The Big Social Media Conference came to a close last week after two jam-packed days of social media information sharing and networking.
Held at The Point; Lancashire County Cricket Club’s £12M conference and events venue, the conference was the first of its kind in the UK.
Hosted by the team at Social Media Experts, a number of the world’s foremost online specialists discussed topics such as social media marketing, customer relationship building, and content marketing. In addition leading entrepreneurs and business owners provided advice on social media tools, strategies and trends.
The event hashtag, #BigSocial, hit the number two trending topic in the UK during the conference, demonstrating the reach of the inaugural event.
Keynote speakers included Facebook expert Mari Smith, best-selling LinkedIn author Melonie Dodaro and entrepreneur Lilach Bullock. Over the course of the event, delegates also heard from some of the biggest brands in social media, including ao.com, InfusionSoft and SocialBro.
With unrivalled views of the famous Old Trafford pitch, attendees and guests were also afforded time to network with likeminded individuals, business owners and marketers.
The importance of authenticity
Speaking at the event, Sam Flynn, owner of Sam Flynn Social Media, stressed the importance of the ‘social’ in social media as she advised delegates to “sell more by selling less”.
“If you are not being ‘social’ on social media it is not going to work.”
Likewise, Sharon Flaherty, managing director of marketing consultancy BrandContent, discussed the need to be authentic across social media platforms, with businesses advised to find the stories behind their brands.
“You need to define ideas about what you want your brand to be and what you can give your customers that can ring true.”
This need for authenticity and engagement was echoed by Lilach Bullock, founder of CommsAxis.
“Online it’s easy to get caught out so it’s really important to keep it real, keep it consistent in your tone of voice.”
Showing how it is done, head of brand and social media Yossi Erdman provided some real life examples on how ao.com brought the rather unexciting topic of washing machines and other home appliances to life. Delivering business messages in a “fun” way, Yossi demonstrated how social media advertising and activity can results in lots of views with high customer engagement.
Strategy, strategy, strategy
The importance of planning was also discussed at the event, with strategist Zoe Cairns sharing her seven steps to a successful social strategy. It was a message that was reinforced by other speakers, with Guy Levine, CEO and Founder of Return on Digital, highlighting the value of aligning social media and wider business goals.
Providing insight into how social media fits into the broader marketing mix, marketing coach Ian Brodie looked at the continued viability of email marketing, and how this can be used to augment social media activities. And, Andy Nemes, head of sales at Avanto, showed delegates how to run a fun loyalty programme to engage customers in today’s digital world.
Providing actionable insights, consultant and trainer Ian Anderson Gray alerted delegates to the best online tools and apps to help them manage their social media channels more effectively.
And, accepting the ever changing nature of social media, boutique social media agency owner Jenny Brennan advised delegates to get the foundations right by finding the influencers in their industry and building powerful relationships with them.
“Social media is always changing, you will never know everything”
Social success (and failure)
Speaking across the two days, international and influential social media expert Mari Smith explained why and how today’s businesses are succeeding with Facebook; providing a number of power techniques to help businesses improve their Facebook marketing.
With online engagement key to success on Facebook, the message from the keynote speaker was clear: “Content is king, but engagement is queen and she rules the house.”
Showing that it’s okay to fail as long as businesses learn for the experience, Al Mackin of Formisimo discussed how he used social to grow his start up – and the mistakes made along the way.
“Is failure a positive? Yes because you can learn from it, move forward and create better campaigns”
The inaugural conference also included a number of panel discussions with Chair Alexandra Kington and the expert panelists looking at:
• Whether companies should avoid social media if they don’t want negative feedback (a resounding no!)
• The value of marketing automation
• The importance of Omni-channel marketing.
Mastering lead generation
Lead generation was also an important topic of discussion at the conference. CEO of SocialBro, Javier Buron, talked about how to turn Twitter followers into customers, stressing the importance of getting to ‘know your audience’.
“By listening to your audience on social media, you can use that information to improve you overall strategy.”
Likewise, Alasdair McWilliam of Infusionsoft discussed how, in order to sell successfully online, businesses must be able to “attract, sell and wow”.
Speaking for the first time in the UK, Canadian author and LinkedIn expert Melonie Dodaro delivered a powerful speech on the power of LinkedIn for b2b professionals when it comes to lead generation. She continued this theme on day two, with top tips on how to become a thought leader on the platform.
The future of social
Across the two day event, speakers also looked at new and emerging trends in social media, with talks from Zoodikers’ Katie King, LinkedIn’s Sue Duke and Microsoft’s James Akrigg on the future of the industry – including the possibility of super artificial intelligence and machine learning advanced analytics.
If you missed the Big Social Media Conference, you can still purchase a virtual ticket to access to all the keynote presentations and panels online. Find out more here: http://www.thebigsocialmediaconference.com/virtual-ticket/
You can also purchase an early bird ticket for The Big Social Media Conference 2016 and avoid missing out next year here.