It was a wild day in Knoxville on Friday, as hundreds of social media obsessives descended upon the city that likes to call itself “scruffy” for the second annual Social Slam, which is quickly becoming a must-attend event for the Illuminati of the Twitter and Facebook world.
The brainchild of Mark Schaefer, college educator and author of “The Tao of Twitter” and the new “Return on Influence,” this conference differs from the vast sea of other such events in its one-day, rapid-fire approach to the problem that plagues us all: Just how in the heck do we effectively use these social media tools, when everyone and no one seems to be an expert at the same time?
To address this question, the panel of speakers put forth a number of potential solutions to that problem – and, yes, some of them conflicted – in a format that often encouraged boiling your point down to the bare essentials, making it easier on those of us sitting there tweeting sound bites (hand raised here), if not on the speakers trying to explain expansive strategies. But they all did an excellent job making it happen, all the same.
Of all the ideas put forth, the audience could likely pick up on a few common themes running through the day, things that seem to be the main focuses of the social media world at the moment. Here’s what I think were the three key takeaways from Social Slam:
- Content is king. This kept coming up, particularly from the dulcet tones of Marcus Sheridan (@TheSalesLion), who may have frightened us all with his particularly lively presentation, but who gave perhaps the most passionate plea for us to create unique content and put it out into the world. It’s how you separate yourselves from the nonprofit or business pack. You know your company and your clients better than anyone. Leverage that collective knowledge to give people a reason to keep coming back to you when they need to know something. To paraphrase Marcus, “If you hang out enough by the barbershop, you’re eventually gonna get a haircut.”
- Tear down those silos! Our CEO Chip Grizzard has been on this bandwagon for a while now, and it’s one of the hottest topics in the nonprofit and corporate world – you need to integrate instead of keeping all your departments/people working on parallel paths toward getting the job done. Gini Dietrich, author of “Spin Sucks,” opened the event by making the case for an integrated marketing world, where circles of communication become the visualization of business life, not the top-down hierarchies of the past (and, yes, present, for most).
- Be interactive. It’s a brave new world of media right now. Gone are the days when individual phone calls and mail were the only ways for donors and potential clients to reach you, and for you to reach them. Now, it just takes a tweet, or a Facebook comment, or a LinkedIn comment, or a blog comment, and if I start getting into Pinterest, I may never stop. But you get the point. The communication channel options seem to be multiplying faster than any of us can keep up with, and there’s an expectation of two-way communication in social media now. Ignoring questions and comments simply isn’t an option today, if you want to be a part of the social media landscape. Automation will not work. You need real people behind these accounts.
These were just a few of the key ideas that came out of a long and productive Social Slam Friday. Don’t let the social media wave pass you by. It’s too valuable. But if it does this year, I have a feeling there will be another one-day catch-up event next April in East Tennessee.