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10 Insights from Fast Company’s Most Innovative Social Media Companies Talk


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Last week I attended Fast Company's Most Innovative Social Media Campaigns at Social Media Week Presentation for Business and Entrepreneurs held at Bloomberg's headquarters.  The moderator was Anjali Mullany, Social Media Editor of Fast Company and Panelists included Buzz Feed, Branch, Fab and Tumblr.  Here are my insights from the talk.

1. Bloomberg gets it right.

Bloomberg’s tag line:  WATCH, LISTEN, SEARCH, READ, CONNECT

This was my first time in the Bloomberg building at 731 Lexington.  I was immediately blown away by how cool it was –large brown bowled sculptures at the entrance and enormous windows with the hustle and bustle of mid-town visible amid tables of free snacks, lunches and drinks.  The vibe reminded me of the Silicon Valley start-up days in the mid-1990s where you just knew that something incredible is happening in here and you wanted to be a part of it.  As a brand, Bloomberg walks the walk and talks the talk.

2. Fast Company’s Social Media Editor Anjali Mullany declares  “2013 is the year of shareable content.”

As you may imagine, Fast Company’s social media editor, Anjali is bombarded with pitches from PR agents and companies thinking they are doing something innovative by simply getting in the social media game with a corporate Facebook page or Twitter account.  And so what she asks?  In her introduction, Anjali reminds us to answer questions that go a step beyond such as: how did you engage your customers, elevate your brand or impact your community?  In 2013, the most innovate companies are using social media to create shareable content that is relevant and drives consumption.

3. Branch fosters social engagement by offering more private settings to extend your Twitter conversations.

Josh Miller offered an interesting vision of social engagement that moves us beyond Twitter.  Branch  is described as a smaller, newer conversation platform, more like “salons” or “glass walled living rooms” where you can pick conversations from Twitter and thread them out into a more private setting.  Branch allows you to have conversations with people you know and trust.  The New York Times and Frontline recently used Branch for a discussion.

According to Josh,  when it comes to publicly sharing opinions, only 16% of social media users share in the real world.  If we do the math, that leaves 84% of people is social world’s “watch and listen” phase. Astounding.  And it begs the question, what will be the turning point to elicit engagement from that large majority?  Branch hopes to tip the balance by offering a safer, more private and highly relevant experience.  Stay tuned.

4. Branch's Josh Miller is young and in touch with even younger social media savvy kids.  Josh recently published “10th Grade Tech Trends."  You can check it out here:

5. FAB’s online shopping network connects uses Facebook to connect you and your friends for a virtual shopping experience.

FAB is an original social network for shoppers.  Fab is like shopping with your friends online.  It is customized to see what is popular with you and your friends.  It’s like window shopping in a virtual world allowing you to add your commentary to pieces you like.  When you favorite an item it shows up on you profile and your friend can see it.  Fab reminds us that you can make e-commerce fun and entertaining. How incredibly FABulous!

The most interesting takeaway from FAB is its mastery of Facebook marketing.  Fab did its first ads on Facebook and discovered that for every action published on Facebook, there were 4 clicks back to FAB. That’s a lot of clicking ROI.  Will Fab integrate on other social media platforms with equal success and if so when and how?

6. Anjali Mullany is addicted to Fab. 

7. BuzzFeed makes content socially shareable, fun and entertaining.

Buzz Feed was founded on the premise that everything we do is social.  We live in a visual world and the demand for socially shareable content has skyrocketed as evidenced by companies like BuzzFeed, Pinterest and Tumblr.  Taking that one step further, BuzzFeed underscores the importance of understanding how things share on the web, emphasizing the notion of storytelling through the social platforms.  Adding humor and the element of discovery go a long way to making shareable content more interesting and viable.   Sending a BuzzFeed story to your friend that takes the monotony out the day and makes him or her smile goes a long way.

8. Buzz Feed's Jonathan Perelman wears red and blue striped dress socks.

9. Tumblr offers tools and a canvas to create limitless expression. 

I love the credo Tumblr offers: tools and a canvas to create limitless expression.  No wonder it is an online phenomenon.  Turmblr publishes any kind of content and highlights the best on its Radar dashboard.  A differentiation from other social platforms is that brands are required to participate in the same way users are.  Lee Brown cited two corporate brands using Tumblr effectively: Disney and Lincoln.  Rather than using its own employees, Disney engaged Tumblr bloggers to showcase photos of its theme parks.  In doing so, they were able to leverage the Tumblr community and connect in a deeper way.  Lincoln did the appropriate watch, listen and research before jumping in.  In reviewing the most popular searches, Lincoln realized vintage was one of them.  In response, it posted vintage images of old cars with overwhelming community approval.

 10. No surprise here, but keeping up with social media is hard to do.

On the horizon, brands to watch included Percolate, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Google, Vine, TopShop, Nike and of course, Apple.  They are on the cutting edge of social media engagement.  And for those of us too scared to jump in the pool and start sharing out opinions, these new platforms allow us to dip our toes in the water and enter a new world of social interaction and discovery.

If you missed Fast Company’s article Most Innovative Social Media Companies, here is a link:


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