Villing & Company

Social Media 2.0: What Happened in Vegas Shouldn't Stay in Vegas

We're in a rut. It seems like every time the topic of social media comes up, we keep hearing the same clichés. Even for a proponent of the tools like me, they've become passé and boring. Ok, fine. They're plain annoying.

"It's about a conversation."

"It's about engagement."

"It's about a connection with your customers."

The sayings themselves aren't necessarily the problem. But when was the last time you heard someone explain why this whiz-bang thing called social media is exploding the way it is? As disappointing as it may be, it isn't because businesses hopped on and started spewing marketing messages they dubbed "calls to action." If anything, that's holding us back.

In fact, the real shift isn't going on in social media at all. Social is providing the tools and the means, but the shift is occurring among your customers. And in order to stay relevant, you have to understand what the shift is, why it's taking place, how social media plays a role, and how you can become like your customers to produce a positive business result.

Such was the stuff of the first 40 minutes or so of a conference I attended last week in Las Vegas – Ragan Communications' Social Media for PR and Corporate Communicators event. Brian Solis's keynote address made the case that we are beginning a new chapter in the world of social media, one he calls "social media 2.0." The rest of the conference was designed to equip attendees to operate under that central idea.

The several hundred or so fellow social media geeks provided an electric atmosphere. (And yes, we managed to hold real-life conversations for more than seven minutes without looking at our smartphones.) And what were the key takeaways from the conference? Here's a few of the most-mentioned topics and insights from the presenters and the participants:

  • There was abundant love for social media darling Pinterest for a number of reasons, from its engagement-inducing design to its mass appeal to the coveted female demographic. Brands are just beginning to unlock its potential.
  • To the extent that Pinterest received the cheers, Klout received the jeers. The self-proclaimed arbiter of online influence was pilloried at length for the holes in its algorithm and, frankly, its misplaced definition of influence.
  • The use of video was emphasized, especially in the closing keynote by Chris Brogan. Because the social space is moving so much more in the direction of sharing experiences, not just sharing content, video should play a key role in any social program for your business.
  • There was considerable encouragement to maintain a robust and dynamic blog for your business. To paraphrase one speaker, "If content is king, the blog is the castle." Blogging is important because its versatility aids the social media marketer whose charge is to provide compelling, sharable content.

There are several pages worth of more takeaways in my legal pad. But the overarching theme was the sense that we are indeed turning a page in the evolution of social media, especially as it relates to brands' use of the tools. The opportunity lies in bringing the new frontier to the local marketing scene, including our own clients. Step one: stop using clichés.

Filed Under: social media

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