6 Things I Learned at Spredfast Social Summit
The digital world has changed. This was increasingly clear over the past two days spent at the Spredfast Smart Social Summit, in Austin, Texas. In an industry where we used to produce four pieces of television creative per year, we’re now producing almost 4,000 pieces of content per year. What does that mean for marketers today? We have to be more nimble than ever — meeting the pace and demand with scrappier content creation and strategic prowess. We can no longer get bogged down in inefficient processes or slow approvals. We need to meet this challenge by stepping outside the box and thinking at the speed of social.
Given this guiding principle, here are my six key takeaways from the Summit.
#1: There's a Lot of Data Out There. Make Sure You're Starting with the Right Questions.
With so much social data at our fingertips, it can seem overwhelming to determine where to focus or even where to begin. There are two key ways to break this down. 1) Start with the right question. What are you trying to understand? Are you looking to test theories about your target audience? Are you wondering what a specific competitor is doing within a new brand campaign? Before we start to sift through data, it’s important to take a step back and take the time to build thoughtful and detailed questions that form the backbone of the eventual testing plan — ultimately leading to cleaner and more meaningful insights. 2) Be comfortable with testing and learning. In order to get to data-driven tactics, you need to start by testing something innovative. To many brands, this may mean taking a risk and testing something without a ton of data behind it. And that’s okay. In order to drive new insights, it’s important to be comfortable with diving in (and potentially failing). No matter the outcome, everyone will still learn something.
#2: Rapid Content Creation is a Beast. But Cross-Functional Teams are Meeting the Challenge.
On top of this influx of data, social marketers are also facing the challenge of content creation. No matter what session I attended or whom I spoke to — everyone was feeling the pressure of meeting the demand for more. While there is no single tried-and-true method for success, it was clear that brands that win in this space are heavily investing both time and resources in the initiative. Brands and agencies alike are building dedicated, cross-functional teams to help solve the content gaps that exist in their marketing efforts, rather than just relying on siloed social teams. This investment is leading to innovative solutions and asset creation that can effectively contribute to all marketing efforts.
#3: Micro-Influencers are the New Influencers.
In the world of influencers, the most popular kids at the party have always been tween YouTubers with millions of fans. Just pay $500K and get one video that will earn the virality you’ve always wanted. Eh — not so great.
This space is rapidly changing as brands are questioning the true value and scale of what they’re getting from major influencers. The new(er) buzzword is micro-influencers. These content creators may not have millions of followers, but they do have specific talent in creating beautiful, powerful social content (and many do have highly engaged social followings). Brands are using platforms like Popular Pays and Social Native to brief and activate hundreds of these micro-influencers to create and post content on their behalf — leading to highly successful and authentic campaigns that help meet the demand for content while also feeling relevant to audiences. While not the only solution to our content woes, micro-influencers are definitely valuable within this space.
#4: Automation Cannot Stand Alone. That is, "Who is Orchestrating the Bots?"
Even bigger buzzwords than influencers? Automation. Bots. While this is definitely a sexy space for 2018, it’s important to use caution in this area. Bots can provide a ton of value when it comes to making care/assistance processes quicker or making information more readily available, but it’s equally important to emphasize the value of a human touch. While bots can help address the volume issue we’re all experiencing in the customer-care space, we will still need to ensure that interactions feel personal and meaningful. Social users are savvy beyond belief — and can sense when they’re being duped. What we need to keep in mind: Bots can succeed, but we still need humans orchestrating the bots.
#5: We Need to Approach Social Video with a Whole New Set of Guidelines.
With video now accounting for a majority of the social content we’re creating across all platforms, it is increasingly clear that the age-old practice of simply editing TV spots is no longer cutting it. Social video needs be created, from the get-go, according to an established set of best practices that fit the mobile space they’re being consumed within. Some of the quick hits? Show branding in the first three to five seconds. Always design for sound off (or for very little sound). Think short most of the time. Longer video has a place when the story is worth investing in. And finally, and perhaps more importantly, only invest in live video when something is worth watching live. If that same video could have been done non-live, it’s probably worth questioning.
#6: Brands Can No Longer Sit Back and Stay Silent. They Need to Stand for Something.
One thing that was impossible to ignore at the Summit was a continual and immense focus on the need for brands, more than ever before, to stand for something in today’s landscape. Especially as marketers want to pull in younger audiences, they cannot ignore the demand to offer authentic brand value and purpose. At one session, titled “Brands That Do Good, Do Well,” it was highlighted that more than 50% of customers would purchase something from a company purely based on its core values. That’s a powerful (and hard to ignore) statistic.
What brands have to be careful of, however, is ensuring that what they stand for feels authentic and true to their core identity. It can be very easy to step from “doing good” to “exploiting a cause.” The guiding idea of principles, not politics, was highlighted as a great way to determine whether something feels right for a brand, and should be the mantra we use when making these decisions.
So, there you have it — Spredfast Smart Social Summit in a 6-part nutshell. For more information on how to attend next year’s event, please visit https://www.spredfast.com/summit.