Social Fresh East

Social Fresh held its East conference here in Tampa last week and I was lucky enough to attend!  It was my third Social Fresh in a year; attended Social Fresh Tampa last February and Social Fresh Charlotte last September.  Loved all three, and like all knowledge, each built on the next.  For the first two, I wrote posts covering each speaker and topic, but this is a more of a summary.

When I think back to my first conference (without rereading my blog posts), the big take away was that social media is the *how* and not the *what.*  My analogy is if you remember work before Microsoft Office, you know Office changed how work got done, but not the work itself.  Products were still made, marketed, sold, but Office changed how the business world worked.  Social is the same; it just changes the how, not the what.  The what in this case covers customer service, marketing, public relations and sales.  So now Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. are the tools to reach people to provide customer service, to market your brand, to do soft public relations and to sell.

The Charlotte conference offered 18 speakers over two days covering a broad range of topics; what I remember most is how important blogging is for brands, the growth and popularity of video, and incorporating mobile into your plans.  The whole idea is to generate content that will attract your desired audience.

Initially I wanted to attend this year’s conference to hear the talks on Google+, launched last summer by invitation, and Pinterest.  My favorite take away from last week is more global:  “Figure out what kind of relationship you want between your brand & audience and *then* figure out tools, etc.”  Basically create your marketing strategy first and then figure out the how.  A little research doesn’t hurt.  Statistics tell us that two-thirds of the US is on Facebook, 25 million are on Twitter, and the new kids, Google+ is predominately male and Pinterest is predominately female (thus far).  What might be smart is to survey your existing customers / audience (hire a firm or use SurveyMonkey or Survey Gizmo and do it yourself) to see where your customers spend the most time!  If the idea of social media is to engage your audience where they are, why not find out where they are and then prioritize your activities accordingly (understanding that Facebook will always play based on saturation)?

Scott Monty from Ford spoke about being the first brand on Google+ and has found between its earned, owned and paid media, they’ve generated as much buzz as a SuperBowl commercial would.  Shauna Causey, formerly of Nordstrom, shared the top uses for Pinterest are: #1 recipes, #2 fashion, #3 inspirational quotes, #4 news, #5 home, #6 travel, #7 funny photos.  So, if you’re a B2C food brand or store, you may have the best results on Facebook and Pinterest.  If you’re a B2B small software company, it might be Twitter and Google+.  If you’re a B2C health care company targeting older folks, Facebook may be where you’ll have the biggest engagement since it has the largest 55+ community.  Matthew Knell spoke about fragmentation within social media, exploring the concept that some people prefer other sites like Pinterest, Foursquare, Instagram and Tumblr, etc.  Restaurants can effectively use Foursquare by offering perks for checking in, in addition to Facebook and Twitter.  Who hasn’t heard the Peter Shankman/Morton’s Twitter story?  Grocery stores may have an opportunity to capitalize on mobile coupons via Foursquare.  Christopher Moody said, “Don’t try to know it all or do it all.”  That’s the key; figure out what works best for *your brand and audience* based on data and then customize your how!  Test, monitor, listen and measure along the way.  There are many avenues to pursue in social media marketing, but not all will be successful for all brands.  Google+ is probably worth the time investment solely for SEO reasons (prioritizing themselves in their search algorithm) even if a lot of your audience isn’t there yet.

Linked below are blog posts from other attendees; some highlight tweets from each speaker (love the Storify posts!), while others focus on select speakers and presentations.  Just like the diversification in social, I love reading what resonated with other attendees:
From Ashely Ray, Ballywho Interactive:  Social Fresh EAST – Day 1  Social Fresh EAST: day 2
From Barbara Nixon, PR professor:  The Best of Social Fresh East 2012, Day One
East Day 2 a.m. speakers:
Day 2 afternoon post:
From Jim Redmile of Accuform Signs:
From Matthew Knell of AOL:
From SocialMediaToday:
A nice video with Scott Monty from Social Buzz TV:
What I love about Social Fresh conferences is they’re always on top of the trends and you have the opportunity to meet, talk and network with people who are living & breathing social media!  Social Fresh changed their format to one annual conference for each coast.  Social Fresh West will be in San Diego September 27 & 28, 2012.  Since I love both San Diego & Social Fresh, I highly recommend it!  So … who’s going to SF in SD in September? 😉

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