Conferencing and meeting planning accounts for a large chunk of our business here at White Oaks, so it’s only appropriate that as team members, we venture out into the conference world when we have the chance! Whether you’re in Sales, Conference Services, Marketing, Hotel Management, Food and Beverage (you name it) there’s a learning opportunity out there and a conference with your name on it. No matter what your field, getting out into the big business universe for education, networking, developing your reputation, and discovering innovative tools and services is key to contributing to your personal and professional growth.

As the Social Media Manager at White Oaks, I had the opportunity to take part in the Social Shakeup Conference in Atlanta, Georgia this spring. Yes – entire conferences on social media do exist! Social Media is no longer as simple as snapping a mediocre quality photo and slapping it up on Facebook hoping for a little action. As social continuously grows and new platforms are introduced on the fly, someone (and sometimes an entire team) needs to keep up with these trends and stay on top of the content being shared on a regular basis. Behind every social platform there’s strategy, budgets, algorithms, pixels, calls to action, user generated content, photo shoots, brand awareness, influencers, social listening, engagement, KPI’s…need I go on?

Between keynote speakers, social influencers and some of North America’s top social and digital marketing executives, I picked up some insightful takeaways that are applicable to Social Media Managers and Marketing Executives near and far!

  1. The future of business is community and marketing is going to increasingly rely on trusting people around us. Billboards and print advertising no longer cut it on their own, so look to influential people, user generated content (by utilizing programs like Crowdriff), and sharing content that resonates with your audience on a more personal level. We are all in the business of trust.
  2. The marketing pie (or budget) is rarely getting larger; it’s just getting sliced in more ways, according to keynote speaker and author, Andrew Davis. Finding an integrated approach is key and making sure you don’t drown every marketing channel in the same content will help you build a stronger social strategy.
  3. Treat your social marketing like you’re dating someone. Make it a conversation – you don’t want to date someone that just talks about themselves all the time. Worry about selling someone after you’ve had these conversations and built a connection.
  4. Try to kill two (if not numerous) birds with one stone in your marketing strategy by planning a photo shoot and video shoot simultaneously or by looking to user generated content, word-of-mouth, and influencer marketing to save budget for the day-to-day marketing expenses.
  5. While we’re on the topic of influencer marketing, focus on the integrity of influencers and look for authenticity. Move away from perfectly curated content – perfection is no longer attractive to everyone and strictly focusing on celebrity won’t resonate with your audience.
  6. Clean up your SEO – please! For the love of god! Optimize it as much as possible and use search terms in your social marketing. In 2017, social media drove 26% of total website traffic, so it’s important to say the least.
  7. Try and identify a single person in your organization who “owns social” – one social lead who becomes an extension of other teams. Sometimes messages and branding get lost or disconnected when multiple hands are in the kitchen, if you know what I mean! Having a small hierarchy who understands the brand and goals is ideal for effectiveness.
  8. Social media is a constant test to figure out what works for a brand – it’s a social science, so don’t be afraid to take risks and try something new.
  9. Tell amazing stories about your company or the people that make it run on the daily. Authenticity and empowering people is a surefire way to inspire a sense of trust and bring about engagement. The topics we discuss can help us find what interests our audience, but the humans will bring it to life.
  10. Make sure you have a consistent voice and use a voice that people expect from you. You want customers to have the same experience online as they do offline. Ask yourself – “if people were to cover up our logo, would it sound like us?”

Although many of us are bound to an office desk to accomplish the day-to-day hustle and bustle, there is plenty to gain from stepping out of those four walls to better ourselves and the organizations we work for. Attending a conference is just one way you can set yourself apart and grow both personally and professionally!