Pivot Conference Provides Strong Framework for Social Media Marketing

Even with its young history, Pivot Conference has become an important destination for serious social media marketers. Last week was the second annual installation of the conference, with Brian Solis as Executive Producer. Billed as “The Rise of the Connected Consumer,” Pivot included a variety of points of view covering the entire breadth of social media marketing challenges and opportunities – from data crunching, to ethnography, and from business cases, to influence analysis. Janrain sponsored the conference because it is a clear moment for leaders to discuss the bad and the good in the social media landscape.

There were several threads that emerged over and over:

Social Media ROI

Jay Samit, CEO of SocialVibe, shared how in-app roadblocks create opt-in advertising moments, which are many times more relevant for the user. On the other end of the spectrum, David Iannone, Marketing Manager for Heinecken, said that his brand was growing aggressively, and they were trying a lot of things in social media. Knowing the exact ROI of each initiative was impossible, and if the overall strategy worked, that was good enough. Michael Jaindl, Chief Client Officer at Buddy Media, discussed how if an experience is valuable to the consumer, it will come back to the brand in ROI.

It became clear that ROI continues to be an important consideration in an overall social media program, but that ROI could not be the primary driver or goal. Connecting with customers in meaningful ways will drive increased value, but marketers should take care to not just do something because it worked last time – consumers are looking for new, unique, and relevant experiences.

Changing Notions of Privacy

Charlene Li, Principal at Altimeter Group, reminded attendees about how intrusive Caller ID seemed when it was first introduced, and how many people don’t answer the phone without Caller ID now. Britta Schell, Director of Digital Strategic Insights at MTV, went deeper, with her research that Millennials only use the phone in “emergencies,” and consider it rude to call just to chat. She also clarified that Millennials understand instinctively that they are creating a curated view of their identity in social networks.

Britta Schell's research on Millennials at Pivot Conference

Privacy continues to be a challenge for marketers, as different customers want to connect to the brand in different ways. Having clear guidelines about your own goals in different communication channels is critical in helping customers understand where they will find an experience that works for them.

The Fragmented Social Media Ecosystem

Marketers throughout the conference discussed the challenges of needing to use and understand so many social media tools. Pete Caban, Chairman at Mekanism, reminded us that there were viral videos before YouTube even existed. Jon Bond, CEO of BigFuel, complained that he doesn’t really use Twitter because it’s ugly. Kris Duggan, CEO of Badgeville discussed the opportunities in gamification; and Jesse Thomas, Founder of JESS3, reviewed the challenges of creating experiences that live in many places online.

Finding credible experts in all of the new and emerging channels will continue to be difficult. Marketers will need to tap a wide variety of resources for different aspects of a comprehensive social media program. People who understand the intersection of TV media and social buzz, have different strengths than those who drive engagement on your own website. Work with a variety of partners to maximize opportunities on many fronts.
 

Social Media is About People

Adam Duritz, lead singer of Counting Crows, was the breakout speaker, with a heartfelt explanation of his own experience using social media. He didn't talk about marketing campaigns, but instead about creating a cool "scene" that people would want to be included in. He discussed how the band ran an analysis on their Twitter followers, and found that 4% primarily tweet in Spanish. They never knew about that Spanish language fan base, and now they are more involved in the hispanic community. The audience went all soft and fuzzy with Duritz's clear first-person passion for the medium, and he served as a strong reminder that social media allows people to connect, so projects in service of those goals will be successful.

The Connected Consumer seems like a monolithic topic, but in reality, it is millions of individuals making choices about where to spend their time and money. Staying relevant with customers will continue to be a challenge because success in social media comes from helping your customers do things that are important to them.

While Pivot did not provide any easy answers, it did a great job of articulating the important success factors for marketers in this complicated time.