In this show I talk about what I learned from my recent attendance from the biggest Social Media Marketing conference in the world, Social Media Marketing World.
Tim Lewis: [00:00:30] Now due to our late rescheduling of an interview, I’m going to do a very short solo show instead about what I learn from Social Media Marketing World and to some extent from the London Book Fair.
Tim Lewis: [00:00:46] It’s interesting actually as a contrast because there are quite a large number of guests from the show either at Social Media Marketing World or at the London Book Fair.
Tim Lewis: [00:00:57] So it’s kind of been an opportunity for me to connect with previous guests of the show who I may have only met in the virtual world before or very briefly.
Making deeper connections at Social Media Marketing World
Tim Lewis: [00:01:09] I suppose that is my first lesson in terms of what I learnt from this particular Social Media Marketing World.
Tim Lewis: [00:01:16] So it’s the third one I’ve been to and this year was so much better in terms of the connections I made. In previous years I’d made connections with people but they weren’t particularly deep because of the just the short period of time you’re at the conference.
Tim Lewis: [00:01:36] But this year I was able to build on the relationships I’d made in previous years. I got so much more close to a lot of people that I’ve known for a while on and off online.
Tim Lewis: [00:01:50] And I think that is something that you get if you go to the same kind of events and conferences year after year or month after month. You get to know people very well.
Tim Lewis: [00:02:02] And I think it puts paid to the myth that you can’t know people well who you’ve met online. I think at some point you always inevitably need to go and meet people in person but you can start off by creating a relationship in social media in the online world.
Tim Lewis: [00:02:21] And then gradually build it up until the point where you actually meet them and you feel like you really know them. And that was certainly the case for me at Social Media Marketing World and to a lesser extent the London Book Fair.
Tim Lewis: [00:02:34] I think missing last year’s London Book Fair because I was ill meant I probably didn’t have the same kind of connections with people there because this was only the first time that I met a lot of them in person.
Tim Lewis: [00:02:46] So I think there is a lot to be said for using conferences or events where you meet people in person to build on already existing online relationships. In terms of what I actually learnt from the sessions at social media marketing world.
Tim Lewis: [00:03:05] Apart from the fact that I learn they actually can rain in San Diego which I wasn’t aware of. The weather wasn’t wonderful as it usually is in San Diego. It was actually raining a few other days though compared to what the weather was like in Boston on my way back, it was still quite warm and sunny.
Tim Lewis: [00:03:24] In terms of the sessions that I have seen or I’ve watched the virtual replay of (one of the good things about social media marketing world, which some conferences do and some don’t, is that you get a free virtual ticket. So any of the many sessions that you didn’t see you can watch a replay of afterwards.
Tim Lewis: [00:03:45] Now I’ve clearly not had a chance to go through and watch all of the 90 odd sessions. So these lessons I’ve learnt some of them are from virtual sessions which I’ve seen afterwards.
Tim Lewis: [00:03:58] Probably seen about five or six virtual sessions and some of them are from sessions I saw at the time there. Now I may be accused at times of maybe going to too many parties and not going to enough sessions at these conferences!
Tim Lewis: [00:04:15] So I’m sure there are lots of great things that I would discover from the virtual ticket later on.
Automation vs Personalisation
Tim Lewis: [00:04:21] But one of the first things that kind of struck out to me from the sessions I went to was a whole kind of dichotomy between strategies certainly on Twitter that people are using.
Tim Lewis: [00:04:35] There seems to be a move towards automation on one hand there was one session I went to with a singer-cum-data scientist called Shelita Burke.
Tim Lewis: [00:04:47] Where she was more or less doing what I would call semi-automated industrial Twitter use. She’s got things like thousands of Twitter accounts all connected up with automation and bots and everything is automated.
Tim Lewis: [00:05:03] And it’s very easy to say that you shouldn’t be automating things like your tweets to go out every eight minutes. She retweets her own tweets every eight minutes and has multiple accounts that all do different things all feeding into one big Twitter account.
Tim Lewis: [00:05:24] It’s almost like the extreme that you hear of where you hear of you see the auto-DM and auto Twitter messages. And I suppose what I appreciate is that it’s so easy to say oh you shouldn’t do this kind of automated stuff. But quite clearly it works.
Tim Lewis: [00:05:41] On the other hand if you’re doing anything automated then you’re going to be competing against people like her who will spend it all their time in evenings looking into all the latest programs and automation techniques with Twitter.
Tim Lewis: [00:05:57] So can extreme automation work? Certainly in terms of building up a Twitter following. And if you can find some course or somebody to sort of take you on that path for a while then I certainly wouldn’t discourage you, however much I hate things like old auto-DMs and the like.
Tim Lewis: [00:06:16] There is a fact that some of this extremely high volume automated approach to social media can work.
Tim Lewis: [00:06:23] On the other hand I also went to a lot of other sessions including one where some of my British colleagues a pair Andrew and Pete.
Tim Lewis: [00:06:32] They’ve got surnames but everybody knows him as Andrew and Pete. They’re a marketing agency from Newcastle in the UK. Their Twitter session was the total opposite it was all about making interpersonal connections and sending people video messages.
Tim Lewis: [00:06:49] And I think that approach works as well and in some ways the personalized approach to Twitter even though it does take a lot more work than set out huge amount of automated things that you can just leave.
Tim Lewis: [00:07:04] The personal approach to Twitter clearly works as well. I suppose that’s in my mind it’s focussed on the fact that there are many different ways to skin the proverbial social media cat.
