I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
Half way through the last day of Social Media Marketing World someone next to me said how impressed she was with how things had been run at the conference for a first time event.
“What did you just say?” I asked.
She had to repeat it, and assure me this really was the first time they had run this event.
Leading up to this moment I had assumed this was the fifth or sixth year for the event, everything had been so well done. Speedy day-of-registration, a thriving LinkedIn group, email follow-ups, well thought out sessions, great speakers, and fun networking events. My hat is off to the organizers for a job well done.
Most of my time at the conference was spent in the sessions, both large and small, and so the rest of my notes below are reflections on those sessions. There are other reviews out there of the events, keynotes, etc that I will try to link to as I find them.
Connecting, Amplyfying, and Growing Your Social Presence by John Jantsch
The big takeaway I had from this session was the following line by Mr. Jantsch
“You can’t have a vibrant online community, without first having a vibrant internal one.”
As social media marketers we tend to do things on our own. There are so many things that need to be done everyday, from keyword research, content creation and curation, audience development, etc. that we feel like we have to do things on our own in order to make progress on our goals. His point was that the more we foster internal community around our social media, brand, and content, the more work is being done to connect and create for our audience by a bigger part of our organization.
Social Strategy for Big B2B Businesses – Panel
By far the biggest disappointment of the conference. It was also the most important to me, since my current position is in a B2B organization. So while I did have higher expectations of this session helping me than was reasonable, it still fell short of providing my anything helpful. Both panelists spent the entire time talking about Facebook and it’s impact on their outreach, and NEVER MENTIONED LINKEDIN once. This is inexcusable and unhelpful. Everyone I know in B2B has their social strategy focused on LinkedIn, groups, page updates, and people connecting with people. Maybe someone else in their organization handles LinkedIn, maybe these panelists were at such large organizations they can still achieve success with Facebook and not need LinkedIn, but for whatever reason I think this was a lost opportunity to provide helpful insight for most B2B marketers.
Part of the reason why this session failed for me also hinted at the larger issue panels vs. sessions. I attended 3-4 panels and all of them were far less helpful when compared to solo run sessions. The panelists seemed unprepared for the questions, in terms of thinking out what they wanted to say and their main points, and many of the session moderators seemed to be winging it, skipping from one topic to the next without a clear objective of where they were going. This is a problem with panels in general vs. solo presenters. One person presenting knows they have to think through and prepare for everything they want to cover, objectives, and have visuals. Panelists get to just show up and answer with the first thing out of their mouths, and there are usually no visuals to support the topic.
The Science of Community Building in the Age of Social Media by Ric Dragon
This material would be have been better presented over the course of a day, and not 45 minutes. Mr. Dragon had discussed some very deep, intelligent, philosophical, and scientific information on social strategy and community building. The problem was you needed more than a minute to digest what he was talking about to understand how important this stuff really was.
However, I’ve gone back and looked at his slides and have a long list of readings to do that will keep me busy for some time. I’m glad I had the opportunity to be exposed to this material, but just wish I had more time with Mr. Dragon to explore all of this more intimately.
Read this post to get a better idea of what Mr. Dragon has to offer: The Power of Small Groups in Online Marketing
How to Build a Business Blog that Grows Your Brand and Generates Leads and Makes Sales. by Marcus Sheridan
By far the best session I attend throughout the event. Mr. Sheridan is a fireball of energy as a presenter and clinically focused on what really matters when it comes to presenting material that will make a real difference in your marketing. He turned much of what we think about when it comes to content strategy on it’s ear by making a compelling case for giving your audience what they want, no matter how you feel the information may put you at a competitive disadvantage.
Two key phrases from Mr. Sheridan highlight these points:
“They ask. We Answer.” It sounds simple, but in practice we make it hard. Answer our customers questions. We fail to do this for two reasons, either we don’t know our customer as well as we think we do, or we are afraid that our competition is going to see what we’ve said and steal it or use it against us. Mr. Sheridan makes a dead simple arguement for how you will beat out your competition with this approach and how it will help you get to know your customer even better. Start with the top 5 most frequently asked questions about your product and service and write, blog, and podcast those answers for better
“To be a trustworthy company, you must be a transparent company.” Mr. Sheridan points out that people and companies are afraid to talk about themselves, for a variety of reasons. The companies that show their human side and personalities always do better in sales, engagement, etc and Mr. Sheridan offers both anecdotal and qualitative data to back that up.
12 Ways To Turn LinkedIn Into a Generation Machine by Viveka von Rosen
Excellent session. Ms. von Rosen presented the material in a way that I feel helped beginner and experts alike in building out their LinkedIn profiles and pages to work harder at generating leads. She had a ton of brass tacks tips and tricks for every marketer to take advantage of getting more out of LinkedIn.
A great example was showing how to use Saved Searches to have LinkedIn send you new search results via email once a week. For recruiters or sales people that need new leads in common industries this let’s LinkedIn do some legwork for you. Great tip.
Here’s more helpful tips from Ms. von Rosen – What to Do When You Need Better Results Than “LinkedIn Member”
How Online Video Pulls Real Engagement and Definable Revenue – Panel
This panel was very frustrating to me b/c I could tell these were expert panelists on video marketing and production but were not being used correctly for the setting. Each of them represented different backgrounds and had loads of experience to back up what they were saying. The problem was for the most part it took them rambling on for a few minutes each to finally get to what they really thought was the most important thing. Had they been prepped correctly ahead of time they would have known what their best leads/thoughts were from the start. I was most infuriated with the moderator. He seemed very insecure about being up there, had quick-sarcastic things to say, and talked so quickly we in the audience had a hard time knowing what was asked. This isn’t a roast or chance to towel snap in the locker room. You need to clearly and slowly articulate what you are talking about, provide context for how this matters and explain to the panel and audience where in the hell we are going with this line of questioning.
I felt like the goal of the panel was to cover as much material or area as possible, without any thought given to presenting it well.
One great takeaway from the panel came from Jim Louderback –
“The best conversion starts from content to content conversion.”
Very insightful and made me think about how we should be doing more content to content conversion, instead of trying to get a lead or opportunity. It stands to reason that if someone watched your whole video they are more likely to watch another one compared to filling our your “Contact Us” form.
Also, I appreciated Julie Perry mentioning retargeting and b-roll video ads and how important they are in getting your message out. You aren’t paying for ads that are viewed less than 30 seconds so you have your message seen by many and not pay for much. One tip she provided was to front load your most important message at the beginning since people will start to drop off as the time goes on.
Those are my notes. Can’t wait till next year.
Other conference review articles, know of any others, then share in the comments, thanks!
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