I FINALLY got to meet some people IRL (“in real life”) that I had gotten to know online – folks like Stanford Smith, Gini Dietrich, Marcus Sheridan, Margie Clayman, Sean McGinnis, Adam Toporek, Davina Brewer and others. I love it that I got huge bear hugs from people I’ve never met and from those I met for the first time last year. That’s certainly a testament to the power of social media!
But, in addition to reuniting with friends, the day was full of tips and ideas from digital marketing leaders. If you weren’t able to attend, here are my top 10 takeaways from the conference:
1. Focus on Integrated Marketing
Gini Dietrich kicked off the day with an awesome keynote about the importance of an integrated marketing approach. Gini encourages companies – large or small – to tear down the silos and create a “marketing round”, a roundable of various departments (i.e. HR, customer service, marketing, etc.) working together towards business goals.
I’ve seen this approach firsthand and it definitely works if you’re willing to invest the time into it. Gini’s got a book coming out in a few days that talks more about this. I encourage you to check it out!
2. Creatively Promote Your Blog
Stanford Smith of Pushing Social offered up 10 blogging ideas in 10 minutes and it was jam-packed with good stuff (see the link above for his slides). He encouraged folks to find creative ways to promote your blog, such as printed materials, invoices (after all, everyone reads those!), email signatures and offline advertising.
I also liked how he talked about personalizing your blog to include “bright faces” – you, your customers and employees. Readers love seeing content that focuses on PEOPLE.
3. Use LinkedIn for Personal SEO
Although LinkedIn has tons of potential for business purposes, it’s also a great SEO booster for individuals. Presenter Jon Moss shares a name with a band member from the Culture Club, so he used LinkedIn to help his name higher in Google search results.
He also talks about you can use LinkedIn to pimp your blog and showcase your expertise by answering questions. You can see more of his tips here.
4. Start Using Video
Companies don’t have to have professional actors or high-level equipment to use video effectively. Stephanie Wonderlin tells businesses that they can get started using video for less than $2,000. She encourages businesses to tell stories and also emphasized the importance of speed – videos should be between 1-2 minutes.
5. Use Social Media as a Focus Group
The super-smart Tom Webster of Edison Research shared his insights on the deluge of data we see regarding the social web and how to make sense of it all.
He talked about how social media can be a tremendous focus group. And, while social media will never give you all the answers, it will help you ask better questions. Tom urged attendees to do your homework to help you find the right answers for your own brand.
Tom also did an excellent job recovering from some technical difficulties during his talk. Truly, the mark of a skilled presenter!
6. Pay Attention to Social Search
Google Plus is a layer on top of your search engine experience that ranks certain pages higher based on the number of times an article was shared for +1’d, regardless of whether you have a Google Plus profile. Even if you don’t engage on the Google Plus social platform, you might want to add the +1 button to your blog posts and set up a Google Plus Profile page.
Also, the panelists suggested using the “rel = author” tag to connect your Google profile with your blog. This pulls your avatar into search results, which helps improve visibility.
7. Use Personalization to Give a Better Experience
With social media, brands, platforms and retailers are at war for our attention. Mitch Joel’s keynote focused on urging businesses to start thinking about the consumer – what’s in it for them?
Mitch gave an excellent example with Charmin’s “sit or squat” app. Instead of being another lame app that points to a company website, it uses GPS to locate the nearest public bathroom. And, it provides user-rated feedback about cleanliness and amenities (i.e. changing table, etc.).
This app isn’t focused on overt selling. Instead, it’s about helping consumers. But, in doing so, it breeds brand loyalty. More companies should follow this example.
8. Email Marketing is Not Dead
Although social media is all the rage, DJ Waldow shared that 77 percent of people want to get permission marketing messages via email.
He offered a few ideas to integrate your email and social media efforts – add social icons to your emails to make them shareable, add links to share your emails on social networks and send dedicated emails with a call-to-action to follow you on each social network. You can find his full presentation here.
9. Use Content as a Sales Tool
Marcus Sheridan, aka The Sales Lion, is one fierce presenter! He got the crowd energized while talking about how content marketing helped turn around his fiberglass pool company during the recession. Just Google “fiberglass vs. concrete pool” and you’ll see his company, River Pool and Spas, comes up first.
Not only does blogging help businesses from an SEO perspective, it also gives you information to share with prospects. In fact, he requires that anyone who wants to meet with his company has read a few designated blog posts and their ebook first. That way, their sales team spends less time teaching and more time closing. Smart stuff.
10. Anyone Can be an Influencer
Mark Schaefer ended the day with some tidbits from his book, Return on Influence. On the social web, you don’t have to be a celebrity to have influence. Mark shared stories about how regular folks like Calvin Lee has become a citizen influencer with the extraordinary ability to spread content online.
Mark also shared a story about how one company was receiving criticism through social networks and they were trying to decide how to respond. The company checked the Klout scores of the people complaining and determined the individuals did not have the ability to spread content in a way that would make it go viral. So, the company decided not to respond and the issue quickly blew over. That’s a win.
Whether you agree with Klout and other influencer measurement applications, it proves there are meaningful ways these tools can be used for businesses.
A Round of Applause
The event was championed by Mark Schaefer and put together by the Social Media Club of Knoxville. They deserve a huge pat on the back! Also, thank you to all of the volunteers, speakers and the sponsors for putting together an excellent and affordable social media conference!
What were your takeaways from the event? What did you learn?
Thanks to Jenn Whinnem for the picture of her, Stanford Smith and me. It turned out WAY better than mine! You can see more of my photos from the event here.Note: The links to books are affiliate links.