Earlier this week, an impressive array of young, hip activists convened to exchange ideas and learn from one another in a setting that can only be described as utopian for the group. Although the same could certainly be said for the Democratic National Convention, that is not the assembly I’m referring to. I’m referring to Ragan Communications’ Social Media & Storytelling Summit at Facebook.
Nary a participant (myself included) was able to resist taking a slew of pictures to chronicle their visit to Utopia. Many of us took on the swooning demeanor of a teenage girl meeting her favorite celebrity. But seriously, who could blame us? Social media professionals can be groupies too.
To kick things off, Brian Solis shook up the group with his outlook on how we should communicate with our audiences today. As a self-proclaimed digital anthropologist, Brian shared examples of changing the conversation to excel in today’s world.
For example, press releases have been around for over 100 years, but have little use today because they are written for the people who approve them, not who read them. He shared the perfect analogy of confusing and contradictory street parking signs in New York. One proposed improvement was iterative, but better; that option paled in comparison to the user-centered innovative version.
Above all, we should not communicate just to check a box; we should communicate when we have something valuable to communicate to our audience. The goal is to create content that people don’t just look at, they share.
Up next, Craig Mullaney of Facebook shared thoughts on how to connect with a global audience using Facebook. He shared insightful statistics on trends in executive social engagement with employees and prospective employees. One fact that particularly stuck with me was that 76% of employees say they would prefer to work with a social CEO.
Stacey Miller of Cision revealed a series of Twitter-specific tactics and hacks to improve metrics and ROI. Aside from pointers on the evolving specs of what does and does not count towards the 140-character Tweet limit, Stacey covered some great ideas on using Twitter to build relationships with the media. She gave a major shout-out to Canva as an astute way to work smarter not harder. Other hacks covered included event marketing, Twitter cards and lead gen cards. My favorite new plugin Stacey introduced was clicktotweet.
Angela Fernandez of Ketchum got a little good luck/bad luck by having her session moved on the fly to just before lunch instead of just after lunch. Is it better to present to a group of “hangry” social media professionals whose lunch was a bit delayed or the same group in a food coma right after lunch? Six one, half dozen the other if you ask me. In any case, Angela had the undivided attention of the group.
As the mother of two Gen-Z’ers, Angela had valuable insight into what differentiates Gen Z from the Millennials we all can’t quit thinking about. Among the 15 forces shaping the Gen Z mindset that she presented were some very interesting qualities: lacking brand loyalty, less susceptible to vices and eager to build a better planet. One reveal that many of us had caught onto but may have incorrectly attributed to millennials was learning from privacy fails of their predecessors and the more cautious approach to their social media footprint.
Ethan Arpi had the pleasure of educating the group on how to speak with a visual voice for Instagram success. He started with chronicling Instagram’s remarkable growth trajectory while weaving in details about how businesses have been a integral part of Instagram from day one.
He also gave us a sneak peek at a few new tools for businesses that are gradually being rolled out to the community but which most of us had not yet seen. Ethan finished by sharing creative engagement tips to help the group such as: find your visual voice, focus on relevance and go behind the scenes.
Next, Jill Jones of LinkedIn and Dana Graves of Citi shared “Inside Secrets of Showcasing Business and Personal Brands.” Jill’s portion of the presentation was a great primer of must-do’s for LinkedIn along with cold hard numbers that would convince any executive that employee advocacy is imperative. My personal favorite was this gem demonstrating the reach of employees and their networks versus corporate channels alone.
Dana Graves also served as the voice of experience, telling the story of how Citi got to the absolutely remarkable LinkedIn company page follower-count of 1,000,000.
While I was looking forward to the panel on live video, it far exceeded my expectations. Led by Cathy Hackl of Live Video Campus, the panel shared valuable from-the-trenches ideas and tactics of ways to use live video, what to do and what not to do. Joe Martin of Adobe, Shanda Maloney of UFC and Ronald Pruett of Roker Media each relayed up-to-the minute dissection of the state of live video.
To combat the inevitable waning attention span that comes toward the end of an action-packed agenda, the Ragan team shrewdly brought in a ringer. That ringer was Jeremiah Owyang of Crowd Companies Council. Complete with a cliffhanger of what the next phase of the digital era will be, Jeremiah invigorated the crowd sans the benefit of additional caffeine.
He painted an incredibly detailed picture of how business as we know it will continue to evolve to a sharing economy. At first, there were skeptics in the room, but by the time he was done, I think we were most if not all converts to the notion that we must adapt to this new world order. If you’re wondering about the cliffhanger — what comes after the Internet Era, The Social Media Age and The Collaborative Economy Age — you’ll have to look up Jeremiah. I’m not giving it away!