Gravity Thinking attended SoCon2011 last month, which bought some of the best company’s, brands, agencies and people within the social media...

The social media revolution gains pace – Part 1

Gravity Thinking attended SoCon2011 last month, which bought some of the best company’s, brands, agencies and people within the social media space together on a single day to share their views and opinions on the impact that social media has had and will continue to exert into the future.

So we’ve created a two part review of the conference for our blog which should help to keep everyone on top of the main themes and ideas being discussed. The first part focuses on the mainstay of social media ‘Building and nurturing online communities’ and ‘Driving consumer engagement through social media’. The second part focuses on the more ethereal elements with ‘Monetising social media’ and ‘the future of business is social’.

One thing that is certain is that the media landscape is moving fast and we’re all on the journey whether we like it or not.

Speakers; Nokia,, Wunderman, Microsoft, Warners, SEOmoz, Qype, Steel, The FA, Ace-A-Metric, Dell, IBM, Ruder Finn, Brilliant and NixonMcInnes.

Building a nurturing online communities

From the three experienced speakers who have been at the coalface of online community engagement (SEOmoz, The FA and Qype) we were able to garner some excellent tips and advice. We’ll skipped over the usual start with the consumer, have an objective, be truthful, be useful, listen and learn, reciprocal linking and focused on four areas which we believe are where you can really make a difference…

1. It takes commitment and dedication

As Gillian Muessig the Co-Founder of SEOmoz stated you have to do it everyday even if you don’t feel like it. Whether it’s late, your tired or your struggling for inspiration you have to make it happen. Set reminders and make the time.

Andrew Smith from The FA also had some great advice when he stated that you simply have to make the effort, be there and make it happen. His example was content creation where he urged us all to take a picture, video it and record it even when it doesn’t seem worth it. His point being that you can edit the best bits later and generally there’s some absolute gold in there. Over 100k hits to a video of the England under 21’s training session is testimony to this.

2. Speed of response

We all experience the speed of social media and online communities everyday with news spreading not within hours but within seconds. Therefore you need processes and resources so that you can be on it and respond there and then in real time.

The FA are recording, processing and broadcasting content at a rate of knots to ensure that it’s timely and relevant to their audience, as well as offering their communities social ammunition and with that social kudos.

3. Be entertaining

What is genuinely going to be interesting and engaging to your audience? There were lot’s of examples however again The FA had some interesting takes on this with The Super Fan who get’s to go to every single event at the new Wembly stadium this year – from international football to concerts to American Football. This lucky chap has then been provided with the platform to share his experiences through social media. I also loved the fact that the FA used a football commentator on Twitter to make it more interesting and engaging – a nice twist.

4. Connect people in the real world

Qype had a lot to say about connecting people and so they should as this is the whole point of their product – referrals and references for experiences. However it’s an interesting point when taken more generally. We don’t live in a virtual world and so when the virtual world enhances the real world that’s a more positive impact on the audience as you’ve created a real life experience (they’re generally more valuable and memorable than virtual ones).

And that’s why we loved The FA’s promotion on Facebook to win tickets to a game at Wembly Stadium. Nothing that different there however the clever bit was that they branded the area and seats at the game. Do you think that everyone at the game suddenly wanted to join the group on Facebook? Probably.

Driving consumer engagement through social media

There were three very different angles on engagement so best to deal with each one at a time…

Don’t do ‘marketing’ do ‘socialising’

First up was Nick Bennett at Steel, who managed to get the whole audience blowing on a duck whistle and almost redefined ‘marketing’ as ‘socialising’, had a very creative spin on social engagement. Our main observation alongside ‘relevance’, ‘interesting’ and ‘creative’ was around ‘sharing’ and letting the consumer get involved in the campaign. His expression ‘leave space for the consumer’ was spot on. His example of a campaign for Greggs was interesting (doughnuts with personality) even if the results seemed a little light.

His main point was a change in mindset from a traditional marketing approach to a more social approach and having a genuine dialogue with the consumer.

Social media reflecting real life

After Nick came Matthew Hawn from, an interesting brand and indeed an interesting man himself. He talked a lot about the value exchange between brands and consumers and more specifically the value expectation in currency terms. How much is my data, endorsement, recommendation… worth in hard cash.

However his take on your social profile mirroring your real life profile was most interesting. In life we act differently with family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances etc… and we do the same within social or do we? Is Facebook actually creating one ‘homogenous you’ with all these contacts in one place? Is Google + the better solution that let’s us express ourselves in different ways to different people?

Mathew finished on something very close to our heart and bashed Facebook a little. As a brand (or consumer for that matter) do you really trust Zuckerburg and his buddies with all your data? The consensus was NO however how many brands and consumers are doing just this.

Making sense of social

A tough couple of acts for Karl Havard at Wunderman to follow and this probably made his quite interesting take on the ‘Purchase Funnel 2.0’ and ‘how to influence the moment of truth’ much flatter than it should have been – after all he was talking hard nosed commercials. His key theme however was spot on and one we at Gravity Thinking focus on. How do brands use and act in social media?

1. Aggregate conversations in order to make sense of them
2. Harvest all the data points and then use modeling to make them actionable.
3. Use social as a research and insights tool.

We couldn’t agree more.

A note on M&E

What was interesting was each speaker take on measuring the impact of social media. Nick’s take was about the value of ‘time spent with a brand’. Matthew used an interesting analogy to research ‘think of social as qual not quant’. Karl opened a whole can of worms when thinking about the layering of different media and the combined impact on purchase behaviour – one for another day.

Finally find the time to visit these websites for a little inspiration of ideas that truly harness the power of social media at scale - / / – all courtesy of Nick Bennett at Steel.

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