When I think “summit”, I think people of like minds coming together to discuss important issues. Like the G8 Summit. And when I think innovation, I think of new, creative and earth shattering ways of doing things. So, if I were attending the Calgary Social Media Innovation Summit with no knowledge of how others in Calgary currently use the web and social tools, I would think I’d be going to take part in a day of discussion and brainstorming of ways we could change the world (or at least Calgary) using social media and the web.
However, I know folks in #yyc don’t use the web as much as they could. They’re starting too, but we’re just not there yet. And so there is some ground work to be done. Ground work that I think SMIS took a good first step towards covering.
The day was sponsored and hosted by West17Media. It was introduced as a new company, being only a couple of months old. Really it’s the team that is new, not the company. Roger Kondrat’s LinkedIn profile says West17’s been around since April, 1998.
The speakers and panel members consisted of: Roger Kondrat, Brian Singh, Lyn Cadence and Manoj Jasra, all local professionals. Great approach! A social media conference that was for Calgary people, by Calgary people. People that are around in days and weeks ahead helping to shape the web and social media scene here. People who have a finger on what’s going on, what various industries are doing, what other people are like here and thus have a unique perspective and insight to lend to the rest of us. I think we’re lucky to have talent and expertise in our midst that we can draw on now and going forward.
The day was full of nuggets of information for different levels, for me the greatest take aways are as follows:
- Business has a long way to come. Many departments/efforts operate in silos. To truly leverage the “power of social media,” companies need to look at ways to work these tools into all levels of their organization. Roger talked a lot about the marketing mix and and integrated marketing strategy. I think it needs to go beyond the marketing department. An effective web strategy would have components worked into communications plans, marketing plans, sales plans, IT plans, everywhere.
- Stats can tell you a lot. Look at general trends and specific trends to drive your web plans. Many people don’t trust the Senior Management of a company, but will trust front line employees. (look to Brian Singh if you want some specific numbers). If this is the case, should your CEO be tweeting? Or should your customer service reps be involved?
- Objectives, objectives, objectives. How can you measure success if you don’t know what it is you want to measure? Set your goals and decide how you are going to measure success before you start in on an initiative. ROI was a big topic and there’s not one answer there. But if you know you want to measure conversion on your website, for example, have some benchmarking numbers available before you start to show the impact of your efforts on the end product.
- There are many different tools out there to help internet users find your information. Social media tools don’t necessarily need to be about conversation (yes, I’m actually saying this!). Having a forum to connect and engage your current and future customers is important, but how can you have a conversation with them if you can’t find them or if they can’t find you? Using tools like Pitch Engine and deploying more SEO tactics to increase your chances of being found are just as important as transparency and conversation.
- SEO (search engine optimization) is no longer just about links. You’ve heard that before, right? Yep. Me too. But it’s becoming increasingly important to concentrate on your core materials – like your website design and your content, your social presence on the web, your branding and your image, your use of video, images, blogs, networks, etc. to increase your overall search ranking. The basics are still important, but you cannot bluff your way to the top, nor can you clone someone else’s SEO work. There are just too many factors to attempt to replicate. It really is an art.
- The real time web. The closing topic was an interesting one. Thinking about the real time web and exactly what it can tell us. The aspect here was, again, from a marketing perspective, but truly, what can real time tell us? Google is doing some interesting things with H1N1 search trends. It is able to see a rise in flu symptoms as it happens, potentially being able to predict an outbreak. They’ve compared their search data with CDC data and the spikes match. Except Google is real time and CDC is 2 weeks behind.
All in all, it was a day well spent and I look forward to the 2nd ‘annual’ SMIS. If you weren’t able to attend the conference today, I encourage you to watch the video footage once it comes out, and start questioning how your company can be using the web to increase value for their business and for their customers.