7 Things You Need to Know from Social Media Marketing World #SMMW14

in this articleThis time last week 1800 marketers converged on San Diego for the highly anticipated 2nd Social media Marketing World #SMMW14 .  I was lucky to be one of them and honoured to be one of the speakers.  Here are 7 things that I learned during the conference – 7 things you need to know.  

From the moment Michael Stelzner stepped on stage in the opening keynote there were tweetable, shareable, a-ha moments during this year's event.  Not surprising from the world's biggest social media gathering, but even though we expected it, the quality of the content always surprises and delights at this event.

7 Things You Need to Know from Social Media Marketing World

Last year was stellar in 2013, but 2014 smashed it out of the park.

So let's just say that every session was jam packed with great advice, strategy and takeaways about social media marketing.  I couldn't get to all of them –  I will be checking out the virtual pass to catch up on all of the sessions. Find out more about getting your annual ticket (or virtual pass) in this article.

#1  Advocacy is the New Black

Mike Stelzner started his keynote with a sneak peek into the findings from Social Media Examiner's Social Media Marketing Industry Report.

His opening thoughts?  This:

Mike reminded us that he, like many of us, are like walking advertisement for businesses and brands.

When we love something and we are given a platform on  which to share it (social media), then we tell a brand story and share a brand message better than the brand ever can.

One example that Mike gave is Fit Bit.  Why?

Because people all over the world are loving their fitness gains using this tech device that measures all manner of things from your daily steps to your sleep patterns.

And what do we do when we get our results?

We share them.

Because the device asks you to.  Right there on your smart phone.

It offers a Facebook share button.

Or a Tweet button.

And because we love to, we share!

Because who can resist clicking on a button, right?

Mike shares. In fact, he admitted that he is a walking advertisement for Fit Bit.

And they don't even pay him.

I referenced this statistic from Curalate (an anaytics company for Pinterest and Instagram) in my session on creating visual content. Curalate reported that up to 85% of content on Pinterest is shared by users and not brands.

What does this mean? Users are sharing content from your website to sites like Pinterest whether you are actively involved or not.

And in some cases, your fans and brand advocates are not only sharing content for you but they are often creating and sharing content about your brand.  If you want to learn more about how to inspire your fans to create and share content for you, there are some great case examples in this article that I wrote for Social Media Examiner.

So Mike was right. Social Media is awesome.  Especially when you build platforms on which you can encourage your community to create and share content.  Which brings me to #2:

#2  Create Quality Content

An over-riding message from the conference was that content is still important – but not any content”¦.

Quality content.

Consumers are so overwhelmed with information on any newsfeed that they are filtering out the noise.

And unless you catch their attention in authentic and engaging ways”¦ and with quality content, your message will get filtered out too.  Here is what the speakers had to say:

Jay Baer from Convince and Convert, said it simply, when it comes to quality content:

Remember this:  Reach will get eyeballs on any  content – (whether that content is good or bad), but unless your content catches the attention of those eyeballs, your message will be lost and you will miss out on engagement and results.

Nichole Kelly (Social Media Explorer) reminded us that we should stop publishing crap, and that we should all stop focusing on reach and focus on the conversation and comments that our blogs are generating – and stop publishing “crap”.

Like I said, reach may put eyeballs on your content but if your content is “crap” like Nichole says”¦. People will just let it pass on by the newsfeed.

In his final keynote, Marcus Sheridan (aka the Sales Lion) not only blew the roof off the room with his energy, but he happened to refer to two important ways to create quality content:

1              They Ask, You Answer

2              Insource your content

“They ask, you answer” is simple.  Answer the problems of your ideal audience.

Insourcing requires tapping into the wonderful knowledge of the people in your business when creating content.  Involve your team.

Everyone is a content creator.

You just have to find out what type of content they are best suited to.

Is there someone who knows video? An employee who is truly engaging on Facebook?  A staff member who can provide tips by audio?  Someone who loves writing?

Find their strengths and INVOLVE them. You don't have to outsource your content when you “insource”.  Quality content might be sitting right under your nose!

#3  Visuals are Big

In his opening keynote Michael Stelzner highlighted a number of key findings from the Social Media Marketing Report.  The first was about visual social media and the use of visual assets by brands:

Ekaterina Walter had the conference buzzing about visuals in her session about visual storytelling. Here are a few tweets from her session:

Ekaterina also highlighted the importance of infographics:

Infographics, when done right, can bring quality traffic and engagement for a business.  Obviously I am a huge fan of infographics as we create them for bloggers and businesses, but even simple checklists, mini-infographics and snackable, shareable graphics can all serve a similar purpose.

The key to a great infographic or snackable graphic? Embed them into blog posts.  Have them “shareable” from your home base or website, with social sharing buttons so that your community can share the graphics to the platforms they like to hang out on – be it Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Google+.

I was also completely honored to present on visual content at the conference – in a session titled “How to Create Visual Content that People Love to Share”.

Canva's “summary” of my session at Social Media Marketing World sums up the essential qualities of great visual content.

Catching attention, and enticing action or sharing with your visual content is one thing, but inspiring advocacy from your fans is the ultimate form of marketing.

Having your community do your marketing for you because they believe in what you believe (or at least they believe in what your products and services can do for them) is the real kicker. When they use visuals, it can really take off. And how can you create visuals in a productive way?  Batch them!

Kim Garst made this awesome image from my session – about one of my favourite topics: snackability.

