Public Relations Tactics

Social Media Week 2013 Recap: Principles for a Collaborative World

April 4, 2013

Social Media Week (SMW13) took place in New York City on Feb. 18-22 . PR Tactics reported on several events focused on the communications, advertising and marketing sectors. What follows is a recap of our coverage of sessions presented by Ford, The Dachis Group, The Wall Street Journal and Buzzfeed. (Check out our full coverage here)


Scott Monty, global digital and multimedia communications manager at Ford, delivered lessons on Ford’s social media strategy and addressed how brands can set new precedents in the social landscape at an early morning session at Bloomberg. He discussed the pitfalls to avoid in an ever-unpredictable world, along with a special announcement about a new social-driven campaign.

“Engagement is everything,” he said.  “If you have a good product, don’t be afraid. Let your audience help tell your story.  Who do you trust? Someone like you.”

He reminded attendees to speak the customer’s language, be self-aware and commit themselves to entertain. Figure out what people like and deliver what works best, focusing on content and relationship management, he said.

“People engage with personalities not with product features. Social media is not a campaign;  it’s a commitment,” Monty said.  “We always need to be on.”

Another lesson, he said, is keeping the consumer in mind as you continue to build a relationship with them — not just when it’s convenient for you.

“Simple is better. People want to be part of something bigger than themselves.  Take the time to celebrate and appreciate your fans,” he said.

“'Relationship' is an undervalued and overused word. Content and context is what connects Ford to its social consumers.” 


Jeff Dachis, founder of The Dachis Group, spoke with Emily Steel of The Financial Times about redefining mass communications and the future of advertising, as part of a keynote at JWT.

“Social media has passed control from central authority to individuals,” he said. “Brands should figure out how to measure what matters, and then mobilize brand advocates and engage them. It’s about big data.”

Dachis said we can build branded pre-purchase intent, but not purchase intent. Social media platforms are amazing tools for brand engagement, but not for commerce.

“Social has the opportunity to engage at scale.  A strong mix of engagement marketing and advertising is powerful,” he said.  “A more engaged audience is a more valuable audience.”

He added that brands will look at social engagement as a proxy for advertising value, and that 70 percent of people trust strangers on social media sites like Amazon or  Trip Advisor rather than hearing from the brand itself.

“Trusted, authentic and transparent engagement drives advocates to echo and amplify your message,” Dachis said.  “Don’t put out information if you don’t want it to be out in the public eye — also don’t advertise on engagement channels but connect with the audience instead.”


Buzzfeed presented a panel at the Hearst headquarters titled “The Golden Age of Digital Storytelling.” 

Josh Sternberg, media and publishing reporter, Digiday moderated the discussion with speakers Jon Steinberg, president and COO, Buzzfeed; Sabrina Caluori, vice president of social media and performance marketing, HBO; and Lee Nadler, marketing communications manager, MINI USA. Here are some notable excerpts from the conversation:

Sabrina Caluori

  • Aim to repackage content digitally into something that’s bite-sized, snackable, shared, consumed and mobile-friendly.
  • Social has extended the window of conversation around  TV series and consistent rediscovery, ignited with word-of-mouth tactics.
  • We’re moving away from the interruptive experience and toward a sharable, emotional one because that’s how people consume content.
  • Storytelling on different platforms takes a lot of listening. Understand the platform from user perspective first before jumping onboard.  Workshop it first so that you can represent the brand in the right way.
  • If brands are going to go to the newsroom and be responsive, then the 9-to-5 model has to change. We’re always on 24/7 in the world of social.

Lee Nadler

  • Be responsive and nimble in being able to craft messages. Know what’s happening in real-time and respond to it. Take risks and put stuff out there. When you see something trending, then try to hop on it.
  • Make people smile.  Think of your brand as a character with a personality. Insert yourself  in the conversation in a way  you can add to it. Have fun with it.
  • Be careful about trying to digitize and automate everything — humanizing your brand is important.

Jon Steinberg

  • The publisher as an agency is a misnomer. More than 90 percent of business has involved an agency for Buzzfeed. Know how to execute it on the website, then take the new formats, adapt and be creative.
  • The key is to be incredibly flexible and adapt to what the brand wants — or else you aren’t servicing the customer.
  • People will react less when you force content on them than when they’re looking, reading and consuming on their own.
Amy Jacques

Amy Jacques is the managing editor of publications for PRSA. A native of Greenville, S.C., she holds a master’s degree in arts journalism from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Georgia’s Grady College and a certificate in magazine and website publishing from New York University.


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