In her keynote talk entitled "How to Convert Viewers into Customers with Live Video," fitness guru and infomercial (and now live video) legend Charlene Johnson told an audience of more than 3,000 at Social Media Marketing World that her experience had taught her to "learn from an expert, become a student, [and] don't just try to 'figure it out'".
In that spirit, here are eight new things I learned about social media marketing from the expert speakers at the country's largest social media conference:
1. Marketers can do a lot with a little in social media
"You don't have to spend an outrageous amount of money to be very effective on Facebook," said Social Media Examiner CEO Michael Stelzner. WordStream, Inc. Founder Larry Kim led a session entirely dedicated to this fact, entitled, "Hacking Facebook Ads: How 50 Dollars Can Drive Enormous Traffic to Your Best Content".
2. Algorithms are for people
Algorithms may annoy marketers because they reduce organic impressions, but that's because they exist to help consumers. "Google and Facebook want people to see quality content," said Stelzner.
3. Marketers need to drop their air of self-importance
"Unless your brand is Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, people don't wake up in the morning thinking about it," said social media and marketing consultant/blogger/podcaster Scott Monty, in what was perhaps my favorite quote of the conference.
4. Content, content, and more content is driving marketing
"Content is the currency of social media," said social media consultant and author Neal Schaffer.
And content comes in many forms: Stelzner noted that live video "breaks through" that dreaded algorithm (and there were more than a dozen sessions dedicated to video and visual storytelling), while MarketingProfs Chief Content Officer Ann Handley insisted that "good writing matters now more than it ever has".
5. Shoppable tags will be big
Instagram - which Stelzner said is "on fire" because of its rapid growth - has a new feature called "shoppable tags" which enables viewers to tap on a picture of a retail item and buy it directly. Nordstrom has been using this marketing technique and seeing early success.
6. 5 things drive almost every buying decision
- How much does it cost?
- What problems does it have?
- How does it compare to other offerings?
- What do the ratings and reviews say?
- Who (or what) is the best out there?
7. The robots are coming
This was a recurring theme in several sessions, but SiliconBlitz founder and CEO Sandy Carter encapsulated it best when she warned that "we need to look at bots as a personification of our brand" because many consumers consider bots to be actual people.
8. It's all about the experience
"Social media is not just a business experience, it's an emotional experience," said Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith. Or, as proud millennial and iSocialFanz founder Brian Fanzo quipped, "Let's put the 'social' back in 'social media'".
Stelzner called social media the "fastest-changing industry on the planet" in his opening keynote, and it does seem that there is a new marketing opportunity - advertising unit, targeting ability, video capability - nearly every week. Marketers need to hang on tight for the perpetually bumpy ride, but still enjoy the exhilaration that comes with always learning something new.