In my Bizzabo one-liner for the Social Media Marketing World 2014 conference, my goal was “to learn, connect and geek out”. Check, check and check.

What I hadn’t counted on was having lots of fun, being in such a positive, friendly environment and having quite so many “aha” moments.

1. Employees are your Secret Superpower

5 aha moments at Social Media Marketing World 2014 #smmw14This was my biggest aha moment and an area with huge potential. “Youtility” author Jay Baer noted that while 47% of Americans trust adverts, 92% trust recommendations from friends and family, even higher for millennials.

If employees post and engage positively about their organisation on their personal social profiles, this is not only more compelling, but has an exponential reach compared with company-owned channels.

Quick exercise: Identify the potential connections of your employees on just Facebook alone by calculating [(# employees x 71%) x 338], so for every hundred employees you have 23,998 connections.

Jay Baer at #SMMW14 on employee advocacy

Slide from Jay Baer’s presentation “How To Turn Your Employees Into Your Best
Social Media Advocates”

Company culture is critical to harnessing employee advocacy, supported by software and guidelines, with the caveat that social metrics maven Nichole Kelly noted

“social media policies will never be able to cure stupid”.

LinkedIn’s Jason Miller also emphasised the importance of encouraging and acknowledging employees because, to paraphrase Jay Baer, Marcus Sheridan and Ted Rubin:

“all employees are now in marketing and customer service”.

2. Own Your Connections

Social Media Examiner’s Mike Stelzner didn’t mince his words: with organic reach dropping alarmingly on Facebook, we realise

“we have built our house on rented land”.

The solution? Build a great blog and own your connections.

Michael Stelzner on Facebook Marketing

The importance of capturing not just emails, but the loyalty and interest of your connections was repeated by many of the thought leaders at the conference. Social media tools expert Ian Cleary recommended a range of conversion tools to capture audience and Brian Carter pointed out

“emails are better than fans because they are portable”.

Even Facebook advertising authority Jon Loomer cautioned that

“you can’t build a business on Facebook”,

offering a range of strategies to collect email and own your connections.

3. Facebook advertising (still) dominates social

Notwithstanding the lack of control and ownership on Facebook, Mike Stelzner, Jon Loomer, Brian Carter and others agreed that advertising there still gives the best ROI, because:

– impressions raise awareness even without clickthroughs
– website custom audience and FBX retargeting  reach your readers who are not yet fans
– the Facebook conversion pixel pinpoints effectiveness
– advertising to fans converts sales
– unbeatable customisation and targeting potential, with lookalike audience, ad reports, detailed analytics and more

4. Visual, Slideshare and LinkedIn rock

We’re all looking for more effective social media marketing and #SMMW14 has convinced me that Slideshare, LinkedIn and visuals have huge potential.

Key takeaways from LinkedIn’s Jason Miller, Slideshare specialist Todd Wheatland and visual virtuoso Donna Moritz:

repurpose content: create visual / SlideShare snippets to lead audiences to more substantial content
business focus: the intent of viewers on SlideShare and LinkedIn is research and education
niche and reach: LinkedIn and Slideshare put your message in front of people who are interested and ready to act

5. Be Useful

Crazy, right? Those quirky social media dudes were actually suggesting that we identify and answer customers’ questions and be helpful to them on social media. In other words:

“they ask, you answer”.

In Marcus Sheridan’s electrifying performance – missing only a gospel choir – he urged us to

“see yourself as nothing less than the Wikipedia of your industry”.

A home truth related to employee advocacy: sales and customer service interact the most with customers, so their insight should influence marketing. What if sales BCC’d marketing when responding to customer queries? Simples.

Marcus Sheridan at Social Media Marketing World

I laughed out loud when Ted Rubin dismissed the notion of ending blog posts with a question, sympathising with his view that it’s a pathetically transparent attempt to get comments and one that can backfire if your question is left unanswered.

Nonetheless, at the risk of being Billy-no-mates, do you have any #SMMW14 ‘aha moments’ to share?

I am a digital marketer who has recently returned home to Ireland, following a two-year stint working in Silicon Valley, California. I am an avid traveller, reader and oenophile, always happy to connect with new people, online and IRL. All content (c) Karen Henry 2010-2016