October 26, 2017

If you didn't already know, I'm a total conference dork. I love a good conference! So, when I get invited to speak at a conference, I usually try to attend as much of the event as possible. This week, I was invited to speak at the Ragan Communications Social Media Mashup conference at Disneyland.

Now, let's be clear, when someone asks if you want to speak at or attend an event at Disneyland, there is only one answer! So, obviously, I was excited for this one. But I also enjoy the conferences Ragan puts on. I've been lucky to work with them on a variety of events and I always have a great time - both as a speaker and as an attendee.

If you caught my Instagram Stories and the live broadcast of my session, you already have a pretty good idea of how the event went. But even then, you didn't get all the good juicy tips from the session speakers, so check out the rest of this blog post for all the good takeaways!

The State of Trust: Influence and Storytelling in the Age of Skepticism - Russell Dubner, Edelman US

This session was the opening keynote and Russell provided a ton of information on how to build trust with your audience. He also gave us lots of charts and graphs and stats - which, as a science dork, we all know I love this stuff 🙂

Here are some of his tidbits (italics are my added thoughts and comments):

  • You have under 8 seconds to get and retain a person's attention - side note, this is a shorter attention span than a goldfish!
  • 90% of consumers ignore digital advertising (how's that gonna impact your paid advertising?)
  • Peers are more trusted that professionals (we all know this, but we need to remember this!)
  • The trust in media sources is at one of its lowest rates with only 18% of countries worldwide trusting their media sources

Russell shared the current level of trust factor: Customers > Employees > Board > Management

So, if you want to build trust with your audience, relying on your customers first and your employees second will help you win that trust.

Another worthy sound bite: Platforms are more powerful than publishers.

We need to focus on the value of the platform on which people communicate (social media, blogs, etc.) and connect with them there, rather than trying to publish content and force it on them in a method of our preference.

Russell also talked about the need to take an audience-centric approach. Focus on what they want, where they are, what they're doing. Give them what they want. Have conversations with them. Make them the priority.

In a realm of skepticism, the key is to EARN trust. You cannot demand it.

Then he showed us this pretty cool app that I hadn't heard about. It's called Pop Your Bubble. The idea behind this app is that we selectively choose people to surround ourselves with who are most like us. Most people's Facebook accounts are full of connections that have similar view points and perspectives. The Pop Your Bubble app is specifically designed to do the opposite! It will connect you with people who are NOT like you and allow you to connect with and learn from others and their different perspectives.

And, finally Russell finished up with a great case study on building a customer-centric approach: Barilla Pasta. It's called the "While the Water Boils" video series which you can watch on YouTube. With all the gluten-free, low-carb, and more dietary trends in the recent decade, pasta has suffered a huge loss in market share and revenue. So Barilla launched this video series where the host interviews celebrities, personalities, and interesting people - while the water boils and then they share a bowl of pasta. The topics are all over the place, they are fun, entertaining, and people tune in on the reg to watch them! They get comments like: I don't even care about pasta but I keep watching these videos!

In a world of skepticism, we need to get creative and connect with our audiences to earn their trust.


Get Radical: Win Fans of FB Live, Periscope, YouTube Live, and Snapchat - Mike Delgado & Christina Roman, Experian

We all know how big live video is right now so I was excited to see some innovative suggestions from this session.

Here are some fun facts they shared first:

  • Online video will account for 82% of all web traffic by 2021
  • The tendency now is to watch video in vertical/portrait mode on mobile devices. YouTube has seen this orientation grow from 5% of views in 2010 to 29% of views today
  • 85% of Facebook video is watched on mute so subtitles are crucial (side note: They recommended rev.com for this service which charges $1 per minute of video transcription)
  • People comment 10 X more on Facebook live videos than on regular videos

Next, these two talked about when new platforms for live video launch. New apps come out all the time - at one point Snapchat was new, as was Instagram Live, etc. The challenge we face with a new app is that we don't know who the demographic is and where our engagement will ultimately come from. So you just have to jump in there and test it out!