Start making your images snackable.

Why? Because users are overwhelmed with information – they are filtering out all the noise.  Snackable, easily processed images work well as we need to provide bite-sized (pun intended) pieces of content that people can consume.

HOT TIP:  Think about the time of day you are posting – mornings and evenings we tend to be on mobile devices so punchy images that stand alone will do well.

But during the day (when we are often on desktops or laptops) try embedding images into longer pieces of content.  Think about how visuals will be consumed and serve it up in the way that your community likes to consume it.

And who can go past Anne McColl's wonderful session “sketchnotes”. Here are her hugely creative takeaways from my session:

#4  Be Human

This one is simple. We need to stop thinking about B2B and B2C and take our content and our message back to what it is really about.  Connections. People.

Kim Garst rocked the house with her session on Twitter Marketing.  Her biggest tip when starting out on Twitter?  Be Human:

Kim gave some great advice about managing time on Twitter and other platforms – automating is ok for things like evergreen content, but always respond in real time, in real person.

People connect with People. Be human – even if you are a brand.

…and Jay Baer, as always reminded us to be Human:

Jay Baer - Social Media is about People
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Are you remembering to be human?

pssst:  if you want to know how I created this image, then be sure to check out #7.

#5  Real Estate Owns the Castle Where Content Resides.

Remember that often quoted phrase:  Content is King? Well, content needs a house in which to reside. And you should own that house. Your primary platform (blog, podcast, webshow) should be your primary focus.

Michael Stelzner referenced this in his keynote with regards to the results of Social Media Examiner's Industry Report – in that Blogging will be a big focus in 2014.

Another important type of “real estate” is email.  Andrea Vahl reminded us, that no matter what, we don't own our social media presence, but we do own our email list. She reminded us to stop whining about Facebook reach and use contests to grow our list:

And Joe Pulizzi pretty much summed it up with this great quote (thanks to Kim Garst for making it visual!):

#6  Podcasting is exploding

Podcasting was hot at #SMMW14.  Here are some great quotes from sessions by top podcasters:

In his keynote, Mike Stelzner's talked about the power of podcasting based on his own experience with the Social Media Marketing Podcast and the Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2014.   This quote, made visual, pretty much says it all:

And here is one of the big reasons why we should get excited.  Podcasting is coming to cars:

Apple Car Play is going to be one of the biggest shifts we will see to how we consume content.  Many of the big car brands have deals with Apple to instal this new system into cars – giving us instant access to everything from Google Maps to Podcasts  to Pandora…perhaps providing a real threat to traditional radio and placing a huge opportunity into the hands of everyday businesses.

BMW, Ford, Mazda and Chevrolet are all on board. Will you be with your own podcast?  Because here's the thing:

You do the math!

#7 Everyone is a Mobile Publisher with a Smart Phone in their Pocket

This is perhaps the biggest “wow” for me at the conference because I literally watched it unfold….. A tool that I showcased in my session – WordSwag – created quite a bit of buzz during the conference. I talked about a number of tools, including WordSwag (along with Canva and Picmonkey for desktop, Over App and Instagram on mobile, and Snagit (for creating screenshots). Here is WordSwag on Instagram:  

Wordswag Instagram
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WordSwag allows you to publish great images on your smartphone – making everyone a publisher of gorgeous content

What's so great about WordSwag?  It allows users to become mobile content-creators.   Here's the thing – your audience, your community are armed with smartphones and they are creating content on-the-go.  And so can you!  Think of the potential.     You may have spotted a few Word Swag images throughout this post.

Here is one that I created in just 2 minutes after watching Jadah Sellner from Simple Green Smoothies present on the Instagram Panel. Created in real time and then easily posted to Facebook and Twitter during the session:  

But watch what happened.  After my session, attendees started to post madly with WordSwag. They even posted about their instant addiction to it:

or their excitement about the potential for creating professional, engaging images with it:

And this sums up this final “takeaway”. Kim Garst using WordSwag to produce a quote from Joel Comm‘s amazing session (“From Blogger to Published Author – How to Become a Recognized Expert in Your Field”). Everyone has a story:

To see so many marketers, speakers, influencers, bloggers using a tool to create real-time content during conference sessions made me think about the shifts we have seen in the last 2 years – before tools like Canva and WordSwag we could not have created such professional looking content so easily.

The potential for businesses and brands to create content is massive. And it doesn't just stop with brands. As per #1 in this post – everyone can be a content creator – even your fans or followers.  Empower them – encourage them to create content about your brand. Involve them in your story.

Build platforms they can contribute to, and invite them in. Because never before have we seen such potential for creating quality visual content (refer to #3 in this post if you need a little reminder about why this is important).

I am going to finish with a visual wrap of Mike Stelzner's closing comments about the biggest shifts in 2014 when it comes to Social Media Marketing:

What about you? Did you attend Social Media Marketing World? What was your biggest takeaway?

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Donna Moritz

Visual Social Media Strategist at Socially Sorted
Donna is a Visual Content Strategist and founder of Socially Sorted, listed by Forbes as a "Top 5 Social Media Blog You Need to Know About in 2019". Donna helps brands leverage the power of visual storytelling and content strategy in their business. Her content has been featured in publications such as Forbes and Entrepreneur Online and she is a contributor to Social Media Examiner. Donna speaks about digital and visual content for the marketing and tourism industries internationally.
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