Each year Social Media Marketing World hosts thousands of people passionate about marketing. During a multi-day conference, world-class speakers like Guy Kawasaki, Jay Bear, and Michael Stelzner, come together to share their insights on industry trends, and marketing best-practices.
Attendees also have the opportunity to network with one another, and to learn (since many in attendance are experts in their own right).
This year, two marketers from the Bizzabo team, Emma Borochoff and Tom Shelly, attended SMMW16, they left the event with 10 awesome insights relevant to event marketers or organizers hoping to create amazing events.
1. Networking Is Everything
One of the things I loved most about SMMW, is the crazy number of opportunities created prior, during and after the event to network and communicate with other marketers. The event organizers created a “networking resources” page that served as the go-to guide for everything networking.
Starting with more than 80 Slack groups that were open for attendees to join and connect based on their very specific interests, to Table Talks that allowed attendees to eat their lunch while talking about marketing topics that interested them, to the networking sessions on Blab in which attendees learned the best networking hacks prior to the conference.
2. Live Video Is Here To Stay
If I had to mention only one thing that was discussed most in SMMW, it would surely be live video. The biggest insight presented by the founder of Social Media Examiner, Michael Stelzner during his talk about SME’s Annual survey was that “social media marketers are embracing video” with 73% of marketers saying that they’ve increased their use of videos in 2016 and 23% of those claiming that video is their most important form of content marketing.
Stelzner, along with the majority of speakers defined Facebook’s new live video broadcasting as groundbreaking with the ability to make a huge impact on the digital marketing industry.
So what are the implications for event marketers? It starts with sharing video content with your prospects prior to the event that shows the value they will get from attending. If it’s preview of the sessions that will occur or the networking opportunities that will be available, either can work!
During the event, it’s about encouraging your attendees to share their experience online. Once the event ends, event marketers should produce an awesome video with the greatest moments and a call to action for viewers to sign up to register for next year’s event via some form of event registration software.
3. Social Media Complaints Are Increasing Exponentially
During his session about “How to achieve social media customer service success”, Jay Baer presented a few incredibly statistics:
Events might not be a physical product with technical issues to complain about, but we all know that with everything that needs to work properly during the event, something will inevitably go wrong, and attendees will complain.
Reacting to a complaint can not only result in solving the issue, but in can encourage that person to become your greatest ambassador.
One of the keys to do it right is to be fast and smart.
Most business take 5 hours to respond...
4. Find A Niche To Become A “Thought Leader”
Everyone wants to become a thought leader. With all the noise that’s out there, the biggest question is how to break through and be noticed. Dorie Clark, the author of “Reinventing You” and “Stand Out” discussed the strategy to build a following around your ideas.
This is a great challenge for many event organizers trying to find a competitive advantage over other events vying for the same audience. Dorie declares it’s all about finding your specific niche and delivering on it in anyway possible.
If you’re a “women in tech” conference, being able to establish yourself as a true thought leader in the field before the actual event, can take you a long way. How can you do that? By proving the best content in the field.
Here are 2 ideas:
Create a designated LinkedIn or Facebook Group encouraging your past and future speakers to post their own articles. Share quick tip, videos and more
Conduct an industry survey and then present the findings during the event. The organizers of SMMW were wise enough to do just that. It resulted in 1,000+ social media shares during the event!
5. Know Your Audience By Heart
This might be my biggest takeaway from SMMW16. Why? Because at the end of the day, a successful event marketing strategy is tied to providing the right content at the right time.
An audience of social marketers has it’s own very unique needs: they care about being connected to social media networks at all times, they want to be able to share their experience while they’re at the event, they want to be able to miss out on sessions and attend them after.
SMMW organizers knew all that and found the perfect solutions to increase the satisfaction of their attendees and increase their engagement before, during and after the event, in the offline and online world.
The connectivity issue was resolved by putting a special emphasis on complimentary internet access that worked perfectly for all 3000 attendees, and by placing more than a couple hundred power sockets throughout the venue.
For people who missed sessions, everything was recorded by professional videographers.
6. Keep Your Content Relevant And Segmented
As mentioned above, knowing your audience is everything. Once you know your audience, though, you must also take the next step of crafting your content and brand experience around that. Even when your customer or potential customer isn’t dealing directly with your product or isn’t at your event, you will always have the opportunity to influence their opinion of your brand.
This means segmenting the content in your newsletter with where readers are in your sales funnel or by industry, excluding customers from your retargeting ads, and making sure that the same prospects aren’t inundated with the same ads, offers, and content.
