The social media landscape constantly evolves more and more each day. It seems like every time you think you’ve finally figured out how a social platform works, it has new features or the platform you’re used to using completely changes. As strategic marketers, we’re well aware of how social media has transformed the way we communicate with our customers, advertise a product or service, influence purchasing decisions, and enhance our overall brand image.
To embrace the change ahead, our team decided it was the perfect time to attend Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Marketing World Conference (SMMW). Although our core offering and value at Flourish is a bit more comprehensive than just social media, there were so many great tips we learned that will impact our overall efforts to grow our clients’ business. Keep reading if you want the scoop on what we learned and how you can take a few of our tips and lessons learned into your social media strategies.
Social Media Marketing World is a 3-day long conference designed to provide attendees with actionable tips and strategy advice from the best of the best in social strategy, organic social marketing, content marketing, and paid social. Designed by and for professional marketers, this conference gets people to the next level through improved social media tactics that have been tried and tested by leading industry experts. By carefully handpicking speakers, providing in-depth workshops and detailed presentations, this conference is a game-changer for anyone in business who leverages social media to help their business grow.
Also, if you’ve been following along with Flourish, you should know by now that we’re big fans of Social Media Examiner and their founder, Michael Stelzner. He’s been leading the charge for many years to bring new and exciting trends to the world of social media and does so with intentional, thoughtful, and relevant content. He’s built a brand we’ve admired for quite some time; if you haven’t checked out SME just yet, please do! You’ll learn a ton, we promise.
As marketing professionals, we’re always looking for ways to improve our services so that we can better serve our clients and inject our day-to-day thinking with innovation and ingenuity. Being a full-service marketing agency, we know the landscape changes daily and our clients rely on us to inform them of the best techniques available. Heading out west to sunny San Diego, we were excited to embark on a week that focused on six different categories: Paid Social Media, Content Marketing, Social Media Strategy, Organic Social, All-Access Workshops, and stellar topics given by very notable Keynote Speakers. Here’s our key takeaway from each category.
Focused Topic: Paid social
In addition to organic social media (posting regularly without investing anything to boost and/or target specific audiences), paid social media can be an extremely powerful tool when used the right way. Whether you’re running ads on Facebook to promote your online retail store, or running recruitment campaigns on LinkedIn to find top talent, knowing the ins and outs of how paid social marketing can benefit you can be hard to stay on top of.
At Flourish, we focus a lot on business development and growth strategies for our clients – and when it comes to social media, LinkedIn takes the cake. Taking part in a LinkedIn advertising course brought us so much knowledge we began implementing it almost immediately.
LinkedIn allows advertisers the ability to target based on nearly all of the attributes of a professional’s LinkedIn profile. On top of this, we as professionals keep this source updated as a reflection of our careers and personal value. This means that advertising on LinkedIn becomes surgically accurate and allows you to reach prospective customers in ways not available from any other source.
Whereas intent-based targeting focuses on someone’s intent right now, LinkedIn’s audience-based targeting is exactly the opposite. You get your message out to the people who are the most qualified to buy. It’s a completely different side of the coin, but it generates prospects that have a higher propensity to convert deeper down the funnel, making them more valuable.
B2LinkedIn’s Founder, AJ Wilcox, spoke to SMMW attendees about ways to maximize LinkedIn advertising – and provided so many unique tips that most are unaware of. Be sure to check out AJ’s podcast, The LinkedIn Ads Show.
- Nicole’s Takeaway: Advanced targeting is one of the main perks of LinkedIn Advertising. However, when running an ad through LinkedIn, it’s important to exclude your competition from the results. Since your competition is always watching you, they’ll click on your ads to learn more about what you’re doing. Every time they click on your ad, money is being spent on their clicks. To ensure your money is reaching the right prospects, exclude job functions in Sales, Business Development, and Marketing through the advanced targeting option.
- Megan’s Takeaway: Don’t lean on the default settings as the recommended strategy; there’s a good chance there’s a strategy behind that strategy, which can ultimately cost you more money. Also, don’t lean on what you think is ideal for targeting, using things such as the title for targeting, as this has the potential of eliminating almost 70% of your targeted audience Why? Because job title is a free-form field in your LinkedIn profile (meaning users can virtually list whatever they want as their job title) and LinkedIn only recognizes 30% of job titles. This means that, by only targeting job titles, you’re potentially missing out on 70% of the rest of your target audience. What!!!
Focused Topic: Content marketing
What is Content Marketing? It’s the concept of providing truly relevant and useful content to your prospects that helps solve their problems instead of solely pitching your products or services. In this category, we learned so much from Marcus Sheridan on what he called The Most Trusted Voice.
To summarize, to build trust with prospects, you need to be clear and transparent about who you are and what you do. Answer the questions upfront on your website and give potential clients the power to make the decision to move forward with you instead of forcing them to search for the information. This provides you with the clientele that fits your business just as much as you fit their needs.
