Is this the big question in marketing right now?
If not I will explain why it should be by the end of this blog!
Ever been to a gig so awesome, you find it hard to describe the experience to others? Sometimes, words just don’t seem to be enough!
Whilst the Variety Events Social Media Conference at The Blue Mountain Golf Centre Bracknell on February 18th 2011, was no Woodstock, delegates found themselves deluged with tips, strategies and plans to take away and implement in their businesses. …And just like my first ever prog rock gig (Camel – Guildford Civic Hall 17th March 1973) I found my senses overwhelmed, so much to take in and make sense of!
Infact, it has taken a week to work through the information and implement as much as possible into my business!
I was lucky enough to host the event and as the 100 delegates arrived, all of the contributors were keen to learn the level of Social Media experience in the room. Clearly on stage a wealth of expertise stretching back in most cases more than a decade. By their very attendance each delegate could count themselves as an earlier adopter, however there was clearly a broad range of skills & experience in the room. Around 90% owned a smart phone yet only around 30% were engaging on the twitter hashtag set up for the event. So clearly plenty of potential for development.
So what were the big “take aways” on the day?
The early morning focussed on the use of audio and video in Social Media. Dave Griffin and Adrian Moss outlined the huge SEO benefits provided by video & audio in addition to the opportunities for engagement. Ian Hendry observed that it is pointless to use Social Media to drive traffic to an unengaging website. To join a truly social web, the challenge is to make content engaging, use audio, video and give visitors content in return for data capture. Graham Jones observed: “Your website is the forgotten bowl of peanuts in the living room, when everyone at the party is in the kitchen.”
Jim Anning, having admitted publicly to being a geek, demonstrated the power of mobile apps in Social Media. During his presentation, Jim recorded an audio blog and using Audioboo published it to the web, only to find himself interrupted some five minutes later as one delegate played it back to the room from the web. Nigel Morgan pointed out that this could be the first ever case of a performer being heckled with his own material?
As the day progressed a recurring theme emerged , with the barriers to entry now so low for Social Media, it is vital to monitor and engage.
Benjamin Ellis and blog coach Mark White talked impressively about the importance of communities as opposed to audiences, adding that we have yet to realise the true potential of online communities & networks. To build a genuine Social Media community would realistically take 18 months. The community will only grow if you nurture it with relevant targeted information encouraging participation through engagement. Introducing people within your community to each other will further increase the power of your network.
After lunch, there was an opportunity to break out into three separate workshops on the key Social Media platforms, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. The Social Media Guys, provided the expertise, interestingly around 50% of the delegates chose the LinkedIn session because, in their own admission, they saw this as the tool most likely to add value to their business. Interesting psychology then, that around 95% of the delegates in the session hadn’t even completed their LinkedIn profiles and wondered why they were not gaining business from the site! Top LinkedIn tips included a) complete your profile b) only accept connections from people you have worked with and would be happy to recommend c) avoid LIONS d) join groups and engage with questions and answers.
As the day came to a close I hosted a Q&A session with each of the contributors. Some interesting views emerged on the subject of corporate social media policy with Benjamin Ellis declaring “if you have a policy on graffiti then you have a policy you can use for social media.”
Ant Hodges advised businesses not to close their minds to social media in the workplace. If you are not part of the debate you can’t control it, you just have to take the same responsible approach to Social Media that you do with staff using email and telephone, infact if they have permission to use email & telephone they must be allowed to conduct business via the Social Media.
When asked from the floor who are the current Kings & Queens of the internet, the general consensus was that Stephen Fry is both the King and Queen of the internet!
So finally to come full circle: Social Media? …is not rocket science …or is it?
During his presentation Jim Anning declared that Social Media was not rocket science, to which one delegate tweeted surely if the technology uses GPS then by definition it had to be rocket science. Having relied on Benjamin Ellis for great quotes throughout the day, it was perhaps appropriate that he called a point of order by observing that commercial GPS is designed to stop working at altitude, so therefore could not be used in rockets!
And the point of all this geekiness?
It suddenly became apparent to me that in one light hearted moment, a separate parallel conversation had developed which thanks to technology everyone was able to participate in. And despite the fact that many of the delegates came to the conference feeling they knew very little about the social web, unwittingly in that small conference room in Bracknell, they had infact created their own small community which was both engaging and entertaining…