April 2, 2015

In case you missed my abundance of posts last week, there was this big social media conference in San Diego - Social Media Marketing World (or #SMMW15). If you follow me on Instagram, sorry for the slew of photos. But hey, it was all worth documenting!

In my opinion the event was a big success. With over 100 speakers and nearly 2400 attendees (the vast majority of whom stayed until the closing keynote Friday at 4:00 pm), there was a LOT going on! One thing I love about the event is the way they build networking and in-person connections into the whole event. From the minute you arrive in San Diego there is something going on where you can network with other attendees and speakers in a way you would never experience at any other conference.

And on that note, I love that the speakers are so openly available at this event. Speakers mingle, take photos, and chat with everyone and anyone. It's probably the most inviting event just from this perspective of connecting with other social media marketers in such a comfortable way.

But, you're not reading this to hear about the networking. So I'll stop rambling and get to the good stuff!

As I mentioned there were over 100 speakers so unless I found a way to hyper clone myself, there was no way to see even a good fraction of the speakers at the event. But I did get to sit through a good selection of speakers and sessions - most of which I found very valuable. I only had one session which was utterly disappointing and left me literally aghast and the advice she was giving. But let's not dwell on that!

Here are the main key takeaways that I gathered from #SMMW15:


This topic was HUGE. It took up a large portion of the opening keynote and there were numerous sessions devoted to podcasting. Everyone was talking about podcasting, even if they weren't talking about podcasting.

Now, this is a good thing! Podcasts are most likely the direction of media in the future. Buh bye radio. Hello podcasts.

So, of course, there was a ton of information and talk about how to create your own podcast. I've written about podcasting before and I'm not going to dwell on it here. But, yes, if you have the ability and the capacity to create a well-structured and consistent show, you should totally think about doing it. However, this isn't practical for everyone! And that's ok. Many of you know me or found out about me because I was a GUEST on a ton of podcasts over the last couple years. And this was reiterated throughout SMMW15. If you can't create your own podcast, become a guest on other shows. You still get the exposure and brand development without the full commitment of creating your own show.

Live Streaming 

The biggest and most talked about "word" was probably Meerkat. If you haven't heard about it, you aren't the only one. But it won't be long until you can't stop hearing about it!

To be honest, I'm still learning about this tool and it's implications (Mike Stelzner had some great thoughts on the copyright legalities of an app like this). But it's all everyone was talking about!

Basically the tool let's people live stream to their Twitter accounts. You can share videos of what you're doing, host a show or a chat, or anything else you want to live stream. But it was big news and big talk.

Of course, a rival, Periscope, is already out and competing with Meerkat. Whether either of these are here to stay or a short-lived shiny new object, only time will tell.


Yes, video is the BIG thing right now. Everyone wants to incorporate videos, watch videos, share videos, and create videos. So jump on in this bandwagon cuz it ain't slowing down!

Facebook now allows you to embed Facebook videos directly into a blog post or page on your website. Facebook is giving preferential treatment to videos in the newsfeed. Instagram is auto-playing and auto-looping videos in the feed. Pinterest is growing its video capacity and more people are using video there. Of course, we still have Vine and the world of video marketing that that platform has created.

Video is everywhere.

You can't avoid it. Even if you try. (I'm guilty of this... I admit it.)

So start finding ways to build video into your content strategy because you need it.

Instagram is Awesome

Ok, I added the "is awesome" part πŸ˜‰ But you know I feel that way!

And, yes, I was honored to speak on Instagram at this event. And to a packed room no less. This is why I know it's so important. There were three sessions in two days dedicated to Instagram. Plus a couple other sessions which, based on visual marketing, tied in closely with Instagram marketing. For one platform to get this much attention at such a big event tells you how powerful the platform really is.

If you're not using Instagram, there is no time like the present! It's growing. It's going to continue to grow. And your audience WILL be there if they aren't already.

Be Human

One of the BEST sessions I have ever attended was the morning keynote session on Friday with Guy Kawasaki, Mark Schaeffer, Chris Penn, and Mari Smith. You have to understand that these four people have completely different strategies on social media. And yet the message was the same.

Be. Human.

End of story!

As Chris Penn said "It's not the wand, it's the wizard that creates the magic." No matter what platform, the tool, or the widget, YOU are what creates the magic. It's your message, your voice, and your content that people care about and connect with. Yes, tools matter. And using them to enhance your message is valuable. But don't rely on these tools to replace what makes you YOU.

