Five highlights from Social Media Week New York

This month we had the pleasure of joining the global team at the flagship Social Media Week New York #SMWNYC conference that has been running in the city for over ten years.

The global conference Social Media Week is hosted in over 25 cities around the world including Bristol (10-14 June) and is the only city outside London to host the conference in the UK.

Social Media Week New York delighted delegates this year with a schedule of over 50 events covering topics from Instagram for B2B audiences, creating video for social first, and using social media as a platform to fuel innovation.

Here are some of our favourite highlights from the conference:

1. Opening keynote by Scott Harrison – founder, CEO of charity Water

The conference started with Toby Daniels CEO, founder of Social Media Week introducing the theme for 2019: Stories – with influence comes great responsibility. He went on to introduce the opening keynote, Scott Harrison founder and CEO of charity water who shared his journey of using his influence and social media to create positive change.

Scott Harrison was at a cross-road in his life, he was a successful club promoter but wanted to use his position to make a positive impact on others. After numerous role rejections from the biggest charities, and years of volunteering his time to help various causes in Africa, Scott launched his charity water and used his influence to change the world’s perception of the non-profit sector.

Scott didn’t agree with the shame and guilt being peddled by charities through advertising or the story narrative, because when you look at global brands, they promote greatness.

“We wanted the charity to tell the story of hope and opportunity, we wanted to make it feel like an invitation.”

Through bold statements, defining the odds, gaining social support, and innovation water now offers access to clean water for 10 million people around the world.

If you want to find out more about Scott Harrison’s bold decisions to change the charity landscape to become a world-leader, Evelina Jankauskyte will be giving an overview of his talk before playing Seth Godin’s closing keynote from Social Media Week New York, book your tickets here.

With an inspired audience the conference was officially open, and we were spoilt for choice of events.

2. Keynote – How storytelling drives the purchase process

Keeping with the theme of Stories, we attended a talk that will resonate with a lot of business owners – how to use storytelling to drive the purchase process.

Social media is a very noisy environment but in his talk Terry Rice, a Digital Marketing Expert-In-Residence at Entrepreneur magazine encouraged the audience to apply design thinking when telling brand stories on social media to stand out from the crowd.

But with a very noisy environment on social media, how can we create thumb stopping content? How do we tell stories that consumers want to be part of?

Here are a few tips Terry shared with the audience to allow brands to connect with their audiences on social:

  • Re-think how you use data – we have all this data about our audiences – but data goes as far as telling us who bought something, not why they bought it
  •  Before putting out content on social, create an empathy map which is strongly related to personas, but goes much deeper into who your audiences are
  • Before designing a campaign, use social media as a listening tool to find out the pains and gains of consumers using your product. That way you know how a campaign can help your consumers.

Armed with tips and tools on ways to understand our audiences and how best to connect with them, we really enjoyed a talk on ways to capture the attention of consumers through video once we know who they are.

3. Succesful Video Marketing: inspiration, trends and best practises for storytelling on social

Cisco’s forecast shows that internet video will account for 79% of global internet traffic by 2020 – up from 63% in 2015. In his talk on successful video marketing Jason Hsiao, Co-founder and Chief Video Officer at Animoto shared the 12 types of videos that every business can use to attract and convert interests into leads.

What’s inherent when you do video marketing, is that consumers use each of the platforms differently, therefore one piece of content is not going to appeal to people on other all social platforms. Here are Jason’s top tips:

  • Pick what already works as part of your marketing mix and use video to amplify it e.g. Buffer the social media scheduling tool has a very popular blog, a lot of people visit their blog for tips, trends and inspiration. They recently used video to compile the best performing blogs on their website and recap new ones on their YouTube channel
  • Remember, your social presence is just as important as your website
  • Always apply ‘save the best for first’ approach. With attention spans lasting less than 30 seconds, go in with the punchline and then add messaging, call to actions and brand feel into your videos.
  • Not everything has to be perfect, consumers trust content that’s authentic

If you are thinking of investing in video content in 2019, during Social Media Week Bristol we have a keynote talk from BBC presenter Susannah Streeter highlighting ways you can create authentic brand videos on a budget.

This year’s #SMWNYC three-day conference attracted over 2,000 delegates from around the world, and we had the opportunity to meet and network with 11 other Social Media Week city organisers, including Mexico City, Netherlands, Lagos and Austin, Texas. Let us know in the comments below which other city you would like to visit Social Media Week in.

Another keynote favourite was Will Cady, Head of Brand Strategy at Reddit.

4. Listening for a Change: Reddit’s Community-Based Approach to Brand Strategy

If you are a brand that is struggling to connect with their audience on social media and don’t see the engagement that the platform can offer, a listening based strategy is recommended according to Will Cady who helps some of the biggest brands like Chipotle use Reddit to connect with their audiences.

In his keynote, Will explained how Chipotle used a number of Reddit threads to listen to their consumers fuelling the brand’s content marketing strategy. Unique findings like consumers absolutely loving the Mexican chain’s sour cream and the endless questions from devoted foodie fans asking for tips on how to incorporate Chipotle as a healthy meal option encouraged the brand to work with Reddit users to develop campaigns that answered their questions and helped establish a two-way conversation.

The social media platform is also used by thousands of b2b companies that use Reddit to highlight company culture, engage with different stakeholders, and communicate the company’s core values. Popular threads like ‘Ask Me Anything’ offer brands the ability to have an honest conversation with their target audiences. When hosting ‘Ask Me Anything’ threads CEOs can directly understand the things their customers like about their brand, the concerns, and what is missing. The keynote offered a lot of interesting ways to use social listening as a tool to inform content strategy, but one thing Will said that really resonated with us was ‘collaboration requires us to listen’. This could be costly to a marketing campaign that doesn’t consider the conversations their target audiences are having already.

5. Social Media and the Revolution – Closing Keynote – Seth Godin – Bestselling Author

There were so many great talks and workshops at Social Media Week New York, but if there was one talk we wanted to watch over and over again, it was the inspiring closing keynote by Seth Godin. We are really excited that we are able to play Seth’s talk from the conference exclusively to delegates at Social Media Week Bristol, you can book your tickets to see the full talk here.

Here are our favourite bits from Seth’s closing keynote:

  • Us as marketers have a responsibility to tell stories, we know what social media success looks like, but being good at social media isn’t the point. Marketers should constantly be looking for ways to change the status-quo, challenge the ‘normal process’ and find innovative ways to tell a brand’s story.
  • Changing perceptions – Seth encouraged the audience to stop thinking about the overused, overanalysed  sales funnel, and focus energy on gaining  permission from consumers who would actually want to hear more from your if you stopped marketing. In his 45-min talk Seth gave a simple example  of when fax machines were on the hottest tech lists of every magazine and publication. When Seth got his hands on a fax, he didn’t join an affiliate programme, or an email marketing list, he wanted friends and family he could send faxes to so encouraged them to get the machine.

If you want to watch the full keynote talk book your ticket at Social Media Week Bristol.

Designed to up-skill, inform, explore ideas and opportunities and further the conversation on key issues in social media, marketing and technology – Social Media Week Bristol is the only UK city outside London to host and joins 25 cities worldwide in holding this truly global conference.