My head is spinning.
I’m sitting in the San Diego airport at 530am the morning after Social Media Marketing World 2014. It’s not margaritas… but ideas.
Social Media Marketing Word was the first purely marketing conference I’ve ever attended.
For a guy who’s predominantly built his career thus far speaking at Insurance industry conferences, this was an idea exchange like I’ve never experienced before (not that I don’t love insurance industry conferences, I do, it’s just that most of the time the attendees look at me like I have a third arm coming out of my forehead when I start to geek out on digital marketing stuff).
See I’m a nerd, a geek, a zealot when it comes digital marketing. It was exhilarating to be surrounded by two thousand people who share my appreciation for the finer points of the marketing craft.
But enough fluff.
SMMW14 wasn’t just a bunch of marketers standing around stroking each others accomplishments. There was some serious knowledge transfer and trend analysis.
The following are 8 trends I took away from the keynotes, breakout sessions and random conversations I experienced in the three days at Social Media Marketing World.
1) Blog More, Facebook Less
In his opening keynote Michael Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner and host of SMMW14, made an interesting remark in regards to the future of the digital marketing industry (paraphrasing), “Blog more, Facebook less.” I was stunned. Facebook, the social media juggernaut, minimized at the largest social media marketing conference in world, in the opening keynote no less.
In fairness to the journalistic integrity of this story, Michael did go on to mention Facebook as a necessary platform for social media marketers (much respect to Jon Loomer, advanced Facebook strategy superstar, and former Content Warfare Podcast guest).
Think deep about the implications of this. The most well-known brand in the world for social media marketing is telling a room full of 2,000 of the most influential social media marketers in the world, THEY NEED TO BLOG!
2) The Google+ Bandwagon is Officially Open
The second most shocking and unexpected comment from Michael Stelzner was,
Brands have to be on Google+!”
What? Excuse me? Did you say Google+? Please talk into my good ear because I thought you just said that brands need to embrace Google’s “Social Layer” as a primary tool for growing their business online.
Oh you did?
Well I agree.
That’s why I created the Google+ Starter Kit, developed a entire vein of Google+ content and wrote this. Sneaky, content marketers and copywriters have been on the Google+ band wagon for quite a while, with each post inching closer to world domination (read this Google+ prognostication from Copyblogger back in 2012).
However, social media marketers have always ignored Google+ claiming it a “Ghost Town,” incapable of producing ROI. But with Google+ getting top billing in Michael Stelzner’s keynote this week there is no doubt the rush will be on to get brand content into the Google+ stream.
3) We’re All Media Companies
I must have heard Jay Baer say this at least a dozen times,
We’re all media companies.”
You may not like it. Possibly you hate it.
But if you don’t view your business, to at least some extent as a media company (a company producing media such as articles, images, videos, etc and sharing into the world), you’re falling behind.
If you’re a small business it’s possible you don’t see it yet in your bottom line because you’re still picking off the Unconnected Generation consumers willing to put up with your traditional marketing methods.
4) Social Media is a Medium NOT a Method to Human Relationships
This might be the most important trend from the entire conference and I learned it from Chris Brogan‘s session. His session was titled, “How to Build Your Media Empire.” In general I think the crowd wanted tactics, but what they got was the core principle of growing a business…
Build human relationships before all else.
Chris ripped down the curtain (figuratively) and let the audience backstage to his own business. He shared, in detail, exactly what drives his every action. Solid gold.
5) Stop Thinking of Content Marketing and Social Media as Mutually Exclusive
This was clear right from the beginning of the conference with Michael Stelzner’s keynote and was carried through every breakout session. Content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing… these are NOT mutually exclusive activities, where you can “Do” one and not consider the others.
Our digital footprint, the properties and space we take up online is connected in every facet. Connected Generation consumers are connecting the dots from platform to platform. This means your website messaging needs to match your Facebook. Your Facebook needs to match your Instagram and Twitter. Your Twitter and Google+ need to match your email marketing.
I’m not talking about the same piece of content being shared across every single platform. That breaks Gary Vaynerchuk’s sound principle of native storytelling. This is consistent branding and messaging across the spaces where you develop human relationships.
6) Podcasting and other Rich Media is Necessary
There was a day when we could get away with creating text-based blog posts with little to no imagery and the message alone would spread. The Connected Generation wants more.
Specifically, they want more of YOU!
Rich media content marketing, such as podcasting and video, provide consumers with a deeper look into not just our business, but who we are as people. It’s easy to hide behind the typed word, but in front of the camera or microphone our personality shows through.
Consumers have more options than they need. Products and services traditionally seen as differentiators in and of themselves have become commodities in the eyes of consumers. It’s the human behind the corporate logo that differentiates today.
7) Still No More Powerful Content than Answering Customer Questions
Marcus Sheridan crushed the closing keynote. Crushed it. Obliterated it. Destroyed it. He lit the crowd on fire in the way only he can.
They ask, you answer.”
They (your customers and prospects) ask… YOU answer.
The number one most common question I receive when speaking is, “What should we write about?”
Answer questions… duh.
8) Winners Outwork Their Competition
This is an oldy but goody. No matter what topic the session was on, panel or solo speaker, everyone mentioned hard work.
Why would these social media marketing giants waste their breath on such an obvious piece of advice?
Hard work, works. It’s that simple. You can learn every tip, tactic and strategy that exists, if you don’t put in the work you’ll never see success.
You don’t need to be doing all the right things if you’re putting in the work. Your hard work will disguise mistakes until you figure out what the right tactics and strategies are.
Social Media Marketing World was so much more than I could have ever expected. Not just the setting or the speakers or the ideas shared… but the energy.
The energy was infectious.
It’s time to get to work.
Thank you and Good luck,
I am Ryan Hanley
P.S. Do content marketing better and click here to never miss a post.