Social media is a constantly evolving landscape, full of new technology and best practise methods.
So many, in fact, you can end up looking at your Twitter, Instagram or any of your other social accounts and ask "what should I be doing next?"
Which is why earlier this week, I took a trip from rainy Chester down to an equally rainy London and attended the #smlondon LIVE! 2016 conference on all things social media; looking to learn from some of the best on their current social strategies and how they're implemented.
While I reminisce about the incredible breakfast spread (and it was incredible), here are 10 things that I learned yesterday, from all of the day's speakers, that you can start applying to your social strategy right now.
1. Acknowledge What Your Competitors Are Doing Right
James Tozer of The Economist gave a really insightful talk on how the social presence for The Economist has shifted over the past year.
One of the exercises James and his team undertook before changing tactics was benchmarking and comparing their social posts to that of their competitors, using publicly available analytics. What they found drove the change in The Economist's approach to using social media as a whole.
Some of those changes included reducing long-form Facebook posts down to quick at-a-glance headlines, geographically targeting relevant content to their audience and investing time and energy into creating videos fit for consumption.
Takeaway: Don't discount your competitors just because they're competitors. If you intend on reviewing your social presence, observing what others are doing right in your industry can be a catalyst for ideas and creativity moving forward.
Follow James on Twitter: @JCDTozer
2. Have Multiple Points of Contact When Socially Selling B2B
Anne Nicole of LinkedIn UK opened my eyes during her talk yesterday by informing me that only 8% of deals done in the UK are multi-threaded. This means 92% of deals are done with one person. And if they leave? You lose your sale.
On average, 5.4 people are involved in a B2B purchase decision (sidebar: what is .4 of a person, top or bottom?) Anne recommends speaking to at least 5 people within a company to tell them about what you're selling.
The best way to be introduced to those contacts? Use your LinkedIn network. Individuals favour warm introductions over cold calling. But be warned, 67% of decision makers are more likely to change jobs in January, so close your deal before the year ends!
Takeaway: Use your LinkedIn network to find key decision makers within a company and ask to be introduced by your existing contacts.
Follow Anne on Twitter: @annenicolesays
3. Choose Your Influencers Wisely
Influencer marketing is picking up pace as a great way for brands to get themselves and their products seen and heard. By utilising an influencer's existing following, companies can reach a wider audience without coming off as forceful or in-your-face with intrusive and unwelcome ads.
Victoria Luck of Buzzoole used a great quote when talking about the state of influencer marketing and the shift away from choosing celebrities as your first (and sometimes only) option: "Targeting celebrities can not only cannibalise your brand but also attract haters". And it's true, all of Taylor Swift's 93 million followers aren't going to love your product. Sorry.
Takeaway: Influencers with smaller audiences often have higher engagement levels. Make sure your influencer campaign is specifically targeted to get the most value out of your investment.
Follow Victoria on Twitter: @Lovecontent1
4. Make a Change If Something Isn't Working
Chris Harris of Arsenal FC is getting social media right. They're winning new fans every day and engaging the existing ones across all of their social channels.
Though doing well previously, Chris and his team thought they could do better. By implementing a few simple changes Arsenal FC have seen an increase in engagement over the past year. Some of the changes include: showing humanity through the brand itself, utilising players to create exclusive content, making the most of "reaction gifs" and really bouncing off the fans passion for the club and game.
His best quote? "Create premium content that is well-timed and unique."
Takeaway: Assess the success of your brand on social media, and make changes where necessary. Don't be afraid to ditch something if it doesn't work.
Follow Chris on Twitter: @chrisharris1975
5. Ask Employees to Advocate for Your Brand
Camila Romuld of HSBC knows that companies and brands need to acknowledge, understand and embrace digital shifts to stay in the game, and that banks are no different.
HSBC currently utilises employee advocacy on LinkedIn to provide value, nurture relationships with clients and just show that they know what they're talking about. We'd be worried if they didn't, right?
Employee advocacy needs intertwining into the culture of your company. Your staff have to love what you do and the type of company you're trying to be. If not, their social media recommendations can come of inauthentic and insincere.
Takeaway: Ask your employees to become your brand's biggest fans. Ask them to share your content, engage with potential customers and show how great you are.
