7 key takeaways from Social Media Marketing World 2019

Start tracking your hashtags!

Yet, no matter whether you’re a visitor, a speaker or a sponsor, this type of event is always an investment in both time and resources. So what did I take away from it, aside from precious professional contacts? With that in mind, here are 7 insights (or musings) from my three days in San Diego at #SMMW19, from speaker gems to the best strategies to make the most out of these events, and social stats on the conference.

#1 Content marketing - Keep writing for yourself

This is a little bit inspired by Ann Handley’s presentation at Social Media Marketing World, but it mainly came up in a conversation with a fellow content marketer in the networking plaza. In the age of digital, it’s so easy to lose focus on why you like writing. You spend so much time writing tweets, blog posts, webinar presentations or white papers that your passion no longer translates when you get home. Bit by bit, your creativity crumbles as you get lost in your professional content.

It’s time for good resolutions (I’m really talking to myself here): whether it’s writing in your day-to-day diary or adding the next chapter to your secret fanfiction, don’t forget to make time to write for yourself. This will help you lose your marketing (robot) voice and add a more personal touch to your professional writing (more very good advice from Ann Handley).

#2 Digital Strategy - All hail to Instagram, queen platform for marketers

With the Instagram Checkout news hitting the digital sphere just a few days ago, the high popularity of the Instagram marketing track did not really come as a surprise. I personally attended the presentation of Instagram Strategist Tyler J. McCall and took away some very good, no-nonsense reminders about how to promote your brand on Instagram:

  • Keep it on the platform: simple, but so true. Instagram rewards you when you don’t push external links, but as marketers, we tend to include at all costs links to our brand website or blog.

  • Call to DM in Instagram Stories are the best calls to action: in line with the previous piece of advice, replace your call to swipe up with an invitation to send you brand a direct message (DM), e.g., if you’re a brand strategist/consultant, invite your viewers to DM you about one of their pain points.

  • Cold DMs just don’t work: when you think about it, this is true in most places, including LinkedIn. Don’t you hate it when you get a sales pitch from a complete stranger in your inbox?

Meanwhile, Mari Smith's keynote illustrated the tense relationship between marketers and Instagram sister media platform, Facebook. It seems like we’re still at that stage: can’t live with it, can’t live without it.

#3 Networking - Taking selfies with social media royalty

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve never been to a conference where selfies were so important. Social Media Marketing World abounds with networking opportunities with thought leaders, and the first thing several people I met did after a few minutes of conversation was to open their phone and show me the selfies they had taken that day :-)

Why is that? It’s easy - as marketers, we religiously follow our favorite industry leaders on social, and all of a sudden, here they are in real life, as real people, attending the same social media conference as you are! As someone who spends way too much time on Twitter, there are several people (famous or not) I’ve been talking to for years despite the fact I’ve never met them in person. So whenever I get that chance, I do share it with my community!

This reminds me: any person attending Social Media Marketing World needs a solid game plan in order to make the most out of the event. There’s just so much going on - at any time during the event, you have to choose between actual sessions (there are several going on at the same time) and dozens of networking activities suggested by attendees (yoga, eat-ups, networking walks, taco tours, etc.). I even attended a live session of one of my favorite Twitter chats: #TwitterSmarter by Madalyn Sklar!

Hence the importance of:

  • Planning as many meetings as you can in advance; 
  • Carving time out to recharge, as well as for serendipitous meetups;
  • Accepting that you won’t be able to do everything (though the access pass gives you the option to watch the replay of the sessions you missed - definitely going to use that for this year’s edition).
  • Not forgetting San Diego - I’m based in New York City, so I took the opportunity to spend the weekend in town and enjoy the beautiful beaches and hiking trails (I had already done the zoo!).

#4 Influencer marketing - Still looking for authenticity

Social Media Marketing World Conference Top Hashtags

Top hashtags used in connection with Social Media Marketing World
(hashtag analytics by Talkwalker)

If at all possible, influencer marketing is even more of a buzzword than it was last year. In a recent Takwalker survey, 69% of respondents ranked influencer marketing as a top strategic priority, and 61% stated they would increase their investment in this channel in 2019.

This topic was also very present in the #SMMW19 conference agenda, with 8 session titles mentioning the term, from the “Lessons from the trenches” by Ursula Ringham from SAP and Megan Conley from Social Tribe to the recommendations of social media author Neal Schaffer on “How to create an influencer marketing strategy that creates results”.

The titles of these sessions already tell you a lot about how brands perceive influencer marketing: for some, it’s a war. For others, it’s not clear how to drive or measure the results of these campaigns.

In the end, marketers seem to be full of doubts when it comes to influencer authenticity. Are their communities real? Does influencer marketing really drive results? Is it even possible to measure them?

SMMW19 Influencer Marketing

#5 Analytics & Attribution - 3 questions to effectively measure your marketing ROI

How do you effectively measure the ROI of social? I really enjoyed these three simple prerequisites put forward by Chris Penn in his speech on attribution.

  • What are your business goals at the company level?

  • What are your real KPIs? If that number goes the wrong way, will you get fired? Or if you prefer, if you surpass your targets, will you get a bonus? Basically, KPIs are objectives you’ve agreed upon with you boss, and on which your job depends. And yes, as outlined by Chris Penn, this might be the follower count of your CEO.

  • How will you collect the data you need to effectively measure your KPIs? In a nutshell, which tools will you be using, and how do they connect between each other? Is your reporting going to be automated?

There was so much more to take in, including a description of what constitutes good data, which is why I recommend you listen to the full presentation here.

Full disclosure: I’m a big fan of Christopher Penn, and I have even organized some events with him in the context of my marketing job at Talkwalker.


#6 Customer experience - The importance of delivering a memorable experience to your audience

This is the age of infobesity, with customers having to face dozens of brand messages a day. How will you stand out? It can be harder for B2B marketers like me, but that is something we should continuously strive for. Here are Dan Gingiss’ five criteria to get people to talk positively about your brand.

I particularly enjoyed the example of a supermarket who transformed their boring gin tasting stand into a fully customizable experience for the customers where they go to create their own gin-based cocktails!

#7 Social Media Marketing World 2019: the numbers on social

It goes with the job: I work for a company specialized in measurement and social analytics, so I wanted to have a look at the social scorecard of this conference

Social Media Marketing World Conference

Key Metrics for Social Media Marketing World - a conference
organized in San Diego by Social Media Examiner
(data collected by Talkwaker Analytics)

Did you go to Social Media Marketing World? Share your key takeaway with us on Twitter (@talkwalker) or in the comments section.

What’s next on your agenda of great marketing conferences? I’ll be at Social Media Week New York (end of April) and Social Media Week Los Angeles in June - please message me on Twitter if you want to connect in person (we’ll take a selfie, I promise - and nerd out about marketing & analytics).  

Image Credit: Creative Commons/Flickr/TopRank Marketing

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