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Social Fresh St. Louis Wrap-Up

Social Fresh - social media conferenceIf you follow K2Media on Facebook or Twitter, you may recall that I attended the Social Fresh conference last week in St. Louis. Sorry for the delay – here’s my wrap-up of the day-long event.

First, let me say that I was drawn to this event by the quality of speakers, the fact that most of them were working practitioners (many at large companies) and that it was billed as case study driven. “More case studies, less concept.” These factors intrigued me because I’m frankly getting a little tired of reading social media philosophy over and over. I’d really like to be able to hear from people in the trenches who are getting it done well.

While I did enjoy the conference and feel like I walked away with some good things to think about, I can’t say that I agree that it was “more case studies, less concept”. There was a LOT of very general discussion of engaging, being authentic, etc. But this post isn’t to complain about what Social Fresh wasn’t. Rather, I’d like to share a few things that made me think.

My favorite panels were those involving Zena Weist (from H&R Block), Jason Falls and Jay Baer (Zena and Jason participated in the corporate blogging panel, Jay participated in the B2B panel and all three were on the final keynote panel). It may be that these engaged me a bit more because we’ve got some corporate blogging and B2B projects going on right now at K2Media – or it may be that these were the best presented panels. Probably both.

Sorry in advance for the stream-of-consciousness that follows – just the things that really struck me and ended up in my notes!

The B2B panel mentioned that a recent study showed that B2B consumers were more active in social media on the whole than normal consumers. But B2B isn’t sexy – so it’s a bit harder to be creative and engaging at the level required in a solid social media strategy.

B2B buyers are looking for information about your product – so use social media to communicate references and case studies to them. Show them how others are using and benefiting from your product. Implement, if you can, reviews and ratings on your site to allow people to share their experiences with your product. Invite customers individually (i.e., a personal email) to participate in your community wherever it may be – a corporate blog, an on-site forum, your Facebook page, a LinkedIn group – so that you can mutually benefit from opinion gathering, product development efforts and future product release information.

The B2B panel had a few take-aways that overlapped with the great information shared in the corporate blogging panel. For example, on the topic of content and editorial calendar creation, the panel suggested created a list of FAQs about your product and company, then using those FAQs as a framework to guide your content – blog posts, video, etc.

And, on the topic of less-than-sexy blog topics, B2B bloggers have to find a way to be entertaining and educational without being directly “sales-y”. Make it bigger than the company, blog about the category as a whole. Monsanto, for example, blogs about its own product lines but also blogs quite a bit about the issues facing its consumers like federal ag legislation. It also spotlights some of its customers, blogging about a particular farm and farmer on occasion.

As I mentioned, the B2B panel dovetailed nicely with the corporate blogging panel. On the topic of content creation, Zena Weist noted that they listen to the top questions being asked of their tax professionals and then take those topics on in their corporate blog.

There was a good deal of discussion about how to involve company employees in blog writing. Some of the larger companies use internal blogs as a talent-gathering tool. For our smaller clients though, I loved the idea of video-interviewing employees who might not have the time to write a blog post or might not have the writing skills required.

Jason Falls pointed out that 80% of visitors to corporate blogs are new visitors. Company blogs, by and large, aren’t becoming the centers of product or service communities. They are still important for several reasons. First, the dynamic content provided to a website by a well-written, well-optimized, regularly-maintained blog is fabulous for attracting search engine (and backlink) traffic. Second, an engaging blog, once the reader has been delivered to the blog by the search engine or backlink, will present your company’s personality to the reader and will impart the information they are seeking in an authoritative but not condescending way.

There are a few other bits and pieces, soundbytes in my notes. But these were the biggest and best take-aways from Social Fresh. I’m excited to apply these thoughts and concepts to the three new client blogs we have in development – two are B2C, one is a mash-up of B2C and B2B. I’m feeling confident as we approach the content creation of these blogs that we can really create entertaining social spaces that will benefit the brand and the bottom line for our clients.

Are you involved in corporate blogging? How do you keep it fresh and interesting?

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