4 Things We Knew But Didn’t Really Know Before #SMWNYC

It’s that time of the year again in NYC – Social Media Week. All of the social gurus from the greater New York City area gather their teams and rush to Midtown West to attend the weeklong event. Those who don’t tweet, amp up their Twitter game, and those who call themselves video-experts, were just hit with VR and AI…so that was a curve ball! Oh, and Snap Inc. dropped their IPO smack in the middle of SMW, not to mention their number one competitor announced Instagram “Stories” ads for all brands on the same day. Needless to say, it was an eventful week!

Who’d We See?

Many great speakers took us through the week, including Megan Summers, Global Head of Production at @Facebook, Alastair Cotterill, Global Head of Creative and Brand Strategy at @Pinterest, and even David Harbour, Tony nominated actor from popular Netflix series “Stanger Things” took the stage. Brit Morin, entrepreneur who is the Founder and CEO of Brit+Co, discussed the power of video and Henry Goldman, Head of News Video at @Buzzfeed gave his input on viral content and what it means for the future of digital marketing.

What’d We Hear?

A ton of insightful one-liners, machine based communications is the natural progression, and everything under the sun on the immersion of video! Some things we knew…most things got us thinking. As social media professionals, our goal is to strategically serve media to the right audiences by leveraging advancements in technology to share content and build experiences.

We learned a bunch from attending social media week, but four key moments stole our attention:

  1. The rise of video, particularly viewership
  2. Transitioning from an age of information to a world of experiences
  3. Reaching millennials…because they too, are the future
  4. The new future of digital: machine driven communications

#1. The Not-So Shocking Rise of Video…

…proven by the surprising number of viewers. Last year, YouTube surpassed more than one billion hours of viewership. Not hard to believe when you consider the fact that videos are our main source of information as it allows us to connect with and experience the brand from a visual and interactive perspective. Whether it’s Snapchat Discover, Instagram Live or snackable GIFS, we watch everything from recipes (looking at you Buzzfeed “Tasty”), news, and even advertisements (Instagram “Stories,” anyone?) are all better served as video content.

But, not just any video content. High quality, appropriate to the platform, video content. Over the week, we learned from an array of experts that video content should:

  • Be social, personalized, on demand, and empathetic
  • Capture attention early
  • Be designed for sound off (but delight viewers with sound)
  • Be experimental – play more
  • Fit the platform

All in all, we know video works, we know people are watching, and we’re going to keep creating video because we’re only going to get more immersive from here.

#2. Transitioning from an age of information to a world of experiences

So what does this really mean? Back when newspapers and TVs were our only source of news, everyone took their time absorbing information. Now, our rushed and busy society has waved goodbye to the days of long-form information consumption. It’s social media that has provided a large driving force behind shorter, more easily consumed content (give me a 15 second video with 140 characters or less, or I don’t have time for that!).

Of course everything ladders back to video content these days because out of a video, we gain an experience, but we can’t forget about Facebook 360 (like being put in the center of the bustling NYSE during an IPO) or carousel ads (sliding through each course of a meal, thanks to our favorite restaurant). Learning how to make DIY party favors or watching a rally LIVE – experiences. Putting on big, funny-looking goggles and waving our hands back and forth because we’ve just been jet-setted to mars – an experience.

Content is the means of saying something better than we can actually say it.  It is through this content that we have to envision experiences we want the audience to take, and how they run with it, is on them. The beauty is that even if they don’t interpret the content the way we want, they’re still building an experience, and that’s how we know we’re doing it right.

#3. A different approach to reaching millennials

Alastair Cotterill from Pinterest made a bold statement during his session at SMW stating that, “One of the biggest hurdles that marketers face today is creating content that’s personalized and inspires people to act.” He approached this by asking agencies and advertisers to bring BIG, innovative ideas to the platform that do one simple thing: improve the lives of Pinterest users.

Pinterest’s largest demographic, millennials, or the selfish generation if you will, are constantly seeking content that helps “me, me, me.” Brands can add significant value (and find great success in advertising) by creating content that provides the user with an answer or solution that improves their quality of life.

  • How-to content
  • Recipes
  • Short teaching videos
  • Quick and easy resources of information

Social media is no longer a place to just “shove” information. We must provide the user with great value. Millennials are learning as we advance and children are training for jobs that don’t exist yet. The future is here. #bots #AI #VR

#4. What’s all this talk of bots?

We will admit, a huge eye opener was gaining exposure to bots, artificial intelligence and virtual reality this year at social media week. We know that this is where immersion experiences are heading, but to hear the number of brands that are already using these tools to influence their social strategy was really amazing.

We heard from @Viacom and how they partnered with Facebook Messenger to develop their own bot for the EMAs this year. We also learned from the @New York Times that through their VR app, anyone can be a journalist. Users are taken live to the stories of top news scenes and can fully emerge themselves into the 360 video experience.

A true kicker however, was the presentation hosted by @TheEconomist on bots. Machine learning is important to the way users think and process, but in social we have to figure out their place. The challenge, as mentioned by Alan Berkson, is with customer service and managing those expectations. If we give machines control, is it less personal?

Where do we net for now? Berkson says: “The future of bots is anticipation and analyzation.”

Again we find ourselves going back to this idea of shifting to a world of experiences and how the emergence of behavior influenced by the shift in technology is changing society as we know it. We can’t wait to see how this shapes up before next year’s Social Media Week.

In a Nutshell…

We came, we saw, we networked, we engaged, and most importantly, we were exposed to new and insightful approaches to social media. Mastering the art of human connectivity in this ever changing and digitally driven world is key for brands treading through a sea of social users. Reach your audience and see real results by tapping into smart, effective, and consumable content and marketing.

Thanks to all the speakers, sponsors and those involved in making Social Media Week 2017 a success! We’ll be back.

And in case you don’t have time to read our roundup in depth, but can spare a minute to see what our team thought of #SMWNYC in 140 characters or less…

@samhershman – “#Tech hasn’t changed human behavior as much as human behavior has embraced shifting in #tech.” We did this to ourselves, now we have to keep up.

@eileenobrien: “To build a fan base follow the 3 principles of devotion: be unique, build participation & build a service.”

@laurenmoore: “Agencies should help brands advertise in a way that helps consumers live their lives and improve their quality of life.” From @acotterill, Pinterest

@breannethomlison: “Brands have to know what they stand for in today’s world, they must speak up ASAP.”

@jessicavanner: “1 minute of video equates to 1.8 million words in our brain, this is 40k pages of text.” From @mklein_NYC, Global Marketing at Facebook

@christianapascale: “Engagements on Snapchat are totally different than traditional media & much more personal. No more clicks/time on page, it’s about screenshots.”

@alyssagrates: “Make yourself useful (on social media); it’s advice from your mother that was good advice then and is good advice now.”

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This blog was co-authored by Lauren Moore. Lauren serves as a manager of Social Media and Search Marketing Strategies at W2O Group, helping clients across healthcare, pharma and tech implement and execute paid social media and search marketing campaigns.

Samantha Hershman
Samantha Hershman

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