Social Media Week (SMW) touched down in Bristol (February 26 to March 2) to shine light on the latest in all things digital marketing.

From influencer marketing, measuring social data and being more authentic online, SMW featured over 30 events in total across the city, with expert speakers from a number of local, national and international institutions sharing valuable insight into current industry trends and what businesses can do to stay ahead of the competition.

Reporting from a paid-by-performance perspective and not missing an event in its hometown, PerformanceIN was at the heart of it all to bring you our top takeaways from SMW.  

“Behave like a mate”

In an age dominated by automated tools and scheduling, it’s more important than ever to get your brand message across to your audience authentically.

This was the message behind Jon Payne’s session, the technical director of social media agency Noisy Little Monkey, who shared fun and insightful tips into the power of humanising your brand for marketers trying to balance technology and authenticity.

Payne first highlighted that content is part of the buyer’s journey and that social media is only an ‘attract phase’, accounting for just 20% of the journey itself; the main goal for marketers is to convert leads from channels and close them (using automated tools) to achieve ROI. While automated tools such as Hootsuite are efficient and available, Payne pointed out that when engaging with your customers, you need to “behave like a mate” and only share relevant information that is of interest to your audience.

In addition, he suggested some quick pointers: remembering those special dates; laughing with your audience; avoiding controversy, and help them in acts of kindness. Also, social media marketers should follow “the rule of thirds”; a third talking about yourself, a third about your sector and a third in conversation.

Connecting all the data

Meanwhile, John Mitchison, director policy and compliance at the Digital Marketing Association (DMA), along with representatives from its Social Media Council, ran through a number of areas of how marketers should be measuring social data.

In the same session, Michelle Anthony, digital partner relations lead at Acxiom UK, called out a disconnect between sales and social media engagement among 90% of product purchases. Anthony highlighted the importance of capturing the entire customer journey process, particularly on social media platforms such as Facebook where they may seek or review products on the channel before purchasing.

On how this can be achieved, Anthony recommended marketers to track measurement via application interface programs (APIs) and software development kits (SDK) to both learn and optimise data appropriately.

Following up on measurable data, Mitchison inevitably addressed the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and how regardless of where you collect your data, you need to be prepared and ready for the changes, calling GDPR an “evolution, not a revolution”. With 90% consumers wanting more control of their personal data, the opportunity to focus on trust should be harnessed.

“Think differently”

As emphasised in countless sessions, social media remains an invaluable tool in digital marketing. This was once again amplified in Business West’s keynote session on organic reach and the impact following Facebook’s recent algorithm changes.

Mark Wright, founder of digital marketing agency Climb Online ran through key areas for marketers to amplify organic reach on social media to win new customers and maximise ROI on the channel. Advice from the 2014 winner of the BBC show The Apprentice spanned the importance of thinking differently, joining the conversation and producing user content generated content (video, contests, behind the scenes) that’s engaging and relevant to customers.

The conversation also led to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and chatbots with estimates pointing to 85% of customer conversations being powered by chatbots by 2020. On how his company used the tool to win new leads and achieve ROI, Wright told PerformanceIN that this was possible due to the low cost of the tech, but highlighted that the effectiveness relies on time spent setting up.

“Putting the time in the set up is really important. If you don’t invest the time in a really good set up of a campaign, you will get the wrong leads or don’t get systems working correctly.” he said.

Beyond last-click

With more and more publishers being pressured to use paid advertising to promote content and reach new audiences, Facebook’s news feed tweaks came up again in a later session, with Bristol-based agency True Digital’s Content Shock session tackling how marketers need to justify the content they are publishing in a now more regulated news feed.

On top of outlining six hot tips to cut through the noise, the team also discussed content conversions where they suggested to marketers to “look beyond last clicks” as the key benchmark of success and instead look at metrics in the path to conversion, such as measuring performance of content based on time spent consuming it throughout different touch points in the user journey to the final purchase.

Did you attend Social Media Week Bristol 2018? Share your comments below and check out more highlights on twitter via hashtag #SMWBristol