Tuesday, March 19, 2013

View from the Digital Media Summit

I haven’t been to an industry conference in a long while, so it was refreshing to move from (generally stuffy) academic conferences to hear about the invigorating realm of digital media in the real world at today's Digital Media Summit in Toronto.

This is the second year of the conference, which runs in collaboration with Canadian Music Week. This was my first time attending the Digital Media Summit, which bills itself as "Canada's social media and iterative conference".  Well, Mesh has some claim to that title and over the years there are have been more such events here in Toronto.  But one day into the conference and it seems to me that the organizers of this event have arranged the best keynote speakers and implemented an effective format.

First off, the format of the conference is much more effective than most – very short speaker intros, short speeches, and a short time for Q&As. And no death by PowerPoint!

The facilities were great too. Too many conference organizers think this doesn't matte, but comfy chairs, enough seating for everyone, and free Wifi are vital to successful conference. The only thing missing was swag! Having been to a ton of conferences I also appreciate how well run things were as sessions started and ended mostly on time (no easy accomplishment).

The speakers were for the most part excellent. Yes, there were a few times when speakers would rehash old  and well-known platitudes and cases (e.g. I'm REALLY tired about hearing the "United Breaks Guitars" example). But there were many provocative, insightful, and invigorating  points made. I can't do justice to everything covered without writing a tome of a blog post that would have me writing it until tomorrow morning as when the conference resumes

So instead, I'll summarize the main points I found particularly interesting.

A Panorama of the Ten Best Views:

1. Amber Mac – ABCs of social media – Adapt Quickly, Be Responsive, and Create Value (here's her presentation).

2. Bryan Segal - Need to move away from Click Through Rate to “viewable impressions” which is reach X frequency that offers “opportunity to see”.

3. Erik Qualman - All companies should write a “Listening Report” that is 1-2 pages long that analyzes what is being said about companies and competition on social media. Can draw from automated metrics but must be hand-written to contextualize the stats.

4. Erik Qualman – organizations need to be aware of their Digital Legacy.  This is their Digital Footprints (what you post about yourself) plus your Digital Shadow (what others people post about you) – both live a long time (forever) online.

5. David Reis - when one of his clients had a image crisis situation, they issued their comments on this in one place, their Facebook page. Rather than respond everywhere on the web, they directed people to Facebook page and allowed people to comment there.  This gave some measure of control and allowed them after a few weeks as the hubbub calmed down to remove the content.

5. Sarah Dawley - the key to generating user-generated content for an organization is to find out what your customers/audience are already doing, and get them to do it on your behalf  - not in a controlling way, but offer amplification, shine your spotlight back on them.

6. Cindy Gallop - on noting that essentially people go online for "little pellets of love" - that is an indication of some sort of appreciation, admiration, acknowledgement, etc. But although I agree with this (and would add people go online for little pellets of self-love too) it seems that when companies try to offer this they are insincere so I asked her how companies can offer sincere, personal and scalable love pellets. She replied that the only way to do this is for organizations to become high-trust companies (most are low-trust) that work with employees and trust them to respond accordingly.

7. Lana Gay - You need to respond to issues that arise online but it is essential to "think twice, tweet once". She advises that although digital is real-time, it's a good idea often to wait maybe 20 minutes before posting something. Lana also commented on the biggest problems with recruiting brand ambassadors to blog about your company is what made them appealing in the first place - their topic focus, their style - get's lost as people begin to shill for dollars, Too many influencer campaigns result in bloggers saying "I love shoes" and then they switch to  "Now I love eggs"!  It's  insincere and ineffective.

8. Jennifer Dunn - her session on hyperlocal targetted advertising was my favourite - not only is her work up my alley, but her campaigns are among the few geo-targetted ad campaigns that I have had heard of that have been successful.  I believe her success lies in that Dunn learned that in geo-targetted marketing proximity is not the only, paramount, or possibly any consideration.  Location of the user does matter, but so do other factors such as environment, time, and demographics. People's wants and needs change throughout the day, based on their contexts, time, and place. Dunn presentation was loaded with so much novel, inspiring work that I plan to devote a full blog post to it at a later date (stay tuned).

9. Ryan Holiday - it's not a good idea to outsource social media interaction as delivering an organization's message to customers is the most important aspect of business. No agency will do a better job - or care as much - about this as you!

10. Ryan Holiday - too many English Canadian websites try to appeal to an American audience (no doubt to broaden their audience as our domestic audience is so comparatively small). Yet, from an advertiser's perspective they have not uniquely captured and segmented the Canadian market, which is what they want. There are a ton of competitors for the U.S. space, but if can't distinguish your Canadian audience then your site is actually worth less.

As lengthy as this post is, it is a small snapshot of the genuinely useful and novel information shared today.  I'm looking forward to tomorrow...

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