3 Things You Need to Know About Digital Summit ATL

How many times have you seen posts like this on your favorite industry blogs:
7 things you need to know RIGHT NOW about social media
5 Mistakes You’re Making on Facebook
10 Secrets to Social Media Success
There is a lot of hype around digital marketing, what is going to be the “next big thing” in social media and how we as marketers can get ahead of the curve. Digital marketing is a fast-moving target and as a result, there is a sea of self-help advice out there about chasing these shiny objects we call social media channels, which seem to be cropping up everywhere and promise to solve all of our marketing needs. But chasing shiny objects is not strategic, and it can lead to irrational, reactionary thinking about what your brand needs to do to stay in the digital marketing game. I recently attended Digital Summit 2014 in Atlanta, Ga., where digital marketing experts gathered to discuss strategy, content and analytics for marketers trying to elevate brands in the digital space. I’ll discuss a few key takeaways from each of these categories below, but if you’re not into reading, you can scroll down to the bottom for key takeaways.
Want my strategy advice? Get one. Digital marketing strategy is not just about what actions should be taken, but also what actions should not be taken. Strategy is an insurance policy against the irrational reactionary thinking we see whenever Google makes an update, or a new social platform appears on the scene. Facebook purchased WhatsApp, and suddenly everyone is saying, “Facebook bought WhatsApp? We need to be on WhatsApp!” (Before you run and tell your marketing director you need to be on WhatsApp, read the rest of this blog post.)
“We need to be on WhatsApp” is not a strategy. Neither is “We want to be the best brand on social media”, or “We need to have the most fans on Facebook.” 
do you want to be on Facebook? Perhaps your competitors are there capitalizing on a shared audience and winning their business. Perhaps your audience is there, waiting for you to join the conversation. Perhaps this channel is an opportunity to speak to that audience segment about the social good your company is doing and get people involved. As with any marketing endeavor, you want to make sure there is a reason you are doing it and
 conduct preliminary research to find out as much as you can about your audience
 before spending time and money trying to engage that audience. And it will require money. Social media marketing has been plodding along without a budget for years until all of a sudden Facebook went public a couple years ago and now brands have to pay for it. Be prepared to pay for social impressions if you want to reach more than 1-2 percent of your fan base.
Once you’ve answered why and decided you do, in fact, need to be using a certain social channel, you need answer the how. This is where your strategy comes in handy. You need to develop a content strategy for each of the channels you plan to disperse content on. If it’s a blog, make sure your site is prepared to show up in search results before pouring time and budget into content creation. And once your site is built properly, make sure all the content you create is optimized as well. You can create the most engaging content the internet has ever seen, but if it doesn’t show up in search results, it may as well be this cat (“what cat?”):
And the content needs to be good. It’s not enough to just throw content onto your Facebook Page – you have to know your audience and what they like so you can build a community of engaged fans. One of the biggest mistakes brands make is posting things they want their audience to see. It sounds harmless, but imagine if you had a friend who only talked to you about himself all the time. You know who these people are, and I’m guessing you don’t love hanging out with them. Another way to think about it is to imagine meeting one of your Facebook fans in real life. Would you try to sell them? Or would you thank them for being a customer, and talk about some things you have in common?
To borrow an analogy from 
Lance Neuhauser’s presentation on social intelligence
, you need to bait the hook with something the fish likes, not what the fisherman likes. Unfortunately, this is what a lot of brands are doing on social platforms, like Facebook; they’re saying, “Look at this product/service I sell.” Sometimes it’s difficult to get out of this mindset when we’re so entrenched in our brand messaging and really do love the products we sell, but you can understand how this would be uninteresting to someone who is on Facebook to learn about what her friends are up to this weekend. Brands on social media are, in many ways, crashing a party they were not invited to. Don’t ruin the party! Before dumping content about your product or service on Facebook, make sure it passes the “why should I care” test. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience and think to yourself, why should this person care? Think about where this customer is when your content hits his newsfeed, why he is on Facebook, what kind of device is he using and how he will react as he’s scrolling through his newsfeed and encounters your content. Will he pause to read it? Like it? Comment or share it? If the answer is no, don’t publish it – it will only be an interruption to this person’s otherwise enjoyable social media experience. If the answer is yes, then consider the following: How can I share this piece of content in a way that will be compelling, entertaining or inspiring? Can I say it with a visual or a video, instead of copy? Can I make it funny? Can I ask a question that will encourage my fans to engage in an interesting conversation? 
I’m going to share some advice from Gary Vaynerchuk’s book about crafting engaging social media content: 

Make it simple. 

Make it memorable. 

Make it inviting to look at. 

Make it fun to read. Make it for your customer or your audience, not for yourself.

Remember, you are trying to build a community around your brand. These channels are social first and foremost – any marketing agenda you have needs to take a back seat to what your audience is interested in. Once you have captivated your audience through common interest, you can strategically execute your marketing agenda by tying them back to those interests.

Once you’ve solved the content puzzle (which you may never fully solve, and it will probably evolve over time), you need to measure your results. The number of social media measurement tools out there is endless, and they are constantly changing and improving. Some are free, some will cost you an arm and a leg. Figure out which tools you want to use based on your individual needs and resources available, and measure your social media activity against your past performance and competitors in order to improve and serve your audience more content that they want to engage with.
  • Before jumping on the social media train, do your research.
  • Before participating, develop a strategy.
  • Provide content that is audience-focused, interesting and not too self-serving. Know your audience.
  • Before publishing content, make sure your website is optimized for search so your content has a

fighting chance of making it into search results.

  • Measure your results, analyze the data and compare against your competitors.