Social Media has Changed Everything: Highlights from SMWTO 2017

November 14, 2017 Ophelie Zalcmanis-Lai

Sitting at Social Media Week in Toronto this past Monday, the first thing that came on screen was a picture of the OG Facebook. 

People, that's some SCARY stuff. Not only does it all make us feel old because it was 10+ years ago, but it made us think of all the things that the internet (and specifically social media) have changed in only a decade. 

And now, it seems like it doesn't take a decade to accomplish all that. It takes a few short years. Sometimes months or weeks. 

We went from posting statuses (on a desktop computer) to the current AR/VR experiences in our phones. 

We didn't share a picture of our dinner on Instagram. We used it solely for its filters. 

We couldn't Snap our vacations. We just pulled out a point and shoot camera (and then promptly uploaded onto Facebook via a cable - gasp). 

It's obvious to say, but much has changed. 

And this year's edition of Social Media Week in Toronto (hosted by boutique social media agency Pinch Social) reminded us of where we were, where we've arrive and where we have yet to go. 

With speakers like Emmy award-winning producer David Beebe, head of consumer marketing at Twitter Laura Pearce, CSO of Diply Kirstine Stewart, TV personality Michael Landsberg and more, the facts surrounding today's social media universe were flowing. 

These speakers and their highlights are what won our minutes this week. 

Here were our favourite insights: 

1. "Be surprisingly human." - David Beebe, producer

Since 90% of every media interaction is now screen-based, marketers now, more than ever, have to be able to capture audiences attentions in authentic ways but also at break-neck speeds. 

Beebe had an answer to this: "be surprisingly human." Whether it's through location-based marketing leading to surprise and delights or being aware of the conversations going on in social media, brands will be able to get through to people if they act less like a brand and more like a person. 

We have a ton of data available at our fingertips. However, Beebe says we're just not reacting the right way. He suggest marketers recalibrate the way they push out content by reacting in real-time. 

After all, the Gen C category that is the target of many marketers isn't just an age group. It's an "attitude and mindset" defined by the characteristics of creating and connecting. 

You won't be able to connect with them if you're late and stale. 

2. "Entertain first, sell second." - Stewart Reynolds, Brittlestar

Once marketers get their social and content strategy in place, there's the added layer of engaging with influencers. 

We'll keep this relatively short as Stewart Reynolds of Brittlestar did: "entertain first, sell second." 

When engaging with influencers, it's key to remember that while the sales funnel is important the content isn't going to get consumers doing anything if it doesn't resonate with them. If the content is all about the branded images and key phrases or taglines, it immediately loses meaning. 

So agencies and brands, let influencers do what they do best. Brand involvement should be a background to the content itself, even if it's paying for it. 

Now THAT'S how to ensure authentic moments. 

3. "If you're not big, you can still do what big people do." - Michael Landsberg, TV personality 

When it comes to the power of hashtags on social, getting content trending is far from an exact science. 

However, the power in the hashtag is more than just seeing it on the "trending sidebar" on Twitter. Landsberg reminded the audience that it's all about having a personal conversation with all the numbers of people on Twitter. 

He suggested that marketers look at hashtags as a way for brands to help people relate. 

4. "If content is king, then distribution is queen." - Dean Elkholy & Taylor Ablitt, Diply

Marketers should already know by now that content has to be platform agnostic. You can repackage what you've created for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. It just simply doesn't work and is a waste of the unique assets of each platform. 

So on that note, the two Diply co-founders answer why Diply doesn't have an app (yet). 

"If it's not planted properly, it won't flourish." Diply didn't want to simply repackage all of its existing content and throw it on an app. Instead, the media website wanted to offer something different, a unique incentive to show people why the app would give them a totally different experience than the desktop version.

If the two don't exist simultaneously for your brand, the two recommend hitting the breaks until they do. After all, while the content might be there it's up to distribution to actually help that content go somewhere. 

5. "Innovation is not a technology, office space or project." - Kirstine Stewart, Diply

Innovation: one of this industry's biggest buzz words. 

The problem with that is the word gets thrown around and used in situations where it's not living up to its full potential. For Stewart, she said this is the surest way to stifle real innovation. 

To her, innovation is looking at problems as opportunities. Yes that can come in the form of a technology, office space or project. 

It's easy for the "disruptor to become the disrupted." However, if approached by brands as a whole, ongoing strategy throughout all touchpoints, it'll be easier for brands to continuously move forward, rather than in a circle. 

If you were at Social Media Week in Toronto on Monday, feel free to add onto our favourite thoughts with yours @TheTiteGroup. SMWTO continues this whole week for all-access pass holders. More information on the week's events can be found online.

At the end of the day, people engage with content by lending their minutes. Content is successful when its battery is fully charged with attention.

What will win this week?


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