Social Media Week Austin

Social Media Week Austin, held in February earlier this year, is a three-day conference which promotes discussion and knowledge sharing among professionals in the fields of social media and digital marketing.

Hosted in downtown Austin, Texas, the attendees were mostly local, a group of professionals that skewed mostly young and female. And boy, were they passionate. As I watched people take thorough notes and spent time lined up outside the smaller rooms to get into a session they wanted, I knew this was my kind of conference.

Marquee outside the event

With sessions from Filmmaking to Instagram For Business and Introductions to Adwords, there was plenty of creative and how-to sessions to attend. But for me, fascinating sessions were the higher-level ones, ones that dig into the 'why' of all those Instagram posts and videos we make. And the big why right now is authenticity.

Although we may all still be having nightmares about clickbait headlines, several presentations and talks through the week emphasized authenticity and genuine, expert information as the content that users really want.

In his session, Feed Their Passions and They Will Love You For It, Kirk Drummond looked at how to be a contributor, rather than an intruder. Giving examples of companies that found a way to partner with their customers for charitable causes, events, or cultural moments, the key for a successful campaign was about being genuine and passionate. These qualities are more important than finding opportunities which are “on brand”. In a perfect world though, why not both?

On a similar note, Craig Allen, Dave Burg, Liam Doherty, and Dean McBeth discussed their time advertising for Old Spice in their panel How Does Social Media Fit Into Integrated Advertising Now. Their most successful campaigns stemmed from the authenticity of engaging playfully with their audience. Although there may be an element of coincidence or magic to the timing, brands that can add to culture in a way that doesn’t feel “punching above their weight”.

Cierra Savatgy-King emphasized the emotional elements of social media in her session How to Make Your Audience Fall in Love with Your Brand. Without finding the heart of your social media content, you risk leaving your audience apathetic. When you build content strategy with this in mind, your audience feels that authentic connection and will be receptive to your messages.

With the balance of philosophical and hands-on sessions in addition to social and networking events, I think this event was very successful and packed a lot of learning into a short time. I look forward to attending next year, my only hope is they find a bigger space. Many of the sessions this year were standing room only!

April 24, 2018

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