Social Fresh East 2013: Back to Basics Baby

Recently I was lucky enough to attend the Social Fresh East conference for the third year in a row.  I love Social Fresh because it’s an intimate conference (300-400), always features some of the best social business thought leaders, and it’s local. Win. Win. Win.  It was a jammed packed two days! Here are photos and highlights of each speaker (click on their name for deck or contact info):

Courtesy of Stacey Acevero Twitter @sacevero

Courtesy of Stacey Acevero Twitter @sacevero

Tom Webster Social Fresh 2013

Tom Webster of Edison Research spoke first; a bit daunting since the WiFi was down.  His presentation was on data storytelling and the 2012 political elections.  “We don’t need data analysts; we need data storytellers.  There’s too much data repukery.”  (Nice word Tom:) “We are becoming less skilled at being social with people we don’t agree with.”  God’s honest truth and Tom’s clarity was a gut check.  Katie Richman tweeted Tom is where “psychology meets statistics.”

Spike Jones Social Fresh 2013

Spike Jones of WCG World presented Word of Mouth.  “It is not – nor will it ever be – about your product.”  Some brands forget it’s about their *community* as they blather on about their products or themselves.  “Influence can be created; passion can not.” “Everybody wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves.”  Check out slide 44:)

Morgan Johnston Social Fresh 2013

The WiFi came to life during Morgan Johnston‘s Jet Blue presentation.  “Inspire Humanity.” Here’s how JetBlue does social:  Monitor -> Engage -> Inform -> Humanize.  So simple.  He spoke about how they handled Hurricane Sandy, no small feat.  The audience really engaged; not sure if it was because the WiFi came back to life or because a lot of people fly Jet Blue!

Ian Schafer Social Fresh 2013

Ian Schafer from Deep Focus spoke on Mobile First. “60% of active users access Twitter via mobile …”  And then we had our Beyonce Super Bowl moment, when we zapped the power – apparently crashing the entire block.  350 people with phones, laptops and iPads all charging just might trip a hotel’s circuit breaker!  Amazingly, it was back on in about 5 minutes.  Ian’s main message:  “The best mobile ad is a brand’s most engaging content.”

Chris Tuff Social Fresh 2013

Chris Tuff of 22Squared tackled how to achieve ROI via content, analytics and paid:  “Art & Science:  Right content & right people & right time = success.”  Hyper target sub tribes. Value of Impressions: Twitter – 15 mins, Facebook – 1 hr, Instagram – 2 days. Tumblr sticky for 9 days. ROI = Return on Impressions as well as Return on Investments.

Christopher Penn Social Fresh 2013

Last speaker on Day 1 was Christopher Penn, from Shift Communications, who addressed Earned Media.  “Earned media is anywhere people talk about how awesome you are (or aren’t)!” Love Chris’ Marketing Circle of Life (slide 8).  The difference between Owned, Paid and Earned is clearly defined on slide 12:)  The goal: Do social business well, achieve earned media.

Jim Tobin Social Fresh 2013

Jim Tobin from Ignite Social Media kicked off Day 2 by talking about the Power of Organic on Facebook.  “Earn it.  Don’t buy it.”  “Tobin’s Law:  The size of a brand’s network is always smaller than the size of its network’s network.”  Say what?  Simply:  You want the people who are friends with your network to engage with you.  The T-shirt photo below left visually depicts Jim’s concept.  Real success is when you have more shares/interaction from your network’s network than your network itself.

Your friends' friends, babyAdam Kmiec Social Fresh 2013

Adam Kmiec from Campbell’s presented an Insights Driven Organization.  “We’re data rich and insight poor.”  “Strategy, Community Management, Content, and Insights are all required to do social business well.”  Slide 40 is his prescription for success.  Many of the SMB attendees drooled over the idea of having the resources to employ some of the tools Adam uses!

Ted Rubin Social Fresh 2013

Ted Rubin of Collective Bias talked about the Return on Relationships: “Social is just a facilitator of relationships.” “Listen.  Make it be about THEM.  Ask “How can I serve you?”  Aim for ongoing engagement.”  “Relationships are the new currency.”  Based on the number of tweets generated, the crowd really liked Ted.

Ryan Cohn Social Fresh 2013

Ryan Cohn from Sachs Media Group spoke about CEOs and social business. “16% of CEOs are on social — expected to rise to 57% within 5 years!” “LinkedIn is the only platform with more CEOs than general population.”

Chris Brogan Social Fresh 2013

It was my first time hearing Chris Brogan of Human Business Works speak, so I was enjoying Friday afternoon at Social Fresh.  Chris’ basic prescription for success:  1.  How do I add value?  2.  How do I make my buyer the Hero?  3.  How do I equip my buyer for success?  4. How do I attract more audience?  And then build them into my Community?

Jay Baer Social Fresh 2013

Jay Baer from Convince & Convert presented Youtility, the subject of his new book. “If you help someone, you create a customer for life.” “Answer every question via your various forms of content and engagement media.” “Youtility is a process, not a project. The ‘We’re awesome, click here’ is short-term, not long-term.”

Katie Richman Social Fresh 2013

Katie Richman from ESPN talked about creating “reskinnable content.”  “Consumption is less about reflecting who we are … more about who we want to be.” – Paul Mullins.  Loved Katie’s description of Pinterest:  It’s magazine collages 30 years later!

