I was recently invited to host a luncheon interview with Robin Carey of Social Media Today at the IABC Heritage Conference in Providence, RI. The discussion was lively and informative and I felt obligated to share highlights, including my own key insights from the experience.
While I have a depth of experience as a presenter and Internet radio co-host, I’ve not had the opportunity to host an industry interview in the past. Not being the type to appear unprepared, I did my research on Robin and her writing for Social Media Today prior to our session. I was immediately impressed by her depth of knowledge and appreciated her perspective on social media. One of Robin’s strengths is leveraging her media empire and vast network to gain insights via formal and informal surveys. She also hosts events, most recently, The Social Shake-Up. This was a natural starting point for our interview.
I opened the discussion by asking Robin to share a few highlights from her survey, which are outlined in a recent article: Social Change Agent Survey: Passion, Skill Set, and Persistence Lead to Career Growth. In short, findings include the unsurprising but important correlation between career growth and levels of engagement in social media. The other key insight relates to the level of passion of social media change agents: 20 percent of respondents would rather quit a job than compromise their convictions.
We then made a natural transition to insights from The Social Shake-Up event. The recap in Social Media Today was particularly helpful. Popular topics at Social Shake-Up included: crowdsourcing and crowd-worthiness content, the collaborative economy, digital storytelling (and the power of visuals), retail shopping vs. experiencing and data-driven social campaigns. In short: save the date for the next Social Shake-Up, as it is a must-attend event for those looking to stay ahead of the curve in social media.
In a related interview, Robin outlined her social media hot buttons. One of her core areas of interest is the concept of baking social media into a company’s culture, from customer-service and product to marketing and PR. The idea of a “social business” is more than creating social media marketing campaigns; it’s about incorporating social into every aspect of the business to add value to the bottom line. Furthermore, Robin believes strongly that CEOs shouldn’t be on social media as much as they should empower their employees to engage socially. For more insights, check out this video of Robin interviewing Brian Solis at Social Shake-Up.
Another of Robin’s hot buttons is employee advocacy via social media. She’s identified a host of areas companies need to address across the social spectrum, including strategic planning, training, employee & brand engagement, influencer outreach, community management, content development, social listening and measurement. Other areas we touched on in our conversation include governance and mitigating risk. In response, Robin stood on her metaphoric soap box to encourage attendees not to buy into the social media marketing ‘culture of fear’. She advocates companies taking calculated risks in social, as the rewards are tremendous. Robin believes companies should be bold and authentic in social media, yet to be sure to collaborate with legal and HR departments when developing social media compliance, employee policies and marketing strategies.
I guided the conversation to social media platforms and looking forward to 2015 and beyond. We agreed that Ello will not survive as a social platform without a revenue model (let alone an exit strategy). Whether they cave and develop an ad revenue model (like every other social platform) or test a subscription model is to be seen. We also touched in Uber and the dual-directional ratings model. For those unaware, Uber drivers rate customers/users just as users can rate drivers. One wonders whether this the first of a growing trend or just a one-hit wonder (as consumers may not be open to vendor ratings).
I informally polled the IABC audience of over 200 regarding their 2015 social media planning and budgeting. Less than 10 percent raised their hands when asked if they had a defined social strategy in place or have budget allocated to social media programs in 2015. This was surprising to both Robin and I (although it reeks of opportunity for consultants like us who want to help these companies develop and implement a social strategy that works).
We wrapped up our lunchtime discussion by prophesying the future of social media. Robin is a big believer in further evolution and growth of the peer-to-peer economy, which is built on a foundation of trust. We also touched on the concept of the “4-star economy” — consumers buying primarily 4-star experiences from brands and companies building a culture around creating a 4-star experience. Lastly, I queried the attendees regarding their level of experience repurposing content across social platforms, with video being the top of the content food chain). Unfortunately, very few of the communicators in the audience raised their hands when asked about leveraging video to create audio, image and text content.
Clearly, corporate communicators have limitless opportunities ahead of them on the social media front, whether internal or externally-focused. Fortunately, those behind the communications curve have resources like Robin and I to help them. If you want to learn more about social media marketing, visit Anvil’s Resource section for related blog posts, cheat sheets, white papers & webinars.