I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a pre Project [R]evolution fireside chat with Mashable editor Emily Banks & Voce Social Strategist Chris Barger. It was an intimate group who had gathered to listen to these two international speakers share insights into running social media for a brand, and being a journalist/editor on a hugely successful media website.

The format was an interview style fireside chat (under the aircon), where each speaker took turns to interview the other.

The insights I gleaned were:

  • The visualisation of social media means that photos, images and videos compete in the Facebook newsfeed for the attention of the digital consumer. Links are soooooo last year (or the year before). But on Twitter where the platform is not as strongly visual, the headline is the hook. The challenge is to make it interesting, without revealing everything. Mashable does a lot of A/B testing with different headlines to see which drives more traffic and clicks.
  • Having your own brand blog is a way to counteract social media decay. Don’t have your precious content vanish after a matter of hours or days, and often not be discoverable or searchable.
  • Running social media for brands has moved from siloed teams with 2 people doing social media in a corner, to a more integrated approach involving comms, marketing, customer experience and technology together.
  • When asked whether social should be run by a creative agency or a PR team, Voce’s Chris Barger (perhaps unsurprisingly) picked PR. Why? He says because PR knows how to develop relationships, communicate and get the brand message through. However they should stay away from creative as that’s not their gig at all.
  • The answer to the ROI question is no longer ‘But what is the ROI of talking to your customer (etc)’. Social media has evolved over the past 2 years so now brands are better able to align with their objectives and the tools are more readily available to be able to track results through the sales funnel. It’s easier to find out how much traffic is coming to your site from social platforms, who clicked on those links, where they went on your website, and whether they actually bought anything.
  • There is no perfect tool. There are some that are good at some things, and most of them bad at lots of things. You are going to need an arsenal of tools in your toolkit.
  • Find out where you community is before signing up to new and shiny. Travel, food and fashion are great for Pinterest, industrial machinery – not so much.
  • We all know not to delete comments, but regularly reminding your community of your guidelines (no offensive language or personal attacks etc) means that if you do need to moderate comments then it should not come as a surprise to anyone.
  • If you have someone who has a lot of negative comments, ask them what they would like to see happen. They will either give you some goodย constructiveย suggestions which might help you fix what is broken, or tell you that you need to employ them (and then they look like a bit of a dick), or ignore you and continue ranting (and continue to look like a bit of a dick).
  • Facebook is a bit of a mystery to everyone.

It was great to hear international speakers reaffirm that the things we are doing in NZ and that we are discussing as a social media community are aligned with the direction and thinking overseas. More will be coming over the next few days at the Project [R]evolution which I’m looking forward to attending!

Thanks to John Lai of Social Media NZ, Bill Rundle of Porter Novelli and Radd Nadesananthan of Barbes, Catmur & Friends, for organising a fun and informative event.