WebGuild's Social Media Strategies Conference ending last
Thursday ... well worth it and successful first effort. This was largely due to the vision and
bottomless energy of Daya Baran and the good taste and credibility of Francois Gossieaux of Beeline Labs, advisor to the event and SMT featured blogger. The conference avoided much of the gassy,
uninformed evangelism of some events. For
all its conversational structure, it was heavy on concrete examples and case
studies from real practitioners in several big companies, including H&R
Block, Wells Fargo, Cisco, Intel, Intuit, Edmonds.com and others. (My panel on the importance of content included Sylvia Marino from Edmonds.com and Scott Wilder of Intuit, pictured here.)
My top 10 take-aways:1. Content is king, duh, but who owns it is still a bit unclear, if, for the moment not a critical question to answer. There was an interesting conversation with an audience member, Marc Meyer, SVP Products at BuzzLogic, around this topic.
2. Social media is not about technology, duh, but it is becoming increasingly clear and was reinforced by all the practitioners that social media requires more human involvement than was originally thought. Because of the corollary take-away:
3. You cannot "build it and they will come."
4. Social media will thrive in the downturn, but at a slower rate than otherwise might have happened. Paula Drum, VP Marketing from H & R Block stated that, if she has to choose, she will cut back on "traditional media and increase her human capital in social media."
5. Social media is still under-funded relative to its importance and the stated goals of management. Francois's killer example is of a major corporation whose goals for social media were $20 million in revenue, but only dedicated a part-timer to managing the process.
6. Social media should be embraced throughout marketing and customer service departments. @BJ tweeted, marketing + people = social media.
7. Social media is about people, not companies. It is about brand, although whose brand exactly, the individual's or a company's, remains a question.
8. To be in love with social media is to follow a fickle mistress, you must be prepared to adapt. Who knew about Twitter two years ago? (Not many know about it now, either.)
9. "ROI" mostly matters when you need to get funding from upper management. Of course there are going to be cost-savings in creating user-generated content for customer support, but a less-recognized factor is customer loyalty, which is an even more important asset in a downturn. (Note to self: find some universal studies from the last downturn that quantify the value of retaining existing customers vs. finding new ones.)
10. A truly successful community can be launched by a company but should have a life of its own. Francois told the story of the Fisk-A-Teers, a group of scrapbook enthusiasts formed by the scissors maker, Fiskars, a vibrant, independent community which would endure whether or not there was a corporate sponsor. Contrast the Fisk-A-Teers with a community like Wal-Mart Moms, which would probably disintegrate were it not for Wal-Mart's continual feeding of incentives.
11. Which leads to a final thought... are we all talking about social media (small m) or are we talking about Social Media, a growing body of communities/brands/institutions, ever-changing perhaps, but which will live and breathe and die outside of a single, corporate sponsor? Housed somewhere, or "platformed," yes, but willing to move where it needs and wants to go?