Customer Service

This relates to the "Be Human" side of marketing. But the message was clear - they had two keynote sessions which talked heavily about customer service! You should be connecting with your customers and providing above and beyond customer service via social media.

Answering questions, providing support, offering information, and all-around helping your audience.

Personally, having the background I do, I believe we should live, eat, breath, and sleep customer service to grow a business. So I was thrilled to see so many "experts" touting this same message.

Social media is not a place to post and disappear. You should be available at the ready (within reason depending on the size of your company and team) to provide real service to your customers.


This is related to Customer Service and Be Human - are you noticing a trend?...

Every single expert I talked to and listened to (well, except one... but I digress) talked about ENGAGEMENT. Talking to, responding to, and engaging with your audience.

Even the "big" names like Guy Kawasaki and Mari Smith stated that when they respond on their social media accounts - it's them. Not a staff member. Not a ghost writer. THEM.

Yes, they have a team. Yes, they rely on support staff. But THEY are engaging with their audience and make sure they know every single piece of content that goes out on their platforms.

I loved that Guy Kawasaki said, (and I'm paraphrasing cuz I don't remember the exact quote) "If I'm awake and breathing, I'm on social media."

These people aren't faking it. So neither should you.

Hug Your Haters

This was the closing keynote from Jay Baer and it was hilarious and educational. I've preached it before and he's preaching it much more actively and loudly! Do NOT ignore your haters. Do not ignore negative comments. Do not pretend they don't happen. Don't delete them.

Embrace them. Respond to them. Engage with them.

Jay had a bunch of stats and info that proved that responding to negative comments had a significantly larger impact on increasing brand advocacy than responding to positive comments. And ignoring negative comments had a detrimental effect on brand advocacy.

Certain negative situations and haters require different responses. There's no perfect formula. But understand that the "haters" want a platform to be heard. If you can quell that platform by calming them down, reassuring them, fixing the problem, or offering a solution - YOU win! Oh, and they do too.

Most of the time, you want to take the issue OFFLINE. Address them publicly so others can see you've responded appropriately. But try to get these people to engage further via phone or email where you can resolve the situation more professionally and effectively - and without an audience.

Oh, wait... this sounds like customer service... see how much overlap we had in key lessons!

And if this many people are telling us to do something, it's probably a good idea to listen!


Here's the thing. There were a LOT of sessions on the tools, the tactics, the technology, and the "things" behind social media. But my biggest takeaways weren't about that. They were business lessons. Things we should keep in mind all the time. But especially on social media where, all too often, we get caught up in the "marketing" or the "technology" of the process and forget that really it all comes down to having a conversation with your audience.

And that's my two cents! Well maybe 3 cents πŸ˜‰

What do you think? Were you at the event? I would really like to hear what some of your key takeaways were! Chime in below with your comments.

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. I want to know what left you aghast. πŸ™‚

    I’m somewhat surprised by the Podcasting prevelance. I am not at all surprised about video (and other forms of visual content) being huge and getting bigger. Something else to add to my list for a deep dive. Was there anything discussed about getting over camera-shyness?

    Thanks for the report! I’m hoping to save up enough to get there next year.

    1. lol Krista – there was one speaker who had a “dance party” to start and end her session, which was more like her gyrating like a stripper on stage. Not what I expected from a social media PROFESSIONAL conference.

      Podcasting really is huge. It’s become so prevalent that I’m not at all surprised it got so much attention at the event. And with so many of the speakers and event planners hosting their own podcasts, of course, they are going to talk about the power of this medium and share information on do’s and don’ts. I’m not saying it’s right for everyone by any means. But for those who have an interest and can do it well, it really is a huge opportunity.

      There was nothing that I heard about camera-shyness πŸ˜‰ but I didn’t attend anything specifically on the topic of videos. However, the one piece of advice I’ve heard repeatedly is to just get in front of the camera and start recording. Just like taking selfies or photos, the more you do it, the more you get comfortable with it, and the more you learn what works and doesn’t work.

      Here’s hoping you can come out for next year’s event!

    2. Krista,
      I was in Sue Zimmerman’s Instagram class and I asked the same thing about camera shyness. Her reply, “There are NO introverts on Instagram!” It was fun, I got a crazy photo, and I think that when you just let go, it’s easy and FUN! If you are doing video, I often have many takes but I get there. One thing that I’ve found has helped me is to do more of an interview style so that I’m just having a conversation with someone vs. speaking into the camera. Not sure there is a “CURE” for camera shyness, but speaking as an introvert, you can do it!!


