If you go to as many social media conferences as I do, sometimes it is difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. At least that's the excuse I'm going to give for having my associate at Renegade, Merlin Ward share the six unique lessons he gleaned from the recent Social Media World Forum (SMWF) conference in New York City.
1. Pair Your Social with Ads
Chris Thorne, Vice President of Social Media & Media at EA, the sports game developer, found that content was more effective when coupled with Facebook advertising. They put extra care into creating content that users could "play" with, essentially gamifying their Timeline; then they made the monetary spend to promote it to as many users as possible. The result was more than just extended reach-they increased virality and sales.
2. Your Content Doesn't Work Everywhere
Morgan Baden, Director of Social Media and Internal Communications for the book publisher Scholastic, shared their failures and successes with Pinterest. Pinterest is a natural social network for this brand, but they found that not all content is created equal. While female users enjoyed sharing book covers and special quote memes from books, photographs for events and other physical spaces didn't attract the same interest. It seems that content made for collecting does the best on Pinterest, while amateur point-of-view photography is better left on the shelf.
3. Branch Out Beyond Your Brand
Felicia Yukich, Manager of Social Media Worldwide for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, discovered the secret to using social media in the hospitality industry. The fundamentals of hospitality - thinking about your guests' stay in and outside of the hotel - translates well into social media. Therefore, Four Seasons curates content far beyond the hotel brand, such as wedding planning ideas, sight seeing destinations and recreational activities. They get into the minds of their audience and focus on their interests, just like a good concierge would do.
4. Build Social Into Your Product
In keeping with one of the conference themes, Jesse Redniss, Senoir Vice President of Digital at USA Network, noted that social works best when it's anticipated in the product creation phase. Brands should leverage natural user behavior by building social sharing into products and providing seamless social activity around their brands online. The consensus was that users are going to be social anyway, so why not enable them?
5. There is NO Crisis Plan
Morgan Johnston, Manager of Corporate Communications at Jet Blue, and Paul Fox, Director of Corporate Communications at P&G, talked about addressing crisis as a brand. The short of it is that there is no cure for crisis, but brand openness speaks volumes. P&G invited bloggers to their shop to talk about anything they wanted and write anything they wanted-good or bad-after negative news surfaced around a certain product line. After a dramatic employee exit, Jet Blue posted on their website that they didn't know any more than anyone else about the situation but were trying to find the answers. These clear and open lines of communication helped bring the correct information to light in the end.
6. Brands Can Talk to Other Brands
Shane Steele, Director of Sales Marketing at Twitter, shared examples of brands talking with each other, which, in turn, created viral content and brand adoration by users. Oreo and AMC had a Twitter exchange about sneaking snacks into theaters, and Taco Bell and Old Spice had an exchange about their "spicy" ingredients. These conversations were both genuine and humorous and left the door open for consumers play along.
And lest you think I was doing nothing at SMWF, you can find my interviews with these SMWF speakers: Kip Wetzel (Comcast), Jay Epstein (Sprinklr), Nicole Bohorad (CapitalOne) and Morgan Baden (Scholastic) all on TheDrewBlog.