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SASCon Mini is the little sister of the bigger SASCon, Manchester Search, Analytics and Social conference that is a 2 day annual event in the Summer; well, SASCon mini in 2014 showed that little sister grew up!
I was very lucky to win my ticket from PushOn after playing their Digital Online Marketing Superheroes game, but the £50 ticket was a bargain and this was commented on and agreed by many of the attendees I spoke to. SASCon Mini was started as a smaller, mini, get together between the larger conference to remind people of SASCon and help everyone keep up to date in this fast moving industry of Search, Analytics and Social Media. SASCon mini used to be an afternoon event with some interesting talks and panellist’s.
This year the ‘mini’ event was not so mini, it was an all day event with a bit of a lie in starting at 10am rather than 9am. This year SASCon mini was as slick and informative as any 1 day conference I’ve been to, and as a complete sell out with people trying to get hold of tickets, this little digital marketing conference showed it could play with, and beat the big boys in demand, and in content.
I am often a little jaded by conferences I feel a lot of the content shared is top level stuff that we all know and practice, very interesting for newbies to the industry or business owners,but the same old same for many marketeers, SEO’s, Social Media Managers and designers. Given that SASCon mini was originally more of a ‘touch base’ with the industry I half expected that of Fridays event. I have never been more pleased to be proved wrong.
State of the Digital PR Nation
A PR with a difference, Drew Benvie, founder of Battenhall told us about his own experiences in PR and how he has adapted to cope with new technologies and platforms. Looking at Digital PR there were 3 categories to his keynote;
- The PR Landscape
- Disruption at the hands of Social
- Changes to the Forces
Drew explained that Social Media, to him, has come in and disrupted everything, the past 12 years he saw the PR landscape change from, picking up the phone to deal with customer and traditional media being the only media, to a landscape where your customer can give you feedback in real time.
You have many different ways to communicate with your customer and this all can change as quickly as it happened. These days, all media can be seen via some sort of screen, from your phone, tablet, computer or TV, the best way to communicate with people is via a screen. Businesses are slowly coming round to this.
Drew explained that UK businesses are lagging behind America where they have embraced the power of social media in their marketing, so much so that the Newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle are sending ALL of their staff on a Social Media boot camp.
Of course as the landscape has changed from being completely offline to a large proportion being online then this has given opportunities to ‘hackers’ such as anonymous who can take down large websites and hold them to ransom. Many companies are scared of this and see Social Media as a dangerous back door left vulnerable. However it is up to us to change businesses’ minds as Social Media is a great tool for Customer services, Reputation Management, Marketing and Promotions and real time feedback to improve services and products. Social Media is instinctive to kids today, I can relate to this as my son at 3 years old can navigate around YouTube and use an iPad to play games with no problems at all.
Hardware is moving quickly though, the first SASCon I went to, there was 1 person with an iPad, only 3 years later, everyone in the room had an iPad, and many families who are not as tech savvy as the audience at SASCon also have ipads and tablets for family use.
Today we saw Paul Gailey wearing Google Glasses (which I got to try out) and I wondered if in another 3 years this would be the norm. Drew obviously has noticed how quickly hardware is moving on as he has seen an upward trend in wearable hardware.
As these trends continue we need to look at how to adapt to how people are accessing media and respond to what they need and want.
Drew gave us some interesting stats on how the FTSE 100 are using social media, some well, some not so well. The biggest concern was having a presence as a CEO and not updating, especially in times of a PR disaster.
Take a look at the stats here.
Social Media allows brands to talk to and listen to what customers want, wearable tech will be able to analyse data of what they do. This is very interesting as we will soon have access to how people behave when they are not telling us. This means brands will have much more insight into developing what people need. Drew also presented some interesting recent facts about social media, what was interesting was that SnapChat has recently overtaken Facebook and all other social media platforms for photo sharing, also 2 million young Facebook users have left the platform, is this the start of a decline or just a shift in the audience demographic?
It seems the trends are switching from putting everything out there, to keeping things private, this may be because media frenzies over privacy or just a development in people realising putting everything so public is not always a good idea.
