Real-World Strategies through Case Studies from the Digital Trenches
Attending the SM Unplugged conference a few weeks back was such a treat. It definitely quenched my thirst for all things digital. As I sat in awe attempting to absorb every pro tip, case study, and digital strategy that was being revealed before my very eyes, geeking out at the mention of every app, site, or platform that I recognized, a thought had trickled into my mind: it is remarkable how the ways in which businesses are saturating multi-media outlets in this day and age are ever-changing. They continue to reach us, captivate us, and influence our everyday behaviour in ways like never before.
Social Media + Mobile Marketing Unplugged is a one-day conference focusing on effective real-world social media and mobile marketing strategies through case studies with leading marketing practitioners.
In this post, I reflect on what stood out for me during this informative and insightful conference featuring some of Vancouver’s most tech-savvy social media buffs and industry professionals. Being the tweetaholic that I am, I closely monitored the event’s official hashtag and rounded up some of my favourite tweets (including some of those from yours truly) from fellow attendees who joined in all the Twitter action as the conference was unfolding. If I had to summarize the main takeaways from this conference in under 140 characters, very succinctly, the key terms respectively would be: research customer habits, build relationships, provide customizable options, community engagement, keep up with trends, quality reach > quantity of followers. For a fuller recap a tad lengthier than these measly 140 characters, read on.
The Evolving Retail Landscape, Explosion of Mobile Apps and E-Commerce Initiatives
Kumiko Ide of Tribal DBB shed light on the new level of power that is increasingly being placed in the hands of consumers through their mobile devices. With the explosion of apps, our heavy reliance on them to carry out day-to-day tasks from ordering a cup of coffee using the handy Starbucks app, to planning out our entire weekend, is increasing – and businesses are starting to pick up on this.
Ide shifted from explaining the 21st century consumer and how their consumption behavior is constantly evolving with their exposure to new technologies and applications, to how businesses should be paying heed to these tendencies and habits. “Starting smart” and first figuring out which platforms and OS’ would be most optimal to permeate was one of the pro tips offered by Ide. Businesses who are only just jumping on the mobile app bandwagon should refrain from the tempting notion of having to be “everywhere” in the digital sphere, and instead, carefully analyze where their own consumers are (within the digital sphere) in order to optimize their influence and reach.
As more consumers are making the move to mobile, it won’t be long until they start relying on their hand-helds to do virtually everything they wouldn’t otherwise have done in the past (like buying groceries).
The Impacts, Affordances, and Potential of Google+ for Professionals
Just like many others in the recent past, I too had my reservations about the potential Google+ had upon entering the social network realm. But perhaps it was because of my perception of it as just another social network that blinded me from seeing what it truly can afford.
Lindsay Smith CEO of Massive Media Entertaining and dynamic speaker
#smunplugged Impact of GOOGLE+ on business
— Tana McNicol (@TanaTGM) July 7, 2012
Massive Media CEO/’Chief Geek’ Lindsay Smith enlightened me on the value of maintaining a Google+ account by carefully dissecting the dichotomy between a social network versus an information network. Using the case of Facebook to delineate the former, and Google+ as the epitome of the latter, Smith discerned between the kinds of information that is meant to be shared across both distinct platforms, as well as the types of relationships that can be built for either.
— Al Sdj (@alsdjtweets) July 7, 2012
The greatest benefit that can be gained from having a Google+ account is that you can seamlessly narrow down and hone your network of like-minded individuals to those select few whom you can truly build strong connections with and learn from. Notably for users who are managing an account for their business, Google+ Ripples is a neat feature that Smith demonstrated which allows users to obtain valuable insight on how the links that they publicly share with their networks are being further shared, thus having a ‘ripple effect’. From there, they can weed out those users who may not be as engaged with the content you put out, and be more carefully selective with the kinds of prospective connections that they forge.
— Katt Stearns (@KattStearns) July 7, 2012
At the end of the day, Smith doesn’t caution us to stick with one and completely disregard the other as both can be seen as beneficial in their own unique ways.
Push Notifications and Mobile Marketing Strategies in Sports Mobile Spaces
Alan Jones and Trevor Westerlund hailing from Atimi Software Inc. who helped breathe life into the local fan-favourite Vancouver Canucks app, talked about how they “won over their fans” with their avant-garde mobile sports strategies and framework.
