I am really happy that I had the opportunity to attend this year’s Social Media Forum Europe in London. I see clearly that the event is developing and is much richer than it was 2 years ago. Just for the sake of my readers I would like to point out that it is a good conference mainly for social media marketers interested in finding out where the UK commercial market is at the moment, though from the tonality of some presentations I suspect the target audience are also people who are fairly new to the sector.
I was not sure what are going to be the areas of interest to me as the agenda looked pretty intense though, in the end, I think I navigated over to three major topics: social media measurement (as in the measurement of word of mouth around your brand) creative engagement and training.
I am not really sure how to relate to what seems to be the current narrative of word of mouth monitoring as it’s an obvious element of social media activities myself and other social media marketers have used for quite a few years now – but I am at least happy to see brands and increasingly more and more agencies actually thinking about the goals of social media activities before kicking of monitoring or setting up even the initial KPI’s. I am generally happy to hear more insightful and meaningful conversations about what brands aim to achieve through online engagement as opposed to excitement about new tools and technologies without any context (earlier impressions from this and similar events). I am a bit sceptical about agencies explaining that monitoring has to be tailored – to me it seems like an excuse to position your business as unique without sharing methodology – which in a way makes perfect sense to the speakers but it’s not really valuable for the audience. (Again it’s worth remembering that conferences – as opposed to barcamps – are designed to question current trends and raise more questions providing actual answers). I am really happy however that many strong commercial brands have taken the time to share their experience on specific case studies – we need more of those to develop the best practices. You the ee problem lies in the fact that the social media channels are indeed very useful IF you use them for relevant activities, have a strategy in place and articulate your goals. I still believe however that the more we share, the more we all understand what does work and what doesn’t for social media marketing activities.
It was great to see some familiar faces amongst speakers (@BenjaminEllis – really lovely to see you again and have a chat about your awesome Milestone Planner! It’s exactly what I need at the moment!) and share a chocolate in the press/bloggers/speakers area with them. It was also really nice to chat to some of the exhibitors. I am particularly impressed with Adam Edwards from Brandwatch who was really amazing in explaining the next stages of social media measurement in their view – we had a really nice discussion about future of wom measurement! Quite recently I was renewing my understanding of various types of social media monitoring tools so it was great to chat to someone who works behind one of those products.
In terms of creative engagement there was one idea that really grabbed my attention – most probably because of my coffee addiction – using physical assets (cards, bracelets) to check in to Facebook and scan your item to receive a cup of coffee (or any other drink for that matter). I like the idea and I think nonprofits could highly benefit from this activity at events – I can see great potential for brand awareness exercises. Every time your event attendee scans their card/bracelet an automated Facebook update appears on their wall – which is customised with your charity’s brand can be pretty powerful and really not so intrusive, I think). It could also be used for fundraising! So I am glad that girls from 77Agency, Joanna Matloka and Giorgia Galli talked me through the idea over a cup of great Italian espresso!
While I was listening to presentations on wom marketing I have also walked around the expo to discover than few brands (agencies, educational institutions) run social media academies or other training sessions. I think those are really useful and I am glad to see more and more people delivering them. I would like to see how they manage the social media competence of speakers – as this element of the process was not mentioned, but maybe we are not there yet.
So on overall I think it was a good event for those who are interested in basics of social media marketing in the commercial sector. Nonprofits were mentioned occasionally but I think with slight cautiousness. For a more experienced social media marketer two days might be a bit two much, but that depends on the amount of practical case studies – I think there should be more brands sharing their experience in actual campaigns then gurus evangelising about the unpredictability of social media channels as this does not lead to solutions and sounds a bit patronising. But there I think it’s a question of balance – we will always have people who talk about an industry, question trends and drive the theory but also people who get on the do the job effectively.
I would like to say thank you to the organisers for blogger pass. I think it was really worth it!