Social Media Week New York 2015 Recap: Reimagining Human Connectivity

May 1, 2015

Social Media Week New York took place on Feb. 23–27 at Manhattan’s Highline Stages. This year’s conference focused on reimagining human connectivity, creating organic content and presenting your best self online. Here are some highlights from this year’s event:

Storytelling With Vine

“Vine is a culture engine,” said Jeremy Cabalona, community manager at Vine. “More than 100 million people watch Vines each month.”

It is a living community, not just a place to dump content. Respect the interest and voice of the community to create short-form, six-second videos that people will remember, he said.

Members of Mashable’s storytelling and creative teams were also on hand to talk about the benefits of using the platform. Since Vine is so sharable, you can easily convince the newsroom of Vine’s utility, they agreed. It looks great with a story and “it’s easy to create cool, visual content.”

People use Vine “to develop their brand, to build up a community on social and to generate revenue,” said Jeff Petriello of Mashable.

The site’s core voice is “to make it our own” and provide visuals to supplement written stories and live events in real-time. As an editorial resource, you can see (not just read and hear) what’s going on in the world with live coverage from Viners.

Mashable also engages on Vine with branded content and collaboration, community building, challenges, guest hosts and talent, and user-generated content.

Also, Vine loops are not just counted on Vine itself, but also if the video is on Twitter, Tumblr or other channels, so “leverage your community,” Cabalona said.

“A Vine is easy to create, sharable and looks great with a story, so find your niche and refocus the conversation on the content itself.”

Soundbites From Mashable’s Pete Cashmore

•    If we can’t keep the Web free and open, it’s going to be a less desirable world for everyone.
•    Always learn from what you do — your content may not work at first, but keep building and find your voice.
•    Success in content creation requires focus. You need to engage in a new way of telling stories.
•    The power in innovation is creating something that will change your life and change the lives of others.

Is Data the Future of Journalism?

More and more newsrooms are beginning to leverage the power of data to gather news and to tell stories. Several data scientists and experts talked about this convergence and the significance of “pre data” and “post data.”

This refers to how an article is researched and themed, or how a story lead is generated (pre data), to measuring the analytics after the piece is published (post data).

“Data is a tool that helps inform decisions, said Jane Kelly, data science lead at BuzzFeed. “And data scientists are brokers for content, who are analyzing and communicating.”

Because data is evidence, and good journalism is evidence-based, it’s important to look for signals and themes first, and then to look for reactions after the piece is published, the panelists agreed. “Many journalists fear that they will be valued quantitatively and based on metrics,” said The New York Times’ Chris Wiggins. There is no longer a church and state in journalism, but it’s now editorial, sales and engineering.”

UGC: The Ultimate Human Content Connectivity

Seven experts were on hand to discuss the broad topic of user-generated content. Here, they explain what it is, why it’s a hot topic and how it can help you with your digital marketing strategy:

•    User-generated content (UGC) can be socially driven, crowd-sourced, organic or paid. It can come from individual users or via peers, and has the potential to create and drive conversation.
•    UGC often centers on specific events or a place in time. You need to have the right content, the right platform and the right audience.
•    It can provide authentic consumer insights and brand solutions, showing you what consumers really think.
•    You can use UGC to help your customers, innovate and develop products — but be credible.
•    Comments and dialogue keep people engaged, so don’t stifle the debate. Develop your voice for storytelling, let people have a conversation and be careful with incentivizing things.
•    The benefits of UGC include: customer trust, brand affinity and brand engagement, earned media, research opportunity, a cost-efficient content pipeline and SEO.
•    UGC impacts brand favorability, visibility and purchase intent. Authentic content outperforms traditional ads, so make sure that you’re reflecting your brand, adding value and being human.

What's the Difference Between Social Marketing and Social PR?

“To tell a smart story is to tell it consistently over time,” said Jan Rezab, chairman and CEO of Socialbakers. “Social media is the only place where if you do customer care well, you’ll have a more effective marketing channel and engage people.”   
Rezab said that brands produce too much content these days. Instead, they need to measure the activity that drives business, as social media metrics matter. It’s important to focus on engagement because “earned and paid media is a new frontier for [PR pros] in a socially driven space.”

To cut through the clutter, you need a social strategy. “Don’t measure in isolation — know your competition and focus on interactions,” Rezab said.

As most people don’t know the difference between measurement and analytics, listening and knowing your metrics for brand awareness are key.

“More PR professionals do social media customer service than marketing professionals because of crisis management,” he said. Use engagement first and then reach will follow. “Numbers are dynamic and have value. Negative feedback is the most underrated metric in social media measurement.”

Gi-Gi Downs, SVP group director of planning and strategy at Edelman Digital, joined Rezab after his presentation to field several questions and continue the discourse about social PR and marketing. Here’s what she had to say:
•    Seventy-five percent of journalists surveyed by Edelman say that they’re under pressure to think about how a story will get shared.
•    The relationship between public relations and the media should evolve to forming a partnership and making connections rather than just pitching.
•    We’ve done our job in public relations when we understand the news cycle and manage ideas that sustain momentum and permeate culture.
•    In public relations and marketing, we’re all drowning in data. We must start extracting meaning and take a customer-centric approach to social media.
•    The difference between public relations and marketing is the audience. Don’t just focus on the good metrics, but notice the “unfollows” and the fails too.
•    Many brands are looking for a PR mindset to social media that can be sustained in long-term. Think about the context of your content.

The Rules of an Open Brand

John Winsor, founder and CEO of Victors & Spoils, shared guidelines on how companies can evolve with their customers and industry.

For a more open brand, you must change the way you measure things, build a bigger team, create a cultural movement and ask the right questions, he said.

“Create an open manifesto. Share, adapt and keep up with the evolution around you and your consumers,” Winsor said. “It’s not about talent. It’s about culture.”

User-generated content is 35-percent more memorable than other media and 50-percent more trusted than other media. “People are the new media channel,” Winsor said, adding that you can change culture in a small way. It doesn’t have to be a big ad campaign. “When you prohibit failure, it stifles innovation — open brands should put customers first.”

Pinterest and the New Breed of Autonomous Marketing Platforms

“Every day, people come to Pinterest to get inspiration for things they want to do in future,” said Eric Hadley, head of partner marketing at Pinterest. 

There are currently 50 billion pins on 1 billion boards worldwide. Men are the fastest growing audience, while nearly half of the users are women ages 18-54 and a third are millennials. Seventy-five percent of these people use Pinterest on a mobile device.

“There’s a 30-percent repin rate on promoted pins,” Hadley said. “It’s becoming a top site for referrals and the lifecycle is infinite.”

The company’s next product strategy is getting users to act on their pins instead of just dreaming about them. “Pinning endorses your brand and creates a chain reaction of sharing. Two-thirds of what people pin comes from businesses,” he said, adding that the average pin is repined 11 times.

“People use Pinterest to discover, save and do,” Hadley said. “It’s about finding ideas and bringing them to life.”

Regarding promoted pins, these shouldn’t be ads you create, he said. They should be great content that you want to share more broadly.

“Each pin is more than an image,” he said. “It fronts a wealth of information and data for the user.”

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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