This week, I was in San Diego representing DegreeSearch at Social Media Marketing World (hashtag #SMMW13). SMMW is a conference presented by Social Media Examiner, and is an event designed to inspire and educate social media marketers with ideas, new skills, and best practices from some of the top marketers in the world.
I’ve been blogging for over 10 years, and have been attending conferences since 2009. This was my first time attending as a representative of my employer, and I enjoyed having the chance to tell people about our company. I was able to share some successes that we’ve had on DegreeSearch’s social channels, and learn new ways to work with the challenges we face.
Not only did I attend the conference with the intention of learning new things, I was anxious to connect with other people who work in the higher education space, and swap ideas on the best ways to publish content, attract leads, gain brand awareness, and gain new followers. Before the conference began, I joined groups on LinkedIn and Google+, and contacted several people in education. I was able to set aside time to meet these contacts in person, and many of these connections evolved into friendships.
The conference schedule was jam-packed with information, and sessions were led by industry experts in traditional marketing, public relations, social media, and analytics. Because it was a social media conference, and everyone was tweeting, the following are some of my favorite key takeaways from the event, all in 140 characters or less.
- “Content is king, but engagement is queen, and she rules the house” – Mari Smith
- Reply to your fans’ comments and questions promptly (within 30 minutes) instead of industry average of 13 hours
- Content that drives action: easy to answer questions, calls to action, and shareable images
- Restrain yourself from over-promotion. Focus on sharing good content and interact, promote your own content no more than 20% of the time
- Communities don’t have to persist to be emotionally resonant
- Create “thick value”: take something good and make it better (don’t repackage junk)
- Interact and appeal to your prospective customers before they know that they need you
- Get site visitors to come back frequently and “feed from your trough,” and nourish those visitors with good content
- 10% of influencers in a group can sway the sentiments of the whole, and can take a brand/product opinion from “like” to “love”
- Respond to negative comments publicly, then resolve privately. Do not delete comments, show that you are willing to fix problems.
- Be you, online and offline, in public and in private.
One of the recurring thoughts I had during the conference was how many people have a desire to be involved in social media marketing, but how few know how to get the right education to reach this goal. It’s difficult to establish a social media curricula when social platforms and marketing tactics are constantly evolving. Whereas traditional “experts” who present in an academic/educational forum have a master’s degree or doctorate degree, many social media courses are taught by people who have not earned a college degree.
I think that events like Social Media Marketing World are instrumental in giving real-world applications, strategy, and tactics in a rapidly evolving field. While there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for social media marketing, adopting social media best practices can help marketers in any field be successful. I’m excited that I was able to interact with so many influencers and glean knowledge from their presentations. In the two days I’ve been back, I’ve already started implementing some of these tips and strategies.
Did you attend #SMMW13? What was your greatest takeaway?