Tim Lewis: [00:07:15] You don’t have to say don’t send auto-DMs or don’t spend any time interacting with people on Twitter or whatever ridiculous extreme you want to use.
Tim Lewis: [00:07:26] Find and try things until you find something that works for you and then stick with it.
The Bots are coming…
Tim Lewis: [00:07:32] Another lesson that I learnt from the conference was ironically usually every year the keynote says “And the big thing in social media marketing this year is…”
Tim Lewis: [00:07:44] Insert word.
Tim Lewis: [00:07:45] And it was either like live video a few years ago or Snapchat was allegedly the big thing last year. Even though it turns out it probably wasn’t.
Tim Lewis: [00:07:56] But this year there was like well there isn’t anything clear cut new. Is what we were told in the keynote. But to me the theme of the new thing was not virtual reality as People keep saying every year until the next year that virtual reality is going to be the next big thing in marketing.
Tim Lewis: [00:08:16] But it’s the rise of what’s known as Bots. Now these are automated programs that respond to an interaction and this can be on Twitter or Facebook Messenger or any of these platforms or even something like Slack.
Tim Lewis: [00:08:33] So for example I’m going to look at setting up on my Stoneham Press account, when I get a few things sorted out, that if you message it then it will reply back to you looking at the content of your message with some sort of sensible response.
Tim Lewis: [00:08:49] I mean I think there is a bit of over egging of the pudding as regards to all these Bots in as much as people are claiming that they’re like natural language intelligence and almost like robotic humans when usually all they’re doing is looking for particular keywords in something somebody types and then responding with an appropriate response.
Tim Lewis: [00:09:13] However it’s not beyond the realms of our imagination to see that there is vast potential here for both authors and for other people. Because you can affect automate a large amount of what would have been normal service conversations.
Tim Lewis: [00:09:35] So if somebody messages you on Facebook and says “Can you tell me about your books?”, that is something that could be automated by a Bot seeing that and say oh yes here’s a list of all the links to my books and it means that you can start moving from a very high intensive messaging policy to one where you’ve got some automated system that can do those interactions on messaging platforms rather than on social media.
Tim Lewis: [00:10:03] So I think bots are the the next big thing in marketing and social media marketing in general.
Tim Lewis: [00:10:09] Are they quite there yet? Who knows? I’m going to experiment. I certainly think the technology is there at the point where you can do useful things with automated Bots on say your Facebook page or even on Twitter potentially.
Back the Unicorns…
Tim Lewis: [00:10:24] Another session that I watched virtually after the event was Larry Kim‘s. Now Larry Kim is a guy who was in charge of a huge marketing budget and he was presenting his tips for how to actually make a success with paid advertising.
Tim Lewis: [00:10:46] The funny thing is that his presentation chimes with a trend that I’ve been seeing in a lot of these interviews and that trend is that you’ve got to back winners.
Tim Lewis: [00:10:58] The great issue of course is that very few of us have any idea which posts or which books are realistically going to do well. We would like to say that we all know that the book we wrote about the zombie apocalypse in the library was going to be the breakout book!
Tim Lewis: [00:11:16] But Larry Kim’s idea and his ethos is that he has this concept of unicorns. He’s talking of course about blogging or podcasting. But I think there’s also a case that you use the same approach of books as well.
Tim Lewis: [00:11:33] So what does he mean by unicorn? Well the idea is that say you’re posting on your blog every week and most of the time one or two people see it. Maybe you get that odd share here and there and then suddenly one blog post that you post does really well. It starts to get like hundreds of views, people sharing it all over the place. Those posts are the unicorns and as he pointed out, and I’ve seen this as well, is that some of your content will just do spectacularly well an order of magnitude better than every other piece of content you’ve got.
Tim Lewis: [00:12:11] And those are the things that you should be putting money behind to advertise to promote. Too many of us waste time advertising books and blog posts and spending time on promotion for things where the just isn’t any interest in the underlying book or blog post.
Tim Lewis: [00:12:32] Which comes back to the often said thing that you should write lots of books. Because sooner or later you come across the unicorn book that is successful.
Tim Lewis: [00:12:43] We kind of saw this with Adam Croft in his interview. He was doing all right with these books but there was one particular book that took off and he started putting in real money behind that in terms of Facebook Ads.
Tim Lewis: [00:12:56] So I think the idea that you’ve got to keep an eye on your analytics for all of your blog posts. Keep an eye on your books sales obviously.
Tim Lewis: [00:13:08] And then look for the successful books or blog posts and then put money behind them. The other concept from his talk that I liked was that he was talking about creating unicorn babies.
Tim Lewis: [00:13:21] So once you find this blog post that is doing really well obviously the first thing you want to do is create extra content on a similar theme: the little unicorn babies.
Tim Lewis: [00:13:33] This is why people make sequels are popular books and build you find something that works. However on earth you do it and then you have to put money behind it and you have to kind of push that concept forward.
Tim Lewis: [00:13:47] So those are the kind of major lessons I learnt from Social Media Marketing World this year. I’m also made to recruit quite a few potential guests for the show. So I’m in the process of booking them all up and trying to get them on the show in the next couple of weeks or months even.
Tim Lewis: [00:14:06] So I shall talk to you guys next week when we get back to the interview format.
If believe you can still buy a separate virtual ticket for this year’s Social Media Marketing World, where you get the audio and slides of all the presentations. Yes fun than San Diego, but not bad value: SMMW17 Virtual Ticket. (It’s an affiliate link, though you won’t pay any more than anyone else, I’ll just get a cut).