Conference Board "Branding in the Social Media World" - MaryLee Sachs

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Social media understanding seems to be splintering if last week's Conference Board seminar on "Branding in the Social Media World" is anything to go by. Let's face it – social media is such an enormous 'bucket' that it's difficult to know what level to pitch it, and this seminar had everything from absolute beginners to accomplished players in its audience. I'm wondering if conference organizers need to start pitching their events in 'levels' that are more specifically defined for would-be delegates.

That said, there was something for everyone and here's a summary of what I learned or found entertaining, or what I think could be most useful for those not yet in-the-know.

Mark Mulcahy of Vivaldi Partners talked about 'social currency' as being the extent to which people share brand information as part of their social lives, and he presented what he called 'the social six of building strong brands', namely: conversation, information, advocacy, identity, affiliation and utility.

Evan Kraus of APCO Worldwide had some of his own rules for social media engagement:

· Create the movement – align your interests, be aspirational and emotional, feature real people

· Optimize the content – package creativity, make it easy to share, be entertaining

· Embrace traditional media coverage

· Make it easy to engage

I particularly liked his case studies which brought it to life around the Smart Car "Dumb Manifesto" and Microsoft small business accounting software which was kicked off with the 'anti shirt'. APCO should enter both in the Cannes International Festival of Creativity!

Chris Barger of Voce Communications (and author of "The Social Media Strategist") had lots of lists. His 'Lucky Seven' essential elements included:

1. An executive champion

2. Clear lines of authority

3. A social media evangelist (to sell inside the company)

4. Sensible metrics and measurement

5. Partnership with legal

6. A solid social media policy

7. Employee education and training

And he had 10 lessons:

1. You are a publisher

2. The 'social' is more important than the 'media'

3. The social web is a 'listening' tool

4. Learn to accept – even embrace – lack of control

5. Whenever possible, develop an offline element too

6. Always begin with the audience's needs first; start by providing value, then worry about branding

7. You need to redefine 'influence'

8. Think long term – the greatest value of social is the relationship, not the initial reaction

9. The social web is a huge customer service opportunity

10. You have to spread the virus

While all this talk of do's and don'ts provided useful commentary, my favorite presentation of the day was delivered by Eileen Gaffen of Hallmark Cards because it took the principles and put them into practice with some excellent examples of blogger interactions and social media campaigns supporting its new brand campaign launched last year: Life is a Special Occasion.

I daresay that this was a favorite by many at the seminar since it demonstrated true creativity and integration, backed up by market mix results declaring that PR and social media rank at the top in terms of ROI for Hallmark.

Carmine Porco of Prescient Digital rounded out the day by providing a lot of useful data points and the BEST entertainment of the day including a send-up on 'what is social media', "Pink Ponies" – an analogy on how best to use social media, and of course the Social Media Definition by peeing.

MaryLee Sachs was most recently US Chair and Worldwide Director of Consumer Marketing at WPP firm Hill & Knowlton. She launched her new book, The Changing MO of the CMO, How the Convergence of Brand and Reputation is Affecting Marketers, at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on June 23. The book is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Read all MaryLee's MediaBizBloggers commentaries at MaryLee Sachs.

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