6 Moments of Marketing Inspiration from Social Media Marketing World 2015

March 31, 2015

Last week, approximately 2,500 savvy marketers from around the globe gathered together in sunny San Diego for Social Media Marketing World 2015. The annual 3-day event attracted some of the most prominent leaders in the social media marketing space and featured over 100+ insightful sessions, prime networking opportunities and even a little late night karaoke.

While it would be impossible for me to rank the sessions in order of brilliance, I have compiled a list of takeaways highlighting moments of inspiration that infiltrated the ballrooms, halls and bars at the Manchester Grand Hyatt.

6 Takeaways for Marketers from #SMMW15

1. Build your content community; Let your bat-signal shine.

“Marketing is weaponized storytelling. If you don’t have a hook at the end of your rod, how can you expect to catch a fish?” – Chris Brogan, CEO, Owner Media Group

Chris Brogan said that "We can do a lot better business if we don’t try to fit in. If we’re where we fit, we belong.” In other words: if you make good, worthwhile content, you’ll attract the right people. And useful content will help you nurture a better community. “Find your circle, master the edge, shine your bat-signal and earn the right to sell," he said.

What does he mean by ‘shining your bat-signal’? It means creating meaningful and interesting content that attracts people to come and be part of the story. As he mentioned within his session, "Content Marketing is weaponized storytelling. If you don’t have a hook at the end of your rod, how can you expect to catch a fish?" Your content must guide people back to your intent of conversion.

Similarly, LinkedIn's Senior Content Marketing Manager Jason Miller said we have one job as content marketers: to empathize with our audience. We need to start focusing on making our followers feel like they are part of a bigger community. With time and attention, these followers will turn into loyal brand advocates. So I ask you, is your content fostering a relationship with your community? It should be.

2. Those who show ROI will prosper.

“It’s not about how big your data is, it’s how you use it.” – Nicholle Kelly, CEO, Social Media Explorer

Michael Stelzner’s new social media research revealed that only 42% of marketers know how to measure ROI while 88% of marketers want to know how to improve it. So what is holding so many marketers back from measuring ROI? “An innate fear of failure”, says Nichole Kelly. “We don’t want to say we’re afraid of failing, but we do a lot of things that clearly make it true.” It’s time to take the power back from our data. Because we’re all going to fail – that’s not the question. The question is, are you ready to remove the fear surrounding the numbers?

Take a hard look at what answers you’re searching for with your data. How does social media influence the customer journey? How does email? Which channels and content produce the most conversions? Nichole suggests keeping your eye on long-term goals and following these quick tips:

1)    Track and store everything

2)    Integrate your data

3)    Always be testing

4)    Use data to understand the customer journey

3. Ian Cleary’s toolbox: A world of untapped opportunity awaits.

“Getting information off the internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant. You need tools to help you refine your search.” – Ian Cleary, CEO, RazorSocial

Are you one of the 26% of marketers who spend 6-10 hours on social media per week? If so, what would you do with an extra hour or two a week? (If you answered ‘get more sleep’, we’d be friends.)

Strategy gives you direction and tools help you get to your destination quicker. That being said, we should all be jealous of RazorSocial Founder, Ian Cleary. Not only because he has an Irish accent, but because he has a tool to fix each and every one of your #SocialMediaProblems (almost). Below are but a few problem/solution scenarios Ian outlined in his session:

Problem: Help! I’m not sure which blog post will rank on Google.

Solution: InboundWriter reveals your chances of getting organic traffic to a post from Google. You can also see how your post compares to similar posts and ways you can optimize your title for maximum visibility.

Problem: I get that video is important, but they are just so difficult to produce.

Solution: Directr is an app that makes video creation easy for everyone by providing a plethora of storyboards that show you exactly what scenes to shoot.

Problem: My twitter followers aren’t growing quickly enough.

Solution: ManageFlitter removes spam followers, tidies up your account and finds relevant people for you to connect with via a set of saved filters.

4. Repurpose, repurpose, repurpose. Then repurpose some more.

“Content isn’t King. It’s the kingdom!” – Lee Odden, CEO, TopRank

A majority (68%) of marketers say consistently producing content is a challenge. So how do the top content marketers create all that content? “They don’t," said Lee Odden, "They co-create, curate and repurpose.”

