The customer was once again front and center on the big stage at Social Media Marketing World, an annual gathering of more than 4,000 marketers, creators, and social media enthusiasts in San Diego.
In fact, if there was a single takeaway amidst all the workshops and how-to sessions, it was the reminder that “social media” is two words – and both of them are critical to success.
“Social media is not a mass audience play,” said Social Media Examiner CEO Michael Stelzner in his opening keynote presentation. He cited Facebook’s recent algorithm changes, designed to emphasize “meaningful interactions” over advertising and viral videos, as evidence that even the world’s biggest social platform is trying to cater more to its customer.
Stelzner also advised the audience to diversify social media marketing beyond Facebook and into LinkedIn and Twitter. Why? Because customers are there, too, and in a different mindset that might be more receptive to marketing.
“We've distanced ourselves from our consumer,” said Brian Fanzo, founder and CEO of iSocialFanz LLC. “If you build it... they’re not coming,” he added, playing off the popular refrain from the movie Field of Dreams.
To create engageable content on social media, Fanzo advised that the audience follow one of the core tenets of customer experience philosophy, which is to put yourself in the shoes of your fans and ask how they are consuming content.
“We have to be open to the fact that our 60-day content marketing calendar may never get to the 60th day without changes,” he said, suggesting that marketers need to be nimble enough to pivot based on changing consumer interest.
Fanzo added that “we are all in the business of trust” and “people buy from people they like.” He cited a statistic that live video gets six times the interactions on Facebook than native video because the feature has built-in engagement.
“We have to start putting the ‘social’ back in social media,” he implored.
Day 1 ended with a closing keynote by renowned customer experience expert Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter Group. He noted that “social media made the world a smaller place” and that it “gave people a voice, democratized content, and united people around common passions.”
The result has been the confluence of people and brands.
“People are now brands and brands are now people,” he said.
His advice to the audience in this new world of “fake news,” Twitter bots, algorithm changes and excessive vitriol was one of the most retweeted quotes of the conference: “Tweet others like you want to be tweeted.”
Smart Passive Income entrepreneur Pat Flynn closed out Day 2 of the conference by talking about “super fans” – those customers who are more than willing to do “free marketing” for your brand.
He noted that many companies spend so much on acquiring customers, but not enough on those who are already brand-loyal.
“Treat the people who are already with our brand so well that they can’t help but promote us,” he said.
Flynn described an Engagement Pyramid, which starts with a casual audience and importantly gets them engaged and connected with each other in addition to the brand itself.
The Engagement Pyramid - Need to pay a lot of attention to the casual audience to get them engaged and then connected to each other.— Dan Gingiss (@dgingiss) March 3, 2018
Super Fans are then your “free #marketing team”.@PatFlynn #SMMW18 pic.twitter.com/b2LXQvn5da
“There’s no better way to future-proof your brand than to build super fans,” Flynn said, urging the audience to ask themselves whether they’ve “earned a fan” today.