decide which solution is appropriate, and community education (through events like this and other resources) helps make those decisions easier and prepare for the future. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the speakers and panelists, as well as their level of candor. For more information on the event sessions, check out the ratings and recommendations on SpeakerRate.
Throughout the summit, I noticed four major themes that surfaced consistently (and included some quotes from event speakers, as well):
1. Analyzing Social Media
Analytics is near and dear to my heart, so I was pleased to hear an abundance of practical discussion around social media analysis. Smart marketers are those who can zero in on social ROI by using the right analytics tools. Despite the common misconception, using social media is not free and requires resources (time and effort at the very least) to succeed, whether it’s to listen, create content, engage, strategize strategy, or measure results. Justifying those resources requires proof:
"The biggest challenge for any social strategy or tool is getting buy-in; the solution is showing results. Measurement is key.” - Glenn Gaudet, President and Founder of GaggleAMP
In almost every session, social media KPI measurement came up as a topic. While specific KPIs can differ across groups, it’s important not to overwhelm yourself with metrics; instead, focus on 2 or 3 primary metrics. That’s not to say secondary metrics aren’t valuable, but analysis paralysis can easily set in if there’s no place to start.
I was glad to hear most panelists stress the importance of conversions (online or offline) over audience and engagement metrics. A lot of advice I've found about social media focuses on audience size and engagements rather than on the end actions that generate actual revenue/value. That approach focuses too heavily on the first half of any “funnel” process and ignores the most important part.
I also came away with a new favorite saying:
“Data or it didn’t happen.” - Ron Schott, Director of Professional Services at SimplyMeasured
2. Understanding Teams
Getting others on a team involved in social media can be a challenge, but internal fans or advocates can provide the most value to relevant social media conversations. A key part of this (and great advice in general) is to align with the incentives of any team with whom you’re working. Understand the team and what motivates them. What are they interested in, and how can you incentivize them, intrinsically or extrinsically?
Segmenting advocates in different groups and tailoring messages is now more possible than ever with marketing automation tools. For example, a new (and somewhat controversial) app, Crystal, analyzes emails to tell you exactly how to communicate with people based on personal style. Along with understanding others, you must be patient, work to improve the team, and encourage participation.
“Nuance comes with time; offer to train others and share openly.” - M. Ambassador Bruny
3. Using Visual & Mobile-Optimized Media
On Facebook alone, more than ¾ of users access the platform via a mobile device at least once a month, and visual content like photos and videos garner more attention than other media. Just look at the rise of platforms like Periscope and Meerkat in the past months for more proof. Today, visual and mobile-optimized media are must-haves for any social media strategy.
However, it can be difficult to manage these types of media, especially with low resources. Marketers want an easy way to edit/share images, but many don’t have the ability to hire an agency or in-house designers to make this happen. The good news is that there are many tools available to make this possible, from in-browser editors, which allow users to share different images depending on the platform, and live-streaming tools, which can be used to include external audiences.
4. Embracing Globalization
Globalization has been here for a while, and any global firm’s social media strategy is remiss in ignoring this fact. During the summit, attendees and speakers from around the world gave their advice, all mentioning the same thing: social media strategies should be tailored to individual countries. Using a one-size-fits-all approach to global social media ignores intricate cultural differences that can make or break campaigns.
Unfortunately, many brand marketers said they had trouble finding social media tools that support multiple languages, particularly languages using alphabets other than Latin characters. Similarly, many found that some social media tool UIs were unable to support local languages for international teams.
During the summit, there was a surprising amount of interest in social media content suggestions and corresponding tools (ZootRock and Curata come to mind). For those of you not familiar with the 80/20 social media rule, about 20% of social media content should be about yourself, with the other 80% focusing elsewhere. To borrow an analogy from Pawan Deshpande, incorporating external content into your own social media channels is like being a museum curator: you’re providing value by sharing existing content with a new audience, along with your own interpretation.
The summit also featured a great keynote from Dave Kerpen of Likeable Local. His surprise message focused on gratitude in everyday situations. Dave starts each day by writing 3 thank you cards and is quick to share wins with his team. In the same way, social media is a great way to build positive conversations with others and give public thanks to others who make the world a better place.
A big thanks to Neal Schaffer and Brian Mahony for putting on a fantastic event. For those of you who attended or spoke at the summit, be sure to rate and recommend the event and individual talks on SpeakerRate. And, if you haven’t already tried out SocialPiq, give it a whirl and let us know what you think!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the summit, as well!