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Op-Ed: Takeaways from Social Media Week 2018 San Juan

Social media is one huge “Tabula Rasa” where anyone with an interesting product or story can start a business. The digital business world has many ‘moving parts’, but if you carve a good niche for yourself, can speak knowledgably about it, and people like what they see and follow you, you may have a business in your hands.

Hundreds of digital native media exist and that is where all the best business opportunities are happening now. You can start a social media business with very little money. It takes two or three years to create a loyal following – you start by blogging and attracting readers and followers; once you have a following you can grow your brand and expand your horizons.

It’s all about figuring out how you can help your tribe live their lives. Influence is measured in engagement, not the number of followers you have. Content creators must be constantly exploring and discovering and making their products more relevant to their followers. Creatives must always be ready to grab an opportunity and approach and negotiate with potential clients.

For all of you who were not able to attend Social Media Week San Juan last week, here are some of the ideas many of the presenters talked about.

Social media wisdom
Your brand is how you present the image and personality of your business to the world, so craft it carefully, stick to it fervently when you post, and always keep testing it, to see if it needs polishing.

The difference between a blogger and an influencer is that the blogger’s function is to educate and inform the public, whereas an influencer is admired by their followers, and lives their life on the web, almost like they lived in a personal reality show.

To be successful, creatives (bloggers, vloggers, etc.) must establish what their mission is, in life and online. Ask yourself, “What makes me different?” Establish your purpose, then choose a relevant name, an attractive logo, choose your brand’s colorways, etc. Almost three-fourths (74 percent) of people follow brands because they share common values and outlook, so create an identity that speaks to your purpose.

Whichever strategy you use to reach your followers, remember to always funnel people to your website and social media pages all the time. FIND YOUR TRIBE and maximize your relationship with them. Let them live vicariously through you. Tell your story in a way that resonates with your followers, make it interesting, but cover the who, what, where, when and why.

Use only those platforms that serve your purpose. Be disciplined.

Use content pillars and create an editorial calendar. Never lose sight of your Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and engagement. Give your tribe a common north. Establish a call to action. Always respond to comments. Like and share your followers’ posts (reciprocate!) Be transparent and authentic. Don’t sell, just share your passion. And be consistent.

Digital Natives. Who are they? People who only work on digital media. Bloggers, vloggers, podcasters, Instagrammers, Snapchatters, digital journalists, tweeps, curators. They speak to a specific niche and are experts in particular topics, they spearhead a community of followers, they are innovators and are very entrepreneurial.

How do you start? Usually with a blog on something you like and know about. The topics most discussed in the digital universe are maternity/paternity, technology, video games, entertainment, food, health, tourism, beauty, education, fashion, and travel, generally in that order.

Remember to use the Principles of Brand Relevance and copy the best examples currently being used:

  • Customer Obsessed (Brands we can’t imagine living without), like Netflix, Pixar, Kitchen Aid, Trader Joe’s;
  • Ruthlessly Pragmatic (Brands we depend on), Keurig, Chick-fil-A, turbotax, Kleenex;
  • Distinctively Inspired (Brands that inspire us), Pinterest, Lego, Food Network, Nike;
  • Pervasively Innovative (brands that consistently innovate: Playstation, Dyson, Marvel, Google.

Tips from the experts
Use different platforms for different things, for example Instagram for events, Twitter for news, Facebook for customer relations, Pinterest for inspiration, LinkedIn for business DNA.

Personify your brand, give it your own point of view, and make it authentic. People don’t follow you if you are not believable and relevant to them. Two things garner followers: interesting headlines, and continuous exposure to interesting posts. So, choose the content you post with care. Write an interesting headline for it, and schedule interesting posts throughout the day.

Agencies research and choose Influencers carefully, and they research who the creatives follow and who follows them. Once they choose a creative to work with, agencies place their trust on the creative’s voice, and understand that if they want a broader reach, they must work with diverse voices, not just one.

Some presenters have transitioned to television and video formats because that content can be seen over and over, which solves the “have constant content” dictum. Also, they optimize follower engagement by creating regional campaigns, so they are more locally focused. It is very important to know what your public likes to see, and if possible, make it easy to occasionally meet your public face to face.

Funnel your viewers to your landing pages; make people google you because your content is so compelling, and always have links to all your platforms on your pages and blogs. Use attractive photos and short written posts, as attention spans on the web are very short.

Post outside the box: now everyone is on Snapchat, so start using it as a means of communicating with your followers. Use Podcasts! Digital Native content is trending now (content created exclusively for digital platforms.) Use Instagram stories to tell your story! Choose Whatsapp for sales! Focus where your people are gathered and go there.

KPI’s include number of followers, followers gained, impressions shared, and audience reach, but most important is engagement. For this, learn and use Google Insights.

