Authenticity. Data-driven. Storytelling. These were just a few key themes spread out amongst the presentations and roundtables at Social Media Week 2019.
At the heart of this conference was one central theme: stories. Not just how marketers, social media managers and strategists can tell better stories, but how they can and should take responsibility for the stories they’re creating. Yes, social media has shifted the way we approach our audiences, but no matter your title, we need to get back to a place where we’re telling the stories that matter. Not just for our clients, but for the people we’re so eagerly trying to connect with. We owe them this since they’re already inundated with irrelevant content every day (in fact, 51% feel brands give them too much irrelevant content, according to Socialbakers). The least we can do is give them the stories, products and services they care about.
So what did we walk away with? We heard from big brands, agencies and partners, and they all stressed how companies and agencies alike can launch better campaigns with more impactful messages. Start by asking yourself a few questions: Are you having a conversation in a space you shouldn’t be in? Have you inserted your messaging in a cultural movement that is a natural fit for your brand? Or, are you partnering with someone that aligns with your core values and more importantly, the stories you’re telling?
Here are four of our favorite takeaways and sessions from #SMWNYC19:
- Design Thinking: You’ve probably heard of Silicon Valley’s method for ideation, prototyping, testing, and sure-fire way to capture an audience’s mindset before bringing an MVP to market. But for those on the agency side, this method of thinking can be used to shift your focus to the people you’re creating for. It’s also a way to get quick feedback and develop concepts fast. One of our favorite parts was when someone in the audience asked the burning question on our minds: “how do I even get started with design thinking?” Matt Higgins, SVP and Head of Strategy + Innovation at SKYLABS, handed over a pen and pad of post-its. Once you’re armed with some basic tools, you’re one step closer to high-fidelity feedback and experiencing that AHA-moment.
- LinkedIn’s Roadmap: I’ve been personally interested in the development of LinkedIn’s platform. Over the course of this year, they’ve invested in features that will help brands reach their target audiences, create personalized engagements, and drive more results through automation. We listened to their roadmap beyond 2019, and there are a few exciting things on the horizon that we will no doubt be testing as LinkedIn programs and campaigns (for executives and brands) is an important part of the digital work we’re doing for clients today. I’m looking forward to testing LinkedIn Live (a new live broadcast service for video) when it reaches GA (right now only a select number of brands and influencers are testing this out), and I’m also looking forward to new features for video ads, including brand awareness, lead generation, and better insight into video performance (they’ve integrated with Moat, a SaaS analytics measurement provider, for better attention measurements). Plus, they’re starting to roll out LinkedIn Reactions to mobile and web users globally, so there’s even more ways to express how you feel about a post (for instance, we’d give this post right here a “celebrate” reaction!).
- Creativity and Cultural Relevance: Highwire attended a brand & agency leaders lunch featuring Viacom Velocity’s CMO Dario Spina, The Daily Show’s Desi Lydic, and UM Worldwide’s Strategy Manager Max Kabakov, to listen in on an engaging panel about using creativity and cultural messaging to authentically cut through the clutter of digital marketing. It started with a recap of The Daily Show and Twizzler’s commercial (which if you haven’t seen it, here it is). While it’s funny, relatable, and addresses a real cultural movement, the takeaway is pairing cultural issues with creative can be a risky road to travel. But, it can also be highly successful and impactful for brands to join today’s conversations. For both brands and partners involved, it needs to feel right. People (namely, millennials) are not afraid to call a brand out, so companies need to be wary of the cultural conversations and ask themselves, “Do we have the right?” For instance, if your company wants to take part in the anti-straw conversation but your business might not have the best reputation when it comes to reducing its carbon footprint, then you might want to sit this conversation out. And yet, stepping into cultural conversations can be good for business (think: Nike) and overall, humanizes the stories you’re telling.
- #OwnYourData: Remember the main whistleblower in the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica data scandal, Brittany Kaiser? She’s still advocating for data security (not just “data privacy”) and she had some important messages for us during her presentation. Her opinion is that the only model that works is one where data is your property. Think about it this way: if you had an Airbnb, would you just hand over your keys to any person? Or would you ask them basic questions like, what do you plan on doing with my Airbnb? What will you pay me for this Airbnb? What are your intentions, and do I support them? As individuals, we opt-in to giving our data away several times a day without thinking. Would you walk into a room and flip to the last page in a contract and sign your name without reading anything else in the document? Well, that’s exactly what we do when we’re downloading an app or signing up for a service – we opt-in immediately. The way Kaiser sees it, if people understand what they’re opting into, and if our data is used properly, they’ll be more inclined to share their data. In fact, we can change the world by sharing our data, for things like medical research, humanitarian issues, and much more!
At Highwire, we’re already applying these learnings in the work that we do, for our clients and our agency. For example, we had a taste of design thinking and fast development during our Shark Tank at kickoff this year (we only had a few minutes to bring an idea to life and pitch it in real time!). And as a brand, we’re taking steps to join relevant cultural conversations — like reducing our carbon footprint as an agency and across all four of our offices (and remote workers).
Consider these takeaways and you’ll be on your way to responsible, better storytelling!