Social Media Week: Key Takeaways

Social Media Week: Key Takeaways

Last week saw the return of Social Media Week – the only conference where you’re expected to be on your phone all day every day…

Social Media Week is a valuable check in on the state of the industry: What’s keeping brands up at night? Which digital innovations are gaining traction? And what does the current game of social media buzzword bingo look like?

Happily, this year heralded a long overdue move on from “mobile is the future” (the future’s here, friends!) and in its place came relentless repetition of the new key phrases: video, data, personalisation, influencers – and integration.


  1. Video (video, video, video)


Video usage rose 800% from 2015 to 2016, said Ian Crocombe. Instagram video increased 150% said David Cuen – and video retention on Snapchat is at an all-time high, at 80-90%.

With attention spans averaging 2.5 seconds per content item for desktop, and 1.7 seconds on mobile, video needs to cut through the noise (and stop the thumb scroll).

How? Start with the end, and then show how you got there. Use a heartbeat narrative, maintaining interest with new vignettes every few seconds. And use a hook-product, hook-product cycle to strike the right balance of brand and beyond.

The payoff is significant: 68% of those who watch three seconds watch 10 seconds; and 45% who watch 10 seconds watch 30.


  1. Data, personalisation, data, resonance


Data: officially grown up, and now with a focus on how it can be used to track ROI and inform the entire campaign ecosystem, and particularly content strategies.

Eliciting emotional responses that eventually build brand affinity is our holy grail. The better we know our audience, the better we can serve content that triggers emotions – what Facebook’s Russell Pert called “content that has meaningful purpose”.

Consumers increasingly expect this, too. Starcom’s Scott Curtis suggested people are increasingly happy to share personal data in exchange for having something relevant served to them – an attitude that will only increase as brands shift further into apps and private messaging, where consumers now spend 50% of their time in digital.

As Sysomos’ MD Roy Jacques stated, being able to target a lock screen is immensely powerful – but it means brands will always be one notification away from being deleted.

To avoid this, the future of content has to be hyper-relevant – behaviour-led, not demographic-led – and informed by data showing what content is right for audiences, and when, where and how to serve it.


  1. Authenticity: Humans, not brands


People invest in people, said Lionsgate’s Rachel Masuku – and consumers don’t care about brands as much as who cares about the brands.

Here’s where influencers come in: hardly new, but necessarily becoming more nuanced as consumers (particularly millennials, born in the era of social) develop sharp radars for authenticity, and become ever more resistant to the presence of ‘#ad’ in their feeds.

To get around this, brands need to move beyond a one-size-fits-all approach and think use different types of influencers to reach different sections of their audience.

Hootsuite offered a nice starting point by advising a three pronged approach: using your traditional ‘influencers’ (who drive brand image), ambassadors (sentiment) and advocates (user-generated content).

Ultimately, however you label it, it’s about brands using human relationships to build human relationships – letting communities, not faceless corporates, tell stories that inspire brand affinity.

And so, to round up. Social Media Week was not so much about new messages, but about reinforcing the way we should all be thinking already: audience-first, not channel-first, and social-first across all business. Know your audience, create content that resonates and serve it in the right time, on the right platforms, in the right ways. And crucially, continue to embrace emerging technologies that let us get better at building meaningful relationships with our audiences.