You can use tools like Google Analytics, Adwords, and Facebook Ads to make “Custom Audiences” in which you can segment your website visitors by when they last visited, what pages they visited, or even target them by uploading emails of your most engaged prospects.
With this much control over where and who you market your content to, there’s no excuse for pounding your audience’s with the same content irrespective of their needs and wants. You’re fighting for their attention: make it worth their while!
7. If You’re Not Looking At The Data, You’re Not Doing It Right
As an event for social media marketers, I wouldn’t say that this was a gathering of numbers people. Analytical, for sure, but as social media marketers, we are much more in tune with understanding the human experience and the creative side of marketing, rather than cold hard stats about what worked and what didn’t.
Despite this, with the help of some amazing and very accessible tools, you are clearly losing out if you aren’t taking the time to look at the data. With the availability of free software such as Google Analytics, it’s absolutely necessary that you track the journey of your customers.
What channels do they find you through?
Has paid search proven to be more impactful than social media?
Do you have low visits from organic search, or perhaps they’ve been steadily increasing by your push in SEO efforts?
Ideally, your company has a marketing/sales/email automation platform in place to help you easily track and organize this data, but even if you don’t there are plenty of places to start.
Christopher Penn, VP Marketing at SHIFT, ran a session where he shared this awesome tool that lets you see the typical impact of different marketing channels on your business based on industry and company size. You can also start diving right into the breakdown of sources visiting your site by accessing Google Analytics → Conversions → Multi-Channel Funnel → Assisted Conversions.
If you have conversion tracking setup you can see the different channels your customers are coming through and what’s really making an impact. Time to get data-driven, folks.
8. Learn By Doing: Don't Be Afraid Of New Marketing Initatives
No doubt your marketing team or company has a laundry list of interesting marketing initiatives they want to take on at some point. With all sorts of trends in media happening, with an emphasis on live video, it can be overwhelming to tackle new initiatives while also doing them well.
You may feel like you need to do a great amount of research, see what others have done and are doing, and only then start to dip your toe into the water. While much can be gained from learning what others are doing, even more can be gained by just doing it yourself.
Think Snapchat could help connect your business to its audience? Go for it.
Want to see how video Facebook ads work compared to image ads? Just jump right in.
When it comes to these new initiatives, not everything will work. There’s a good chance you won’t succeed at first but you might gain some traction or interesting new insight into what your audience wants to engage with and how they want to interact.
If you choose to sit back and watch, you may find that by the time you’re actually ready to dive in, the pool is already saturated with so many others that you’ve lost the slight advantage in timing that could’ve been yours.
9. Credibility Is King
Back in Mad Men era, selling took thoughtfully crafted copy, perhaps a few striking, stylish images that could make an impact. Today, people are surrounded by so many images, ads, videos, and everything in between that traditional advertising strategies are increasingly less effective.
Today, people have become jaded, they’ve seen it all. They know the sales tricks, the slick talk, the thinly veiled pitch, and they’re not buying it.
So what do to overcome a skeptical audience? You have to build credibility. Show that you and your company are genuine in your intentions and truly believe in your product and service. This can be achieved by positioning yourself and your company as thought leaders in your industry by publishing insightful blog posts and sharing information that’s valuable for your intended audience.
It can also be helpful to share pictures and videos of the behind-the-scenes in your company, to publish videos with members of your team providing industry tips.
It’s much easier to connect with a brand when the audience see the real people behind it.
10. Be Present
You don’t have to be particularly analytical to see where this is all going. We are moving towards a world where audiences demand transparency, real-time reactions, and live, behind the scenes looks at your business.
You don’t need to necessarily be ahead of the trends or even following each trend, but you should be available to your audience and work on cultivating an image that is genuine.
Yes, you still have revenue goals you need to hit, but you must help your business to craft an identity that balances revenue goals with customer centric ones.
Ironically, the more we head towards a tech saturated society, the more we want to embrace humanity. So give the people what they want!
Social Media Marketing World is a one-of-a-kind event, it featured world-class speakers, amazing networking opportunities, and loads of actionable insights that left us impressed and inspired.
When it comes to putting these ideas into action, it is all about prioritization. Focus on the initiatives that you think will make the biggest impact, and will make other projects easier to complete.
Most of all, remember that potential event attendees are searching for events that demonstrate thought leadership, and feel genuine. There are many tactics to choose from when trying to accomplish these goals, the best place to start is to truly understand your audience.