Blog More, Facebook Less and 7 More Trends from Social Media Marketing World 2014

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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.

The ideas.

Social Media Marketing Word was the first purely marketing conference I’ve ever attended.

blog more facebook lessFor 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!

LESSON: You don’t own the media unless you own the property. It’s that simple, every thing else you create everywhere else can be taken away from you. This is a basic principle of content marketing… but you already know that. Blog more. Facebook less.

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.

LESSON: It’s important to remember that Google+ is NOT Facebook. There is a culture, similiar in some aspects to that of Reddit, where quality content is not just celebrated it’s expected. That shouldn’t scare you, but inspire, for the content that hits on Google+ goes a long, long way.

 3) We’re All Media Companies

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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.

LESSON: If you’ve said, “But that’s the way we’ve always done business,” in the last twelve months you’re losing. You’re not sharing your story, you’re not answering questions, you’re NOT a valuable resource online and potential customers and clients are working with your competition that is.

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.

LESSON: We’re thinking too tactically when it comes to social media. Me, you… we can’t replicate Chris’s business. However, we can look at our business and find ways to build new and stronger human relationships and leverage social media where it works best for us.

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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.

LESSON: Blogging, email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc, they’re all just different mediums, not siloed actions happening in a vacuum. The businesses that win in the coming “mature” era of digital marketing will have a focused, consistent brand message across all social platforms that simultaneously fits the native content style of the platform.

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.

Listen to the Content Warfare Podcast for a perfect example.

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.

LESSON: Use rich media formats such as video marketing on YouTube or a podcast to provide a deeper look at the human side of your business. The effort alone will set you apart, but the experience rich media provides your audience, will turn them into loyal customers.

7) Still No More Powerful Content than Answering Customer Questions

build human relationshipsMarcus Sheridan crushed the closing keynote. Crushed it. Obliterated it. Destroyed it. He lit the crowd on fire in the way only he can.

His message?

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.

LESSON: Answer client questions, over and over and over again. It’s what Marcus did with his pool business and it’s what I did with the 100 Insurance Questions Answered in 100 Days series. Start answering client questions and you’ll never want for content ideas again. Better yet, you’ll have more new leads contacting your business than could have ever imagined.

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?

It works.

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.

LESSON: Every trend can’t be sexy. But from my observations, of the very successful content marketing and social media marketing professionals sharing their expertise at Social Media Marketing World, hard work is big part of why they were on stage and the rest of us were watching.

The Rub

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

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