What do you get when you take 3,000 marketers and bring them to a conference in San Diego? Apparently a lot of fun and some great conversations. At least that has been my experience. Starting off with a welcome party on the USS Midway and continuing today
with engaging sessions, my time in San Diego has been well spent. I’ve met marketers from around the globe and even some from back home. I am proud to say that Michiganders are well represented at SMMW both in number and in expertise.
The largest trend of this year’s conference is live video, in particular Facebook Live, Periscope, and SnapChat. Content Marketing as a whole has also been a popular topic of discussion. They aren’t just overarching discussions though, the speakers and attendees alike are focused on finding the meaningful and innovative ways to connect to fans and consumers. Live video can be a great tool for marketers, but as with most tools in this industry, you have to be able to identify your space in the field and connect to the audience in an authentic way. As Brian Fanzo said today, “social video is about the conversation, not just the broadcast. ” Adam Rucker from Southwest Airlines had what I thought was a great example of this with his story about how Southwest used live video during Storm Jonas to take fliers behind the scenes at their command center and have the experts answer the questions of why flights were delayed. Instead of apology tweets and please be patient posts, Southwest was able to bring the meteorologist making the decisions to the fliers and explain in a coherent way why their flights had to be rerouted. Southwest delivered valuable information to their customers in an easy to consume format that would not have translated nearly as well in text form.
I also attended a session on personal branding by Guy Kawasaki that was not only informative, but also incredibly entertaining. The man is very good at what he does, but he has no filter. I actually loved that about him. It gave the session a relaxed and authentic feel. He had some great tips on establishing your personal brand and having an effective presence online. I felt validated by a lot of his tips as they are things that I already do, but I also learned some new things I can try. One of my favorite moments may have been his explanation of how he deals with negative posters on his content. Instead of deleting them, he hides the comments, which on Facebook means that the poster and their network can still see the post but no one else can. That way, you receive the benefit of their engagement when Facebook’s algorithm looks at your content, but their negativity is not on display. Guy was a little more colorful in his explanation, but I’ll just show the picture of his slide as explanation.
Now, for possibly the top highlight of today, I met Gary Vaynerchuk aka Gary Vee aka the CEO of VaynerMedia. For those who are not in the digital media world, Gary is an incredibly smart businessman who has made huge impacts in the world of digital marketing and most recently the growth of SnapChat. He is also completely unfiltered and unapologetic about it. His one on one session with Marcus Sheridan produced several very funny moments in addition to an insightful session. One of my favorite quotes was in answer to how Gary feels about and if he worries about what happens when the channels that currently elevate his presence and brand are no longer on top. His response? “We are thinking about the platforms in the wrong way – they are here now and that is what matters.” His mindset is that while something is number 1 he is fine putting energy into it because it has a high return. When it no longer has that return, then he’ll stop. I think he is right, SnapChat, Instagram, Periscope, they may not last forever, but right now if that is where your audience is then don’t be afraid to go after them!
The final event for today is a cruise around the harbor on a yacht, which is what I am heading off to now. Be sure to check back tomorrow for that recap and more from the conference!