      1. Thanks for adding your tips and lessons learned, as well as the encouragement, Nicole πŸ™‚

  2. Great overview of your takeaways from #SMMW15, Jenn. I so wish that I could have attended this year. I saw so many photos of the event and it looks like you had a fantastic time!

    I know video is huge and I haven’t taken advantage of it – or podcasting. I will definitely put them on the top of my list. Hopefully, I can make it to #SMMW16 – I would love to meet you IRL!

    1. Thanks Robin. It really was fantastic and I honestly didn’t even take that many photos because I was so busy actually enjoying what was going on! I wish you luck and success in adding more of the video and podcasting components to your strategy. I know it’s not easy! And, I hope we get to see you next year πŸ™‚

  3. Thanks for the recap! I agree with Robin it is time to podcast, I am looking into that as we speak with a great new team. Get some rest, have some Easter fun! Don’t eat too many Peeps!

    1. Fun! Can’t wait to see what you come up with for a podcast, Julie! Enjoy your Easter weekend as well πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you Sabrina! And I agree – the ending Keynote was great πŸ™‚ Hopefully they get the other sessions uploaded soon too! Hope you enjoyed the event and took home a lot of valuable information.

  4. Hey Jenn,

    Definitely wanted to stop by and read what you had to share since I wasn’t there. Okay, want to know what my favorite part was?

    Be human…

    I’ve been telling people that it’s all about relationships for a while now and that’s about connecting with your audience, let them know you are human, be there to respond and say thank you for goodness sakes. That’s so important to most people and it’s the direction that this will continue to go.

    Was happy to learn about the topics that you heard so thanks for that. I can only imagine trying to hear all 100 speakers, that would be rough. I know how those conferences are, several speaking in different rooms at the same time.

    Appreciate you giving us the heads up.


    1. Thanks Adrienne! And I agree – the Be Human part was the best! It was refreshing to see so many people and experts preach this. And we have to keep preaching it to our clients. It’s not easy, but they need to understand the value of a conversation and stop worrying about the marketing analytics πŸ˜‰
      It was not easy to choose who to listen to live. With literally 12 people speaking in each time slot, it was hard to narrow down. But at least we get the audio replays soon so we can follow up with more sessions that way.

  5. Great recap Jenn! It was a fabulous conference, but, I see I missed your session. I’ll need to catch that when it’s available. πŸ™‚ Even though there were over 2,000 people there, it felt intimate with the terrific speakers, especially the ones with the one-liners. πŸ˜‰ Kristy

    1. Thank you Kristy! It was an amazing event πŸ™‚ I hope you can catch the replay of my session too. I don’t know how good I am with one-liners but I know I repeat the same “key” lesson over and over and over! πŸ˜‰

  6. I’m so glad to read your tips and takeaways as I couldn’t attend myself this year.
    THE CUSTOMER SERVICE piece makes me quite excited though because that had always been a core part of my personal work ethic and especially now as a small biz owner it means the world to me. I mean by first job ever as a high schooler was working at Chick-fil-A so I had a great start on training.

    1. That’s great, Heather! Customer service is such a huge part of every business and I think it’s awesome that you put such a focus on that too.

  7. Jenn, I thought I saw you standing outside the keynote on the first day, but I was unsure so did not say hi! crazy I know. But glad you had an awesome time too. I also noticed the prevalence of the word Podcast, and Authenticity. And even some concrete info on how to achieve those things.

    For me though it was all about the connections, so I did not stress the learnings so much. But did manage to soak up a few from the likes of Patt Flynn, Martin Shervington, Mark Schaefer and other inspirational people.

    Maybe see you finally next year, where i will be more organised and actually set up coffee with people!

    1. I didn’t even know you were there, Ashley. Next year we’ll make sure to say hi for sure πŸ™‚
      The connections and networking were definitely a huge opportunity and one of the biggest highlights of the whole event. I completely understand putting the focus on that!

  8. Awesome article! So informative and helpful! Especially about podcasting; I have been wavering between staying in radio or creating my own podcast instead. Now the choice is easy! Thank you!!

    1. Thanks Jaime! So glad you found this helpful in guiding your decision forward πŸ™‚

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