This year's Social Media Influence 2010 conference was being held at London Marriott Grosvenor Square Hotel in Mayfair (btw the hotel is not actually situated on Grosvenor Square, it's off a side road, which resulted in me and a few others getting lost but that's a whole other story).
The conference itself has a good reputation and I was honoured at being asked to speak at it, and really looking forward to the speakers from some top companies - Starbucks, PepsiCo, BT Group, Digital, Sony, The Guardian to name a few.
This conference is only a day conference but had 2 parallel tracks running in the morning which came together as a single track by midday:
- Track 1: Social Media Influence
- Track 2: Social Business Design
Track 1 had about 220 people and Track 2 had about 20. My view on the imbalance between the tracks was firstly because Alexandra Wheeler (digital Director of Starbucks), was the starting keynote speaker for Track 1 where Starbucks is always a great crowd drawer when it comes to social media, and secondly the perception was that Track 2: Social Business Design was a "technical" track (confirmed by a number of people I spoke to). Maybe this track should have been called Social Business Planning?
I began by sitting in Track 2, and looking around I noticed how far apart this small group of social media enthusiasts were sitting from one another. Yes, it was a hot and muggy day but the air conditioning was working!
JP Rangasami, Chief Scientist for BT Group, was up first and did a reasonable opening keynote for this track; however I did find my mind wandering as he didn't use any visual aids for the entire 45 mins. Maybe it is just my personal preference, but I find a mix between speech and visual to be a much more powerful delivery.
After JP Rangasami, I did my presentation as part of a panel debate, where I focused on the human factor side of social media and the change in mindset required to make social media a success (details of which can be found below).
Throughout the course of the day I listened to some good speakers and some great speakers where B. Bonin Bough (Global Director of Digital and Social Media for PepsiCo) was the highlight for me with their "Mission Control" setup, monitoring and responding to social conversations about a particular product (details of which can also be found below). It showed just what you can do with a little creativity, great passion and the backing of a company who takes social media seriously.
To summarise I think this has been one of the better conferences I have been to in a long time in terms of the speakers, the content and the fact that I met some really interesting people throughout the day.
However, I would like to make one recommendation for next year's conference and that is to provide more clarity at the beginning and throughout the day on what the #tag for the conference is on Twitter. Consequently a mixture of #smi, #smi10 and #smi2010 were used. When you have parallel Tracks going on, being able to monitor conversations of other tracks is really useful.
Matthew Yeomans (Director of Custom Communication) did a great job of putting this event together and I give it a 8.5 / 10 and really look forward to next year's conference.
Below are a mixture of mine and other people's views (based on their twittering throughout the day) of some of the better presentations:
Alexandra Wheeler, Digital Director of Starbucks
Starbucks is one of the key companies today showing how Social Media can really influence your profits (#1 engaged brand in Social Media on Facebook) and Alexandra didn't disappoint in her delivery.
Where a lot of companies are looking to outsource their Social Media activities, Alexandra's opening gambit is "do not outsource your voice" which was received with a rapture of nodding heads and tweets. Her second sound bite of the day "ask for forgiveness not permission but be mostly right" when referencing Social Media compliance, is phrase that was repeated throughout the day and one I am starting to heed.
Other key messages from Alexandra were:
"97% of customers said a digital brand experience influenced whether or not they purchased"
"Look at metrics to inform content and strategy""3 phases to Starbucks Foursquare promo: 1. Badge creation; 2. Happy hour promo; 3. Mayor offers"
Discussion to highlight the power of using Social Media monitoring to build new business as well as protecting your reputation and managing customer relationships.
Panel: Guy Stephens (Foviance), Mobbie Nazir (Brew Digital), Andy Leaver (Bazaarvoice)
I have made this as one of my highlights, not because it was a great panel debate, but the fact that we still find the measurement of social media a difficult thing to quantify and qualify which became more and more apparent as this debate continued.
Some key points were:
"93% of customers seek others' views before they buy" (Andy)
"Twitter activity is 'push'. Not much listening." (Andy)
"Numbers out of context have no meaning and we need to be able to act on the info." (Mobbie)"We can get too hung up on measurement. Relax" (Guy)
B.Bonin Bough, Head of Social Media for Pepsico
What I liked about B.Bonin was his passion and enthusiasm for social media which made him a very compelling speaker to listen to.
I liked the PepsiCo10 project which is an open innovation solution to work with 10 companies on emerging technologies, and the way they used the BlogHer community to co-create a product, but the highlight had to be their "Mission Control":
And finally me.....
Social Media is about People!
3 Key Learnings
- Social technologies enable the strategy, they don't define it!
- The change in mindset should not be under-estimated
- Social Media is about PEOPLE!
5 Top tips
- Find the hook ! (reducing email by 50% is a great door opener)
- Start small - Quick win - BIG impact
- Be Creative
- Be Passionate
- Stop! think social (i.e. is there a better way of what I'm trying to do?)