5 things I learned at the 20/20 Social Media Summit

By Tyler Arnold, Account Executive & Digital Strategist at LCI 
tylerI had the opportunity to attend last week’s PR News 20/20 Social Media Summit in San Francisco and due to the sheer volume of similar events, I didn’t know quite what to expect. The hefty entrance fee left me pondering how valuable the conference would be, which claimed to “feature key influencers and operators in social media, sharing their knowledge and experience in a full day of eye-opening sessions.”
As soon as I arrived, however, I was sold. All of the speakers weren’t just leaders in various online marketing fields (social media, content development, distribution strategy) – they were operators and doers, as well. Presentations were typically 30 minutes long and contained tons of actionable data. The slides (made available online for attendees) featured insights and best practices from team leaders from such companies as Levi Strauss, Human Rights Campaign, LinkedIn, Facebook and more. Here are some of the most interesting takeaways I learned from the event:
1. Social media means sometimes breaking the rules. When the U.S. Coast Guard undertook its own social media initiative, they knew that strict protocols weren’t going to allow them to create an exciting online presence. Because of this, they took the time to educate internal social media leaders on basic best practices and gave them the freedom to be creative. The result was an engaged online following, which turned out to be a great recruiting tool for the service.
2. Ongoing training and support is the key to successful employee advocacy efforts. Tools like LinkedIn (and their Company Pages) can be a great way to activate employee advocates. However, without ongoing training and support, most employee advocacy initiatives tend to fall flat. Think about how you’re going to keep momentum moving for the next 6-12 months to yield effective results.
3. Respect your blog if you expect results. A blog isn’t just a place to repost press releases. Instead, use a blog to take advantage of opportunistic news stories. Break down silos in your organization to ensure your blog includes content from different departments. Also, make sure the content is showcased around your website so it generates enough traffic to be seen as a publicity tool by internal staff.
4. If you’re serious, there’s ROI from social media. While many leaders are quick to ponder the ROI of social media, few can articulate what they expect the “R” (the return) to be. It’s easy to understand the work that goes into online marketing efforts, but without identifying specific goals, online initiatives can be viewed as frivolous by top execs. Levi Strauss invested heavily in its blog to demonstrate the dynamic image of the brand. The result ended up being a 10x increase in tier 1 media inquiries!
5. Content audits will show you what kinds of material you do and don’t have. In order to create visual marketing elements and fill gaps in your editorial calendar, it can be valuable to have a content library that has all creative assets in one place that everyone on your team can access. A central content depository will allow you to “audit” your creative assets to see more of what you do and don’t have.
Overall, I was impressed with the caliber of speakers and knowledge share at the 20/20 Social Media Summit. Attendees were serious about their craft and were there to learn and exchange information. The Westin San Francisco was a great host venue, complete with ample food, coffee and sweets to sustain a day of learning. The event was worth the time and cost if you’re looking to significantly expand your content marketing knowledge.
Questions or comments about the Summit? I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to email me at [email protected].

7 thoughts on “5 things I learned at the 20/20 Social Media Summit

  1. Tyler – Great post. I particularly like keeping your blog newsworthy, current and relevant and nimble enough to react to trending stories. A good lesson for all #PR and @SocialMedia pros. Cheers, David

  2. Thanks for the great takeaways, Tyler!
    Number two definitely stood out to me as I’ve recently been learning how important consistency is, especially in Public Relations and in social media. You must have momentum with your posts, creating connections, etc, to create a presence within social media and your field of work. This is absolutely a lesson I will take back to school with me!
    Thanks again.

  3. Thanks for the great lessons, Tyler! Your post is very informative to anyone interested in social media. Sounds like you had a great time at the Summit and learned a lot!
    -Elena

  4. Tyler, your first point really speaks to me. Once the basics are covered — be it social media or another digital communication device — a little bit of rule-breaking pushes things forward and has the potential to increase efficiency. Thanks for the great post!

  5. In addition to ongoing training for employees who manage the company’s online brand and social media, it’s essential that the organization give the employees decision-making power to communicate in real time. Social media posts won’t be relevant if every outgoing message has a long approval process.

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