6. Use Side Projects to Push Through Creative Block
The Drum's Adam Libonatti-Roche knows creative/work burnout is real; and that everybody encounters it at some point or another. If you don't, count yourself lucky!
Adam stressed the importance of having side projects to experiment and test new ideas, revitalise your creativity and just give yourself a break. If you don't know something, learn it. Push yourself creatively and you'll get through your block.
Use your side hustle and apply the skills and knowledge you learn to your main role. You'll soon be able to see the results and reach your maximum potential (and beyond).
Takeaway: Have a side project. Keep being creative, keep pushing yourself.
Follow Adam on Twitter: @baconchin
7. Invest Time and Energy Into Video
It's no secret that video is on the rise. It's been this way for a few years, and it will continue to skyrocket; that's just a fact. So much so, that 82% of internet traffic will be video by 2019.
Twitter's Lucy McHenry spoke to the #smlondon LIVE! crowd about where Twitter stands with video and some of the tools on offer to make the most of the format.
There's been a 220x growth of video on Twitter in the past year alone, with 93% of video views happen on mobile. If those stats don't wet your appetite, I'm not sure what else will.
Takeaway: Take a look into video and if it could work for your brand. Try some ideas and experiment with new ways of telling your brand's story.
Follow Lucy on Twitter: @lucymchenry
8. Hire a Social Analyst or Prepare to Be One
So, I stole that point directly from Ben Donkor of Microsoft himself, and I have absolutely no shame about it.
Just because you have a social media team, doesn't mean you have a social brand. You need some form of social analyst, hired or trained, to assess your social situation and offer advice, ideas and guidance to move forward online.
You have to create a culture of data analysis within your company to make data driven decisions, and be effective with those decisions. But remember, social analysts are decision influencers, not decision makers. (Yes Ben, I'm still repeating that).
Takeaway: Ensure your analysts give you advice moving forward, based on thorough analysis, not just stats on what's already happened.
Follow Ben on Twitter: @FR314 (Ask him what his handle means, too)
9. Stop Marketing To Millennials as a Whole
Millennials are made up. They don't exist. That's according to Brenda Wong of Debut, at least. And I'd be inclined to agree with her.
Sure, Millennials, Baby Boomers and now Gen Z are useful generalisations in certain circumstances, but marketers need to stop targeting an entire group of people based on a 15+ year age range and focus on passions instead. Appealing to everybody with one broad stroke is never going to work, it's just not.
Instead, focus on your core audience. Find out where they are, what they like and create stuff WORTH sharing. Don't blame "Millennials" for not sharing your shitty content, re-do your shitty content and make the right audience want to share it.
Takeaway: Focus. Focus on your audience, their passions, their feelings and their behaviours. Stop being scared of Millennials and stop thinking they're all the same.
Follow Brenda on Twitter: @brendaisarebel
10. Make the Most of Citizen Marketing
Jules Lund of TRIBE made us all aware that we're in the beginning of a 50-year global media revolution, the social media revolution in particular. Therefore, it's up to marketers to assess the current state of affairs and be creative in how they market products in this new and unfamiliar territory.
Citizen marketing (or influencer marketing) is an ideal way to get your brand noticed by regular social media users, without forcing ads into their timelines. Users care about the people they follow on social media, they care what they have to say, and recommendations through citizen marketing open doors not previously available in the social space.
"The smaller the tribe, the greater the engagement, the more potent the influence" rings true, and the user-generated content industry is only going to grow over the next few years, so get in early and you might just be spearheading a revolution for your industry.
Takeaway: Your customers can (and often want to) be your biggest advocates. Nurture them the right way and their followers will love whatever you're selling as well.
Follow Jules on Twitter: @JulesLund
If you've made it this far, I'm impressed! You should be too, because it now means you've got an arsenal of 10 social media tips, from industry experts, that you can start applying to your social strategies RIGHT NOW! So I'm not going to hold you up any more, start using your new found knowledge!
I just wanted to say a huge thank you and shout-out the team at #smlondon LIVE! and Link Humans for putting together a really incredible event for all of us social nerds, and the speakers for sharing their time and knowledge with all of us. I'm looking forward to next year!
Social Media London & Link Humans, the creators of #smlondon LIVE! host a weekly tweetchat, every Tuesday at 11am GMT. You'll find me there, I hope to see you, too!