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Get your hashtag on, Social Media Week is here! #SMW12

Posted on Sunday, 12th February, 2012

I have an inner circle of friends that consists of digital strategists and marketing executives who are deep into social; Social Media Week might as well be our Social New Year. There are braintrust brunches and happy hours held specifically to coordinate schedules and plan for meetups.

Social media is not new by any means, but it’s an ever evolving medium; platforms change everyday and our industry is flooded with new market entrants faster than we can keep up with. Social has redefined traditional PR and the largest contributor to the Owned, Earned, Paid media construct. The need to stay emerged remains constant for anyone working in advertising/marketing/pr.

Working at an ad agency, I span across myriad verticals and clients in various industries (wellness, health, technology, CPG) who all use social differently to support their business models and objectives. The content I digest and connections I make during Social Media Week are invaluable to me to be a better strategist and marketer (specifically in health, a high regulated sector, like finance).

I still hear, on a daily basis,

–       “How do/should we integrate social media into our brand strategies”

–       “Is there a turnkey solution for all our clients on to how to approach social?”

And… the answer is NO. It’s custom designed strategy based on:

–       category you are in/amongst

–       your overarching brand strategies

–       deep analysis of the digital ethnography of your targets

I’m not going to wax poetic on building a social strategy, that topic has been covered enough (and will be covered ad nauseam this week) by those who understand the strategic integration content strategy, communication and connection planning within the social as a medium. This bi-annual week-long event brings the best of the best together to share their strategic thinking and executional approaches and successes.


Panels vs. Parties

For me in years past, as social media started to solidify its place in marketing and people were figuring out how to use social to support their brand/company needs, this week existed as highly didactic and educational; a foray into industry exec’s POVs on specific topics.

Fast forward a few years to today: social is no longer a specialized afterthought, it’s infused into every aspect of marketing/advertising. I am more selective about the panels/sessions I attend. There are still a lot of elementary and duplicative topics that may be valuable for those just getting into learning more about social, but my feeling is you can learn as much as possible from a didactic session, but with anything digital, I always say the devil is in the details and the hands-on experience you gain from actually architecting, implementing and most importantly activating a social strategy is more effective than any class/panel you can sit in on.

There are more than a fair share of successful case studies that have paved the way (inclusive of brand specific initiatives and company enterprise efforts to socialize from within) across 6 different content hubs

  • Business & Innovation
  • Advertising & Marketing
  • Social & Environmental Change
  • Health & Wellness
  • Art & Culture
  • Global Society

Social media week continues to connect me with strategic thinkers and hyper-social influencers with a similar professional focus of mine. Parties and networking aside, (always the best way to meet and get to know people) there are some great sessions/panels I’m looking forward to attending; certain thought leaders within this specialized medium should never be missed.

Picking Panels

One content hub that really does deserve its’ own schpeal is health & wellness. There are really no other industries like it and for those that work within this sector, you know what I’m talking about.


I’m happy to see such a large collection of health-related panels this year; they officially have their own Health & Wellness Hub! An especially helpful curation of topics for those who may just be integrating themselves within this highly regulated industry that has yet to publish formal guidance beyond broadly suggestive in nature, or crowdsourced from industry thought leaders from the Digital Health Coalition.

The sessions/panels this year range across how Pfizer and Sanofi are working with health/tech accelerators and startups, gamification methods, crowdsourced innovation contests, to technical advancements made regarding analytical/monitoring of your own wellness (ie: Nike+ band, Jawbone, etc).

It’s a nice mix. If you cant make the sessions themselves, here is a smattering of the health panels available on Livestream or you can follow the conversation on Twitter #smwHEALTH


My top 5 keynotes/panels I will definitely not miss:

John Bell from Ogilvy
The Insidious Plot to Socialize the Enterprise

No one asked for change management. Brands and organizations just started using social media. But as they scale – getting more people within the organization to use social in new ways – insights to drive strategy, more productive and enduring relationships with customers and enabling the sales force – they are discovering all sorts of changes that can be big and fundamental.

Seven insights and experiences from never-seen interviews with top business leaders at global brands like Ford and IBM. Each are deeply committed to making social a big part of how they do business. And along the way, they have learned a lot and been faced with changes they never really bargained for.

Cant make it? Watch on Livestream here


Ian Schafer from Deep Focus, et al
Deep Focus Presents: An Evening of “Connectedness”

Insightful exploration of how connectedness is changing the worlds of advertising, content, journalism, and civilizations — and why it represents the next evolution of humanity.

Featuring 8-10 speakers giving a series of brief talks on how being connected to more people, more content, more data, and more information than ever before is not only evolving business and commerce, but culture and humanity as well. This is for anyone with a vested interest in the ways we are connected to brands, customers, society, and each other.

Really doesn’t get better that this group of individuals on the panel:

Cant make it? Watch it on Livestream here

AgencyWare: Agency as Maker*

Should agencies think like startups? Thought leaders have debated this topic for the last year or so, and now some agencies are putting those thoughts into action. The result is a new generation of agency products that harness the energy and attitude of social and digital media.

Most agencies share key ingredients of agile software companies, like designers, programmers and project managers. But do they have they essential patience to iterate and persist throughout a profitable product’s lifespan? And is coding products in-house just a great exercise, or is a viable new business model emerging?

Brian Morrissey, Editor in Chief of Digiday, will moderate a panel of agency innovators that have experimented with the open social graph and worked to develop their own in-house tools, toys and applications.

Great panel:

*Note: This panel is probably the #1 interest for me as advertising agencies have moved beyond selling creative brand strategies and are converging with tech in the software/platform development game: developing & selling licensed products of their own. THIS is the epitome of change (and skill) management. Where do we play? Homegrown investment? Acquisitions? My opinion: Agility, skills and executional excellence in this arena may make or break it for traditional agencies. I’m interested to see what the panel says.


This Game Will Make You Healthier

Over the last few years, the industry has seen an explosion of new health applications, social media platforms, tools and games designed to make us healthier.  But do these programs actually work? Some argue that these new digital health programs are simply the digitizing of tried and true behavioral modification programs.

This is where the combination of health and technology can provide real value. The panel will discuss the success and failures of Health applications and social media platforms, explore how and why these help drive health outcomes, and share predictions on what we can expect to see over the next 5 years.

Cant make it? Watch it on Livestream here


Jonah Peretti from BuzzFeed 
The Future of Sharing followed by Panel: Creating Start-Ups Inside Traditional News Organizations

The rise of social platforms and content sharing is driving a major shift in the media industry. Increasingly, people are getting ALL their media through the social web: cute animals, breaking news, personal updates, branded content, humor, jokes, music and entertainment are all mixed together in a single interface. Social has become the new starting point for publishing and advertising. Jonah explains how the industry has shifted from portals, to search, to social, and more importantly, how you can thrive in this radically different media environment.

We’re living in an innovate-or-die media world, but it can be challenging to reposition a successful brand and operation, especially ones as large as and NBC News. This panel discussion will explore the benefits and challenges of spinning off start-up operations within traditional news organizations.

Follow @SMWNYC for updates.


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