For the uninitiated, Social Media Week is a worldwide event series where industry thinkers and tastemakers descend on different cities to discuss how social media is changing the way we look at the world and do business. This year's Social Media Week Los Angeles, which was held in late September, was a blur of cutting-edge trends, backstage meetups and interactive seminars that engaged some of the brightest stars in social media. If you couldn’t make it—either in person or virtually—here are the takeaways you can start applying to your business today:
1. Stream events and encourage constant discussion. Limiting events to the folks who can attend in person is so passé. By integrating social media with the event itself, SMWLA expanded its audience. Virtual attendees contributed, shared ideas and brought virtual voices into the conversation, enhancing the experience for those physically as well as virtually present.
2. Link the virtual world to the real world (and vice versa). Events at SMWLA were complemented by a real-time tweet-wall that used apps like VisibleTweets and HootSuite’s HootFeed to project tweets from both virtual and in-person attendees. As the events occurred, a flurry of reactions and interactions made the events vibrant and exciting for both the presenters and the audience. The more engaged your audience is, the more lively your event will be.
3. Offer behind-the-scenes insight with Google+ Hangout. Everyone wants behind-the-scenes access—the experience of knowing what goes on when the cameras aren’t rolling. Now, thanks to virtual hangouts like the one that occurred at SMWLA, everyone can get a glimpse of the faces and ideas that make these events so exciting. Folks who were there could encourage their customers or associates who couldn’t attend to follow them on social media for coverage in real time. You can become a roving reporter for your social media community. A superstar at this cutting edge outreach tool is Debbie Horovitch. Her company, Social Sparkle & Shine, provides a platform to coordinate Google+ Hangouts on a wide variety of topics.
4. Use skillful storytelling for effective crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing and crowdfunding are on fire. As the platforms that facilitate this innovative way of sharing ideas and finding funding become increasingly, well, crowded, the single most important thing you can do to set yourself apart from your competitors is to tell your story in a compelling way. Liz Scarff’s iCancer fundraising campaign is an extraordinary example. We’re barraged by competing demands for our charitable dollars, and storytelling was one of the key components of this £ 2 million (or $3.2 million) drive. The stories brought initial contributors in, and these contributors brought the stories to their communities, engaging further contributors. Another key to iCancer’s success was the seamless integration of social medial with traditional print media and offline organizing. Successfully organizing a crowdfunding drive can’t be an afterthought, either. It requires more work than you’d think if you want a successful conclusion.
5. Put all of your social media in one place. We can all rattle off the social media we use—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest—but there’s a constant flood of information that's hard to parse through. Enter social media aggregators like Pheed and TwineSocial, which collect your information from all of your social media accounts and publishes it to a single aggregated site.
6. Maximize your LinkedIn page. We all know LinkedIn, and most of us use it, but its growth and applications have grown exponentially. If you doubt that LinkedIn is the employment and business networking site, then consider this development: Employers have begun accepting links to a person’s LinkedIn profile in place of a traditional resume. If you aren’t on LinkedIn, or if you’re not using the site to its fullest potential, then you’re missing the boat. Its influence and scope are only increasing.
7. Humanize your social media. This trend is a bonus from a great Forbes article that shares lessons from Social Media Week Chicago. Stay relevant, focus on being engaging and fun, and work on bringing your community into your social media space so that the experience is interactive. If you think about it, social media offers your business the unprecedented opportunity to directly enter the homes, offices, and even the back pockets of millions of social media users. You cannot afford to miss out.
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