Navigating the social media seas at #SMMW14

Top takeaways from Social Media Marketing World

Attending a conference is a lot like managing a business’s social media initiative:

You need to have a content strategy by planning which sessions to attend, engage your audience by chatting with other attendees, and gather feedback by asking the speakers specific questions that will add value to the conversation.

I kept these principles in mind when I attended Social Media Marketing World (#SMMW14), presented by Social Media Examiner in San Diego, March 27-28.

On the plane to San Diego, I highlighted the top three sessions from each time slot to help me manage my time efficiently and give me quick-reference safety valves should I need to switch day-of. I also talked with as many other attendees as possible, and joined in the the #SMMW14 Twitter conversations to share my notes and get an idea of what was going on in the sessions I didn’t attend.

Most importantly, I outlined in advance the main topics to investigate at the conference: corporate blog strategies, social media customer service training examples, trends in the creep factor and the declining News Feed reach for Facebook pages.

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When a comment goes crazy

Four warning signs of an emotional commenter

We social media managers throw around the word “engagement” a ton.

So much in fact, that these days it’s lost much of its luster.

Despite its increasing ambiguity, and buzz-ness, I still think it’s the key value for any social media initiative. However, not all engagement is positive.

Negative comments, criticism and crazy people are inevitable. And how you respond to them says a lot about your social media strategy.

We often need to be reminded (or remind others) that you can’t stop the crazy – you can only hope to contain it.

So I jotted down some of the factors that help me spot crazy in social media discussions, and added some ideas to keep all this glorious engagement on the right track.

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Slaying dragons in social media fantasyland

Takeaways from #RaganDisney

Mickey slayin'

The social media industry can be a lot like New Fantasyland at Disney World: there’s a ton of information, flashing lights, advice, experts and characters out there. And like Mickey, we social media managers need to be able to blast through the nightmares and hype, to slay the dragons (e.g. social media pitfalls, haters, crises, stale content) and find our own way to the top of the mountain.

The best route is to set a strategy, jump in the fire and grow from there. After over three years of corporate social media management, I’m always looking for new ideas, fresh perspectives and ways to elevate my craft.

With that goal in mind, I attended the Ragan’s 6th Annual Social Media for PR and Corporate Communications Conference at Walt Disney World to get inspired, network with other social media pros and come up with some new ideas to try out at work.

Here are the key lessons I took away from the conference and I hope they help you slay whatever social media dragons you’re battling.

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Five pillars of a quality meeting (and Twitter chat)

Meeting in the Office

Working as the social media guy for a pretty big company, I spend a good chunk of my day on Twitter, responding to customers, promoting programs, spreading the good corporate word; and also personally for professional development, networking and information gathering (among others).

I see lots of good stuff in my feeds, and some tweets that aren’t so good.

Since meetings (and PowerPoints) are often staples of the business process, I also see a fair share of conference rooms, appointment notifications and recurring gatherings.

And just like tweets, some meetings are useful, and some meetings are – well, you get the idea.

This week I participated in the #pr20chat – a weekly Twitter discussion about PR and social media organized by Justin Goldsborough and Heather Whaling – and found a lot of value from the professional discussion, social media analysis and varied perspectives.

In jotting down my notes from the Twitter chat, the similarities crystallized between a quality Twitter chat and an effective meeting.

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Creepy reminder from Instagram

Motel 1

The filters and effects drew me in. The user interface and design wowed me. But the community and the creativity keep me coming back every day.

I check Facebook and Twitter for the news, but I go to Instagram for fun.

My feed seems cleaner and more interesting, with much less of the stuff that I routinely tune out (like ads, promos and app activity). Granted I am following less people on Instagram, but most of them seem to put some thought and care into their photos (although food and cat pics are inevitable on any platform, not that there’s anything wrong with that).

I also enjoy Instagram’s weekend hashtag projects. A few weeks ago, I had fun posting entries to the motel-themed project, and found myself thinking very highly of Instagram and felt appreciative for the creative outlet.

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