10 Big Social Media Marketing Questions Answered by Experts: Takeaways from #smmw16

Social Media Marketing World is one of the top marketing conferences and is organised by Social Media Examiner every year (and my personal favourite when it comes to marketing conferences). This year SMMW16 was bigger and better (in sunny San Diego, California) with 3000+ participants and 100+ expert-led sessions.

Here is one statistic to give you an idea of the impact that the conference had on the industry — the official hashtag #smmw16 had almost 1 Billion Twitter impressions in just 3 days!

This was my second time at this conference and I had fun making new friends, reconnecting with old friends, learning, sharing and taking notes for the future.

I had many questions in my mind when I went to the conference. By the time I walked out of the last session, I got answers to most of them. Here is a list of few questions along with the answers from leading experts in the industry.

Question 1: What is the next ‘Big thing’ in social media marketing?

Answer: Live Video

Session: Opening Keynote — Social Media Marketing in 2016: What the newest research reveals

Speaker: Mike Stelzner

Mike Stelzner, in his opening keynote revealed some key findings from the yet-to-be-released 2016 Social Media Marketing Industry Report. And most of his slides were about ‘Live Video’ and the impact of services like BLAB, Snapchat and Periscope on marketing. So if you want to spend time working on one new social media marketing trend in 2016, it would be Live Video.

Reverse Media Fame:

One more point I’d like to highlight from the opening keynote is: ‘Reverse Media Fame‘. It was the term used by Mike Stelzner to indicate how traditional media has started recognising the power of online media. He quoted the example of ‘The Amazing Race‘ television series which recently hired Social Media stars — YouTube celebrities, Vine stars and Instagram models to improve the declining viewership of the program. This trend clearly shows the emerging power and acceptance of social media as the ‘media’ of the future.

Question 2: How do I build authenticity into my marketing campaigns?

Answer: You cannot build authenticity, you can only reveal it.

Session: How to be authentic on Audio and Video

Speaker: David H. Lawrence XVII

David spoke about authenticity being a choice, a state and a possibility. Many brands and business try to ‘create’ authenticity. But authenticity is about not forcefully creating something, but it is about naturally expressing the true identity and culture of the brand. For an individual, authenticity is not something you project, it is something that you are. He also encouraged every individual to be themselves, stop trying to be perfect and to get on social media (and Live Video) without any fear. With all the buzz about Live Video, this was a valuable input for many who might have self-doubt or who might be obsessed with perfection. The expert advice was to ‘just get out there and do it’.

I liked one of his slides that had the quote — “Cultivate the courage to be imperfect” by Brene’ Brown. I think that is a good word for many of us.

Question 3: How long do I have to wait to see results in Content Marketing?

Answer: 12+ months of consistent, planned creation and promotion of high-quality relevant content in the right channels.

Session: Content Marketing for Small Businesses: 6 Steps to Create a Massive Audience

Speaker: Joe Pulizzi

Personally, I was happy to hear this statement — it was an affirmation of our agency’s approach. We have been telling many of our new clients, “Digital Marketing is a long term game, please have patience.” That is because in the last few years we found that clients who let us consistently work on content marketing, for a longer period of time have seen great results in terms of growth and increase in multiple areas of their business. So I was excited to hear words like ‘patience‘ and ‘12+ months‘ and ‘long term‘ from Joe Pulizzi, who is a leading influencer in the content marketing industry.

Question 4: Is there a future for content marketing?

Answer: YES! (thankfully)

Session: Panel Discussion: Is there a future for content marketing?

Speakers: Mitch Joel, Mike Stelzner and Mark Schaefer

This panel discussion was a power-packed, fun-filled, 45-minute session with discussions & tough questions on topics including: the real impact of content marketing, engagement, private media and ROI. Many of us find that our social media audience is shrinking. Reach and engagement as metrics are becoming more and more difficult to measure. Mike Stelzner felt that this trend of shrinking audience is true, but that may be because the wrong audience are going out and the right ones are coming in. Mark Schaefer, the author of the blog post on ’Content Shock’, also agreed that it is getting more and more difficult to get the right content in front of the right audience. He also mentioned that the days of free easy traffic was over. But all 3 experts agreed that there was hope for the future. With the right type of content, the right adaptation to new trends and with the right tracking of the right metrics, marketers can succeed. At the end of the session, the conclusion was that ‘Content marketing is NOT dead‘, but is evolving and growing.

