What We Learned at Social Media Week Austin 2019

ICYMI – 4 Actionable Social Media Week Austin 2019 Takeaways

Social Media Week Austin 2019 (SMWATX)  brings together marketers, entrepreneurs, and creators for several days for collaboration and learning. Our team attended SMWATX this year as volunteers working behind the scenes on the social media team. We loved every minute of it! Here’s what our marketing managers, Adrianna and Alicia, can share with you from this year’s sessions.

Brand Development

There were many sessions this year on building a brand and how to improve your current brand. First and foremost, it’s important to have a foundation and understanding of what your brand is. Re Perez, CEO and Founder of Branding for the People, explained how branding can tap into people’s subconscious. Think about it: you see golden arches and think fries or a green mermaid and think coffee. Our brains are so tapped into how we recognize and associate ourselves with brands.

Here are some of Re’s key guidelines for when you’re building or improving your brand:

  • Branding is the process of creating for an audience. It’s important to make the brand meaningful and tangible.
  • Build a brand that’s authentic. Be exactly you and the results will come.
  • Own your brand and brand voice, and know your brand’s personality.
  • Be credible, be unique, and be relevant.
  • Create a brand that shares the values of your customers and impacts their lives.
  • Help your customers solve their problems and they’ll love your brand for it.

Community Connection

A big buzzword this year was “community”. How are you connecting with your community of customers and supporters? When you focus on your community, you create loyal customers and followers. Here’s how you can connect to your community, as recommended by various speakers:

  • Raj Jana, Founder of JavaPresse Coffee Company, said: “Treat every single follower like they mean the world to you.”
  • “When you build a tribe, you can create prosperity,” said Tiffany Scott, Founder, and CEO of Sister Suppers. “Find the need, meet the need, and exceed the need.”
  • Marin Heard Annen, Social Media Manager & Influencer Partnerships at Home Away said, “If you don’t have community management with your followers, then your social media will flop.”

Ensure that your customers and followers feel like they are being heard. Tend to their needs and gain loyalty as a result. Your community’s loyalty can lead to more awareness, engagement, and ultimately sales. Use the network you already have as advocates for your brand and to help grow your business through them.

Engagement Over Followers

With bots and fake followers, it can be difficult to find credible brands and influencers. Brands and customers alike see through follower counts. Having the most followers isn’t as important as it used to be.

Your engagement rate is more important than followers alone in determining your influence on Instagram. Engagement rate is the number of likes/comments a post gets divided by the number of followers you have. The industry standard engagement rate on an Instagram post is 2%.

Travis White, Founder of Unkept Gentleman, described something he referred to as “engagement power”. This is the ability to make someone freeze and engage with your post within the 1-2 seconds they notice it. Need help boosting yours? Try the following Travis White-recommended tactics:

  • For the post itself: make it inspirational, humorous, polarizing or emotional. Have fun with it and show who YOU are.
  • For the caption: test captions that ask questions, give choices, and get vulnerable. Play around with short vs. long captions.
  • Think about the algorithm: make content that interests your audience. Improve your engagement by responding to your audience’s comments and DMs. Post at times relevant to them. Use hashtags to reach new people in your targeted audience.
  • Cute down on spam: Block inactive or suspicious accounts that follow you.

Take baby steps in growing your engagement rate. Test out different types of content, captions, hashtags, etc. Find your social media engagement gold mine with your audience and do more of that.

Authenticity and Transparency

“The world is starving for authenticity. Connect through authenticity,” said Rob Dial. He’s the founder and host of MWFmotivation Podcast and specializes in authentic video storytelling.

Authenticity played a huge role at SMWATX 2018  and it was still very much present at SMWATX 2019. The theme of authenticity had an element of transparency to it this year as well.

Keynote speaker, Claire Winslow of Best Practice Media, spoke on this. More than ever we need to be transparent with our audience, followers, fans, and customers. In the past year especially, people have become wary of how their information is being used. It’s important to remain true to your audience and be transparent with them. Authenticity and transparency make your business more credible. You’re more likely to grow a great community if you have credibility and earned trust.

In summary:

  1. Create a brand that your audience will love.
  2. Build and sustain a community of loyal followers.
  3. Focus on engagement over your follower count.
  4. Aim to be as authentic and transparent as possible.

Our four SMWATX 2019 takeaways compliment each other so well, and we hope you can use them to strengthen your social media marketing efforts.

Thank you for having us, Social Media Week Austin!

About the author

Adrianna is a marketing consultant for Kadence Collective and Kadence Digital. She is a content creator fanatic and loves creating campaigns both paid and organic to help companies meet their goals. In her free time, she likes to explore the city of Austin, trying new restaurants, going to concerts and networking with others.