April 28, 2016

If you’ve missed all the posts I’ve shared over the last week, you might not know that I attended Social Media Marketing World (#SMMW16) again this year. But chances are you’ve seen the photos, videos, comments, and recaps. Which is why I’ve struggled to get this blog post out.

I’ve been busy recording videos, podcasts, photos, and more content over the last week than I’ve probably ever created for in relation to one event. And yet, blogging, my happy space, my catharsis, has been a chore to complete. But not simply because of time – yes, I’ve committed a LOT of time to these other content pieces. But I’ve debated how best to write this post.

I’ve actually rewritten this blog post three times. I’ve changed the title at least 5 times. Not because I didn’t know what I wanted to say, but because I didn’t know how to distill it into one logical. flowing post.

If you’ve ever attended a SMMW event, you know how insanely immersive, overwhelming, and AWESOME it can be. It is all-consuming. And to explain that to someone who wasn’t there, just isn’t easy. It’s more than the sessions, the keynotes, the event as “social media for marketers”. It’s about the venue, the atmosphere, the networking, the people, the random encounters (yes, my girl Krista Cassidy and I totally hijacked Joel Comm’s Facebook Live stream), the new opportunities, the friendships in real life where when you hug someone for the first time, it feels like you’ve been friends for years – because you have been. There is no awkwardness. It’s friends and strangers bound in this crazy, fun, amazing, inviting place where you can ramble on about social media for DAYS and no one’s eyes glaze over!

It’s that moment when you wake up the next day and realize it’s all over. And you’re genuinely sad. You realize your friends aren’t just down the street anymore. You realize you have to go back to “normal” and back to “work” but you’re so excited and rejuvenated to try everything you heard about over the last few days.

Which brings me to this. The 3 words that summarize everything at SMMW16.

Live Video. Snapchat.

That’s it.

For good or bad. Those are the only three words that anyone and everyone will connect with this year’s conference.

These three words were essentially tattooed on our minds, papers, computers, tablets, smartphones… and maybe even a few body parts  I joke, but I’m not joking. It was intensely in our faces.

Every keynote (except, Mark Schaefer’s closing keynote which was really good!) focused on these two topics and three words. Every conversation somehow swirled around these two topics. Those speakers covering these topics had the biggest rooms in the convention center.

It was Everything.

But I also worry about this. And I was disappointed with this emphasis. I mean, emphasis is too gentle a term. Emphasis would have been good. I was disappointed with this deluge.

Now, I LOVE me some Social Media Marketing World, and yes, I was a speaker again this year, and yes, I’ll tell you that this conference is worth every penny.

But, I am worried that some less experienced marketers in attendance are setting themselves up for failure. Given that the dominant conversations they heard were all about live video and Snapchat, they are more than likely to return home to their businesses or jobs and tell their bosses (or themselves) that they MUST embrace these two things or risk being buried by their competitors. They’re going to jump in, unprepared to a medium that could destroy years of hard work if they aren’t strategically prepared to do all the work that these platforms require. They may also blatantly ignore the platforms where they have strength in numbers: Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, etc., choosing instead to focus on live video and disregarding the audiences they already have.

I hate to be the cynic. But I feel like I need to be honest with you. These two things may NOT be right for your business.

Yes, I have embraced live video. I’ve decided to incorporate more video to reach those of you who prefer video over blogs. But I am a blogger. I am not a video person. I am comfortable creating blogs and I much prefer to read blogs. However, I understand that isn’t for everyone so I will continue to share more video. And, video shares another, more honest and real side of me so that you can better understand who I am and what I am sharing with you.

No, I have not embraced Snapchat (for my own reasons – mainly my audience isn’t there). Even after a conference where the word Snapchat was pretty much thrown around like confetti, I was not converted. That doesn’t mean it’s right or wrong for YOU. It means it’s not right for ME, right now. That may change. And I’ll be open to that when the time comes.

The opening keynote session with Mike Stelzner and Brian Fanzo was a good motivation to embrace both live video and Snapchat. They shared HOW people are using it, WHY people are using it, stats, data, trends, and information that was very persuasive. You can watch my Facebook Live replay video here with full recap and details of the keynote session.

I also chose to attend multiple sessions related to live video – because I wanted to get all the best info from all the best experts. So, yes, my experience was maybe a little more intense with this topic since I chose to attend more of these sessions. If you want to check out my recap of Kim Garst’s session on getting started on Periscope, you can watch this Facebook Live video replay here.

But unless you chose to attend a session on Instagram (maybe mine  ) or Pinterest or Twitter or Facebook ads or podcasting or something else, you probably didn’t hear much about these other topics. And this was disappointing for me.

