Saying goodbye is never easy. When something excites you, inspires you and helps you see the bigger picture of where your life and that of those around you can go, it’s that much more difficult to just walk away without a little tinge of sadness. Sure, there are deep lessons you take with you.  While these lessons can help you achieve everything you felt while you were in that moment, it’s hard not to fall into a case of ‘what if.’ The 3rd and final day of Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Marketing World 2016 definitely provided a few of those moments.

What if the conference were just a day or two longer? What if I could just have been able to see a few more sessions? What if I could just take in just one more workshop? What if an opportunity was missed while staring down at my iPhone while Tweeting out just how exciting living through those three days felt?

Live Video Keynote Perks Up Audience in the AM

Before those questions began to creep in, Day 3 kicked off with the panel discussion “Live Video: Why the Future of Marketing is Going Live.” Led by Joel Comm and featuring Mari Smith, Kim Garst & Shaan Puri, the discussion centred around the impact live video is having, and will continue to have, on brands worldwide who properly utilize social media marketing to get their message out to consumers. The panel masterfully ran the gamut of live video hot topics.  Facebook’s algorithm and how broadcasting video can help broaden your organic reach, creating immediate value through an unfiltered look at individuals and brands, how video is exploding on mobile devices thanks to apps like Snapchat, Periscope & Facebook, each of these talking points he the how’s and why’s was made simple throughout the morning Keynote.

One of the little talked about moments of the conference is watching attendees file out of Hall D and heading up the escalator to the workshop and session area. There’s few stragglers who veered their way off to the side to head to Starbucks or even outside to enjoy a crisp San Diego morning. The group rides the escalator with purpose, sharing ideas and thoughts on what they’d just seen, as they head up to the exhibit halls on the upper floor. It’s an amazing thing watching so many people searching for the same thing using their time not to compete, but to provide value to the people around them through sharing and collaborating. It’s like watching the essence of why social media is so popular take human form in the real world.

Passion is Contagious

Depending on where you were, takeaways from Day 3 obviously differ. Our Social Know How Team took the “divide and conquer’ approach the entire conference so finding multiple takeaways in each track was made easier. On the content side of things, there may have been nothing more refreshing then taking in Marcus Sheridan’s “7 Qualities of Outrageously Successful Companies” session.

I’ve loved a lot of things in my life, but I don’t think I’ve ever had as much passion for anything as Sheridan does for the possibilities of social media and teaching people how they too can achieve incredible success in business utilizing content marketing best practices. As one of the final workshops of the day for many, learning about how companies can mobilize their sales force and other departments to help market their business and the need for dedicated content managers was made easier by his captivating delivery. After using an example of how a piece of content he used shared the names of some of his competitors, he provided a piece of advice I know will resonate with me and the rest of my team long after our planes touch back down in Toronto.

“Consumer ignorance is no longer a viable marketing strategy,” he said twice to emphasize its importance. With so much being shared on social media and search engines like Google mere fingertips or thumbs away for so many people, depending on your audience’s lack of awareness of the marketplace is just plain stupid. Information is easy to attain and it’s only becoming more accessible with content forms becoming easier for people to consume.

Where Are You on Your Journey?

On the analytics side of things, Christopher Penn’s “How to Create a Data Driven Customer Journey” was a must for people looking to gain access into the habits of the consumers they’re looking to reach. Content generosity, advertising and campaigns are all fine and dandy, but isn’t it important to know where your content is being searched within a consumer’s purchasing cycle?

That was answered poignantly by Penn, as he showcased how tools like Google’s Customer Journey to Online Purchase & Tableau can help you see just what type of marketing you need to be utilizing within your digital plan.  The power of knowing just why a consumer is on your Facebook Page or why they’d be Googling your name is insanely valuable in helping you and your marketing team determine just what content should be awaiting them in those moments.

In terms of specialization, using data to pinpoint your strategy can help you take your brand, or the brands you work with, to the next level of success and keep you ahead of the competition as a thought leader within your industry.

This is the End

Before the curtain closed on Social Media Marketing World 2016, Mark Schaefer shared “Breakthrough Growth Ideas: How Marketers Can Truly Fly,” as the final Keynote Address for this year. This truly galvanized the audience and sent attendees out of the San Diego Convention Centre with a message that should resonate after all of the talk of new technologies, apps and ways to utilize them to build brand awareness. 

Schaefer’s keynote was predicated around on changing courses within the social media space while keeping the one thing most important to brands -humanity. He encouraged people to “Be. More. Human,” while outlining the importance of building loyalty by displaying the most humanity in a world where gadgets are used by people to stay connected.  It may seem simple, but sometimes that message can fall by the wayside when people wade through heaps of data to determine trends and success.

At the end of the day, this is all about staying connected with your audience. Until someone invents a way for your dog to watch Facebook Live videos and comprehend the content, you’re marketing yourself and your business to people. All of your efforts should be centered on providing value to people at the most basic level.

So Long…For Now

And on that note, it was time to depart the San Diego Convention Centre and say our goodbyes to #SMMW16 and the many faces and voices that made this year an epic trip for our team. Saying goodbye wasn’t easy, but what we left with (and what those of you who missed the event should consider in the years to come) is that the amount of information available to social media marketers and brands can at least leave you with something to remember it by. Implementing ideas sourced by this information, while also staying connected with the people you meet at events just like this, can make the entire experience worthwhile. While it was hard to start the process of packing our bags to leave San Diego, the part that made it the easiest was the realization at the airport that Social Media Marketing World 2017 is just 11 months away – and the chance to join the Social Media Examiner Team and marketers from around the world is too valuable an experience to pass up. See you all again next year.