Even Tampa Has Social Media Conferences
On Monday, SocialFresh held a conference in Tampa at the Doubletree Hotel. There were about 250 attendees or the day-long event. The usual social media-related topics were covered but, more importantly, we all gathered to watch the Super Bowl together Sunday night before the conference began.
Once the conference did begin, keynote speaker Maggie Fox from Social Media Group touched on how her company handles social media and uttered an all-important notion we've said over and over again here: Viral is a thing that happens. Not a strategy. Indeed. While you can certainly plan and make every conceivable effort to enable something to go viral, until it goes viral, it ain't viral.
Fox also noted the importance of maximizing earned media through social channels. In addition to paid media, earned media can beget even more media coverage for a company it is carefully shared through social channels allowing for the further spread of a given message.
When Greg Cangialosi took the stage, he reminded attendees social media is about trust and influence. It's a delicate balancing act. He also noted good old, old fashioned email is still the primary medium for sharing content according to Strong Mail. And that it's an important distribution mechanism for social content. Don't forget it's importance was the takeaway.
In a humorous mini-survey, a moderator of one of the morning panels asked the audience if anyone had remembered seeing Bridgestone advertise during the Super Bowl Two people raised their hand. Hmm. So much for that $5 million or so they spent.
When GM's Chris Barger gave his keynote, he deftly addressed Toyota's sad situation and said, "open, candid engagement can win admiration and mitigate negativity." While it's a bit late for Toyota at this point, marketers would do well to remember this point when they find themselves in a bit of trouble. Because, it will happen eventually.
In answer to an audience member's question regarding what Toyota might have done to better manage their current situation using social media, Barger responded by saying brands need to be engaged before the shit hits the fan. OK, he didn't say shit but that's what he meant. Brands shouldn't wait until a crisis has occurred before they make possible dialog through social channels with consumers.
In a concurrent panel with Barger's keynote, a panelist stated social media isn't free. It's not. While the actual media may be "free," getting and managing that free media requires time, skill and, yes, paid staff to interact, manage content and make sure the brand has a voice in the space. It ain't free people.
Many other panels shared valuable information throughout the day including a panel on corporate blogging. The panel was valuable mostly becasue this dude named Steve Hall was on it. Damn, that guy is smart. He know everything. He says social media is the wave of the future and if marketers don't tweeter their way to Google Buzz fame, they'll end up lame.
OK, so that Steve Hall dude is an idiot but his panel-mates, GM's Chris Barger and Voice Communications' Josh Hallet new what they were talking about and made a few points very clear when it comes to corporate blogging: keep the lawyers out, be very transparent and make sure you very quickly engage with those who ask to be engaged with.
Have a presence. Don't jump in because it's a fad or, like Toyota, you have a crisis to deal with. Be there. All the time. But don't force it. Don't require everyone in the company to blog and tweet. Some people have the natural skills. Most don't Identify the ones they do and put them in the right position do do what your company needs to do in the social space.
In all, yea, social media is the hype of the moment. There's no doubt about that. But, as time goes on, it will settle into the marketing toobox and marketers will be better off for it. And so will consumers. Which is really the most important thing here.
Photos from the event are here.