5 Key Takeaways From Social Media Marketing World



Surrounded by podcasters, bloggers and marketers, I spent last week immersed in all things social at Social Media Marketing World. With more than 100 sessions presented by experts from LinkedIn and Yahoo to the Boston Celtics and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, attendees from 49 countries descended upon San Diego.

It began with an insightful keynote presentation on the top trends in social media in 2015 from Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner, the conference host. During his presentation, Stelzner noted current trends, such as the growth of podcasting and revealed new online trends, such as the increasingly strong influence of native video.

Here are top five takeaways from last week's Social Media Marketing World (#SMMW15) conference:

1. Every piece of your content needs a visual.

Without a doubt, the top trend I heard reiterated time and time again at SMMW15 was that every piece of content your brand or company generates needs some sort of visual. This includes all social posts and blog posts. You name it, it probably needs a visual!

For Twitter alone, including a photo with your tweet nearly doubles your chances of engagement with that post, according to Guy Kawasaki, author and former chief evangelist for Apple, in his presentation, "10 Ways to Pack a Punch with Visual Marketing." Who doesn’t want 200 percent more engagement with their brand’s followers?

If you need further proof as to why every post should include a visual, picture this: as you scroll through your Twitter feed do you stop to read the tweets that are text only or do your eyes gravitate to those posts with photos? "... tweets with images were found to have generated 18 percent more clicks than those without images and were favorited 89 percent more as well," according to Social Media Impact. Your brands' consumers are no different. Captivate customers with imagery before your competitor does. 

As Facebook marketing thought leader Mari Smith covered in her "How To Use Facebook To Increase Sales" presentation, consumers who use Google are in search mode, while consumers who use Facebook are in socialize mode. Facebook users are often looking to be social; so, ask yourself if your brand’s social posts are engaging. Do the visuals make the post pop off the page and grab the attention of viewers? "Content is king, but engagement is queen and she rules the house!," according to Smith.

2. Be Seen on Pinterest.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to claim a place for your brand on Pinterest. Why? Nearly all pinners (98 percent, according to Peg Fitzpatrick) have tried something new that they saw on Pinterest. Marketers can't argue with a statistic that incredible! This means that for brands already on Pinterest, a good portion of active Pinterest users are trying their products, reading their content and responding to their calls to action.


Pinterest is visual marketing at its highest level as it allows brands to build communities, establish engaged audiences, and deliver content in a way unlike any other channel. Brands such as HGTV and Chobani are doing great work on Pinterest by delivering to their followers thoughtful and useful content coupled with beautiful imagery.

I often heard repeated during the conference that Pinterest is the new Google. More and more often consumers are going to Pinterest to search instead of to the more traditional avenues of Google or Bing. What does this mean for your brand? Use keywords (e.g. terms that help classify digital content) and take time to appropriately establish the copy of your Pinterest boards and pins. Take into account what your consumers are searching for. What will lead them to your content? 

Pinterest recently upgraded its search function by increasing the importance of keywords. Using keywords in the content of pins, board titles and board descriptions, your brand increases its chances of jumping to the top of search results and Pinterest’s smart feed. Brands often forget to use keywords in image titles. Google searches a number of places when indexing content, including image titles, so don’t forget to name each photo appropriately before uploading in pin format.

3. Native video is taking off.

Both Facebook and Twitter have recently launched native video applications for the social platforms. Native video, as defined by AdWeek: short clips that are uploaded to or created on social networks and played in-feed as opposed to links to videos hosted on other sites.

If you’ve visited Facebook lately, you most likely noticed the increased number of videos found in your newsfeed. Brands are using the social platform's video feature to not only increase engagement with followers, but also to substantially increase exposure with impressive ROI numbers. After only two seconds of play, a video has been counted as a view. Videos autoplay on newsfeeds, meaning there's the opportunity for enormous views.

Native video is especially important for Twitter as it allows you to upload up to a 30-second video that doesn’t count against the 140-character limitation placed by the social platform. Think of the content a brand could deliver in 30 seconds instead of only 140 text characters. The options are limitless and if your company hasn’t tried it yet, I recommend looking into native video on Twitter further to find out how your brand could leverage this feature.


