11 Most Actionable Takeaways from Social Media Marketing World 2015

Social media marketers from around the globe recently descended on San Diego for the annual social media extravaganza known as Social Media Marketing World.

Social media marketers from around the globe recently descended on San Diego, Calif. for the annual social media extravaganza known as Social Media Marketing World. With marquee speakers like Mari Smith, Guy Kawasaki and Jay Baer, along with social media leaders from inside the likes of Microsoft, Disney, Whole Foods and Yahoo, there were insights aplenty.

Here are my top takeaways, both big and small, that social marketers can run with, starting today.

1. Automation and real-time are not mutually exclusive. Nicole Pearo Taylor, who does digital and social for Marriott’s Renaissance Hotels brand, said Renaissance’s strategy is to do both: They layer a pre-planned content calendar (e.g., gorgeous property photos) with real-time engagement (e.g., engaging with fans and topical content).

Meanwhile, Microsoft social media manager Rob Wolf said his company intentionally sacrifices some efficiency to ensure they don’t post anything insensitive given breaking news. If you’re going to automate, just make sure you know how to turn it off, and that your executives do too, added social marketing consultant Pam Moore.

2. The key to global marketing is relying on your local teams. This according to at KLM social media manager Karlijn Vogel-Meijer, in reference to KLM’s infamous sombrero tweet taunting Mexico over its World Cup loss to Holland. Had they gotten feedback from their team on the ground in Mexico, she said, the tweet never would have seen the light of day.

3. To inspire social media advocacy among employees, grow their audience. Martin Jones of Cox Business said his team has a goal of getting every new employee advocate to 1,000 Twitter followers and a Klout score of at least 55. In other words, remember that social media starts with social. It’s no fun by yourself.

4. Need organic Facebook reach? Your employees have it. As few as 3-400 employees can have the same organic reach as a Page with 1 million Facebook fans, Jones pointed out. Smart.

5. The best strategy is doing stuff. Vogel-Meijer hit the nail on the head when she chided marketers to stop agonize over the “right” strategy. “You’re 200% certain to fail at some point. If you’re afraid to make mistakes, don’t go on social,” she said. Amen.

6. Love your legal team. You’re just trying to launch an incredibly innovative and brilliant social campaign, and here comes legal to rain on your parade. If that sounds familiar, it’s time to change your perspective. “Legal, IT and HR—those are the teams I care about most,” said Justin Levy, who heads up global social media at Citrix. He proactively builds relationships with these teams and asks for their feedback. “You need legal to support you if something goes wrong,” he said. Can’t argue with that.


7. Give before you take. “Most Facebook ads suck. Why?” Thus began one of the most compelling sessions of the entire conference, by Facebook marketing strategist Jon Loomer. Because, he answered: Advertisers own all the benefit; they push us to buy when we’re not ready; they’re horribly targeted; they’re all about selling; and they don’t establish trust before asking for the sale. Instead, he said, play the long game: Provide value before asking for the sale. Build trust and long-term relationships. Give before you take. It’s possible, he promised us, to create ads that don’t actually suck—that people will beg to see.

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