Recently, I attended Wales’ first social media based conference; the Oi! (that’s Online Influence) Conference, held at the Celtic Manor. An idea born out of a Twitter conversation, it transformed into a truly unique event which focused on the potential for creativity surrounding social media and businesses. I have worked on and attended many conferences in the past, but this was like no other. For starters, it’s the first time I’ve seen the delegates encouraged to spend the whole time on their mobile phones, laptops or iPads tweeting! It was a perfect example of the real-time benefits of social media. By 11am, #oiconf was trending at No 3 in the UK as delegates furiously took to Twitter to praise the speakers and exchange tips.
The conference was made up of speakers who are passionate about social media and an audience that was equally enthusiastic. We were graced with the presence of social media heavy weight and superstar blogger Mark Schaefer who flew in especially from Tennessee to give the keynote speech. He was supported by some impressive co-speakers, who all gave their time and expertise for free.
The Online Influence Conference website
A few speakers really stood out to my attention. Jay Cooper of Bloom Media delivered an engaging high-level talk on the importance of being a social business. He argued that it’s not all about technology, it’s about people too; a factor some businesses forget in the noisy landscape of social media. Social media shouldn’t be a silo; it works best when everybody in the company is involved and more importantly, believes in it, and should align with existing communication procedures and business objectives. It was great to hear these messages, and really reinforced what we believe and practice here at Box UK.
Jay also talked about the essential steps for making a business social. These included creating a plan while maintaining the ability to be reactive, and learning to listen in order to produce content based on what people want. People like sharing, expressing their opinions, and recommending to their peers. The clue to social media is in the title; building a community relationship through these channels is essential, and the best way to do that is through content.
The ability to measure your success is of course paramount, but Jay made the point that while it’s all good and well measuring, it’s a good idea to know why you are measuring it so that you can continue to engage successfully. Socialise your future, not just your tech: advice all businesses should be taking note of.
James Cridland really hit the nail on the head with his talk asking whether social media offers a force good or bad, using last summer’s London Riots as a key reference. As Managing Director of online directory Media UK, he is perfectly poised to educate others on the impact that social media has over more traditional forms of news outlet. Was social media to blame for the widespread panic and participation in the riots last year? It certainly may have contributed. Social networks seem to have become the chosen tool for those who want to organize events en masse. They offer instant communication for like-minded people. The use of #hashtags makes it easy for ad hoc events to take place. But was it fair for officials to attribute so much blame for the devastation to social networks? Social networks are tools, and like any other tool, can be used for negative and positive ends. Closely related to this subject, James also discussed the importance of tweeting responsibly and the etiquette of sharing information as a professional.
Last but of course not at all least came Mark Schaefer. Mark delivered an insightful presentation which took us into the realms of online influence and how individuals can “move” and “ignite” content. It’s really easy to create content, but developing content that attracts attention from the right sort of people and, more importantly, compels people to do something is the tricky bit. And that’s not to mention ensuring you have built an audience you can rely upon to share what you create. Mark talked us through us examples of what such content could look like and real world examples of people that have achieved amazing responses via social media.
Mark Schaefer’s Return on Influence
I guess you have noticed a theme here; content. I have heard the term “Content is King” numerous times, and the speakers at this conference reinforced that belief. The day was a really great opportunity to meet with like-minded people and learn new ideas and techniques. It was a privilege to be part of such an important event in Wales’s social media development, and I’m already looking forward to the next conference!
Do you agree that content is king, and that businesses should be waking up to social? If you’ve got a comment or question about any of the talks mentioned here, or regarding any aspect of online influence, let us know using the comments box below.