#SMiB Social Media in Business Conference

It is now becoming a tradition to try and get out a review or some take outs from a conference, and I will attempt to write one for the Social Media in Business Conference, which was held last Friday at the Paypal/eBay UK HQ, in lovely Richmond.

I attended from a Social Media in Recruiting perspective, but with an open mind to see what other companies are doing in their diverse sectors.

Unlike some previous Social Media conferences, SMIB had social at its core, with most of the attendees actively interacting and exchanging ideas, knowledge and experiences within their industries.

The speakers lineup was very good, and the focus of most of the presentations was what they have done / are doing with Social Media and the impact on their businesses. The industries covered included: Technology, Media, PR, Communications, Classifieds, Artists, Floral, to name but a few.

Key points that I got from the event are listed below:

Stewart Townsend talked about how Sun Microsystems changed from a ‘seeming’ expensive brand to one that now has a large list of SMEs with their Startup Essentials pack. By talking with the community, Sun understood what was needed and learn better how to engage with them.

Tamara Littleton, CEO at eModeration presented relevant cases studies in Social Media. She also tried to address the difference between a Community Management & Social Media Management.

Social Media Management does focus more on whats happening in social media regarding the brand, while Community Management will probably be more internal, building relationship with people who have come to the brand already. Tamara showed an example of a request she made to Virgin Atlantic via Facebook and how their customer service replied her nicely in less than 1 hr. One of the key points made was: You can talk about tools, technologies, techniques for Social Media or Community Management – but you really need good passionate poeple as Community Managers to be successful.

Jon Bishop, Community Strategist at Gumtree started his presentation with an analysis of the feedback from users regarding Gumtree’s recent website, launched a few months ago. He showed some very negative comments from the site’s users. He pointed out that Gumtree had to listen to many of the feedback (not delete them) but at the end of the day, you will not be able to satisfy everyone with design decisions you make. People will always have negative comments. Don’t be scared of negative comments. You need to turn negative comments into positive responses.

He asked: Where does social media belong in a company? And in his opinion (and slighly contr0versially), Social Media should not be in any of: IT, Customer Service nor PR. He thinks that PR is used to writing copy, write press releases, deal with journalist; For Social Media: copy=conversations, journalist=bloggers.

Also, he noted that Social Media is not for juniors.  Just because someone knows how to use Facebook doesn’t make them a good Social Media Coordinator, as whoever is responsible for this role must be emotionally matured and professionally experienced to deal with the conversations within the community.

One way to get engaged community is literally by bribery. Offer give aways or contests to get the community engaged. For example, Gumtree is giving away iPads next week with a contest/competition.

Jon talked about Facebook extensively as a part of the Social Media strategy in engaging with their community. However, Social media is not cheap. For him, Facebook is the future of social media, because everyone is pretty much on it. And more people value their social graph reputation. Facebook fan is like an email subscription, have brand spend in ur search marketing budget. Unlike Search Marketing, with Facebook you are paying for a fan, not per click.

Heather Taylor, Social Media Manager at Paypal’s Lets Talk site discussed how Paypal is involved with direct conversations with its users on different issues regarding their accounts and how to use the service effective. She featured several aspects of the website and showed us their About page, where the team members demonstrated their personalities via genuine, humane activities. For me, the funniest was the Marketing Director having a deep sigh while blubbering his mouth – lol.

Heather completed her presentation with the following advice regarding Social Media: Educate (give people skills); Play (experiment. don’t be afraid); Be bold (don’t give up!)

Besides the presentations, it was great to have had good conversations with very interesting peeps.

Big thanks to Paypal’s Heather and Desigan for hosting the event and many thanks to the great speakers, attendees and the excellent organization by Chris Hamby and Nigel Clarke.

Eggbox Marketing also has a review here.