Kevin Vine Social Fresh 2013

Kevin Vine from Dunkin’ Donuts finished the conference on a high note when he spoke about Encouraging User-Generated Content.  “We don’t own our social media channels – our fans do.”  “Listen -> Learn -> Engage -> Celebrate”  “A brand is no longer what we tell consumers it is.  It’s what consumers tell each other it is.” – Scott Cook, Co-Founder of Intuit  “Make your fans and followers Stars.”

Why did I include “Back to Basics Baby” in my post title?  While I recapped 14 speakers in < 900 words (a miracle:), I could have done it in much fewer:  Tell Stories.  Make it About Them.  Humanize.  Mobile, Mobile, Mobile.  Return on Impressions.  Earn It.  It’s about your Network’s network.  Use insights to inform business decisions.  It’s still just all about the relationship.  Make your customer the Hero.  Help someone and create a customer for life.  Don’t reinvent the wheel every time.  Encourage participation; make them Stars.

Here’s how I know Social Media has grown-up into Social Business:  It’s no longer about how to use Facebook or Twitter for business, what the latest and greatest platform is, if you need a Pinterest or Google+ profile.  It’s back to being about your customers and how you can help them move forward.  It’s back to the heart of your business – those humans you call customers.

Speaking of Humanizing, Jason Keath, CEO of Social Fresh, celebrated his birthday around Social Fresh, so here’s a photo of his surprise cupcake.  Happy Birthday Jason and many, many more!

Jason Keath Social Fresh 2013

Another human touch?  The Tweets So Fresh mug I won for being one of two people who’ve attended four Social Fresh conferences.  I love my mug:)  It makes me feel like a Star!

Tweets So Fresh Mug

All photos courtesy of Social Fresh and Spherical Communications


What’s Your Business Objective?

The following question was posed yesterday to the Social Fresh East Facebook Group:  “Anyone have any thoughts on continuing education in our industry? Looking for an online MBA program, would love to hear some recommendations from the socialfresh crowd!”  It sparked quite a discussion, which included “What about a master’s program in social media / Internet marketing / digital marketing?”  To which one of my favorite social business minds replied, “No, no, no no. … the MBA gives you the broadest business background and strategy if properly taught. You need a strong foundation to build on first.”

This discussion reminded me of a conversation I had at Social Fresh East: “Social media is 1/3 customer service, 1/3 marketing and 1/3 PR.”  Vanessa, social media manager for a hotel chain, replied, “I think it’s 75% customer service.”

An analogy I like to use for social is this:  Remember working before Microsoft Office?  Well, MS software didn’t change what we did, but how we did it.  It’s the same thing with social media; it doesn’t change the what, it just changes the how.  Or for you Mad Men fans, they had switchboard operators and secretaries answering their phones & making calls (my mom was a switchboard operator in the ’70’s), in the ’80’s voice mail became standard, in the ’90’s cell phones and if a secretary answered your phone or screened your calls today many would consider it an invasion of privacy!  My real point is that whatever the reason for the call was back in Mad Men’s days is still the reason for the call today; set up a meeting, discuss specs / requirements, approve a contract, etc. … it’s just done via a different medium.

I was raised by a company who made Customer Satisfaction its number one priority.  Why?  Because of the old adage, “It’s far more cost-effective to keep a client than to gain a new one.”  The main focus of business is to make money and there are many ways to do that:  keep your current base through excellent customer service, create new products or services, get new customers, raise prices, etc.  Revenue flows from the specific actions and strategies businesses take based on their values and priorities.  In the traditional model, development creates the product or service, marketing creates the messaging, sales sells it and customer service provides after-sales support.  These are different people in different organizations.  In the social model, organizational lines blur and customer service, marketing, PR and sales can all be accomplished via social media.  One of my favorite social stories is Peter Shankman and Morton’s (video linked here); if you Google this you will find pages and pages of blog posts and articles discussing is this great customer service, marketing or PR?  All of the above, and the bottom line is their reservations increased 100% the first weekend afterwards and this one $300 gesture (food, time, driver, etc.) generated about $800K in paid media via viral, news and TV stories.

It’s easy to think just restaurants, hotels or retail can increase business via social, but in reality, any organization (business, non-profit, health care, education, sports team, zoo, you name it) can benefit from it.  What are your pain points?  Why do you receive the most calls or inquiries?  Write blog posts to answer these questions or give necessary information and distribute via FB, LinkedIn, Google, Twitter, etc.  The added benefit is that post is now searchable via the web if your customer decides to Google before calling, emailing or tweeting.  What are the mission, values and objectives of your organization?  Once you’re firm on those, you create social strategies to address them just as you would any other internal program.  Wouldn’t it be great if cable companies had video blog posts, you could just tweet them, receive a link back and watch a video to solve your problem vs. sitting on hold and potentially having someone come to your house when it’s often a 3 – 5 min fix?  Wouldn’t it save them a ton in customer and technical service labor costs if they implemented this?  The application ideas go on and on for any organization.

So I believe @cspenn’s advice to get the MBA emphasizes the importance of understanding business overall rather than solely understanding digital or social techniques.  Clearly businesses that think social is just “something else to do” don’t understand its power, but it’s important for those who do understand its power to ground their activity in the overall goals of their organization.  Every time you hit FB, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest or any other network, ask yourself, “What is my objective?  Do I want to increase customer retention/satisfaction, or brand reputation, or the understanding of our messaging & values, or sales?”  It moves people out of the “how many Likes and Follows” and into working horizontally across their organization to see how social can help customer service, marketing, public relations, sales, distribution, etc. so that eventually your whole organization benefits.

How are you mainstreaming your social efforts into your overall business strategies?