My trip to the Social Fresh conference in Orlando, Florida last week was a great learning experience for me. Some of the lessons learned were simply reminders of things I already knew. And not all of these lessons were directly related to the conference.
My first lesson, more accurately described as a refresher course, was not to be “penny wise and pound foolish”, i.e. don’t be cheap because it usually costs you more in the end. This first refresher ended up costing me US$60. By the time I finally decided to attend the conference, the Omni Orlando Resort where it was being held was fully booked so I decided to stay with a cousin who lives nearby. I decided it would be best to rent a car so that I could get around without inconveniencing anyone. So far, so good. I booked a car from Hertz and, on my arrival at the airport, went to pick it up. The Hertz agent desperately tried to upsell me everything from GPS service to a Porsche Cayenne, all of which I refused. I stuck to my economy rental. I needed GPS service in order to find my cousin’s house but I figured it would be cheaper to use my cell phone with data roaming service for just about 30 minutes. How much could that cost? Surely, it must cost less than the discounted $30 GPS fee for 3 days, which Hertz would be charging me. I was so wrong. The data roaming charges from my cell phone company, Digicel, was US$60 for less than 30 minutes of service. Next time, I’ll take the GPS service from the rental company.
My second lesson was that people attend a conference to hear from the speakers and vendors, not from other attendees. You may be saying “duh”, why would I think otherwise? But it’s not like I didn’t know that. It’s that, part of my goal in attending the conference was to talk to other attendees about my product, www.branditise.com, to see if anyone would be interested in using it or reselling it in the US. Everyone I spoke to, except for one lady, was at least cordial and in some cases were actually very nice. They all thought the product was a great idea and voiced interest in seeing more or even a demo, but seeing more or even a demo never materialised. In hindsight, I too would have likely behaved in the same manner towards another attendee’s product. The truth is, they decided to come to the conference because of the speakers and vendors. With limited time available, they would need to spend it with those people. I did manage to exchange a few business cards so hopefully a few persons will contact me to hear more when they finally have some time.
My other lessons were learned where I had planned to learn them – at the conference. Overall, I found the conference very useful and insightful. The morning session of Day 1 seemed a bit slow but things picked up by the afternoon and ended with a great presentation by Sarah Evans. Day 2 continued with a similar pace and also ended with a bang from Jay Baer.
The lessons learned at the conference were a fairly equal mix of new ideas, reinforcement of existing ideas and new ways of looking at old ideas. My main takeaways were:
- Build Community – Use your community members to actively build the community. This may seem obvious but is often overlooked in practice.
- Contest is King – Contest equals Content. Creatively engage community members by using contests and ensure that you leverage the content generated in the process. Repurpose and reuse this content as best as possible.
- Maxismise Usage of Social channels – Ensure that you clearly understand the best practices and best use scenarios of all popular social media channels, as you may be missing out on some simple ways to increase engagement and build community. Networks such as Slideshare.net and Spotify.com should be revisited to ensure that all relevant features are being used effectively by your brand. Unfortunately, some networks, such as Spotify.com, are still limited geographically so you should bear that in mind when selecting your channels.
- Paid Media is Mandatory – While focusing on your owned and earned media, do not overlook the need for paid media. Your social media organic reach will continue to decline; therefore, you must include paid media in your strategic planning.
- The Value of UGC – Generating content for your channels has always been a major challenge for most brands. However, User Generated Content (UGC) can be your most effortless but rewarding option. In addition, you may be sitting on a gold mine of content from your employees and customers so don’t miss out on leveraging them.
- Measure Meaningful Metrics – Your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) must be directly related to the initial goals you established when you started your social media programme. Your KPIs must also be relevant and interpretable by all of your business’s stakeholders.
- Social Media Tool – When it comes to digital media marketing don’t forget that there will always be “an app for that”. Whatever the content type, there is an app that will make your life easier when executing your daily tasks. Some of the apps mentioned were – www.IFTTT.com, www.haikudeck.com and www.phon.to to name a few. A new video service from Yahoo! called Yahoo! Screen was also introduced – check it out at www.screen.yahoo.com.
All event speakers brought their own style and invaluable contribution to the conference. Thanks to the following persons for improving my social media knowledge base:
|Sarah Evans||Sevans Strategy||@PRsarahsvans|
|Jay Baer||Convince & Convert||@jaybaer|
|Jessica Gioglio||Dunkin Donuts||@savvybostonian|
|Carrie Kerpen||Likeable Media||@carriekerpen|
|David Spinks||CMX Summit||@davidspinks|
|Lauren Teague||PGA Tour||@laurentee|
|Katie Roberts||Laureate International Universities||@katiebroberts|
|Lindzee McCain||Simply Measured||@lindzeemccain|
|Chris Moody||Oracle Marketing Cloud||@cnmoody|
And of course, a special thanks Jason Keath of Social Fresh (@jasonkeath) for making all this possible.
My final lesson learned on this trip was not at the conference; it was again rental car related. In case you have not had this experience, please learn from my big mistake – always return the car with a full tank of gas. When I picked up the Chevy Spark it had a full tank of gas. I returned it with just over ¾ tank remaining. During my check off process, imagine my surprise when I was reliably informed that I would be billed US$44 for gas. My first thought was that I could buy the entire car for US$44 in a slow market!
In the end, the enlightening and thought-provoking lessons learned at the conference far outweighed the ones learned outside the conference doors. My flight back home was incident free and I am now back to work and looking forward to the next conference later this year.