3 Key Takeaways from the 2013 Social Fresh EAST Conference

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Tampa hosted the Social Fresh EAST conference this past Thursday and Friday, April 18-19, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Tampa Airport Westshore. Combine 14 speakers with over 300 social media enthusiasts and you’re guaranteed an informative, good time. Prominent marketing directors filled the room. Steady typing was heard throughout both days. And…there was a blackout.

It’s true. The power went out at the hotel and surrounding blocks in the middle of a presentation and news outlets on Twitter proclaimed that it was because of the conference.

Nevertheless, with only 10 minutes of blackout, there were still plenty of takeaways to remember. Here are a couple of them:

1. Content and Connections Work Hand-in-Hand

“If content is king, then connection is queen.” – Ted Rubin

The two go together like peas and carrots, peanut butter and jelly, Forrest Gump and Jenny. Without engaging content, connections won’t happen. Content drives engagement, engagement drives advocacy, and advocacy correlates directly to increased sales. This ROI formula is what Ted Rubin pens as a “ROR,” or “Return on Relationship.”

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It is through engaging content that we are able to connect with our network. “Relationships are the new currency, honor them, invest in them.” Christopher Penn shared the three Ls of content marketing:

  • Learn
  • Laugh
  • Love

If your content doesn’t inspire you to do any one of these three things, you have bad content and nobody will engage with you.

2. Word of Mouth Marketing Still Exists

When Spike Jones took the stage at Social Fresh, he spoke about word of mouth marketing and how even though there are 3.3 billion mentions of brands in a typical day in the U.S., 3.1 billion are not on social media. Sure, social media is where everyone seems to be most active, but clearly word of mouth marketing still exists.

Here are the 5 truths of word of mouth marketing according to Spike Jones:

  1. It is not – nor will it ever be – about your product. It’s important to convey passion instead of solely concentrating on the features of what you sell. The product is just the conduit.
  2. Don’t seek out influence, create it. A lot of companies will seek out individuals who are considered influencers in the field the company is promoting, but a better idea is to find people who are passionate about the product and then make them influencers. Influence can be created, passion cannot.
  3. Your community shouldn’t be for everybody, at least not right away. Studies show that a community that is somewhat exclusive will have 20% more engagement than a community that’s completely open to whoever would like to join.
  4. Find your rallying cry and create “we” experiences with your community.
  5. Think about content differently. Ask yourself, “Why do people share?”

3. Be Real

Create a voice that is relatable and personal to your customers. Remember to participate, experiment, engage and build relationships, measure things that matter, and have some fun. Don’t just sell your product, but engage with your audience outside of product talk.

“The difference between helping and selling is just 2 letters. Sell something and you make a customer today. Help someone and you create a customer for life.” — Jay Baer

To see this in action, check out @HiltonSuggests on Twitter. You won’t find Hilton taking the time to sell their hotel line on this social media account. Instead, they give restaurant and must-see suggestions to travelers in the cities in which Hilton hotels are located. Helping Twitter users by offering these suggestions will place Hilton Hotels in the forefront of their minds during the next travel booking.

Bonus: 3 Extra Takeaways From Attendees and Presenters

A few attendees and presenters were happy to share their key Social Fresh takeaways:

For me the most poignant message of the Social Fresh East conference was that we are moving to a connection economy. Sharing, conversation, and emotionally connected content will be the ads of the future. Brands need to start thinking in terms of converse and convert… content drives engagement, engagement drives advocacy and advocacy correlates directly to increased sales.

— Ted Rubin, Chief Social Marketing Officer at Collective Bias

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The power of social can’t be unlocked through likes or fans or followers. It lies in the individual, real-life relationships we make with our customers and those customers make with each other. The real power is unlocked with online and off join together in an ongoing experience.

— Spike Jones, Group Engagement Director at WCG

The most important takeaway from the Social Fresh East conference was to remind individual solopreneurs and small businesses not only the importance of relevant content but the importance of building your email lists. 87% of people still open their own personal email. Therefore your message has a much better chance of reaching your ideal customers, who have given you permission to contact them, more than any social media channel. This may change in the future, but today it is imperative for small business.

— Matt Cherry, CEO & Founder at iBlog:

Social Fresh’s social media conferences cannot be recommended enough. If you have the desire to learn and grow in marketing, Social Fresh is an invaluable resource.

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