I’m in San Francisco at the moment and yesterday I had the pleasure of co-hosting Social Media Marketing 2010 – the first in a series of events run by Influence People (my events company alter ego) on this side of the Atlantic/Pacific – depending on which way you choose to travel.
Our eyes-and-ears-on-the-ground, the talented, Marissa Louie, compiled an A-list line-up of social media trailblazers, marketing innovators, geeks and journalists for a packed agenda of social media marketing goodness that promised much and, I’m pleased to say, delivered a lot more.
We kicked off with one the world’s leading PR agencies, as Michael Brito from Edelman explained how brands with “kick-ass products” can rise above social media engagement, but most brands need to learn authentic community engagement to create advocates (see below). He also the top ten brands on the social web – a list headed by Starbucks, Dell, eBay and Google. No big surprises there.
Next up we asked a panel consisting of Kym McNicholas (Forbes), Ben Parr (Mashable), Joe Vazquez (CBS 5) and Sara Austin (Pop 17) How to Get PR for Your Startup. They are receptive to stories from people they’ve built a relationship with via social media, but also need facts – and ideally new ones – to really get excited. Avoid telling Ben you’re the next Facebook, he’s likely to be better informed than you are on that point.
Justin Kesteyne, representing the conference’s most excellent sponsor, Oracle, then walked us through their Oracle Technology Network, which has over 60,000 members globally and is effectively “Facebook for Oracle developers” (at least, that’s how he pitched it to Ben). He invited Java developers to join up – via http://www.mix.oracle.com.
The next panel consisted of community-builders: Justin Kesteyn, Aaron Strout (Powered), Jennifer Neeley Lindsay (BlogTalkRadio) and Augie Ray (Forrester). Jennifer highlighted the unsung heroes of forums, citing one Dell Support Community member who had successfully answered 20,000 questions and explaining how an evangelist is basically an “enthusiastic advocate”. Finding and motivating active evangelists is the key, since (as Augy Ray explained) only 16% of web users account for 80% of online brand advocacy.
After that we switched across to the world of tech writers and social media – with David Gelles from the FT and the (brilliantly deadpan) Tom Foremski of Silicon Valley Watcher. They find it hard to “cut through the noise” of social media, but are excited to be living through this game-changing phenomenon. Tom admitted to having favourite companies, and decrying their demise: “Ribbit gets acquired by BT. Now what’s the point of that?!”
After a daintily-boxed lunch we resumed with a rollicking panel consisting of Chris Heuer (Social Media Club), Lawrence Coburn (RateItAll/DoubleDutch). John Yamasaki (Seesmic), Corey Denis (NotShocking) and Dana Oshiro (Netshelter). Corey confessed that, to get a community going, she had once assumed 20 different personalities and had a fight with herself. While Lawrence explained how, by dropping the requirement to register/login, he’d increased community engagement via comments by 20%. Everyone agreed that offering a share button with 40+ social networks will only confuse users, advising to stick with a few key options (facebook, Twitter and email, for starters).
Ariel Adams then took to the stage to provide a fascinating dive into the world of social media marketing for luxury brands (see all the sites he mentioned below). MB&F, he said, has published a site without any product branding. Instead they publish news and content on other topics that match the brand ethos [an interesting, indirect, approach that I can only see working with a very sophisticated client-base]. Baume et Mercier, another luxury brand, have a hugely (maybe suspiciously) active facebook page and Piaget actively follows celebrities on Twitter so that they are seen to be associated with the brand. Clever.
After Ariel, Martin Green from Meebo stepped up to explain the concept of Social Graph Optimisation, which is basically brands trying to connect with us through multiple social networks and channels (with the presumed outcome that we favour them with our wallet, rather than sue cyber-stalking). He also told us a little about Meebo’s footer bar, an example of which you can see on http://allthingsd.com/. I hope to post Martin’s presentation here shortly.
For a bit of a change, we then launched into some deeply geeky conversation about A/B testing, with the fine minds of Hiten Shah (KISSmetrics), Dan Martell (FlowTown) and Chase McMichael (Infinigraph) leading the way. Chase gave three bits of practical Facebook advice straight off the bat:
- Facebook ads pointed at a facebook page can be more effective in eliciting a response than taking the user off to a landing page, because they aren’t taken off the site. Makes sense.
- If you’re using your personal facebook account for business, you should consider using “Lists” to show different newsfeed content to different groups of friends.
- You should add Google Analytics code to your facebook page and capture email addresses on it – like, right now.
Dan recommended reviewing your current customers to see how they found you, before setting up analytics and a time-consuming A/B testing process. Hiten suggested testing Tweets by repeatedly posting them and monitoring the clicks with http:// bit.ly tracking.
Last up was Maria Ogneva from Attensity, a popular SF-based social media monitoring provider. For the uninitiated, Maria gave a terrific introduction to social media monitoring (i.e. listening) and measurement (i.e. metrics), stressing that, in addition to monitoring what people are saying about your brand online, you also need to monitor the processes for responding to those comments within your organisation. For those with dodgy memories, she provided a handy acronym: LARA (Listen. Analyse. Relate. Act).
Having soaked ourselves in social media marketing knowledge and networked ourselves into hermetic tendencies, we left for the Sugar Cafe, where drinks and scolding hot pizza slices awaited us.
We’ll be back in San Francisco on 17th September for “Social Email” – a look at how social media and email are being integrated by marketers with impressive results. We’ll be publishing the booking site for this shortly.
In case you’ve missed them – here are some other posts about Social Media Marketing 2010 San Francisco:
- A series of excellent posts from @sfsam22‘s live blogging on MurrayNewlands.com
- Chris Abraham’s thought piece on Ariel Adam’s presentation on luxury goods and social media
- Some great stats and graphs of the buzz around SMMSF
- Sara Austin’s write up of her PR panel, on Pop17 and one, on the same topic, from Fast Company
The photos and videos will be published here shortly. In the meantime, feel free to add your thoughts and comments about the event below… plus ideas for future ones.