As the Content Marketing Director at Bop Design, I had the privilege of attending Social Media Marketing World presented by Social Media Examiner. The event showcased experts in the digital marketing, content creation, and social media spaces. I whittled down all the information from the conference into 10 tips, trends, and takeaways.
1.The Buzz Is Live-Streaming Video
The main buzz at the conference that many of the keynote speakers touched on (or dove deep into) was live-streaming video. According to Social Media Examiner, 73% of marketers plan on increasing the use of video in 2016. It’s important to not just have video, it also needs to be live-streaming. First, it was Meerkat, then Periscope, then Blab, and now Facebook Live – all video streaming services. Facebook has even stated that Facebook Live videos will get preference on Facebook. YouTube is even in the live streaming game with YouTube Live.
2. Facebook Still Most Important
In his keynote speech, Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner stated that Facebook is still the most important social network in 2016. The newest development is that rather than organic traffic and great referrals from Facebook, marketers are now using Facebook for advertising. It has become a “pay-to-play” space for companies and brands.
3. Brands Need to Stop Treating Content Like Advertising
One of the leaders in content marketing, Joe Pulizzi, founder of Content Marketing Institute, held a session on how to create a massive audience. The main mistake he noted companies and brands were making with content marketing is that rather than treat it as an opportunity to deliver valuable insights to an audience, they were using it to advertise their product. According to Joe, successful content marketers do 2 things: they create value for their audience and they establish themselves as the leading expert in their niche.
4. There Is a Future for Content Marketing
A recent TechCrunch article about digital marketing and the state of marketing provided an interesting discussion on whether there is a future for content marketing. Three marketing experts, Mitch Joel, Michal Stelzner, and Mark Schaefer, discussed the state of marketing and what is working and not working in marketing. There were several takeaways from their discussion:
- Adjust, Adapt, Adopt. Marketers need to continually be adjusting to changes in the industry and consumer preferences, adapt to new technologies and platforms, and adopt new methods of communication into their existing brand strategies.
- It’s not about the numbers and the analytics of traffic, it’s about attracting the right audience of potential customers.
- The cost of getting traffic and competing in the online and offline space is getting much higher.
- Marketers need to carefully evaluate the integrity of content and stay away from “fluff” articles that have zero value to anyone. Unfortunately, the fluff articles are rampant right now as brands aren’t sure what they should really be doing with written content.
- Companies absolutely must have a content marketing strategy and a brand strategy.
5. Engaging Content Is Top Challenge for Marketers
The Chief Content Office at Marketing Profs, Ann Handley, shared how to create better content for B2C and B2B marketing. She noted that creating engaging content is still a top challenge for marketers, primarily because they are playing it too safe. Ann’s solution, based on case studies, was to create a Bigger Context, Bolder Marketing, and Braver Perspectives. The main takeaway, beyond the Bigger/Bolder/Braver, was to take 3 adjectives that describe your company and to turn that into your brand voice.
6. Know Your Attribution
In a session on Practical Social Analytics, Ian Lurie of Portent, a digital marketing agency, delivered practical advice on how to use Google Analytics to track and measure social media efforts. The best takeaway from the session was that companies must know their attribution. Where are good leads coming from? Where is good traffic coming from? Where should you focus your efforts?
7. You Need To Update Your LinkedIn Profile
Your LinkedIn profile, especially in the B2B Marketing space, is a great way to connect with current clients and future prospects. The session by Stephanie Sammons focused on ways to boost visibility and reach by updating a LinkedIn profile. Here are several of the tactics she shared in her session to boost visibility and reach:
- Build trust with your LinkedIn profile picture. Use a professional photo (if possible) where you are smiling and looking at the camera. Also, be the only person in the photo.
- Craft a compelling headline that includes who you are, something personal, who you help and how you help them.
- Liven up your LinkedIn summary and break the digital barrier. Be personable, passionate, have a great perspective, solve problems, describe who you help, your process, and the ultimate pay-off for clients.
- Send personalized invitations to people you want to connect with. Let them know why you want to connect.
8. Almost 70% of the Buying Process Is Complete Before Sales Is Contacted
Marcus Sheridan of The Sales Lion is a huge proponent of content marketing and shared the qualities of successful companies using content marketing. He started his session referencing the above statistic as a case for content marketing. Below are a few traits of companies successfully using content marketing to grow traffic and lead generation:
- Everyone in the company buys into content marketing.
- They don’t overthink the strategy. They give customers the content they ask for.
- They are in it for the long haul and continuously create content.
- They measure and track their efforts.
9. Human to Human (Not B2B or B2C)
In an interesting session involving psychology and how to use it in marketing, Bryan Kramer, CEO of PureMatter, discussed his philosophy of human-to-human (H2H) communications. He believes that people share online when companies break through the human firewall. The main things these companies do to breakthrough? They listen, include people, and understand humans and their needs.
10. Trust Not Traffic.
The closing keynote presentation by Mark Schaefer discussed limos, Paris, tacos, road maps, and live video. While discussing his entire presentation could easily take up several blog posts, I’ll hit the main takeaway for me. Driving traffic is great as long as you are also building trust with your audience. The main crux of Mark’s keynote discusses how interwoven marketing and branding can be and how we need to take a thoughtful, customer-centric approach to understanding our audience and develop strategies around that. Creating trust with our marketing efforts should drive everything that we, as marketers, salespeople, and business owners, do.
So, that’s my experience at SMMW in a nutshell. The more time we spend marketing, strategizing, reviewing metrics, looking at goals, and creating content, the less time we seem to spend listening to potential customers. A strong brand always listens and responds accordingly, whether it creates a much-needed how-to blog or a video chat.