With so many amazing social media experts under one roof at Social Media Marketing World, it's almost impossible NOT to come home with a pages full of tips, notes, and suggestions for your brand. As usual, my main note-taking device was Twitter, so here's a list of my top 5 learnings curated from my hundreds of tweets over two action-packed days:
1) "Pay attention to what's being said about your brand."
Joel Comm (@joelcomm) reviewed a dozen or more examples of Twitter "fails" that could have been avoided with basic listening and research. Several of these unfortunate brands later tweeted, "We should have checked the trending hashtag first." Don't let your brand get to that point, Joel said. "If you're going to tweet off a trend [or hashtag], you better know what they're talking about." It's also critical to apologize immediately for mistakes. Joel's advice: "Apologize. Own it. Move on."
Ted Rubin (@TedRubin) added that marketers need to stop and think before posting. "Common sense is not very common" in social media, he said.
2) Find Your Acronym (F.Y.A.)
Several speakers used acronyms as pneumonic devices to remember the sometimes complex rules of social media.
Pam Moore (@PamMktgNut) recommends the P.O.S.T. method: People, Objectives, Strategy, then Technology. Too many brands start with the technology part (platforms, vendors, etc.) without first determining what they want to accomplish on social media.
When developing content, it should be R.I.T.E., says Mark Schaefer (@markwschaefer): Relevant, Interesting, Timely, and Entertaining.
When focusing on the types of posts, brands need to go from P.E.S.O. (Paid-Earned-Shared-Owned) to E.S.O.P. (Earned-Shared-Owned-Paid), says Paul Rand (@paulmrand)
And while it's not technically an acronym (yet), Laura Fitton (@Pistachio) recommended this four-word social media guide: "Listen, Learn, Care, Serve." Notice what four words aren't there? Marketing. Advertising. Selling. Spamming. Which brings us to...
3) Remember the "social" in social media
"If you're not going to be social, get out of social," says Ted. "You know what doesn't work for social media strategy? Not being social!" And no, advertising doesn't count as being social, he added.
"If we turn social media into another advertising channel, the real power of the channel - the 'social' - is endangered," says Paul. His advice is to "stay engaging and interesting," with 90% engagement 10% marketing as a good ratio.
"It's not about pushing your message anymore. It's about listening and engaging," added Brian Fanzo (@iSocialFanz).
4) It's not about your brand; it's about people
"Nobody ever said, 'I wonder what brands have to say today on social media,'" Brian said, in what was one of the funniest (and truest) lines of the conference. "As a millennial, brands aren't who I relate with. I relate with people," he added.
Speaking of millennials, Ted had an interesting perspective: "All we hear about is millennials, millennials, millennials. You know what? They're just people."
Paul showed a graph depicting whom we trust to provide a brand recommendation. The winners are all people: close friends, family members, other knowledgeable and passionate consumer. Know who didn't make the list? The brands themselves.
5) Know your audience
How should brands determine what content is worth posting? "Look in your own data and see what's resonating with your own crowd," says Christopher Penn (@cspenn). "Not all content works for everyone."
Nicole Pearo Taylor (@PearoTay) has a similar strategy: "Look to your audience and see what they are talking about. Some of our best content comes from our audience."
Pam suggests that brands "think about how to inspire, entertain, and delight [their] current and prospective customers."
And when all else fails, says Rob Wolf (@thatrobguy), "Take the time to ask yourself, 'Who is going to retweet this?' before posting anything. An easy gut check is asking yourself honestly whether you would retweet your own brand's content from your personal handle.