social mediaIt’s safe to say that social media is an important channel for most brands.

But social activity fills a deep pool, and not everyone can dive as deep as they’d like for actionable insight.

For instance, as an organization, we are very reliant on social listening.

We are constantly monitoring our media mentions, our competitors, and our top keywords (“small business funding” for instance!).

By extension, social intelligence is increasingly important in our content creation, PR, and influencer research and outreach.

That said, the tools and tactics available to us are ever evolving.

So when we get a chance to learn more about what’s going on with social media tech, we jump at the opportunity.

Recently, I had the chance to attend a local social media conference, and I’d like to share my top takeaways with you.


The theme of the conference seemed to focus on personalization.

I’ve been thinking and writing about this a lot recently, especially with respect to how financial institutions have been changing.

In the context of fintech, banks and other institutions have begun to grasp that customers now expect a higher level of personalization in exchange for all the personal data they give you.

And they will walk away if your business can’t provide it.

Wherever and however you interact with your customers, the goal should be to create meaningful customer interactions and improve upon the experience.

How you deal with their data, how you protect it, how you store it, and how you access it will affect your interactions with those customers.

Digital transformation means we don’t have an excuse anymore.

We have the tools to do better, to personalize our touchpoints, and ensure we track them all.

Take Risks and Embrace “Flawsome”

Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics, began his keynote with the provocative subtitle of his latest book: Privacy is Dead.

According to Qualman, the traditional concept of privacy is dead. And everyone knows it.

Yet, no one wants to give up the idea of privacy completely.

He pointed out that customers don’t want to lose control over their information or data.

The winners of the social media game are often brands who inspire the most trust.

Those who find ways to give control back to customers use data to delight and include their customers.

So how can we do this?

Qualman says brands should take risks and create social content without worrying too much about perfection.

Instead of trying to be perfect, he encourages brands to be “flawsome”—that is, embrace humanity and its flaws to create a more genuine social personality. If you mess up, correct it or apologize and move on.

In my experience running social for brands, he’s usually right. Your followers will understand and appreciate that you’re human.

After all, behind every brand social media account is a person or team of real people.

Showing your human side as a brand has the added positive impact of creating more customer loyalty in the long run.

The most loyal customers are often those whose negative experience with a brand was handled well enough to make a deep positive impression.

Qualman also reminded the audience that less is more.

Digital leaders know they get better results by taking something away to tell a more compelling story.

For example, could you create compelling brand content using video or visuals alone?

Because so much video online is consumed on mobile with the sound off, this isn’t just a thought experiment—it’s imperative that anyone creating brand content today consider it.

Show Up Authentically

Jason Maldonado and CJ Magda, both from MailChimp, gave a high-energy talk about how they approach their social content strategy.

If you haven’t used MailChimp lately, you’ll be interested in learning they now encompass an entire set of marketing automation tools for small businesses.

Their offerings include much more than email. For instance, landing pages, social ads, Google remarking, and even direct mail.

For their social media team, that means a multi-pronged content strategy with many products to promote and support.

According to Ben Chestnut, CEO of MailChimp

Social is conveying a brand and turning it into an experience.

Maldonado and Magda started with this concept and did a great job showing us how they inject a unique and approachable personality into every customer touchpoint, especially using social media.

Their attention to detail is thorough and rare, especially for B2B brands.

Some ways in which MailChimp injects personality into their interactions include:

  • In-depth brand/voice/tone “boot camp” for new support team members
  • Pre-written messages for support teams to use
  • Custom GIF library the support team uses, featuring GIFs of team members

All these touches add color and delight to ordinary interactions online. For example, saying things such as thanks, you’re welcome, cool, we’re on it—any repeated support message.

And any of these ideas could easily be adapted and applied to other businesses, large and small.

The big takeaway from the MailChimp team is B2B brands can show up in unexpected creative and fun ways.

While it still isn’t the norm for B2B brands to engage in more fun or friendly ways, it can be a fantastic way to stand out.

Understand These Six Trends

Amit Naik, head of global analytics at Shiseido, wrapped up the morning with a talk offering great insight into six big trends right now.

Consumers now demand more personalized beauty products and content.

Shiseido is a beauty brand, but this applies to every industry—the beauty industry just happens to be a great example.

In general, consumers are creating a ton of content around brands they like and the products they use.

In turn, brands must first find a way to ingest the data and extract market insights.

And then, they must use the data to personalize the products and customer experience, because customers expect and demand this. (Noticing a theme here?)

Here are Naik’s six disruptive trends to watch:

  1. Ecommerce growth: Ecommerce is growing at a 26 percent pace, compared with brick and mortar retail, which is barely growing at all. Naik notes that Shiseido doesn’t treat ecommerce only as a sales channel, but look at it as a vital content channel.
  2. Shifting millennial attitudes: The digital-native generation is changing how we shop and communicate. This is a given and needs consideration, no matter your industry.
  3. Changing media habits: People shop and learn across channels. They’re increasingly channel-agnostic, browsing multiple screens frequently.
  4. The rise of indie: Channels like Instagram allow independent and direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands to rapidly build a following, flexing previously unimaginable power.
  5. The new consumer journey: Social media is part of the fabric of our lives, and the consumer journey is increasingly non-linear and social.
  6. Democratization of expertise: Today, anyone can become an influencer. Smart brands look for influencers everywhere to help disseminate their content.

Social Media Insights

No matter what your industry or audience niche, B2B or B2C, social, and content professionals should take note of a few big ideas:

  • Brands which ignore the impact of digital and social transformation do so at their own extreme peril.
  • Brands can and should authentically participate in social media to create more meaningful social content and connections.
  • People demand an increasingly integrated and seamless experience across all touchpoints when interacting with a brand. Brands with fragmented customer experience risk being left behind, especially by younger consumers.

Take these points into account when planning your strategy and your brand or business will flourish.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Irene Malatesta

Irene is a marketing content strategist, writer, and designer. Her mission? To create authentic connections through shared creativity and storytelling. Currently, she leads Content Strategy at Fundbox.

View all posts by Irene Malatesta