Build long-term campaigns and relationships, not one-off posts, to give readers some continuity. Realize posts are seen once and then are moved down the timeline and lost. But video has an unlimited shelf life, and people keep coming back to see them again, sharing them, getting better numbers.

Content creators write in their own voice, the client cannot impose content on them; they choose bloggers for their similar values and voice and must let them be who they are without manipulation.

Numbers show that Latin American millenials are not as interested in News or Politics as in other topics (see Part 1).

When you live an experience, you remember the experience. Everything is about sharing your experience, and leading others to have their own experiences and share them with you.

Virtual Reality tools, like Oculus, are huge now. Google is investing $2 billion on it, so it has a huge upside in the future. Immersive reality is where video is going.

How to approach and negotiate a social media job – the questions agencies ask themselves (and creatives must answer before the interview): Should I trust this creative? Are all creatives appropriate to my brand? What does each side get from our relationship?

Every creative must have a rate sheet of services offered that reflect today’s real market rates. They should have their Media Kit, because clients demand it.

Clients are now creating campaigns that engage the creative’s interest AND include the creative’s followers. No matter what formula or strategy is used, the formula to do this must always come from the creative. Always answer a client’s question “What other activities can the creative participate in other than just being there and publishing content?” with an interesting idea.

Monetization – How much is the work of a creative worth? Creatives and clients have to respect each other. Creatives should never give away their work for free; clients should never assume them to be free. Creatives should constantly monitor their results and adjust their work where necessary in order to fulfill the campaign goals. Always check to see if there is platform cross-pollination, to broaden your reach. Also, always have contracts in writing that specify the work to be done and the amount that will be paid for it.

Visuals are important, and today, Pexels.com has the best free stock photos on the web.

Which publishers can help bloggers the most? The ones with the largest mobile audiences (highest frequency content, offline and online paths to purchase, strongest community); and most efficient conversion rates (Loyalty and reward dynamics, sophisticated targeting and segmentation).

Consumers don’t use all platforms for shopping; but the ones they use are changing; we are now seeing successful paid ads in snapchat and Instagram because that is where the millennials are.

The way we search is changing – now it’s gone to voice (as in SIRI, google voice). Voice sales had $1.8 billion in sales in 2017, and presenters expect $40 billion in sales by 2022. Best examples are Google Home and Alexa. Thirty-six percent of millennials use voice-enabled digital assistants, compared to 10 percent of baby boomers (according to eMarketer), mostly in what google defines as micro-moments (“I want to know,” “I want to go,” “I want to do,” and “I want to buy” moments).

Data Analysis

A study on Latin American digital natives gives us the following data:

  • 49 percent suffered cyber-attacks;
  • 45 percent suffered violence or threats for their journalism;
  • 52 percent only have their founders generating income;
  • 38 percent are founders;
  • 26 percent have at least one salaried sales person;
  • 20 percent earned more than $200,000 in 2016;
  • 16 percent had no earnings in 2016;
  • 71 percent of startups were launched with under $10,000;
  • 18 percent had over 1 million hits a month;
  • 30 percent had under 10,000 hits a month;
  • 68 percent had a majority using mobile platforms;
  • 72 percent are republished in national media;
  • 66 percent are republished in international media; and,
  • 55 percent win awards.

From this data, we get that more than 2/3 (71 percent) of digital startups were started with less than $10,000, most startups are made up of founders alone (38 percent,) with a quarter adding a salaried sales person (26 percent,) and over half of them (52 percent) having the founder be the sole breadwinner in the company.

About one-fifth (20 percent) of the startups make over $200,000, while one in six of them had no earnings in 2016. This reflects the fact that a good income can be made in cyberspace, but it takes a couple of years to establish your brand online. Most importantly for the presenters, over two-thirds (68 percent) of startups said their users used mainly mobile platforms (their cellular phones and tablets) to interact with them.

Monthly Users, by platform:

  • Facebook, 2.2 billion
  • Youtube, 1.9 billion
  • WhatsApp, 1.5 billion
  • Facebook Messenger, 1.3 billion
  • Instagram, 1 billion
  • Twitter, 336 million
  • Reddit, 330 million
  • Skype, 300 million
  • LinkedIn, 294 million
  • Snapchat, 255 million

While Facebook has the largest audience worldwide, presenters stressed that creatives must use each platform according that platform’s strengths. Facebook is great for customer engagement; Instagram is great for visual media; Twitter is best for covering live events; LinkedIn specializes in business related topics; and Snapchat is where all the millennials are hanging out.

Social media today is like the Wild West at the beginning of the 19th century: it is a vast landscape, and full of opportunity and challenges. No better time to jump in!

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