July 6, 2017

4 Lessons To Learn From Social West 2017

Social West is one of the largest digital marketing conferences in Western Canada, bringing together some of the most brilliant marketing minds in North America.

Over the two-day event, the presenters shared their knowledge, insights and secrets on many topics including how to use improv comedy to shift and sharpen your marketing approach, respond to the constant changes in social and search algorithms and focus your strategy to accomplish your goals.

We sent our in-house content strategist to soak up all this information and report back with insights. Here are four important lessons we learned.

It’s always about your audience.

At WS, we are obsessed with audiences. Why? Because your audience is the bedrock of your business. Everything you do, from research and development to customer service, is for and about them.

Today’s audiences are sophisticated. They control their own buyer’s journey, they choose where they go for information and they have higher expectations of you as a company. And the more you know about them, the better a solution you will be for their problem. This is where buyer personas are a handy resource. This is an opportunity to learn everything you can about them: demographics, past purchase behaviour, media habits, preferred information sources and touch points along their journey.

Your audiences will also tell you exactly what they need—you only need to listen. Take a page out of the improv playbook: when you create a scene, your co-actor will give you micro-offers, or little bits of information to drive the scene forward. Your audience will give you clues to help you understand what they want to know. Listen to those clues and respond with incredible content.

When you combine your listening skills with intelligent insights about your audience, you can take them on a journey. In every social media post, product launch and customer service interaction, you are building a relationship with them. Surprise and delight them at every step of their journey by knowing who they are, what they want and then respond appropriately.

Focus on one thing and know exactly what you want to do.

When you have a focused roadmap, you know your destination and how to get there. In order to build your roadmap, you need to know where you want to go—you need goals. Your goals will help you create a strategy focused on the right outcomes, and help you find your bearings if you get lost along the way. It is, of course, important to create goals that are specific, measureable, attainable, measureable and timely.

Take a page from journalism to hone your focus. Whenever you begin to write a strategy, launch a product or start a new social campaign, ask yourself these six questions:

  1. Who is this for? Remember your personas.
  2. What do we want them to do with it? Remember your goals.
  3. When is the best time to launch, release or post?
  4. Where is the best place for our message?
  5. Why should they even care about this?
  6. How should they act on our message? Do you want them to download, buy now, or request a quote?

Come back to these guidelines anytime you feel you might be off track.

Let’s talk about social media for a second.

It can be very easy to get overwhelmed and lose focus when you are managing multiple social platforms. One of the best ways you can focus your efforts on social media is to be picky with your platforms. Just because a platform is available or popular doesn’t mean you should be on it. Go back to your goals and your buyer persona, and evaluate whether a particular platform is right for you. Choose one, master it and move on to the next one.

It’s also important to know the algorithm of social networks and search engines. These algorithms decide if your content is important enough to be shown to your audience, and the more you understand them, the more you can work with them. Stay abreast of changes and trends in the algorithms, figure out how these changes affect your content strategy and respond appropriately.

You are not in control.

It’s powerful when you release a little bit of control. Part of your brand is built by your audience, what they say when you are not in the room. There’s a significant part of your brand that you have no control over—but that is okay.

Go back to the improv techniques. Think of yourself as an actor for a moment. You and the rest of the cast are creating a scene together. You set up the scene with an idea; however, once it is out there, it’s up to your cast mates to interpret the idea and use it to create the scene.

Whenever you are creating something new, whether it’s a social media campaign, product launch or a new service, you are creating it with your customer. Be confident, but agile with your strategy. Listen to your audience, let go of a little bit of control and watch what happens. You might be pleasantly surprised.

You will fail. But, you will be okay.

Failing is inevitable. You could have the best data to create the right product or an amazing blog post. However, your campaign might not work or your launch may not be as big as you expected. But, that’s okay. Evaluate what happened, own it and move on. Try, try and try again.

Reaching audiences in the digital age has its challenges. Smart marketers will know that reaching your customers will have to go beyond knowing where their audiences are, creating high-quality and engaging content and being authentic. Marketers need to focus on creating empowering and compelling journeys for their customers, letting go of the control and becoming audience-centric. Events like Social West are important to understand what is going on in the industry and inspire marketers to shift what needs shifting, move what needs moving and create what needs creating.