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2011 Midwest Social Media Summit: Social Trends and Takeaways

Posted by Jessica Miller on November 22, 2011

mwsmsLast week, Smart Business hosted its inaugural Midwest Social Media Summit (MWSMS), a full day focused on best practices for social media policies and initiatives for today’s businesses.

We were impressed with the quality of speakers and the topics for marketers, including the role of content in social, creating value and response strategies. A few members of the PR 20/20 team attended, and compiled the following summary.

MWSMS Marketing Takeaways

What’s the role of content in social media? 

Social media is propelled by quality content. Buyer-persona focused content fuels conversations, helps buyers overcome obstacles in the sales cycle, and helps communicate your brand’s messages in a valuable way.

Find the best way for your customers to receive information; don't become pigeon-holed into the more mainstream networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. For example, content can be shared in private customer/vendor settings for better community engagement and technical support—like a custom, walled-garden network or private LinkedIn group—that’s social media too. 

Other tips from keynote speakers:

How does your company's social media activity create value?

Each speaker mentioned the importance of personalization behind social media and content. The Faces of GM campaign is a good example of this. Other key takeaways:

  • Less branding and more personalization will yield more responsiveness from your audience. Be transparent, and genuine. —Dan Carbone, Idea Engine, Inc. (@ideaengineinc)
  • Humanize the company's brand. Be who you are (on social media), and do so respectfully. … If you're creating content that people want, they are going to consume it and share it. —Mary Henige (@maryhenige), General Motors
  • Social media is a direct pipeline to your fan base. Use it to create a deep, personal connection with your audience. —Curtis Danburg, Cleveland Indians (@Indians)
  • Stop telling the same stories as your competitors. What do you bring? What's your personality? —Joe Pulizzi

What should organizations consider in their monitoring and response strategies?

Social is an expected means of communication in today's digital world, and each company needs to develop a strategy on how they are going to tackle it. Often this starts with listening to the conversations already happening, and responding in an authentic, genuine way.

As Henige explained, if someone takes the time to say, "I love you," they deserve your time to say that you love them back. If someone voices a complaint, respond in a timely, courteous manner. Additional insights include:

  • We (marketers) are moving from American football to European football. We're moving from a time of executing thought-out plays, with a clock that stops, to complete a campaign, to a real-time game that is literally changing around us as we play, with a clock that doesn't ever stop. —Jeffrey Rohrs (@jkrohrs), Exact Target  
  • Another great point from Rohrs: Digital natives do NOT equal digital strategists. He noted that organizations should turn to experienced digital marketers to build social strategies and campaigns. Just because the younger generation of professionals grew up digital, does not mean they are always prepared to develop high-level plans or programs, or step in as community managers for established brands.
  • Spend time just listening to what is going on. Can you answer the questions: Who is talking about our brand and the industry in general? What are they saying? … The first step is to identify where are our customers operating—where the parties are going on. Find those, and then add value and participate in them. —Alan Gaffney, Parker Hannifin Corporation (@ParkerHannifin

Final Thoughts 

There’s a lot happening in social, from the agency point of view to initiatives at larger corporations like GM and Parker. For backchannel conversation from the event, search Twitter for #MWSMS.

What are the social trends you’re seeing within your organization and the industry?


Jessica Donlon is a consultant at PR 20/20. Connect with Jessica on Twitter @JessicaDonlon.

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Image: Curtis Danburg on stage talking about the Tribe's use of social media. 

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