As is usual at PRmoment events, there were excellent speakers, discussions and case studies. Most pleasing to see though was every speaker emphasise quantified business benefits. 24 months ago and perhaps 12 months ago, such a focus would not have been possible or deemed “not important yet”. However yesterday, delegates were quizzing all the speakers along the lines of “That sounds like a great plan and process, but what business impact have you seen, and how have you identified it?”
We have tried to boil down the discussions into a handful of takeaways below, all centering on a theme of responsibility. This seemed to be the overall, almost unspoken, tenet of the conference – social media is currently largely insufficiently controlled and certainly insufficiently capitalised upon in B2B, so someone has to take control i.e. responsibility.
Incidentally, it was a proud moment to hear our recent research into content use in the B2B IT world – and the findings re social media – receive special mention in the opening speech. Though we were nearly stoned given the findings. You can find out why our research was so controversial here.
Key takeaway 1: Take responsibility for your content
Nick Masters of PWC seemed to risk certain death by taking to the stage, having only that day emerged from his sick bed, to describe how good content finds its own audience. The most striking statement he made (and indeed the one that received a mass of tweets, retweets, favourites etc) was that “Social Media is not a case of information overload. It’s filter failure.”
Yes, we are confronted by too much content in our feeds – indeed Stephen Waddington of Ketchum later warned us off “spewing sh*t content” – but this is not a drawback of the internet-reliant world. Instead it’s a dramatic failing of distributors to filter their output according to recipients and, albeit to a far lesser extent, a failing of those on the receiving end to self-filter their consumption.
Key takeaway 2: Devolve responsibility, but maintain control
Nishmah Shah at Experian took us through how their challenges of a B2C and B2B target audience, an astonishingly broad product portfolio and multiple countries and languages impacts their social media management. Despite these challenges, they still have a worldwide army of refreshingly empowered and responsible social media spokespeople, combined with an ability to take central control in the event of a media crisis.
Paul Thomas at Grant Thornton added to this by rightly emphasising the need for educating staff (especially senior staff) on their responsibility for improving their social media and general online profile, especially in people businesses where such impressions count.
Key takeaway 3: Encourage social media responsibility
Over the course of two to three years, Tom Barton at CapGemini has been working on the Expert Connect scheme. This was a very well-presented session, displaying an excellent idea and set of processes for bringing social media into a traditionally “new media-resistant” field. Employees nominate themselves as subject matter experts and acceptance into the scheme brings with it a duty to create content and to perform certain levels of social media activity. This leads to wide content sharing and growing profile of both the individual and the brand. It was a best practice example of content creation, curation and building internal social media advocacy that inspired plenty of activity on the show hashtag and sparked lots of conversations in the breakout sessions.
Key takeaway 4: Be responsible for measuring your social activity
Andrew Smit’s session on Google Analytics was the one that particularly resonated with me – or at least the geek side of me (try and spot what sort of geek I may be from Rich’s blog from a week or two ago). Andrew’s presentation on how web analytics can be used to identify where social has directly or indirectly led to a lead (however you may classify such) was refreshing. With more thinking like this, perhaps we will finally see better measurement principles being displayed across PR.
To download our recent research on content and information sources – including social media – actually used by IT decision makers within businesses when researching and selecting suppliers, click the button below.
View the research here