We have seen an upward trend in people using messaging services as social media and Instagram and Twitter have responded with direct photo sharing, an obvious influence of SnapChats success but also a good response to what people want. I found Drews presentation very interesting and informative with valuable insights into the way larger companies operate and should operate.
Quite rightly Drew suggested Social Media should be intrinsic to a company right through from the boss at the top, to middle management decision makers right down to customer service representatives on the front line.
Screaming Queens vs. Plain Janes: Where Next for Metrics
Tim Langley of Canddi, Ryan McKay of MediaCom and David Gerrard from PushOn made up the panel with Richard Gregory of Latitude (and SASCon organiser) chairing the panel on metrics. Firstly the panel discussed why they needed metrics in the first place and the general opinion was that everyone needs metrics from something but establishing what that is at the start of a campaign is key to success.
There are easy metrics, such as for an eCommerce site measuring conversions, order value, revenue, but some websites are harder to track and to establish correct start out metrics. It was discussed that instead of just focussing on new users, we should now look at our fans, sharability of content, returning visitors and of course conversions as part of our business objections. I feel this is a response to the popularity of social media and bringing this back to the website usability and engagement.
The panel discuss in detail the benefits of encouraging users to sign in on the website so you can track more data and more details. I have worked on a campaign a few years ago where this was key to the success of the site, using a single sign on a business that had events and merchandise as well as a forum could use the single sign on to display ads to encourage conversions. This data would say if the user was going to an event when they logged in to use the forum so adverts for the event would not be shown, they would instead display ads for merchandise that went with the event or previous products. This data analysis was carried through with email marketing and encouraging users back on the website.
Finding the right incentive fro tracking is hard on some websites though and also you have to look at the privacy angle of tracking in depth data. Tim suggested when working on a website, either to improve design or website marketing you should capture as much data as you can, as with cloud storage it is relatively inexpensive and you can always get more storage, you cannot get more data once it has gone. I agree with this, especially as the landscape changes you clients goals may also change and having historical information when you are in a position to interpret and build upon is very useful. However there is the issue that we can be overwhelmed with data.
Tim told us he was soring 20GB of data a day for one client, to which Richard described as being a ‘Fuck tonne’ of data (a term coined at a previous SASCon). Knowing the right metrics and collecting as much data as you can is the most important takeaway from this panel.
Interestingly of the audience, everyone used Universal Analytics, and those who used other forms of data tracking used them as well as UA not instead. This is the same as us as we use up to 3 ways of tracking data for clients but always use UA.
Why content and context are the key to making meaningful social connections
This was by far my favourite presentation of the day, after lunch, to which many people commented they had gotten there moneys worth from the conference just from the mornings talks and the food, we got to hear from Dominic Burch, Head of Social, ASDA.
Not only was this presentation entertaining it was insightful, we all know ASDA and we had watched it’s social media but this was a chance to find out from an insider, the decisions, the mistakes and the things he was most proud of.
This was the most honest presentation from a brand I have ever heard and had the audience laughing and nodding as Dominic went through his strategy in detail. You may think that Dominic talking about ASDA would not be applicable to many of the audience and their own campaigns but in truth, here was a brand that were on the front line, if they made a mistake (Mental Health Patient) they had to react quickly, they have developed a strategy that meant their customers trust them and in some cases would jump to their defence.
5 simple thoughts (ASDA)
- The old rules don’t apply anymore
- We are media owners – (Asda magazines, website, shopping site, social media)
- We’re a connector not a collector
- We will only succeed if we win the trust of shoppers
- Listen First, Engage Second, Influence Third
No matter if you are a big brand or a small one man band, if you have a website all of the above rules apply. Dom went through particular campaigns, such as the chosen by you and #chosenbyme and discussed the strategy behind it.
Dom’s dirty dozen for 2014 (Trends)
Not Dom’s, not dirty but there are a dozen…
- The Resurgence of the advertorial – sponsored posts and guest posts from brands that are clearly marked will be influential
- Employee advocacy is key – Your employees are your front line at times
- Engaging content will still be rewarded – be creative, don’t self promote too much, listen then share and create content people will respond to
- The age of advocacy – Gain trust and people will recommend you
- Pay to play – the rules keep changing and on Facebook in particular you may need to adopt a pay to play attitude, organic social media is losing out to commercialism at the moment
- Millennials will fuel even more video sharing -millenials have grown up sharing and take it seriously as a business especially those with large followings, tap into that market
- Death of the social media manager! – Social needs to come from within the company, not just someone on the outside looking in, instead of taking over campaigns we need to train and encouge brands to take it in house.
