My Top Takeaways from #SproutSessions: Inspiring Action 2018

Kate Meyers Emery

Sprout Social has been hosting a series of online webinar-based conferences, where digital attendees can hear from a variety of speakers on topics relating to social media, from how to use influencers to crisis management.

There are a few things I enjoy about these webinars: 1) they are totally free, 2) they feature a diverse group of speakers who work at a wide variety of companies and at different levels within them, 3) they are available on YouTube so if you miss one you can easily catch up, and 4) the topics are fabulous and the speakers usually give you some easy takeaways for your brand.

I didn’t listen to all of the talks- some weren’t as relevant to me and what I’m doing at the moment- but, I wanted to share some of the top things I learned and how I’m hoping to implement these into my social media strategies.

Want to catch up? You can access all of the videos here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLKiq_js1-Cm1DVZTsyQXTSUGnPM3zqwJF

“The best way to humanize your brand is to work with influential humans”

The first session of the week was by Ben Trinh (@bentrinh_) of Postmate and was focused on influencer marketing.

Why work with influencers? Ben notes that brands are more pushing content and engagement over sales, and as part of this process, they need to humanize themselves. “The best way to humanize your brand is to work with influential humans.” Influencers have the ability to create more authentic connections between your target audience and your brand.

If you’re just getting started with influencer marketing, it can be useful to consider how it can fit into a pre-existing marketing strategy rather than creating one from scratch. Got a paid ad somewhere that isn’t doing well? Use that money to test out influencer marketing.

What if you’re a non-profit that doesn’t have the budget? Try to find people who may be influencers that are already focused on your brand and would be willing to help. Perhaps offering membership to your museum or tickets to a show would be enough, and a nice gift for them helping out.

“If you can’t articulate your core values, your customers are probably struggling with it too.”

The next talk that I found helpful was by Leigh-Anne LeFurge (@lalefurge) and Lauren Gebhardt of the March of Dimes on how to use personal stories to inspire action.

Throughout the talk, they really focused on the importance of understanding the mission of your institution and the core values of the campaign before determining what content to create and share. They suggested coming up with six words that describe your institution and its goals, and then considering what stories would promote these. As Leigh-Ann said “If you can’t articulate your core values, your customers are probably struggling with it too.”

What I really liked about their approach was that they were focused on re-using existing content rather than creating it. Non-profits often don’t have that much time, so re-using content is important. Once you begin to collect content, make sure you are using a variety of stories that are told in different ways, such as video, text, and images, make sure you always have permissions, and check the analytics throughout the process. Finally, they note that it is important to engage with people who are commenting on the posts as these people may be future content creators!

“The best defense is a good offense… or it could have been titled the best offense is a good defense”

My next favorite was by Andrew Caravella (@andrewcaravella) from Sprout Social who covered crisis management. I think we all want to believe that we won’t face a crisis- that our messaging won’t be misinterpreted, that we won’t time something wrong, that a fake tweet or troll won’t control the message- but it happens. As Andrew notes in reference to the talk’s title: “the best defense is a good offense… or it could have been titled the best offense is a good defense.”

Andrew argues that we need to start by dissecting the crisis to understand what is happening. They can begin on social media, they can be amplified by social media, and/or they can be resolved on social media.

The first step when faced with this, is to notify stakeholders- who among your organization needs to be a part of the conversation, and from there determine who else should be brought into the conversation.

Next, act fast but prudently. Responding too quickly without all the facts can be dangerous, but on the other hand you don’t want to wait too long and potentially lose control of the conversation. Once you’re ready to take action, acknowledge fault, and be transparent and authentic with your response.

Finally, monitor the conversation to see what happens. Does it die out? Does it amplify? Is it reaching other social media channels? Highlight and reshare approved messaging and responses from others that may help ease the crisis. Respond to individual questions, but don’t engage with trolls.

What I really appreciated about the conversation, was Andrew’s discussion of what steps you should take in advance to make sure your offense and defense is ready to go: Create guidelines for identifying and managing crises; determine roles and responsibilities; create materials and messaging that can be tweaked to fit the crisis and determine who needs to approve the messaging; and have an internal communication plan- who needs to be informed on staff so that they can properly communicate this, and educate them on how to deal with these.

“Keep a close watch on your industry and make sure you’re not following the pack… you’ve got to differentiate… Let your freak flag fly.”

The final session of this week’s conference was by Lizz Kannenberg from Sprout Social, who was speaking about shaping the voice of your brand from scratch. The goal is that you sound unique and create a brand that your audience will want to follow.

The first stage involves gathering inspiration. This means looking at the brand positioning you currently have and asking “what does the audience love about the brand, what are their functional and emotional needs, and what differentiates the brand?” Lizz suggests putting these on a mood board and gathering ideas from your brand’s neighborhood to further develop the overall look and feel, while considering how this could translate across multiple channels.

Then, pick a celebrity personality who would embody your brand, who’s voice you would use if you could. I love that idea. Dibs Katya.

From there, it’s time to generate ideas and bring them to life. Identify 3–4 personality traits of your celebrity and from your mood board. Consider how these traits come to life? How does it extend across your content, culture, products, and customer service?

Throughout this, Lizz reminds us to “keep a close watch on your industry and make sure you’re not following the pack… you’ve got to differentiate.”

Brand impacts everything, but especially social media where you can quickly experiment with voice, make changes, and adapt to engagement. It’s a great way to explore, expand, and nuance. Listen not only to how people engage with your brand, but also how they engage with one another. And remember, it’s ok to “Let your freak flag fly.” I love that.

My other favorite tips and tidbits from Sprout Sessions

“Create stuff that you’d be excited to show others.” Joe Sargent (@iamjoesargent) of Effen Vodka on how to keep your current customers happy.

“Our goal is to have our audience believing in the power in imagination and that anything is possible.” Madison Utendahl (@madison.utendahl) from the Museum of Ice Cream on using social media to inspire real-world action

“Content shared by employees receives 8x more engagement than content shared by brand channels.” Alicia Garibaldi (@albagaribaldi) from GlassDoor on the importance of having a strong brand identity when recruiting.

Kate Meyers Emery

Written by

PhD, Roc native, Digital evangelist. Manager of Digital Engagement at @eastmanmuseum. @SUNYgeneseo @EdinburghUni + @michiganstateu alum. Opinions my own

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