Today was the start of this year's Social Media Week in Chicago. SMW holds sessions all over the world including Berlin, London, Hong Kong, Sao Paolo, and more. I first participated in this awesome event last year.
Last year I attended sessions on everything from holding Pinterest contests and using SEO in PR, to pitching venture capitalists and learning how Nike's Twitter followers helped transform Kobe Bryant into the Black Mamba.
This year there are 186 events just in Chicago! Today I attended three sessions at Morningstar, and two at the Chicago Tribune. The first was a talk with Morningstar's Founder Joe Mansueto. The hashtag for this session was #smwmorningstar. He talked about his company's culture, and how their management team spends a lot of time making sure their employees have a really good working environment. He mentioned their floor to ceiling windows and newsroom-like offices, with low partitions conducive to productivity. He said everyone has the same work area, no matter whether you're a higher up or a recent college grad. It was really interesting hearing his perspectives on business.
The next session I attended was "Content Marketing That Wins: Making brands, readers AND Google happy. It was led by Cramer Krasselt's Nick Papagiannis, Scott Smith, and Steve Radick. This was a really fun presentation. These three talked about the importance of learning who your audience is, and tailoring content that is useful to them, and relevant to your organization. They said brands should really focus on telling their unique stories.
One of the coolest things about attending social media conferences is that the audience is usually all about sharing their learnings online. We don't like to keep info just for ourselves, so we tweet it. There's a lot you can learn just from following Twitter feeds for the individual sessions. That's why SMW has special hashtags for each event. You can see more of what was said during this session by going to Jeana Anderson's Storify that shows tweets from people who attended.
After a quick bite at Wao Bao, it took me about 15 minutes to walk to the Chicago Tribune. My next event was called "Confessions of a Community Manager." This session was especially cool for me, because my former boss and community manager mentor, Alex Levine was on the panel! The other panelists were Mary Brennan from Broadway in Chicago, and Max Crowley, Senior Community Manager of Uber.
When asked about which social networking sites your brand is on, Crowley said he likes Instagram because when you are scrolling through your feed, your attention is focused on one post at a time. There is nothing distracting to the left or right of each individual picture. That totally makes sense. Facebook has ads all over the page, and Twitter has sponsored tweets that you can't get away from.
When asked about creating image-based content, Alex mentioned a web-based app called Pixlr. She and the other panelists agreed that being able to create content quickly is important. Sometimes you don't have time to wait for a design team to create something for you. This tool allows you to take a product photo and insert a fun background behind it. She also uses Photoshop and stock photos for her content creation work at Mike's Hard Lemonade.
The panel was asked about responding to negative comments. Crowley said "how would you respond to someone on the street who's complaining?" Treat them like a regular human being. Alex says to take the "customer service speak" out of it. Talk to them like a regular person, and chances are, that person will come down to your level. Mary weighed in by saying that just by extending your personal contact information, you are letting that person know that you really do want to help them, and at the same time show the other people following your brand that you care, and want to help that disgruntled customer.
The next panel I attended was also at the Tribune Tower. "Good Habits of Successful Social Media Managers" was the topic. Understanding your customers' behaviors and their motivations is very important to the social strategist's role, says KC Geen, Social Media Manager of GrubHub.
Divvy's Marketing Manager Elliot Greenberger said being able to empathize with customers is important. You need someone who will be able to immediately recognize where a dissatisfied customer is coming from. Some people are just trying to pick a fight. Others just want a sounding board, and someone who will listen to their problems.
Matt Kelly, Senior Community Manager at Social@Ogilvy said their community managers are titled "community directors". They're not just doing community management. They know and understand analytics. They are business partners to the client. They provide insights from the community that prove their value. Matt's advice is to read. You have to realize that a lot of what you're doing has already been done 100 years ago. Community managers combine PR, advertising, and marketing into what they do. Today we're taking those tools and using them on different channels than before.
In figuring out which platform to be on, you want to be able to be fully be there 100%. You have to look at the demographics of the people you want to attract, and see where those people are hanging out online. Grubhub used to be just on Twitter and Facebook. Their customers said they don't like Facebook because their moms are on it. They've recently added Instagram and Snapchat to the mix. They're able to do that because they've grown and now have the resources to expand the number of platforms they are on.
KC warned about letting your staff get siloed into platforms. In companies where certain people focus on a particular platform, it's important to understand the audiences of the other platforms you are on. Everyone on the social team should be aware of the behaviors of the different communities on other platforms. Knowing your audiences on the other social networks can help you with the channel you're covering.
The last session of the day was led by Nick Papagiannis of Cramer Krasselt. The session was called "SEO Strategies for PR and Social Media." He talked about how Google has recently changed to improve the user experience. These include page load time, device viewing, in depth articles, authentic content, and organic links.
Page load time - this has been a key factor in search engine rankings, but Google continues to elevate it. A bad load time is anything greater than 3 seconds, otherwise people will drop off. for every 1 second delay in page time, you get 7% loss in conversions. Google's PageSpeed Insights page is free and actually gives you tips on how to improve the speed. Nick says anything less than 70 out of 100 should be looked at, and improved.
Device viewing - make sure your website is optimized for viewing whether it's on a phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. Using responsive design on your website solves this problem.
Organic links - sites with more links pointing to them helps them rank higher.
Brands need to use several different links styles. These include branded (a brand name or website is the term), partial match (links that include several terms), and exact match (links that include only specific terms that you want to rank in search engines for). Google is now penalizing sites that use exact match links. Companies should be using branded and partial match links to grow their sites' SEO.
I'm back in the office tomorrow, but will be back at Social Media Week on Wednesday and Thursday! Which SMW events will you be attending this week? Let me know, maybe we can meet up and chat social media!