Top 10 Thumb-Stopping Moments at Social Media Week

November 28, 2016

Recently Bristol played host to some of the finest social media minds in the country with over 1,500 attendees participating in 50 fact-packed Social Media Week events across the city. Harte Hanks sent a team to investigate.

social media week

With speakers from Facebook and Twitter at the same event we were never going to agree on everything. But isn’t that the best thing about social media? There is no magic formula, it keeps evolving. David Wilding, Director of Planning at Twitter UK summed it up well, when he said social media marketers need to be less PDF and more Google docs i.e. more open and collaborative.

We’ve put together a list of some of our other key takeaways from Social Media Week Bristol and, in the interest of being more Google Docs, we’d like to know what you think. Tweet us at @HarteHanks

1. Video is the biggest trend of 2016 – and live video is going to be huge

YouTube has 4bn video views every day, whilst Snapchat has 10bn daily views of its video content. Facebook video continues to grow in 2016 too, increasing from 1bn views in 2015 to 8bn in 2016 so far.

In a year when more people watched a woman in a Chewbacca mask than the Superbowl, and more than 10M people tuned in to BuzzFeed to see an exploding watermelon, it’s fair to say that 2016 has been the year that live video came into its own.

2. But when it comes to video, people have short attention spans

More than one speaker at Social Media Week highlighted the need to really nail the first three seconds of your video, whether it’s an advert or a broadcast. People have undeniably short attention spans in our modern day scrolling culture.

3. Twitter is a broadcast tool—more likely to be about Brexit than Breakfast

Did you know that Twitter is the #1 news app in 110 countries? David Wilding, Director of Planning at Twitter UK, made it clear that Twitter wants to position itself as the go-to source for information.

That’s not to say you can’t publish company messages on the site you just need to understand how best to communicate that message. Always be authentic and generous – provide something of value.

4. Instagram is a premium product–but Instagram stories allow more freedom

We all know someone who takes great care and pride in their Instagram feed, only publishing the most perfect awe-inspiring images into their feeds. The consensus at #SMWiBristol was that this is very much the approach brands should be taking when it comes to their company posts. Brands should seek to form a connection with audiences by focusing on their location, people and knowledge

Instagram stories, however, offer a bit more freedom and allow you to stop striving for perfection and give customers a real-life snapshot of your brand and happenings. As an added bonus your story will feature at the top of people’s homepages.

5. If you have a younger audience, you can’t ignore Snapchat

Snapchat has 10bn views on its video content each day. If your audience is under 25, your brand needs to be on Snapchat.

There are a lot of similarities between Instagram Stories and Snapchat Stories (especially given Instagram’s roll out of live video and disappearing photos) but they are not the same thing. It’s important to create content that works and is engaging.

6. Know your audience and meet them where they hang out rather than trying to do everything

In his talk titled ‘is my business too boring for social media?’, Paul Hajek spoke about the need for narrowcasting instead of broadcasting for the sake of it. Find your niche and connect with audiences on channels where they are most likely to need you and where they would prefer to read it.

Bristol24/7 editor Martin Booth echoed his sentiments saying “You’ve got to give people your product in the way that they want it.’

“What story are you telling, who to, where will they prefer to see it? Don’t just use ALL the platforms” – Bogdana Butner

For instance, Bristol’s vast foodie network makes image-heavy sites such as Instagram a dream for this audience.

7. People’s lives do not revolve around your brand – give people something of value

Newsflash: people care more about how you can help them personally than they do about your brand. The sooner we accept this the sooner we can start creating real experiences for our customers.

Facebook’s Ian Andrew’s talked about the need to deliver relevance in order to form meaningful connections on social. He shared Lloyds Bank’s Facebook ads as a prime example. Lloyds want to be with you for every step of the journey and they use Facebook targeting to tailor advertising to be relevant to people’s life milestones (rather than spamming singletons with pictures of joyful newlyweds).

Content also needs to be authentic to form an emotional connection with audiences. At Social Media Week, they used the example of stock images of ‘women laughing alone eating salad’ being used to advertise anything from gym memberships to shopping malls (there’s a tumblr dedicated to it: These image don’t work because they lack authenticity – nobody is that happy eating a salad! Be honest, be respectful and be generous.

8. Planning is the key to success in social media

The key to success in social media campaigns is planning. Whether you’re operating a social news room at an event or launching a new campaign, planning ahead of time can save you a lot of headaches.

What are the long term goals for the project? Attendees were urged to think beyond short-term wins and consider medium to long-term goals. If the impact to your business is gone after 6 months, has the campaign really been successful?

What are the goals of your social campaign? What are you trying to achieve? Who are you trying to reach? Just some of the questions you should be asking yourself before your campaign is live. Jessi Langsden, a strategist who had previously worked on the Obama 2012 presidential campaign, made a case for all stakeholders to agree on acceptable outcomes before kickoff:

‘Anyone who will be measuring the success of your work at any stage should agree to its objectives at the start.’

9. Traffic is not the be-all and end-all

Increased traffic is often the Holy Grail of KPIs, and social media is seen as a playing a huge supporting role. Obviously it’s extremely important to have that goal in mind but speakers at the event agreed that it shouldn’t be the only measurement of success.

Decide on the metrics that are most important to your brand and incorporate them into your reporting.

10. Last, but not least: never stop experimenting, be prepared to fail

Everybody has taken a Buzzfeed quiz at one point or another, right? While some of the topics might seem light-hearted or jovial, Maggie Van Eijk revealed that often they served a much bigger purpose as Buzzfeed tend to use less serious topics to test out new content styles and formats – like quizzes.

What are your biggest social media learnings of the year? We’d love to hear. Tweet us at @hartehanks.