I was invited to attend and cover the PRSA Digital Impact Conference in NY this week. It was packed with PR professionals and business owners looking to wrap their heads around the digital innovations that have warped the traditional field of PR in the past year.
The speakers that I listened to provided content that ranged from beginner level basics, to a sort of “mid-level” understanding of the social space.
Jeremiah Owyang kicked it off.
He covered 4 main points:
- Understand customers and focus on objectives
- This is a movement, get your company ready.
- Invest in Social CRM systems
- Develop an advocacy program
He was as helpful as always, and set the conference off right, as many speakers that followed him referred back to his talk. I loved his idea in “Love yourself first then love your customers – get your company ready for social engagement”. If you and your employees aren’t proud of your company, how can you expect your customers to be?
Next came Paul Gillen and Dave Balter, two guys who really know how to work a crowd.
They were witty, to the point, and actually pretty damn insightful.
Paul went first, sharing his thoughts on the term “ambassador”. He explained, “An ambassador can be a friend, a relative, a blogger…” making the point that really, anyone can be an ambassador for you or your brand. Start by looking around you at the people you’re close with.
Paul also made the point that you don’t have to pay someone to be an ambassador. In fact, it’s probably best you don’t. Dave then drove that point home with an example that I loved.
He asked, “If you were my good friend, and I offered you 5 dollars to come help me move my couch, would you help me?” A few hands went up.
Then he asked, “Now what if I made this awesome pizza with all this good stuff on it, and asked you to come over to help me move my couch, while we hang out and eat pizza?”. Almost all the hands went up. (probably some veggies in the crowd).
It really nailed a huge concept in social media. People don’t want to be bribed or manipulated into doing something. Give them something they can appreciate, act like a person, and they’ll be happy to help out.
A few more gems from Dave:
- If you get one person to share content in the best places possible, that’s better than 50,000.
- Influence is a “topic state”. You can be influential in coffee, and not influential in sneakers.
- Seek out ordinary influencers, not just the “influentials”.
Next I sat down to watch Heidi Sullivan and Shashi Bellamkomda speak about crisis management on the social web.
Here are some key takeaways:
- Be active and be present so that when a crisis hits, you’re there, and you’re ready.
- Try to spot a “crisis” situation early. If you see several tweets come in at once about a particular issue, look into it immediately. It can spread like wild fire on the social web.
- Respond to every single complaint. If there are too many complaints, you’re probably facing a crisis. Put up an official statement that will answer a lot of questions, and make sure that it’s clear for your customers.
- You can manage your online reputation, with offline events.
And now we arrive at the second keynote with Google’s communication manager, Gabriel Stricker.
The talk didn’t really give you much actionable content, but it really did give you a lot to chew on. He touched on the concept of crisis management as well, acting as a good follow up to the previous panel.
Using a blog post from Jet Blue as an example, he explained how effective it can be, in a crisis situation, to just get out a message that speaks to your customers on their level. Don’t put out an over-worked, dry press release. Speak like a human, because humans are the ones that you have to convince.
Stricker also spoke about Google’s “launch and iterate” process of doing things. It’s how they launch their products, and also how they approach their communications projects. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect when you launch it. It’s better to get something out there, and rework it based on customer feedback and testing.
Next I watched Deborah Schultz (Altimeter group) speak.
Her message was simple…
Like the tagline on her blog says: “Technology changes, people don’t”.
Be present consistently, and be genuine. Don’t “ignore ignore ignore” and then reach out when you need something. To build a connected, and strong community, you have to create an “ongoing experience”.
And finally, I watched the wonderful Deirdre Breakenridge
She rocked out for an hour on the topic of “Building a Social Media Strategy”. Certainly a tough topic to cover thoroughly in an hour…or at all.
I won’t get into the whole strategy that she lays out. You can find her slides online. I did want to touch on one aspect of her talk and that’s research. She put A LOT of emphasis on doing research before hand, and I couldn’t agree more.
The term “social media SWOT analysis” is something that anyone looking to get involved on social platforms should get to know well. Understanding the environment internally and externally will really help you understand what you need to do.
Do research before you start a facebook fan page “just because”.
You can check out all the pictures from the event here.
Stay tuned for the Day 2 recap.