- Nicole’s Takeaway: Comparing your products and services to your competition without bias is a great way to help prospects make a decision. Oftentimes, people are already comparing your service or products with your competition, but without enough information, it could leave prospects feeling frustrated. This is your chance to impact the buyer’s journey. By providing unbiased comparison, you’re able to provide valuable information and attract the right clients.
- Megan’s Takeaway: I love the fact that Marcus stresses how to be upfront about who’s not a good fit for your business. We always tend to focus on how to be a great fit for everyone – but guess what? We’re not. We’ve had to let sever client service agreements in the past for one reason or another, and over time, we’ve realized that we’re not a good fit for everyone. So, we should be upfront about that and make that very clear to those we engage with. Don’t waste their time – or yours.
Social media is about building a connection with your audience where you’re able to communicate shared interests, information, ideas, and more. Therefore, having a social strategy is just as important as any strategic plan. However, in order to be effective, it’s important to be aware of your measurable goals and the intention behind your social presence. Our team enjoyed a great workshop by the rockstar herself, Brie Anderson in her workshop on Becoming a Data-Driven Marketer. We learned about how to narrow down your goals, explore additional pathways to success on what’s already working, and continue exploring opportunities for growth through data research.
- Nicole’s Takeaway: Start with the right questions. Before you begin testing whether or not your strategy is working, be sure to establish your benchmark. As yourself what the intent is behind testing this particular campaign, establish your goals, and determine whether or not you can or should measure the data for a particular campaign. This saves you time and helps you keep you focused on what matters most!
- Megan’s Takeaway: Brie is a lightning rod of energy – and brings a lot of great info to the forefront. Bottom line: test, evaluate, test, evaluate and then test and evaluate – until you can recognize trends worth noting. Nothing is as it seems and if we don’t give ourselves a large enough pool of data to recognize a true trend, we’re making decisions based on inaccurate data. This is something I feel we do a pretty good job at already, but her process was unique and definitely worth noting!
Additionally, we attended Mark Shafer’s workshop on How to be Relentlessly Relevant in a Fast-Changing World. In this class, we were reminded to “go with the flow.” Although we can’t predict the waves of change, sometimes it’s beneficial to ride with it to discover a new way to showcase your competitive edge.
- Nicole’s Takeaway: Never assume the world isn’t going to change. What works now more than likely will not work in the future. Start getting comfortable with adapting and use it as an opportunity to really stand out from your competition.
- Megan’s Takeaway: I totally agree with Nicole. You’ve got to be relevant – and never assume you know what is, especially as it relates to your customers. I think this also applies to your own internal culture, too. If you make assumptions about what drives your teams’ motivations, you may be significantly missing the mark and find yourself with major retention challenges.
Focused Topic: Organic Social
Organic Social is a term used in the marketing industry for any social media activity without a paid promotion. Since Flourish’s core clientele is B2B, our team attended Judy Fox’s LinkedIn workshop on How to Drive More Traffic and Sales Through LinkedIn. Our team learned a lot about maximizing the features LinkedIn offers and what type of content really stands out to the LinkedIn community. We’re fortunate enough to stay on top of the new feature sets as they come out since we often tune into Social Media Examiner’s podcast, but Judy definitely brought some awesome energy to the world of LinkedIn and how businesses can maximize the tool. Plus, she’s quirky and adorable and we just loved her.
- Megan’s Takeaway: This session was packed with great tips, but to keep it simple and not nerd out too much, I loved how Judy talked about what ‘role’ you play on LinkedIn – and broke it up into three categories: Be curious – and ask questions of your network to start a discussion; Be a creator – and give action steps and/or tips based on your expertise and experience, or, Be a coach, and become a ‘go to’ resource for industry insights. If you think about these roles and how they might be relevant to your business, this should give you a good starting point to generate thoughtful content.
Aside from learning more about LinkedIn, we also explored the world of Instagram and attended the Rapid Instagram Growth Strategies for 2022 workshop hosted by mother and son duo Chalene and Brock Johnson. This workshop provided lots of actionable items that involved simple steps that make BIG impacts. This was especially a great workshop for those looking to increase their personal brand. You may recognize Chalene Johnson as a former TV Fitness guru, but she’s now a leading IG expert and overall lifestyle influencer.
- Nicole Takeaway: If you’re looking to grow your brand on Instagram, it’s important to be as clear as possible in your bio section. From your username to the verbiage used in your ‘About’ Section, be clear about what you do and be as specific as possible when planning out your content. The more niche, the better!
As All-Access members of this year’s SMMW, we got the chance to attend two of our favorite workshops from the conference. We attended Park Howell’s workshop on How to Easily Craft a Powerful Brand Story: A Storytelling Framework. This experience was interactive, full of energy, and had a lot of laughs! Park Howell taught us about the ABT (And, But, Therefore) method, a simple, yet impactful storytelling framework that helps companies simplify their message while properly communicating exactly what prospects need to hear to decide to move forward with your product or service.
