Public Relations Tactics

The Future of Now: 2014 Social Media Week New York Recap

April 1, 2014

Upworthy’s Real Mission

Wednesday morning, Feb. 19, at Social Media Week New York 2014 kicked off with a keynote talk by Upworthy Co-CEO Eli Pariser on changes to the platform that now produces more viral content than any other media outlet.

Upworthy will be expanding its editorial scope and turning to readers for ideas about what they want to read about and what they want to tell their friends about. Going viral is about clicks, shares, headlines, unique page views, visitors and measuring data, Pariser said.

“It’s actually impossible to go viral if people don’t love what you’re posting,” he said. “Headlines can convince someone to click; content convinces someone to share.”

Regarding content marketing, Pariser noted: “Listening smart is key. Listen to what people do and what they say they want,” and focus on quality not quantity.

Secrets of Not-for-Profit Tech Success

Nancy Lublin of and Charles Best of Donors Choose spoke on the secrets for not-for-profit tech success later that morning.

As Social Media Week is “where humanity and technology meet,” the focus on social mission was prevalent. While social action helps amplify getting people together in person, it doesn’t replace it, they said.

Lublin said that young people today favor text messaging — they don’t talk on the phone — so give them the opportunity to be heard and listen to them. She said that crafts, photo captions, grandparents and school lunch are some of the topics that appeal to teens who text with the DoSomething campaigns — and 1.5 million of these kids open these biweekly texts.

“Social change has never really happened because of business plans,” said Lublin. “It’s raw, emotive and unplanned.”

When you’re a founder of something, people think that you’re “just vision” and not good at executing and managing, but you need to prove yourself, help spark change and be a “turnaround CEO,” she said.

“Surround yourself with people who keep you honest and will hold you accountable,” Lublin said, adding that you should know your leadership style, too.

“This generation likes the opportunity to succeed,” she said of Millennials, so help them do that by having good data that relies on volume, velocity and variety. Also try to meet these young people where they are, which is what DoSomething does with its Crisis Tex Line — a hotline that operates via text messages rather than phone calls.

Money issues should be solvable if we’re good at our jobs, they said, though both worry about fragmentation and also agreed that it would be nice to see more humor in the not-for-profit space.
And Best stressed the importance of making these continual relationships and having conversations that evolve, saying, “A brand is not something that you can just push live and iterate upon.”

Leaders of the Next Revolution

Steve Case launched AOL in 1985 “with a goal of trying to get America online,” he said. Today, he still likes to invest in people and ideas that can change the world and does so through his company, Revolution.

For his keynote interview with Anil Dash, founder of the social app ThinkUp, Case talked about the trends he looks for, constant innovation and what the next revolution will be.

“The killer app we focused on with all of these was people and community,” Case said, adding to think about chat rooms and AIM buddy lists on AOL. “The core has always been ‘community,’” he said. “It still is. But now we call it ‘social.’”

While it took AOL 10 years to become a billion-dollar company, he said that the core was “getting people to interact with each other,” which is social media today.

Case discussed his role in advocating for the JOBS Act — “Jumpstart Our Business Startups.” He said that people need capital and a network available for the spirit of entrepreneurship and creativity.

“Successful entrepreneurship is taking a big idea that is a small company and making it a big company,” he said, stressing how commerce and connection play a very important role. “250 years ago, America was a startup and now it is the leader of the free world.”

Developing Trust and Advocacy Through Content Creation

Weber Shandwick, WOMMA and Blissful Media Group presented a session titled “Influencer Strategy: Developing Trust and Advocacy Through Content Creation,” which took place at the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) in New York.

A variety of experts in the social realm discussed new ways that brands can incorporate influencers into their marketing plans and also shared strategies and tips for getting the most out of relationships from the influencers’ point of view.

Brad Fay, COO of The Keller Fay Group, introduced the session by discussing the five types of influencer categories from WOMMA’s 2013 Influencer Guidebook: advocate, ambassador, citizen influencer, professional/occupational and celebrity.

Barbara Jones, CEO of Blissful Media Group, spoke next and said to find the right people to create content in your community, “see if their current content is relevant and has traction.”

In order to select an influencer, she said, “You have to be ‘monitoring’ everyone, everywhere, every time.” So invest in your influencers for the long term and help them evolve into eternal brand advocates.

Jones said to allow influencers room to spread your message in their own way so that they can be more creative. Also make sure that their voice matches your brand, and then, that they deliver your message “authentically.”

“It’s about finding the right people to take the message and create wonderful content to grow through their large networks,” said Katie Welch, executive vice president of global brands and innovation for Weber Shandwick.

“Develop trust and advocacy via content creation by using the right voice, connecting with the best influencers and letting them go from there,” Welch added.

It’s important to segment influencers, she said, and tell an authentic story, drive excitement, build a community and co-create.

Finally, Mark Curtis, CEO and founder of Branderati, spoke about his company, which helps curate content into consumer-facing direction where input matters.

He said to vet the influencers who are VIP super fans, and review the content to see if it has traction. Then, help amplify it and exchange value. Give influencers the tools that they need to customize a message that they can share.

“You can’t always hyper-control content creation — I can’t manage what I can’t see,” Curtis said, adding that the key is to communicate and make sure that you are exchanging value. “Social media is meant to be social. Don’t be afraid to engage.”

For more highlights from Social Media Week NYC 2014, visit the PR Tactics RebelMouse page.


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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