Pieces
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Bits & Pieces?

Bits & Pieces

Yesterday, Hanson Dodge and Marquette University hosted a Public Relations and Social Media Summit, themed “Navigating the Social Media Landscape.” Milwaukee is booming with social media enthusiasts, so the event sold out and raised more than $20,000 in scholarship funds for MU communications students. (*cue applause*) It was a great lineup of speakers, and given that I am recreating this post after losing it to a 7AM WordPress glitch (*cue violins*), and no one has brought me a caffeinated anything yet, let’s just hit the highlights.

Pamela Bennett from the North Face spoke about How the North Face Uses PR and Events to Leverage Passion in the Active Lifestyle Marketplace. It was super-refreshing to see a beautiful-content-generating-machine-of-a-brand so focused on strategy. They build around their core brand idea of “enabling exploration” and on three brand pillars – heritage, outdoor participation and sustainability. They even plan events to welcome, engage and enthuse explorers of different segments/levels. It warmed my little strategist heart.

Christopher Barger, former director of global social media at General Motors, generously shared the lessons he learned while helping GM through its Chapter 11 crisis. A great tip for content/community managers: always ask yourself, “If I didn’t work here, would I read/watch this?” Chris spoke about how handing over the keys to customers is “scary as hell” and one of the most effective social media approaches, and how the social web is a H-U-G-E customer service opportunity. GM assigned several customer service agents to social platforms. Service marketing folks, take note, this is important stuff!!

One of the absolute high points of the day was this presentation of “meaty, provocative trends” from Augie Ray, formerly with Forrester Research and now Executive Director of Community and Collaboration (great title!) at USAA.

In addition to being a really nice guy and a former Milwaukeean, Augie is a brilliant prognosticator. He spoke about how social media is still very, VERY nascent and how the future of social media isn’t media, it’s business. He enlightened us about the forthcoming explosion in the sharing economy and the future of radical transparency and serendipity. Through Augie’s intellectual eyes, the future looks very bright indeed. But I’m also supposed to tell you now that the bubble will burst for social media companies (e.g. Groupon). So, you heard it here first. Thanks, Augie, for everything.

Finally, Jenny McTiche from IBM spoke about the Watson project, inspired by the company’s heritage of “doing something unprecedented.” Their social media strategy is to enable as many IBM-ers to tell stories as possible, and give them the tools to do so, similar to GM handing over the keys to some of its customers.

Overall, the best thing about this conference was that it was very strategic, including the rock solid presentations from Hanson Dodge’s Sara Meaney (social media measurement and the real meaning of ROI) and Al Krueger (creating social media programs that move people to act). So often these things can devolve to conversation about the shiny tools du jour, and that was not at all the case here. There was much talk about building social media around a solid, core brand strategy. Very well done. *cue more applause*

If you were at the summit, what did YOU take away? If you weren’t, are there social media topics that you’d like to learn more about?

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