MEC @SMW LONDON: Day 2 Social Media HQ, Victoria House

MEC @SMW LONDON: Day 2 Social Media HQ, Victoria House


The sun came out to celebrate the second day of digital festivities at Social Media Week London 2014. As reported in our blog entry from yesterday ( I was busy revelling in the fact that this year social media had broken out from its rather predictable formulaic  parameters and was nosing and probing its way further and further into the wider digital landscape– perfectly summarised in one of today’s sessions by @nikroope:

“Social used to be a thing, and now it’s everything”

Whilst this shift in understanding, perception and consideration of possibilities is to be celebrated, today’s event did remind me how there are some stereotypes that continue to haunt us. And that is in the understanding of ‘strategy’ when coupled with ‘social media’.

There was barely an empty seat in the house for the ‘Ultimate Social Media Strategy’ session- how could one refuse such a deliciously promising title? And as experience teaches us- anything that sounds too good to be true usually is, and the session actually transpired to be a list of practical tactics and perhaps more instructional social media advice ( respond to customers in a timely fashion, look at competitors, utilise guidelines and house rules etc.).

In all honesty, it actually concerns me less that the industry sometimes confuses the definition and relationship of strategy and execution. The real cause for concern is that judging by the overwhelming popularity of this event – because it named the words ‘social strategy’- indicated that some people still seem to treat a social strategy like easy-assemble flat-pack Swedish furniture. It may work for your new kitchen table but you cannot buy a ‘social media strategy kit’, open the box, take out all the pieces and assemble them together by carefully following instructions.

Every social media strategy is unique – quite simply put there isn’t, nor should there be, a blueprint. A social media strategy should take into account a wider brand or media strategy, a brands business objective and priorities, the context and influence of their category and multiple other factors whose inclusion and importance depend totally on the individual brand. Not only are your building blocks bespoke, but also the process of how you build – as we saw from yesterday’s session about structuring a social business– there are multiple ways that organisations are designed (or not designed as the case may be) and how they integrate, prioritise or communicate social. As put by @bluestagedigital ‘strategy is art and execution is science’- so don’t confuse your Monet’s with your Einstein’s.

More themes that continued to build and evolve from yesterday’s sessions were as follows:

A loss of autonomous control in content, audiences and destinations.

  • As buzzfeed referred to yesterday, and was reiterated in the context of video creation for millennials, brands have to ‘let go’ of their grip on content and its environment.
  • Consumers have been a massive force in driving the change and pushing the industry forward and they were the ones to decide they wanted to interact with brands differently – shaping experiences is rarely the task of one.
  • As one speaker noted ‘We have to be on any damn device they’re on’
  • Also brands are now often at the mercy of publishers and their sometimes prescriptive and inhibitive templates, because if we’re doing it right we need to better fit the content to the platform, which brings us onto…

  ‘Survival of the fittage’ – A nod to native.

  • The better the content is designed to fit the environment the more likely it is to survive and flourish – this very much ties into the increasing loss of control as outlined above.
  • Red Bull was unsurprisingly cited as an example of a brand who is the fundamental expression of a native brand by @nikroope
  • Facebook also made the point that their algorithm even prioritises native video over a YouTube link.

Everything changes, but nothing changes.

  • Technology may develop and vehicles of communication may change, but fundamentally it still remains about human insights.
  • Similarly the Guardian reminded us that though Twitter has transformed journalism to some degree, the process is still the same – gather, validate, distribute. He would challenge anyone whose says social media has revolutionised the newsroom because the behaviours remain fundamentally the same.
  • Social media networks are actually designed to mimic real world interactions – we can’t lose sight of human behaviour.

Data is NOT the answer to all your problems

  • This was highlighted in a talk regarding consumer privacy yesterday but also today by @DanJGardner in the context of the rise of brand newsrooms.
  • The utility of data will always be in the interpretation of it and there is a lot of potential to drown before even reaching that point.

So far SMWLDN is really fulfilling its promise to deliver the future of now, by refusing to accept just ‘now’ as good enough.

Follow @mecideas on Twitter for more live updates from day 3 of SMW London 2014 with a special focus on our very own ‘WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY: CONTENT, DATA, AND HOW TO UTILIZE THESE NEW DEVICES’ event starting at 11am 25th September.