When creating content, it is essential to keep this question in mind: How will this content attract, engage and convert the right audience? Another important question that often goes unanswered is, “For whom am I creating this content?” Bottom Line: Your goal should be to create customer-centric, easy to find content that provides the best answer.

Repurposing content can be done in many ways, but the two most common methods are: ‘Big to Small’ & ‘Small to Big’. If you go the ‘Big to Small’ route, you create what we call at LinkedIn a ‘Big Rock’ piece of content, then break it down into smaller bite-size pieces -- creating infographics and SlideShares, and lifting interviews and case studies from a "Big Rock" like an eBook. One example of going ‘Small to Big’ would be gathering a collection of research statistics, quotes and short tips and organizing it into a blog post or newsletter. These nuggets of information we call modular microcontent work well because they are easily shareable and SEO friendly. Overall, the golden rule of repurposing and diversifying content is to ‘always be testing’. Test and iterate, collect data to inform future content and, as a result, become a more sophisticated content marketer.

5. We cordially invite you to join the rage against irrelevance.

“It’s no longer a numbers game. It’s a game of relevance.” – Jason Miller, Senior Content Marketing Manager, LinkedIn

Social media is an incredible mobilizer for driving traffic back to your content. In fact, Michael Stelzner revealed that a whopping 78% of marketers said social media increases traffic to content. Even the most compelling content will fall flat without a proper distribution plan.

Every day, 4.75 billion pieces of content are shared. But remember, there is no prize for hitting publish. In fact, 47% of respondents would consider ending a relationship due to irrelevance. As LinkedIn’s Jason Miller put it, “It’s no longer a numbers game, it’s a game of relevance. If you’re not helping your prospects and answering their most challenging questions, you’re missing opportunities to exhibit thought leadership and truly own the conversation around your product or service." At the end of the day, businesses don’t buy your product; they buy into your presented resolution. For more insights on how to drive demand with your target audience, check out Jason's full session deck, 77 Insider Tips for Rocking Your Content Strategy Using LinkedIn.

Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs expressed similar sentiments in her session, stating ‘We don’t need more content, we need better content.” And one way to drastically improve your content is by mastering your brand’s tone of voice. Tone of voice reflects your culture, amplifies your story and communicates empathy with the people you want to reach. Be accessible, helpful and humorous. Keep in mind that your TOV may attract AND repel – but if you stay true to your brand’s values you’ll attract like-minded prospects. The formula for success can be summed up in Ann’s latest equation:

Culture x story x empathy = tone of voice

6. Keep it real, in real-time.

“Real-time marketing is a way of thinking. You need to make marketing personal, even if it’s not scalable.” – Ekaterina Walter, Global Evangelist, Sprinklr

We live in a ‘Now!’ economy and consumer expectations are at an all-time high. Research shows that millennials, which currently make up 50% of the population, expect brands to truly care about their feedback. And the newsfeed mentality has changed the way that we consume information. Americans now engage with 7 different sources of information every day through multiple channels. The flow of news is accelerating while the adult attention span is declining.

That is why it is more imperative than ever to create meaningful content and responses that resonate with your audience on a human level. Enter real-time marketing (RTM): A way to create demand and further a brand’s mission through connecting. Ekaterina Walter only strengthened the case for RTM within her session, sharing that "It has been proven to increase purchase intent, with 84% of consumers reporting a better customer experience with brands."

My favorite example of RTM done well is Honey Maid’s #ThisIsWholesome campaign. They first launched the campaign with a short ad in 2014. And while it was well-received by many, it also received negative response. What did Honey Maid do? They responded with this video. The video description is simple: "We made a commercial about what makes families, family. And we received a lot of comments. See what we did with them." By creating this video, they are not ignoring negative feedback and they are also not apologizing. They are responding in an authentic manner. And by including real customer feedback, they are making it personal.

To help guide your leap into RTM, Ekaterina provided a couple of basic Do’s and Don’ts:


  • Decide where your content will be the most credible
  • Invite your customers into the conversation
  • Make sure your message connects with your brand’s vision


  • Ignore negative feedback
  • Act desperate
  • Mistake innovation for impulse

Bottom Line: Be a welcome addition to the conversation, not an interruption.

Want more marketing insights from industry leaders? Stay connected and inspired with tips & testimonials from those leading the way by downloading our popular all-encompassing playbook, The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Thought Leadership.