By now you’ve surely heard of the sensations created by Meerkat and Periscope. Meerkat, launched in February, took social media by storm as users were now able to use the live-streaming video app to broadcast to audiences. Meerkat was all the rage at Day 1 of Social Media Marketing World with speakers and audiences using the app to broadcast presentations and events in San Diego. What followed on Day 2 sent social media marketers into a tizzy of debate when Twitter launched its answer to Meerkat... Periscope. Is there a better place for the news of a competitive live-streaming video app to go live than at a social media conference with attendees from around the world tweeting constantly? From SnapChat to Periscope, what we know is that video apps will continue to grow; brands should think about how they can leverage video on each unique platform in the future.

4. Embrace data and deliver measurable ROI results.  

SMMW2Nichole Kelly, president of SME Digital, gave a great presentation on, “How to Become an ROI-Driven Social Marketer.” She said something that every marketer can relate to:

What's holding us back from ROI is the fear of failure.

Kelly said marketers fear data, which documents measurable results of a marketing campaign... because it can tell us if we have succeded or haven’t delivered on the promise of that initiative. Instead of fearing data, we need to embrace it, she preached.

There are a number of tools, from Facebook Insights to Google Analytics, which marketers can use to quantify the results of their campaigns. Although this tool has been around for quite some time, one you may have not used is Google Trends. Google Trends helps you explore the popularity of a search term, keyword or image to measure patterns of how it performed over a period of time. Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, finds this tool to be incredibly helpful for brands to deliver targeted content. 

More than one presenter at SMMW15 said that if your brand does only one thing to prove ROI, it has to be tracking your links. Any number of link shorteners will work, such as Bit.ly or Brinx.it, but brands have to use them! There should be a trackable link in every blog post, Instagram bio section and tweet. Without tracking links, brands are unable to clearly identify which type of content is working and which isn’t.

5. Deliver content targeted to your brand's audience.

How much content is too much? What many speakers touched upon at SMMW15 is that brands need to worry less about whether content is about them, and instead focus on whether or not it’s helpful to the consumer. By providing content that is useful to the consumer, a brand becomes the hero and is more likely to create an engaged following for the brand.

Brands need to consider that consumers are always listening, even if they're not engaging. This is a topic that Kim Garst, Twitter thought leader, discussed in her presentation, “How to Sell with Twitter: Techniques That Work.” The implications of social listening are that even though a consumer may not like, retweet or comment on a piece of your content, they are taking note of it. Garst suggested that brands need to be aware of the content they publish every day; each piece of content has future sales capability regardless of interaction.

In order to ensure that your brand’s content delivers the results you're looking for, Joe Pulizzi told the audience of his “How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy” session to develop an editorial mission statement. An editorial mission statement allows everyone in your company, in addition to those who interact with the company externally, to be on the same page by establishing what your brand is all about. This editorial mission statement will also help a company establish exactly who their target audience is while delivering content that's valuable to their consumers.

For Pulizzi, that means subscribers. Because brands do not own the followers on any of their social platforms, they need to use these platforms as a means to building their subscriber lists. By delivering informative content through social media, brands are able to build relationships with followers that will convert them into subscribers. How do brands do this? According to Pulizzi, use the 411 rule. Brands should share four pieces of content from influencers for every one piece of original, educational content they have created and one piece of sales-related content.

(Pictured at right from top: SMMW15 Speakers Joel Comm, Guy Kawasaki, Kim Garst and Joe Pulizzi) 

While these five takeaways merely scratch the surface of the content presented at Social Media Marketing World, MaccaPR will offer you an even deeper dive into social media insights that you can use to help improve your brand’s awareness on a number of different social platforms. Stay tuned!

For more social media goodness, check out our posts from past SMMW conferences:

Image Sources: Maccabee PR, ThinkStock, TIME
About the Author

Leila Erickson

Lelia Erickson is a former Maccabeast.

Topics:  PR Perspectives, Social Media Marketing

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