Having spent two days at the Social Media Strategies Summit last month run by GSMI, I’ll share a few things that stood out, but first, it’s time to share a story that’s not directly related to the event.
It involves a castle…
…that isn’t really a castle.
And an island escape.
And an arms dealer – who was a hero who fought for improving the lives of the less fortunate.
And explosions. Multiple. Spanning decades. One that was felt 50 miles away.
I’m not going to give away the whole story, but it’s one you’ll hear when you take a boat ride to Bannerman Castle on Pollepel Island in the Hudson River, easily accessible from Manhattan via a train ride out of Grand Central to Beacon (a charming destination in its own right).
During the tour, the guide mentioned how the past five years or so, the spread of social media has worked wonders for the restoration of this unusual and striking landmark which wasn’t too far off from crumbling into the river. A privately funded trust has brought the island and stories back to life.
The small island itself seems to be coming alive. When I visited there last month with my family, I noted to the guide that there seemed to be a lot of butterflies for such an island. She said that was intentional, as they planted milkweed and other species of plants so that it would be a migration stop for monarch butterflies. There are wonders great and small.
Even those of us willingly spending so much of our days on social media can’t avoid the horror stories – how it’s distracting people from their families, destroying kids’ social skills, and leading to mobs of people hurting attractions and themselves as they flock to some photo-friendly hot spot. But there is a lot of good too, and Bannerman is a prime example. The more that visitors spread the word, the more it attracts other paying visitors who wind up contributing to historical preservation, jobs for guides and boat crews, more customers to the cafes and shops in Beacon, and even more butterfly babies as it helps the travelers survive their journey.
Many of the talks at SMSS were also uplifting. Okay, it’s preaching to the choir, but the preachers were not just the parishioners – they’re the practitioners. And practitioning made perfect.
The overarching takeaway from the Social Media Strategy Summit is that social media didn’t need to be part of the strategy at all. The strategy was doing something that would get other people talking while staying true to the brand.
Consider Lyft’s Bette Ann Schlossberg when she was talking about influencer marketing with Obviously’s Mae Karwowski. Schlossberg talked about campaigns involving Earth Day, supporting immigrants and trans drivers, and taking riders to polls on Election Day. While Karwowski did stress some strategic best practices such as focusing on sincerity, authenticity, and building relationships with influencers, the theme from Schlossberg and other speakers – and this is my own interpretation – was to spend 90% of the time working on what would generate interest in the brand and 10% of the time figuring out how to distribute the message.
My own version that I cited in my talk is Philadelphia’s “Bagel That” device, which was briefly available for $10 on Amazon. It “allows you to punch a hole in almost anything, instantly turning it into a bagel to top with Philadelphia Cream Cheese.”
Is that a product? A PR stunt? A social campaign? I have no idea, but I’m sure they loved the Fast Company coverage. The fact that it doesn’t fit neatly into any box is the ‘hole’ point.
(An aside: What happened when butter badmouthed cream cheese? It launched a shmear campaign!)
Ahem. Anyway, I featured the bagel hole-maker in my talk at the summit as an intro to a roundup of the latest ad offerings from major social platforms that included Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Reddit, Pinterest, and TikTok. There’s some bonus material about Fortnite and others too.
I posted the talk on SlideShare at bit.ly/SMSsummit, and that version is fully annotated with talking points, and there are links to all original sources in the notes. Check it out and share it if you’re so inclined. You can download the PowerPoint version – not just the PDF.
Lastly, I have a few people to thank for their role in the talk:
*Leo Morejon, for recommending my involvement in the summit.
*Ari Berkowitz at 360i for terrific examples.
*Hiraarshad on Fiverr for her captivating illustrations.
*Breanna Jacobs & the GSMI / SMSS team for running an event with some of the best presenters I’ve seen in a long time, including many who are new to or who don’t often hit the speaker circuit.
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