On Oct. 11, I attended the PR + Social Media Summit at Marquette University. In its third year, the Summit attracted almost 500 PR and social media pros from the Midwest and beyond. Among the featured presenters were social media experts from the likes of Pepsi, American Eagle, The Northface and more.
This Summit was also my first experience with live tweeting, which I’ll describe as attempting to run a marathon in quicksand while juggling fiery torches. Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but between trying to listen to the speakers and take notes and catch up with industry colleagues and research the best place to grab lunch, live tweeting was a difficult task to master.
Nonetheless, after a full day of presentations, I returned to CB&A with a dead laptop, a battered stick-on nametag and a brain full of ideas, tips and tricks for our clients and our own agency’s social media efforts.
Here are some highlights from the day, condensed into my masterful live tweet form:
George G. Smith Jr. from Pepsi kicked off the day with this statement, which acted as quasi-theme for the entire Summit: the need for human communication isn’t a new concept, but the way we meet that need is constantly changing and evolving. I think conference presenter Augie Ray, Executive Director of Community and Collaboration at USSA, put it best: “Social media is very, very nascent.”
In social media—and really all forms of public relations, marketing or communications—the key to success is relationship building. Creating conversations. Engaging. Social media is a natural vehicle to accomplish this, as it provides a direct, concise way for a company to interact with its customers, industry partners or prospective clients. Everybody wants a little digital love, and they’ll probably be more likely to share that love with their followers or readers if it comes from a brand first.
Thought leaders don’t only exist in the “real” world. The digital world creates and supports its own brand of thought leaders for nearly any product or service. Each community has its own “Oprah,” in that certain users (or specific posts) have the ability to positively support, negatively impact or sway the opinions of others in the community. As such, running a successful social media campaign is less about “top-down” communication, and more about “bottom-up.” Now, this doesn’t mean that you should let spam bots or angry swearing jerks take over your account. It means you should listen to your fans and followers. Take their concerns and complaints seriously. Be sure to pass along their messages to the appropriate departments.