Oct 20, 2010

People, Content and Measurement: Recurring Themes from BlogWorld

I was fortunate to be part of the team PR Newswire sent to BlogWorld this year.  It was a grueling weekend, and a tremendous experience, bringing together some of the brightest minds in social media, digital marketing, blogging and PR.

PR Newswire's social media team at BlogWorld

Team PR Newswire at BlogWorld: (L-R) Tom Hynes, Mgr-Blogger Relations; Tom Miale, Global Acct Mgr-Streaming Media; Vicky Harres, Director-Audience Development; Sarah Skerik, VP-Social Media; Michael Pranikoff, Director-Emerging Media; Jackie Dowling, Social & Traditional Media Strategist

The team spread out and attended a wide variety of sessions, soaking up information on everything from managing online communities to the latest trends in using video in social networks.   Despite the broad array of subjects covered, we noticed that a few central themes recurred.  These were:

People:

“If your market is people, and your niche is human, then they are on social networks,” was the memorable line delivered by Scott Stratten in the opening keynote, and that set the tone for the conference. Resoundingly and without a doubt, the overarching meme from BlogWorld was that social media is about personal interaction.  Relationships drive business.  For the people behind branded social media strategies, this means a few different things:

  • It’s not about your brand, it’s always about your customer.  Business run on that principle will do well, and content must be created with the audience in mind.
  • Use social media to get exposed, and signal to your audience that your organization is open to interaction.  Once you make the connection with a customer, then you can start building the relationship.
  • Jay Baer reminded us that people buy from people. Social media lets you show off your great people.  Baer takes it a step further, suggesting that companies trust and empower their employees to engage with customers online, creating a “volunteer army” for your brand.

Measurement:

“How do you measure the value of a conversation?”  Commonly heard from the podium at conference sessions was the assertion that the corporate world is trying to measure social media too rigorously. Social media may not necessarily lend itself well to traditional marketing measurement, since some of the best opportunities social media provides are in the areas of customer service, retention and loyalty, not acquisition and selling.

The advice most speakers offered common sense advice when discussing measuring social media, suggesting that a good place to start is simply looking at the outcomes you hope to produce (such as an increase in mindshare, positive sentiment, or visibility around a topic) and working backward. Again, from Jay Baer: “It’s not as hard as we make it out to be. We’re not making it simple enough to apply to the business goals we have.”

Content:

Several speakers emphasized the importance of excellent content.   Don’t phone in blog posts, Facebook updates or other interactions.  Each time you cause a reader’s eyes to glaze over, you not only lose their attention at that moment, but they may decide that interacting with you online isn’t worth their time.

Taken collectively, these macro themes remind me of the importance of translating information specifically for social spheres, and the necessity of keeping all those individuals who collectively form our audiences in mind.

Were you at BlogWorld, or have you been reading the coverage? I’m curious to know what key take-aways you have in mind.

Authored by Sarah Skerik, VP-social media

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