Question 5: Which is the right camera for creating online videos?

Answer: Your smart-phone or the Sony A 6300

Session: Video Composition and Stuff

Speaker: Levi Bethune

I love gadgets, so I attended this technical session in which Levi Bethune talked about the various types of cameras, lenses, apps, audio, device settings, lightings and much more. As we have seen in some of our earlier video marketing blog posts, to start your online video marketing journey, your mobile phone is a good enough tool provided you have the right lighting and apps. But for advanced marketers, the camera recommended by Levi Bethune isSony A 6300, which has many useful features.

Question 6: Strategies to consistently create high-quality content?

Answer: Have a schedule, write everyday and read a lot

Session: How to create quality blog posts quickly and consistently

Speaker: Heidi Cohen

Writing is not easy. And consistently writing and creating high-quality content is the key to online marketing success. It is a great way of adding value to your audience. But writing takes discipline and practice. Heidi Cohen’s tips for writing is to do it on a daily basis with a predetermined schedule. She also talked about the importance of reading and the difference it makes to the kind of content that you could produce. After all, what goes in determines what comes out!

Question 7: How much should I spend or budget for social media analytics?

Answer: 25% of your marketing budget

Session: Data-driven customer journey

Speaker: Christopher Penn

Analytics is often ignored by marketers. But it should take top priority, after the launch of each marketing campaign. In his session on data-driven customer journey, Christopher Penn talked about the importance of measurement and the practical ways with which to measure customer journey. Measurement is a marketing activity that needs investment into resources and tools. And for every dollar you spend on marketing, Christopher Penn says that you should set aside a quarter for analytics. If not, you won’t know what works and what does not.

Question 8: How to get my audience to share my content?

Answer: Create different types of content for different audience. Because certain audience prefer to share certain type of content.

Session: How to create experiences that inspire people to share

Speaker: Brian Solis

Real content engagement starts only when content is ‘shared’. Brian Solis talked about creating experiences that inspire people to share. There were many important takeaways in the session, but one point that reinforced our approach as an agency (of repurposing content into various formats) was: create different types of content for different audience, simply because people prefer to share certain types of content. Some people like to share only videos, some share memes, and so on. As a brand with a good message, it is your duty to enable your audience to have the comfort of sharing your core message in whichever format they prefer.

Question 9: Is there a tool to track all my key business metrics in one dashboard?

Answer: Yes, try Dasheroo

Session: 9 Essential Tools for Every Social Media Marketer’s Toolbox

Speaker: Ian Cleary

Tracking all the business performance metrics can be a pain. Google Analytics is good, but it cannot interact with many social channels. And switching between insights, and twitter analytics, and other channel dashboards can be time-consuming. Ian Cleary, in his ‘tools’ session talked about one such tool with a single dashboard for multiple channels — Dasheroo. This tool integrates almost all major social media channels analytics with Google Analytics, bringing all the key metrics into a single dashboard.

Question 10: What is the one strategy that will help me succeed in Social Media Marketing?

Answer: Be. More. Human.

Session: Closing Keynote — Breakthrough Growth Ideas: How Marketers Can Truly Fly

Speaker: Mark Schaefer

Mark Schaefer is a visionary. His closing keynote was awesome and had the all the 3000+ marketers laughing, cheering, thinking and introspecting throughout the session. Every slide was packed with information and insights. The key takeaway for me was the last slide, which has only 3 little words — ‘Be. More. Human.’ It was a perfect end to a perfect keynote, and a perfect conference.

If there is one strategy that will help you and me succeed in social media, it is being more human — being authentic, helpful and creative. Being more human is a strategy that you can apply to every aspect of social media marketing — creating content, listening to your audience, responding and interacting with them. It is a great reminder for all of us that in this era of marketing automation, IFTTTs and Zaps (which are super helpful tools, by the way) one should not lose sight of being real, authentic and human.

Now, go be more human, all the very best!

P.S. If you have more questions on social media marketing, ask them in the comments section and we will try to find the answers for you.

(Republished with permission. Originally written for and published in Open Minds Agency blog)