One of their favorite accounts they recommend for great live video content is Taco Bell. Good to know! And worth looking at for motivation.

They also regularly use story boards to plan out their videos, snaps, and IG Stories. This allows them to create the exact content and stay on topic for best results.

The reason live video is so powerful: "immersion leads to conversion". They used the TOMS 360 live videos as an example of immersion in showing how the TOMS brand donates shoes to children in impoverished countries. You see everything in full 360 to fully understand the magnitude of what they do.

And, finally, they shared some must-have tools for shooting live video:

  • Tripod
  • Backup battery and charger (live video will kill your battery!)
  • Bluetooth remote to start and stop recording without having to tap the buttons directly on your phone
  • Lavalier microphone


Crisis Management to Protect Your Reputation - Dallas Lawrence, OpenX

Let me tell you, if you haven't heard me speak live, you don't know how fast I can talk. And I love when a fellow speaker can speak just as fast and clearly to fire hose content effectively. Dallas Lawrence is one of those people so I was totally enjoying this session!

Also, Dallas kinda knows what he's talking about. He handled the Fukishima nuclear disaster crisis as well as many, many more, including military related crises. So he's seen them all!

Ok, so here's the deal: It's not a matter of if a crisis will happen, it's a matter of when.

And yet 60% of companies don't have a social media crisis plan in place, even though 79% of businesses believe a crisis WILL happen to them within the next year.

One of my favorite takeaways from this session was this: In a crisis, when your reputation is on the line, don't try to respond to every single tweet and comment. You'll get buried in the chaos. Instead, find out who the key few people are who are influencing the conversation. These could be journalists, or celebrities, or bloggers, or anyone with a loud voice and a lot of influence. Find out who of these people are talking about your crisis and reach out to them directly to allay fears and share the relevant and detailed updates. Let them broadcast the information on your behalf.

Another great piece of advice that too many brands ignore: Be where the crisis is. For example, if Twitter is where everyone is talking about the issue, don't issue a press release on your website alone. If YouTube is where the comments are flowing, don't post to your Facebook page. You need to be present where the conversation and action is happening.

Also, and I preach this for all social media, not just in a crisis, but people connect with people, not a logo. If your social media response is always coming from a "brand" account with no personalization, it isn't as trustworthy. Have people sign off the posts or tweets with their name or initials. Put people on camera. Whatever you can to humanize the response.

And, finally, Dallas shared with us that your employees are your most influential people in a crisis.


Build a More Powerful Social Media Strategy Using FUN! - Shaun "Shonduras" McBride, Viacom Velocity

After lunch, we came back to this session from one of those creative geniuses that make you question how you ever succeed in your job. Just kidding. But, in all reality, he can come up with the best ideas for viral marketing, literally on the spot. He came up with two different product campaigns right there on stage, both of which were amazing and would generate huge results. I consider myself to be creative but I'll never have the capacity to think of branding the way people like Shaun do.

To give you some background, Shaun works with big brands to create marketing campaigns ideal for young millennials on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram. One of his campaigns was for Doritos' inside out nacho where they literally created a snowboard track through his house and filmed themselves snowboarding through his house and jumping his kitchen table.

So, one of the tactics he talked about was diversifying your audience. If you have all your eggs in one basket (like Snapchat), if that platform stops performing or shuts down, you've lost all your momentum and audience. So, it's important to move them to other platforms. But you can't just say "follow us on Instagram". Instead you have to give them a reason. He recommended using giveaways or other incentives. For example, telling your audience to go over to your new YouTube channel and leaving a comment on your latest video for a chance to win a free t-shirt. Easy to do but gives your audience a reason to do it.