— Aequilibrium (@AequilibriumInc) July 7, 2012
If you’re an avid sports fan who happens to be tech-savvy, then you know that keeping your finger on the pulse with the latest updates on your favourite teams and athletes is a must. With almost every app, the option to toggle between having your push notification feature on or off is handy if you want to manually check in with updates rather than being bombarded with countless pop-ups for no valuable reason. Developers from Atimi have taken it to the next level and rolled out segmented push notifications which gives the user even more customizable experience as they are in control over what updates they get to see.
Push notifications are opt-in. Segmented push not’ns allow the users to handpick what they want to see pop up
— Anneliese Herbosa (@HERbosa) July 7, 2012
Branded Gamification and Audience Engagement Strategies
Putting the audience at the center of your strategy and infusing gamified marketing techniques in order to keep digital media viewers (whether it be through film or television channels) actively engaged was the main takeaway from this speaker session. J. Joly of Overinteractive Media spoke about how directly involving viewers in the process of a media campaign rather than leaving them to passively consume content helps drive the reach and expansion of the brand, and amass a greater following.
— Dave Macdonald (@davemacdonald) July 7, 2012
One of the many social media campaigns that Joly showcased was the Kraft Hockeyville campaign which wrapped earlier this year. It brought communities across the nation closer and more tight-knit through their love for hockey across multi-media channels. Amidst the healthy competition between cities, this large-scale branded gamification strategy was seen to reap intrinsic rewards, heightening the hype surrounding this dynamic campaign.
— Anneliese Herbosa (@HERbosa) July 7, 2012
— Lesley Yuen (@lessyyuen) July 7, 2012
Common Assumptions about Social Media (and How They Can Hurt Your Business)
Joly’s discussion about the importance of cultivating a highly engaged community segued well into one of the central aspects of the following talk by Karyn Zuidinga of Analytic Design Group. Zuidinga drew from many preconceived notions and misconceptions which businesses face when feeling apprehensive on implementing social media into their digital strategy. The hesitancy surrounding taking on a more social media-centric strategy often pertains to failing to see social media as ‘social’ first, and media second. Communicating with your audience isn’t a one-way street, and as such, being responsive to the thoughts and needs of your audience is crucial. Merely broadcasting content and disregarding your audience will drive them away – Zuidinga puts emphasis on recognizing that they are being heard.
— Tracy Bains (@tbains) July 7, 2012
In the case of using online spaces as impactful storytelling platforms to build an effective online community, a word that kept resurfacing in this discussion was context; providing the appropriate context for clients and being transparent with your audience, and making sure they see the value in actively participating are all key to fostering the growth of an online community, and keeping them captivated.
— Rolando Fuentes Ruiz (@RollsFuentes) July 7, 2012
(Zuidinga’s full deck of presentation slides can be found here.)
Running Successful Viral Campaigns and Generating Leads
The final talk was delivered by Carlos del Rio of Unbounce who imparted some words of wisdom surrounding what it takes to run a successful viral campaign. He says that it’s one thing to garner a high level of visibility for a product or service, but the number of retweets or likes, no matter how high, does not secure meaningful customer following across social media platforms.
— Lesley Yuen (@lessyyuen) July 7, 2012
A comparison of the reach of updates via twitter versus direct emailing was made, and the main piece of advice from this case was to find a balance between media distribution outlets. By investing too much time and effort in developing only one communicative channel, the potential to reach a vaster audience through other channels is cut short. By finding that pocket, and exploring other niche digital spaces to permeate, the content that you share has a greater chance at being more viral, and you have the advantage of generating more leads.
Expanding my mind and adding to my toolbox at the
#SMunplugged conference! Excited to start implementing these tips & tricks!
— Daniel Chai (@IamDanielChai) July 7, 2012
SM Unplugged‘s third annual conference was held on a warm Saturday in Downtown Vancouver at Simon Fraser University’s Segal Graduate School of Business. The turnout was great, and I cannot wait to follow the future buzz as similar conferences in Hong Kong and Singapore are expected to follow suit later this year.