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The 5 Reoccurring Themes from Social Media Marketing World

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The Future of Social Media… For Now

Sm-Charney-post2By Charney Marks

Last week I attended Social Media Marketing World 2016 (or #SMMW16 for you like-minded individuals) – one of the largest social media conferences, packed with over 3,000 marketers.

I felt a bit apprehensive beforehand – not because I was taking a trip down to San Diego solo, but I feared that such a trip might well be a fool’s errand.  What if the insights presented were the same-old information that I had been stockpiling in my repertoire for ages? I shuttered imagining repetitive session after session of common-knowledge redundancies and ‘tips and tricks’ that anyone with Google access could master.

I have never been more delighted to be wrong. Each speaker wowed me with fresh perspectives and actionable recommendations. I couldn’t have estimated the weight of valuable knowledge that was about to drop on me – and instead of crushing me, it clarified topics that I didn’t even know were fuzzy.

In just three days, I attended over ten workshops and tracking sessions, took 15 pages of tightly-typed notes, and accumulated enough business cards to keep me searching on LinkedIn for days.

So now for the fun stuff… the stuff that I learned in my three days that you can apply in your own business! Here are the 5 reoccurring themes from #SMMW16.

  1. Video Runs The Show

People want to see a story. I wouldn’t write this post touting “content is king” because that’s so 2011. But that doesn’t mean the adage no longer applies – it’s more important than ever, in fact. But the way people are digesting content and the way marketers are creating it are the changing variables.

Once upon a time, big-budget commercials were the only way to broadcast your video. Now, Fortune 500s are opting for smartphones instead of camera crews. It speaks to their audience and to the platforms: more real, relatable, and “social”. Michael Stelzner, of Social Media Examiner, reported that 73% of marketers are increasing video – but are they doing it right?

  1. Live Is Leading The Way

Meerkat (who’s that?), Periscope, Facebook Live, Snapchat. Only over the past year have these platforms really made their way into mainstream social media. Overheard repeatedly throughout the three days is that Snapchat is “no longer just a way for 13-year-olds to send naughty photos – it’s a real player in this game”. It’s a legit social media channel with proven business results… and people are obsessed with it. And those people aren’t just Millennials.

There’s an urgency that’s taking over the social media space. People want the most up-to-date, relevant content as it’s happening, instead of watching the recap reel. They want to feel like part of the action and the excitement of being in the moment – and smart brands are capitalizing on it.

  1. Influencers Aren’t Going Anywhere

Even though the FTC is making it more difficult to hide that you paid for advocacy, the exposure from these strategic partnerships drive results. The right influencer humanizes your brand, provides credibility, and (duh) extends your reach to people who may have never considered your brand before.

A few years ago TV celebrities were the biggest thing on social media (think Ashton Kutcher on Twitter). Now, social media stars are reinvigorating TV (think of the cast last season on Amazing Race – all social stars). 

  1. Algorithms Are Everything

Gary Vee, social media expert and Keynote speaker at the conference, fears that Twitter will be the next Myspace. Why? They haven’t nailed the algorithm. People are getting ‘content shock’ and social channels are scrambling to fix this by algorithmically picking and choosing the content you see. This plan is two-fold from the channel’s perspective: 1) They want you to stay and engage on the platform, and 2) they want their advertisers to pay for prime real estate within their feed.

Instagram recently released their algorithm approach, Pinterest continues to work on their ‘Interests’, and Facebook is making it harder and harder for posts to be seen organically. Oh – and did we mention that Facebook engagement is down on all Pages? According to Social Media Examiner, this isn’t stopping advertisers from forking over increased budgets to the social giant.

  1. Social is Unpredictable

Yes, we already knew this. But each time we turn a corner, we are reminded. The knowledge that I learned in 2016 might not be relevant in 2017… or even next week! We’re moving at an accelerated pace, the trends flashing before our eyes and the landscape constantly shifting under our feet. But isn’t that the fun part?

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