Just because these platforms are more established or commonplace, doesn’t mean they should be ignored in a social media conversation. And especially at a conference of this magnitude.

Gary Vaynerchuck said something in his keynote session that really stuck with me. He said he isn’t worried about what will be here in 4 years. He’s focused on what’s popular right now. And right now, that’s Snapchat.

Ok. You might think that makes sense. At first I did too. But now I don’t. Not for you. Not for me.

Yes, for a big brand, a celebrity, a business with a massive devoted fan base, they have this luxury. They could tell their audience they are hanging out on the most obscure platform on the planet and they’d still get engagement, followers, and results. You and I don’t have that privilege.

Yes, we need to be worried about what is popular “right now” but we also need to think long term. We don’t have the resources, capacity, and bandwidth to go around chasing what’s popular and rebuilding our brand on a new platform every six months. We’d lose our minds. We’d probably lose a lot of our audience. And we’d lose business. That’s OUR reality.

So, whether you attended SMMW16 or are listening to the sessions via the virtual ticket or are reading all about it from others who did attend, I want you to take ALL of it in. Not *just* the 3 words that summarized the event.

Did you attend? Have you heard about it? What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments below!

And, yes, I’ve recorded THREE HOURS of video recapping the whole event. You can watch my Facebook Live video recap or watch the Blab replay of The Social Sesh with Jenn and Krista (although I forgot to hit record, so the replay is only the last 30 minutes – oops!).

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. Thanks for this post. I truly appreciate it as I, too, have had that feeling about snapchat. It was interesting to read from someone who is in the thick of it. I think the LIVE video is definitely a plus for many business people and especially with my clients.

    1. Thanks Gale! I’m glad this post clarified some things for you. If your clients can make good use of live video, then by all means, embrace it 🙂

  2. I just want to say that I too am a picture/text consumer and the ‘need’ to be video blogging and live chatting doesn’t appeal. When time allows (like you, I’m also balancing parenting, creative work and life w my social media output) I’ve experimented successfully w time lapse video and do look forward to your summary introduction to Periscope as I think it will be a useful way to ‘walk an online adience around an in-life exhibition.’ But its still not content I would consume on a daily basis. Just one more tool to explore what I do, and always encouraging my audience to link back to my website for the ‘whole picture.’ Tho that also (and always) remains a work in progress 😉

    Thank you too for all the tips which help me make best use of the limited time I can devote to my social media presence and Instagram in particular – especially the wise words to do what’s best for me and not stress about the rest! On which note, I hope you get some napping time in this weekend.

    @MJHodgeArt on Instagram

    1. Hi Melanie! I’m glad you enjoyed this post and that it helped reinforce some things for you. Absolutely, do what makes sense for you and your business. There are only so many hours in the day and we still have a business to run – so do what you can, enjoy it, and the rest will evolve over time 🙂

  3. Jenn, I agree with you. Live video and Snapchat provide exciting times for social media marketers. But, they are not for everyone. I, too, still prefer reading and writing over video and podcasts. However, it is all about where your audience is at and how to reach them.

    I, too, fully enjoyed #SMMW16 and perhaps next year I will get the chance to attend your session and meet you.


    1. Thanks Denny! I’m so glad you enjoyed the conference and I definitely hope we can say hi next year.
      And, yes, we do have to focus on where our audience is, but as small businesses, we often attract customers of similar interests (since we have limited resources and time). So that makes it easier to stay in our “comfort zone” rather than try new things. Which we should do to expand our reach and audience.

  4. Great recap and tips Jenn! While Live Video is a possibility (but a small one ;)), Snapchat is not at all relevant to my business. While these may be the “hot” things right now, I have decided a long time ago that when it comes to social media, I need to simply do what works for me. Thanks for the reality check that this is okay!

    1. lol – You’re right, Kim! I don’t see your audience on Snapchat 😉 And, yes, you are absolutely ok to keep focusing on what works for you and your audience, even if that isn’t what’s “trendy”.

  5. I’ve forgotten to hit record more than once in blab!!

    I completely agree with you on Snapchat — same for me. Great post!!

    1. lol – glad I’m not the only one, Megan 😉 And happy to hear you enjoyed this post and agree on the whole Snapchat thing.

  6. I wish someday you guys will plan the SMW in India. Believe me, India is a huge market and people like us are trying hard to spread the awareness for digital marketing.

    1. I understand that India is very big with social media and I hope that some organizations will be able to better serve your geographic area with social media conferences. I definitely think they’d be well attended!

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