- Social organisations will be the real winners – if you are good at social you will engage, respond and build trust this WILL convert and IS measurable to a point.
- Customers expect instant responses on social channels – You need to be prepared for that, if you don’t have some sort of 24/7 coverage on the social networks you could be at risk if you are a large brand
- Growth of gamification on social – People like to play/procrastinate, this is being monetised by brands
- Key influences / content creators can now monetize their position – Key Online Influencers are getting savvy, respect them, respect their time and don’t be surprised if they want to be reinbused for their time.
- Stronger interplay between social and television – Knowing what your target market are watching could give you a floorspace on social, for example, people watching I’m a Celebrity on the day before Black Friday are interested low cost electronics, capture American Ex Pats in Britain who are used to this holiday.
There was a lot more to this presentation but to be honest I was enjoying it and laughing too much to make too many notes but here are his slides.
Joining the Dots – PR, Social and Search
This panel was made up of Andy Barr from 10 Yetis, Robin Wilson, Director Digital and PR and Social Media at McCann Erickson, Rob Weatherhead from MediaCom i-Lab and chaired by Simon Wharton of Push ON (and SAScon organiser).
This was, as expected, a professional, but heated debate. It always good to hear other peoples perspective on things and having a more traditional PR on the panel was very interesting. Traditional PR has moved on, it needs to be online, traditional SEO has moved on, you can’t just be good at code and link building any more, the two disciplines are merging but how much? And where the hell does Social fit?
My impression from the discussion was everyone was talking about what good SEO’s and what bad SEO’s should be doing, but in my experience good SEO’s are working like PR’s when doing outreach and good PR’s are working with technical SEO’s to ensure the greatest visibility and effect on rankings. The problem is the bad ones giving the rest a bad name. We have all worked with good and bad in any industry the issue is probably educating the bad, and the bad caring enough to listen, so that everyone can get the best outcome for the client.
I wrote 2 years ago about how these industries are merging and lines are blurring and in my opinion our job roles are getting closer. I think in the future Internet Marketing will branch out including all these disciplines and agencies will need to recruit for all. This opinion was shared by the panel.
This was a feisty debate with definite similarities but in the real world (not on a panel) these guys compete for budget therefore it was evident in the discussion they each valued their own services higher.
Designing for Persuasion Emotion & Trust
As an ex designer I had to attend this talk, I have always been interested in the psychology behind decisions and how we can use this to help design good websites, and Chris Bush provided a valuable presentation with useful links such as Changing Minds, and Get Mental Notes. We do a lot of CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation) and tend to use analytics but Chris reminded me of the PET Theory.
This theory puts emotion back into web design, in recent years when SEO’s were keyword stuffing and producing websites for search engines, rather than users, a lot of this got lost. We are also in a fantastic position at the moment where web design technologies and devices and connectivity can enable us to do much more with design and bring back PET theory to improve how a website is received and engaged with. I feel this all fits in well with PR, SEO and social media.
In one of the slides, right, Chris demonstrated the relationship between SEO, Usability and PET. SEO gets visitors to the website, usability helps them use the website easily and PET persuades them to make a sale.
In an interesting presentation Chris showed us how contrasting colours can encourage users to interact, also trust is a very important factor. He showed us some great examples of how these techniques have been overused and trust as been lost. We also saw how a famous airline brand manipulated people to buy insurance in a less than ethical layout.
Unfortunately I had to leave early and of course could not be at two places at once so missed what sounded like some good talks but you can find out more on the SASCon hashtag
At the end of the day it was announced that some of the key speakers and panellists had a round table about the future of Digital you can see the edited video on the Sponsors’ Melbourne Hosts website.
I am looking forward to the next SASCon on the 5th and 6th June 2014.