Honestly, this simple framework was game-changing and something that we strongly recommend any business looking into.
- Nicole’s Takeaway: Everyone has a story, the goal is to learn how to tell it effectively without the fluff. Through a strong storytelling framework such as the ABT method, you’re able to help your audience immediately grasp the point of your story. What’s better than connecting with your prospects and moving them to engage with your company sooner than later?
- Megan’s Takeaway: This truly takes something that we often overcomplicate (our core message and/or brand story) and simplifies it into a method that makes it easy to communicate. Yes, we are communications professionals, but you’d be surprised at how it can be so difficult to craft a strong message when you’re so close to the business. The ABT method really broke it down into tangible, simple ways to communicate without losing sight of your audience.
In contrast, we also attended Chris Dayley’s workshop on A/B Split Testing: How to Convert More Website Traffic into Customers, a discussion on website messaging, user experience, and data optimization. The experience opened our eyes, helping us realize that although we may aesthetically like something on our website, we have to make sure our audience is engaging accordingly as well. Or else, what’s the point of a nicely designed website without encouraging action?
- Megan’s Takeaway: Chris Dayley blew my mind. As you may have seen as a theme throughout this article – nothing is as it seems, and it requires validation to squash assumptions of what you think actually works. Chris focused on website optimization, how to create strong CTAs (calls to action) that really resonate, creating content that works and how to avoid distractions from your audience continuing to engage. Sidenote if you’re a Flourish client: we’ve already engaged with him as a resource to help us refine our marketing efforts – so stay tuned for some quantifiable tips we’ll be bringing to you soon!
- Nicole’s Takeaway: It’s easy to get caught up in the aesthetics of things, but at the end of the day it’s not about what you think looks best. Rather, it’s about what resonates most with your audience. If your goal is to encourage your audience to take action that benefits your business, then be sure to test messaging and design to ensure the message is truly speaking to your prospects.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about the overarching theme that resonated throughout this conference, which focused on Web 3.0 and what was being called, the next wave of the internet. We think Cathy Hackl said it best, when she said, “The 21st Century will be a century of exploration and expansion that will lead humanity to look further into outer space, go deeper into understanding the power of our brains and minds, and allow us to fully enter the infinite possibilities of the metaverse.” The Metaverse will be enabled by many technologies, including AR, VR & mobile devices as entry points, gaming as the parent of the metaverse, 5G and Wifi 6, blockchain and NFTs, AI, and Cloud/Edge computing systems.
As marketers, although this may rack our brains a bit from traditional efforts, opens up an entirely new way of thinking about how we can brand businesses and future-proof them for what’s to come. If you’re selling any product that’s targeted towards millennials, Gen Z or Gen Alpha, you better start thinking about how your business can live its greatest life online and take advantage of learning about the Metaverse sooner rather than later. It’ll allow for new revenue streams, the opportunity to enable new customer journeys and points of purchase, allow you to connect with customers from all over the world, and allow you to attract customers of all ages.
What we loved about Metaverse discussions is that it’s all about the ‘creators’ and allowing one to contribute to a digital world that will yield monetization opportunities like never before. This hasn’t really been the case in the past – and now it’s more about creating a shared world that the community owns vs one conglomerate running the show.
The overall experience at Social Media Marketing World 2022 was unforgettable and full of great information. Our team enjoyed meeting fellow marketing professionals, connecting with speakers, and learning new tactics that we’re eager to apply to our client strategies. We learned that flexibility and adaptability are crucial to the success of every business, regardless of industry.
Additionally, as the world continues to evolve and change, it’s important to keep learning and growing too. What you think is working might not be working as well as it could, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to improve today.
Overarching themes from SMMW:
- Be a voice of trust: In order for prospects to trust you with their needs, it’s helpful to build that relationship beforehand. Be transparent. If clients have questions, provide the answers. Oftentimes, companies assume being vague would keep the competition guessing. Instead, it provides less information for your prospects to make an educated decision on choosing your company over others. Make it easy for potential clients to choose you over your competition. Be clear about the services you provide and be clear about the clientele you serve. This will not only save you time, but it’ll also attract the right clientele you strive to serve.
- If you’re looking to grow your business development efforts, LinkedIn is where it’s at. It’s true that we have a love affair with LinkedIn, for a variety of reasons, but this underutilized platform (compared to other social platforms) is robust and always changing – which seems for the better. They keep their audience in mind instead of leading with ways to invade your privacy and/or sell your information to advertisers (hello, Facebook). They focus on the reason why they started to begin with, which is creating meaningful connections through professional networking.
- Small stories still create a big impact: Crafting compelling stories is a way to connect with your audience. Telling your story through simplicity helps your audience decide whether or not your products or services fit their needs. The idea is to learn how to tell your prospects about your solution to their problem without them having to search for it. Your story will resonate with the right audience where they’ll think to themselves, “this company gets it.”
Would we recommend this conference to our fellow marketers? Absolutely. We hope to see YOU in San Diego next year!