Social Media Week-Fairfax brought top industry professionals together for a day of innovation, networking and talks of the future. Below are my top takeaways from each session:

How National Geographic Became the #1 Brand on Social Media (@NatGeo):

They were the first to use new features as soon as they were launched such as SnapChat filters and Instagram stories. They played around with it and tailored it to their audience. There’s risk, but it is rewarding. They have a 100 year-old brand. This means they must protect the reputation of that yellow border.

Authenticity- If it’s not true to that brand, no one wants to engage with it. Be true to your mission and DNA. -Tammy Abraham, VP of Corporate Partnerships

Their Instagram is run by the photographers on expeditions out in the field. It is self-managed by people who are passionate of what they do. Their audience is people who connect with their content, want to hear something positive and connect with the brand that makes them feel like they have a purpose. They are interesting and interested.

If you want to change the world, you have to learn about it.

They allow ads, but it must fit their guidelines. It’s not a commercial account. It’s dedicated to authentic storytelling.

Top Tip: Take advantage of trending topics i.e. the eclipse, National Women’s Day – create content that is authentic and inspires people to engage.

Hug your Haters: The Art of Dealing with and Defusing Negativity Online:

The National Museum of African American History and Culture was asked about their content strategy.

How do they talk about a riot that happened in the 1800’s in a new way each year?

You can offer different perspectives for recurring topics yearly that keep audience engaged even though they have seen the topic before. Curators can discover something new and tell the story through a unique lens. Maybe they find artifacts and tell the story through the lens of a different person who was involved in that riot in some way.

How do they want to be on social?

They want to add value. Empathy is important in social. Educate folks if its misinformation. Every time someone gives you feedback, it’s a gift.

Social is moving fast. How do you get approval for posts in a timely manner?

The approval team should be small. Must be quick.  Ask for a blanket approval in advance. Be an advocate for innovation within and build trust.

Top Tip: People will always find information about your brand – make sure that it is coming from you!

Crisis Management in the Digital Age:

Crisis Management Expert, Judy Smith says there is an 83% chance companies can recover from a crisis.

What is something companies are doing wrong in a crisis?

Not being quick enough and reacting. 48 hours max. The narrative of a crisis is set in 17 seconds. Pick the best way to respond and best vehicle. For example, a CEO responded to a crisis in 15 tweets. It did not match. The response has to match the crisis. The words you choose must also resonate with the audience.

Crisis comes from culture. People get the information from the videos and headlines.

What is scaring Judy Smith in crisis management?

People can’t tell fact from fiction anymore. Companies can have bots to get things to trend. It’s a false sense of conversation.

Top Tip: Get ahead of the news – if you anticipate something is going to happen then get ahead of it and manage from in front.

Future Tense: How Leading Companies Embrace Innovation:

Startups take 10 years to break even. The panelists believe you may never “be ready” for a start-up, but go for it anyways.

When trying to be an innovator, showcase the different work that you’re doing. When building your team, make them feel empowered by embracing their ideas.

Top Tip: There will always be a naysayer in the group – instead of shutting them down ask them what they would do differently.

Short-Form Videos: A Recipe for Business Success:

The Cooking Channel is known for those viral, quick snippets of mouth-watering food videos we can’t get enough of. Their first tip for video- find your why. Find out why video is good for clients and audiences – what are they looking for and interested in?

Stop the scrollers in their track. Make sure the sound and video quality works well on all screens. The copy still matters to complement your video.

Top Tip: Use, reuse, recycle, upcycle – if you have good content, reuse it! Change the video or sound but don’t continue creating new content if previous content worked well, just revamp it.

Brian Fanzo:

Brian Fanzo believes “Only great content is king.” Social focuses on the people vs. the product. When posting, keep in mind 3/4 of buyers under 40 want to spend on experiences rather than products. Tailor your messages in that way. It’s best to talk with your community not at your community. 

Unsure of what to post? Access is key.

Pro Tip: The future of marketing is relatability – people are more inspired by relatable content that builds a better customer relationship.




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