3 Insights for Social Pros From the 2018 Social Summit

This fall, Meltwater held the Meltwater Social Summit (formerly the Sysomos Summit) in downtown San Francisco. Lucky for me, this was just a 15-minute walk from my office, so I was able to stop by and catch the morning sessions, and I’m back with a recap for social media folks seeking inspiration beyond the Bay.

For context, Meltwater is a global SaaS company that offers “media intelligence software” for social media and public relations pros. My company recently signed up for the service. We’ve been using it to monitor our media mentions, our competitors, and our top keywords (“small business funding” for instance!). We also use the tool to improve our social listening, quantify the impact and value of our content, and help with PR and influencer research and outreach. It’s early days for us with this platform, but I’ve been impressed so far.

The Meltwater Summit was also worthwhile. Many conferences (especially those for marketing and PR pros) offer too much sponsored nonsense, and too little insight or actionable advice. In contrast, I felt like this was a morning well-spent.

Here are the top insights I took away from my morning at the Social Summit.

1. Help your whole team leverage all your data

Jorn Lyseggen, CEO of Meltwater, recommended that everyone in your organization have access to a single source of truth when it comes to customers.

We all have customer service teams, customer databases, social media, social listening capabilities, and so on. However, we don’t all yet have a system in place to connect all of these sources of information and customer interaction to create meaning and improve the customer experience with all the information at our disposal.

Wherever we interact with our customers, we should be able to have all that customer’s data available. According to Lyseggen, digital transformation means that we (as business people and marketers) have no excuse any more for not leveraging their information and past interactions with them at any touchpoint we have with them.

This really hit home for me, since I’ve been thinking and writing about this exact concept lately with respect to how financial institutions have been changing. In the context of fintech, banks and other institutions have started to grasp that customers now expect a higher level of personalization in exchange for all the personal data they give you—and they will walk away if your business can’t provide it.

2. Take risks and embrace “flawsome”

Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics, started his keynote with the provocative subtitle of his latest book: Privacy is dead.

According to Qualman, the traditional concept of privacy is dead, and everyone knows it, yet no one really wants to completely give it up. He pointed out that our customers don’t want to lose control over their information, their data. The winners of the social media game are often the brands who inspire the most trust, and who find ways to give control back to customers, or who find ways to use data to delight and include their customers.

How can we do this? Qualman says that brands should take risks and create social content without worrying too much about perfection. Instead of trying to be perfect, he encourages brands to be “flawsome”—that is, embrace humanity and flaws to create a social personality that is more genuine. If you mess up, just correct it or apologize and move on.

In my experience running social for brands, he’s usually right. Your followers will understand and appreciate that you’re being human. After all, behind every brand social media account is a person or team of real people. Showing your human side as a brand has the added positive impact of creating more customer loyalty in the long run, since the most loyal customers are often those who had a negative experience with a brand that was handled well enough to ultimately make a deep positive impression.

Qualman also gave the audience a reminder that often times, less is more. Digital leaders know that you can often get better results by taking something away to tell a more compelling story. For example, could you create compelling brand content using video or visuals alone?

Since so much video online is consumed on mobile with the sound off, this isn’t just a thought experiment—it’s imperative that anyone creating brand content today consider it.

3. Show up authentically

Jason Maldonado, Senior Social Media Manager, and CJ Magda, Social Support, both from Mailchimp, gave a high-energy talk about how Mailchimp approaches their social content strategy.

If you haven’t used Mailchimp lately, you’ll be interested to learn that they now encompass an entire set of marketing automation tools for SMBs. Their offerings now include much more than email, like landing pages, social ads, Google remarking, and even direct mail. For Mailchimp’s social media team, that means a multi-pronged content strategy with many products to promote and support.

According to Ben Chestnut, the CEO of Mailchimp, “Social is conveying a brand and turning it in to an experience.” Maldonado and Magda started with this concept, and did a great job of showing us how they inject a unique and approachable personality into every customer touchpoint, especially using social media. Their attention to detail is thorough and rare, especially for B2B brands.

A few of the ways Mailchimp injects personality into their interactions include:

  • In-depth brand/voice/tone “boot camp” for new support team members;
  • Pre-written messages for support teams to use;
  • A custom gif library that the support team uses, featuring gifs of the actual team members!

All of these touches add color and delight to ordinary interactions online (like saying: thanks, you’re welcome, cool, we’re on it—any repeated support message). And any of these ideas could easily be adapted and applied to other businesses, large and small.

The big takeaway from the Mailchimp team: B2B brands can show up in creative ways where they aren’t always expected. It’s still not the norm for B2B brands to engage in a more fun or friendly voice, and it can be a fantastic way to stand out.

4. Understand these 6 trends

Amit Naik, head of Global Analytics at Shiseido, wrapped up the morning with a talk that offered great insights into six big trends right now.

Consumers are demanding more personalized beauty products and content. Shiseido is a beauty brand, but this is applicable to every industry—beauty just happens to be a great example. In general, consumers are creating a ton of content around the brands they like and products they use.

In turn, brands must find a way to, first, ingest the data and extract market insights, and second, use the data to personalize the products and customer experience, because customer now expect and demand this. (Noticing a theme here?)

Here are Naik’s 6 disruptive trends to watch:

  1. Growth of ecommerce: Ecommerce is growing at a 26% pace, compared with brick and mortar retail which is barely growing at all. Naik noted that Shiseido doesn’t treat ecommerce just as a channel for sales; they look at it as a vital content channel.
  2. Shifting millennial attitudes: The digital native generation has changed how we shop and communicate. This is a given and must be considered no matter what your industry.
  3. Changing media habits: People now shop and learn across channels, they are increasingly channel-agnostic and browsing multiple screens all the time.
  4. The rise of indie: Channels like Instagram have allowed independent and direct to consumer (D2C) brands to build followings rapidly and flex previously unimaginable power.
  5. The new consumer journey: Social media is now part of the fabric of our lives, and the consumer journey is increasingly nonlinear and social.
  6. Democratization of expertise: Today, anyone can become an influencer, and smart brands look for influencers everywhere to help disseminate their content.

Final thoughts

The Meltwater Summit gave us lots to think about, and also lots that sounded familiar.

No matter what your industry or audience niche, B2B or B2C, social and content professionals should take note of a few big ideas:

  • Brands ignore the impact of digital and social transformation at their extreme peril.
  • Brands can and should participate in social in a human and authentic way to create more meaningful social content and connections.
  • People demand an increasingly integrated and seamless experience across all touchpoint when they interact with a brand; brands with fragmented CX risk being left behind, especially by younger consumers.

A version of this article was previously published on SpinSucks.

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