The Future of Social Media: How to Thrive on the Big Five - Yours truly 🙂

I started this session out with some stats and details on the way in which users around the world use social media:

  • 7.3 billion people worldwide, 3.7 billion have internet access, 2.8 billion of those are on social media, and 2.5 billion of those people use a mobile device to access social media
  • 65% of all adults worldwide use at least one social media site
  • Internet users have an average of 5 social media accounts

Diving into what's working on each platform of the big five (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest), I shared some key tips for each. Of course, if you're a regular blog reader here or have watched any of my live videos, most of these tips you know. But here's a quick recap:


  • LESS content
  • Live video
  • Video > Photos > Text Blocks > Text > Links
  • Positive language
  • Facebook groups
  • Facebook events


  • LESS content
  • Instagram Stories
  • Photos > Videos > Carousels
  • Organic > Sterile
  • Targeted hashtags
  • Business profiles


  • A complete profile
  • Keep it professional
  • Link posts > Text posts
  • LinkedIn groups (holy goldmine, Batman!)
  • Email/in-mail marketing strategies
  • Published content on LinkedIn (versus shared/linked content)


  • More tweeting - but not too much
  • Ideal tweet length is 80-110 characters
  • Include links
  • Use photos
  • Social listening
  • Questions and polls
  • Create tweetstorms


  • Post more than 5 pins a day
  • Utilize rich pins
  • Include text on images
  • Descriptive captions
  • Include a link in the caption
  • Dedicated influencer boards
  • Create pin-it-later links

I also talked about some of the key factors for growth and community building. These included:

  • Educate, entertain, and provide value - don't sell, sell, sell
  • Have a clear and consistent brand voice and style
  • Provide customer service (seriously, if you don't do this, your brand will fail)
  • Speak to YOUR target audience
  • Take advantage of influencers, advocates, and testimonials
  • Use paid advertising


Explore New Worlds! NASA Soars with VR, Video, and Experiential PR - Stephanie Smith, NASA

Again, I'm a total science dork so this session was so flipping cool for me! Stephanie was great and shared so much insight into how NASA uses social media to reach their audience.

Did you know it's actually in their mission, created back when NASA started, to share as much information publicly as possible? It is! Which is why they use social media so much to ensure they are sharing as much knowledge as possible.

Oh, and by the way, they have over 600 social media accounts! Uh, I'm good with 5 or 6 😉 But seriously, they have social media accounts on tons of platforms - even Giphy. And they have individual accounts for different robots or spacecraft.

With the @marsphoenix Twitter account, everything started as third person "the spacecraft did...." and whatnot, but it took so many characters that typing "I did...." was better for tweet limits. And that's how/why the individual accounts started writing in first person. But, when they did that, their engagement soared! People were cheering on the Mars Phoenix account and saying things like "you can do it!" as if it was a real entity. It transformed how they communicated with their audience.

They also have totally different personalities and voices for each robot or spacecraft, just as if they are their own unique entity. Which they are!

We also saw some really cool ways NASA is using VR and video and 360 to showcase what they do, and that was all really cool.

One final parting comment that Stephanie made, which we all need to remember: Fish where the fish are.

In other words, you have to be on social media where your audience is. Even if that means using more platforms or using less.


So, anyways, as you can see, there was a LOT to take in at this conference. And this is just the highlight reel 😉 There really was so much more and every session was amazing in its own way. But that's the advantage of being there in person!

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. Sooo valuable, Jenn! Thanks for sharing.
    My fave takeaways are:

    -90% of digital marketing IS IGNORED
    -video in portrait mode is becoming more and more popular
    -great subtitle service link (i really need to start doing this!)
    -be where your audience is (a good reminder) 😉

    1. I’m so happy to hear you got some good takeaways from this Tanya! I definitely need to check out that subtitle tool too.

  2. Thanks for recapping for those who couldn’t attend in person! What are some of your other favorite social media conferences to attend?

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed my recap, Claire!
      Some of the best ones out there include Social Media Marketing World, Social Fresh, Inbound, Social Media Camp, and Content Marketing World. Social Media Day San Diego is another one of my favorites but many cities and locations offer a similar conference around the end of June each year.

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