The Quest for Attention: Takeaways from #SMMW16 Day 1

April 19, 2016

At Social Media Marketing World 2016, the 3,000 marketers in attendance were looking for an edge in the constantly evolving world of social media. Marketers are struggling for new ways to gain the attention of their audiences. Here’s how Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of Vayner Media, during his session at the event, described this difficult situation: “I spend my time trying to understand attention. I go where the attention is at its height, but the rest of the market underestimates it.”

Marketers are also looking for new ways to gain attention on established platforms as well as on the new entries. Here are 7 takeaways from Day 1 of Social Media Marketing World for marketers hoping to earn more attention and to boost the performance of their social efforts:

This biggest missed opportunity in content is playing it too safe.

It takes guts to create the type of content that's truly engaging. MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute recently released B2B research which revealed that creating engaging content is a top challenge for marketers.

How do we create content that doesn't feel like marketing? "Bigger, bolder braver content marketing" was the answer Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of Marketing Profs, proposed in her session about content quality vs. quantity.

Shoving ads into a social construct and calling it social media marketing will no longer suffice. Instead, focusing on a bigger story puts your business in context of what people care about. "Use your bigger story to convert more people into your squad," Ann said. "Ask yourself, if you covered up your logo, would you recognize you?"

Smart companies don't follow shifts. They lead. They tell a story with depth and breadth that doesn't otherwise exist. As marketers, it's our job to tell bolder stories with richer insights and therefore create better experiences for our audiences.

Your brand isn't perfect, and that's okay.

Brian Fanzo, Founder of Backlamp, opened up his session on live video with a bold statement: "Perfection is impossible and nobody believes it."

Control is an illusion. But you don't need to have full control over your messaging to create effective video content. If you're doing good things, live video allows you to amplify that message.

"We need to stop worrying about being so reactionary and understand the power of 'I don't know.'"

Access is the new goal. Customers and prospects want access to brands and new experiences. Community is the future of business. Live video is helping us get there.

The challenges facing content marketers are many.

The content marketing power trio of Michael Stelzner, Mitch Joel and Mark Schaefer took the stage for a discussion around the future of content marketing. It’s a pretty rare event to see these three powerhouse marketers on the same stage together. Here are a few key points they made:  

“The days of easy free traffic are done. Social media channels are become cul-de-sacs, content coming in but not going out. We as marketers are going to have to adjust to that.”  – Mark Schaefer, Chief of Schaefer Marketing Solutions
“Content marketing is no longer just about numbers. Maybe our audiences are shrinking, but they are shrinking to become more focused.”  – Michael Stelzner, CEO & Founder of Social Media Examiner
“The cream always rises to the top, but there’s so much cream it’s hard to tell where it is. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to get people to care or pay attention to your content and the cost to get them to your site is more competitive than ever. It’s time to spend money to drive traffic to your blog” - Mitch Joel, President of Mirum

Sometimes, social media marketers need to be patient.

In his session at Social Media Marketing World, Gary Vaynerchuk, despite his reputation for shooting from the hip, assured the crowd: “I’m the most patient [expletive deleted] in this place.” He said marketers need to be more patient in selecting social media platforms to use and in attempting to scale their businesses. “The longer you wait to scale the stronger your foundation," he said. He advised the crowd at the even to think micro not macro.

As marketers, how can we apply this advice to our own jobs? When you're building your career as a marketer, don't cave to the pressure of being a hybrid marketer out of the gate. Hone each skill with respect to the craft. When you rush to adopt new skills, inefficiencies are created. And when you scale so do those inefficiencies. When you do get to the point of confidence to scale, do what you do best and “punt the rest,” Vaynerchuk said.

B2B marketers are contemplating diving into Snapchat.

With the rise of online video, Michael Stelzner, CEO of Social Media Examiner, said, “We are at the beginning of a massive revolution.” Social Media Examiner’s research showed that 73 percent of marketers plan to increase their use of video this year. But has the revolution moved far enough along that marketers will embrace Snapchat, in which users create 1- to 10-second videos that disappear within 24 hours?

For now, Snapchat remains primarily a platform for millennials. But the platform appears poised to become a serious tool for marketers, because the percentage of marketers using Snapchat more than doubled in the past year to 5 percent, according to Social Media Examiner. But is it for you, and is it for B2B? Most of the examples of Snapchat usage presented at Social Media Marketing World were B2C marketers such as GrubHub and Taco Bell.

During his session at Social Media Marketing World, Carlos Gil, Head of Global Social Media at BMC Software, said, “Honestly, for some businesses, Snapchat is not viable. But for some businesses it is.” The time may be right for some businesses to build a following on the platform before other marketers jump on while it is still growing at a furious pace. One element of Snapchat that may challenge marketers is its requirement for one-to-one interactivity with your followers. As Shaun McBride, a Snapchat pioneer known as Shonduras, said during his session, “I’m here to tell, it is possible (to build a Snapchat presence as a business), but it’s also really hard.”

Marketers may not be getting the full value from LinkedIn...yet

In our session, Alex Rynne, LinkedIn’s Associate Content Marketing Manager, and myself gave a behind the scenes look at how LinkedIn Marketing Solutions uses LinkedIn on a daily basis. Marketers are underestimating the power of LinkedIn, declaring of the platform: “For the first time in history, you can engage with all of the world’s professionals in one place.”

Rynne detailed how she and her team used LinkedIn Company and Showcase Pages to post and promote content every day. “We spend an hour every day on our Showcase Page,” she said. Rynne turns the best performing organic content into paid LinkedIn Sponsored Content to generate more exposure and engagement. Rynne’s team also publishes regularly on LinkedIn. “There is 15 times more content on LinkedIn than job postings,” Miller pointed out. He also described LinkedIn SlideShare as a tool that marketers severely underrate, especially given that it attracts more than 70 million unique visitors every month.

3 myths about LinkedIn are costing marketers money.

In a separate session about LinkedIn, Viveka von Rosen, author of “LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day,” shared three myths that marketers hold about LinkedIn:

  • Company Pages are only for big companies.

  • No one looks at LinkedIn posts anymore.

  • Your profile is good enough.

None of those are true, Van Rosen said, and continuing to believe these myths is costing marketers money. She made the case that ignoring the power of Company Pages is about “COI — the cost of inaction.” She added that a regularly updated Company Page on LinkedIn is  “all about credibility. People are searching for your Company Page on LinkedIn. It looks bad if they can’t find it.” She also recommended posting regularly on publishing on LinkedIn, and posts should be 900 to 1,400 words. “Longer is actually better,” she said.

Lucky enough to be at #SMMW16? Stop by Booth 16 to meet the LinkedIn marketing team and join the #SophisticatedMKTG movement!