Last Friday I attended the PRSA Boston chapter’s annual Social Media Summit, where I joined with other Boston-area social media professionals to talk social strategy, best practices, and a whole lot of live tweeting.
The conference confirmed what I love about this particular subset of marketing: there’s no way to know what the future holds. Here are my three main takeaways from the event.1. Always try new things.
As I like to say: what worked six months ago, isn’t going to be what works today, and it’s definitely not going to be what works six months from now. Social media and digital marketing are always changing, and your strategy has to be able to change with it. This was especially evident when discussing video, a topic that came up many times during the day-long summit.
As Josh Karpf, Director of Social Media at DraftKings said, “You’re creating a TV spot every day. Sometimes it doesn’t go perfectly.” He encouraged brand managers to try new things when creating video, and to be less scared of videos not being perfect.
Many panelists, including those on the “Using Video in Social” panel, encouraged brands to test live video. They all suggested doing as much planning as possible but, ultimately, encouraged brands to just take the plunge. Even if you only know 80 percent of what you’re doing, just try it and learn for next time.
Another point that Emily Truax, Assistant Director of Social Media at BU said: “You shouldn’t only be taking the videos your video team sends you.” She urges social media managers to insert themselves in the video process and find resources to create videos specifically for use on social media channels.
2. Listen first, engage second.
A lot of value is placed on social media interaction, and, for sure, social is a great place to increase engagement and awareness of your brand. But often, people forget that social media should be used first and foremost to listen.
Kerry Fitzgerald from Dunkin Donuts explained how some of their holiday executions have come from fan insights. They noticed that people were thanking Dunkin Donuts on their graduation caps, so created some of their own imagery on the subject.
Listening to your audience first also allows you to engage inauthentic conversation and interact in a more human way. All of the brands at the PRSA Boston Social Media Summit took pride in crafting individualized responses - and not just pre-approved, canned responses - in order to show they were listening to each customer.
3. Be prepared - but realistic - about an impending social media crisis.
When it’s happening to you, a social media crisis can be earth shattering. Customers are responding negatively and the bad buzz seems to be swirling around you.
The threat of a potential social media crisis supports two things:
Of course each crisis is different, but having a plan of response helps take some of the initial guesswork out of an already stressful situation. Have prepared social media responses to potential problems, know who you need to contact in case of different emergencies, and, if you can, designate someone who can work to continue your regular programming. If everyone is focused on the crisis, there’s no one responding to the day-to-day needs of your customers on social media.
Even more importantly, look at each crisis individually and decide how best to respond. While you may initially feel like this crisis is the end of the world, assess the size of each need/crisis so that you respond in a way that fits that crisis. Sometimes, taking a post deemed offensive down and publishing an apology will suffice, but sometimes a crisis response needs a more robust approach.
Overall, this conference helped to confirm a few of the things I love about this industry: there’s always value in trying new things, you should always listen more than you talk, and don’t forget to take a deep breath when crisis hits.
While Sarah has extensive experience with social media strategy, community management, and sponsored content, she understands that second-guessing what worked in the past is the only way to be successful in the future. Prior to joining InkHouse, Sarah worked at Edelman San Francisco as the main community manager and digital content strategist for Adobe’s Digital Imaging brands: Photoshop and Lightroom. She has won numerous awards including Facebook’s Craft award, a PR News social media icon, and two Cannes Lions. She majored in Marketing and Management at the Villanova School of Business and remains an active member of the alumni community.