A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend iStrategy2010 in Sydney.
As someone who has attended a lot of conferences and been disappointed many a time with the one or two nuggets I leave with, this one was pretty good. There were some really inspirational speakers who brought some great insights and ideas to the table and then there were the speakers who rehash the same old chestnuts that we’ve all heard before.
So let’s break it down:
Chief Marketing Officer, Consumer and Online - Microsoft Asia Pacific
Haresh was without doubt the best speaker at the conference. He spoke about Microsoft social media marketing operating on a dynamic basis and the notion that as technology gets easier and more sophisticated, things get harder for business.
- Facebook is not a communications channel, it is a social service. Unable to acquire data becomes a huge chink in a social media strategy.
- Microsoft continually monitor their social media campaigns and re optimize tactics on the fly.
- Search is a form of engagement- a nice thought and a different way of understanding the channel.
- Microsoft heavily tracks competitors in the social space to benchmark their results. Year on year data is pretty much useless and comparison paints a much better picture.
President South Asia Kimberly-Clark
The Australian-New Zealand market is leading the way for Kimberley Clark. They’re changing from a ‘telling and selling’ marketing function to one which focuses on building relationships.
They’ve established communities around their 2 biggest brands- Huggies and Kleenex. They understand that nappies, tissues and toilet paper aren’t passion points for people in social media but parenting is. And they actually attempt to migrate their community from the Huggies to the Kleenex community as babies grow into kids.
The only fault (and not even such a bad one) is the lack of connectivity to fathers- but then there are Dads in the community, they just aren’t as vocal as the mothers.
Group General Manager of Marketing Fairfax Digital
Glenis spoke in detail about email marketing and how important it is for most businesses. Numerous commentators continue to bring up the conversation that email is dead. It seems the only reason they do that is because they have nothing else to say and it stirs up a good debate - an easy way to create conversation.
The quote of the conference came out of this workshop- if Facebook says email is dead, how come you need an email account to login?
Email is effective if used correctly:
- Prior to sending an EDM, always ask how you are going to make a conversation valuable to a customer. Sending effective emails minimizes the chances of getting on Spam lists which is an increasing problem for companies which rely on heavy EDM sends.
- Benchmark open rates against your respective industry.
- Subscribers are a long term investment and not a short term opportunity- results won’t happen in one click.
- Clean your email databases every 90 days. Forrester reports that 27% of people change their email addresses every year (2009 statistic).
Managing Director, Australia & New Zealand at MySpace & IGN Entertainment
Nick made me want to venture back into the land of mySpace. They’ve realized their shortcomings, reassessed and created a hub that keeps your blood pressure down
Digital Director, Fox Sports
Mark’s honest and frank approach to social media is refreshing. They’re trying, trying to make Fox Sports useful and more accessible to their fanbase.
Panels weren’t the greatest largely due to the fact that everyone was on the same side. Effective panels need to have polarizing sides full of drama, hyperbole and misused facts. That’s when people get fired up and more interested in the discussion.
A workshop on Mobile
We’re at a stage of the e-Revolution where smart phones are becoming the norm. Yes it may have been the potential year of mobile in 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09 and 2010, but in 2011 every Dick and Harry has a mini computer in their pocket (according to Nielsen, Tom might not have one yet) and they are appreciating the useful functionality that comes with it.
Missing this thought is the reason this workshop failed. Now that people and companies actually have a more solid understanding of this channel, how do we utilize it and shift marketing from pure message and play? How do you, as a brand, become a necessary functionality in someone’s mobile life?
And then from there, how can you further monetize and see returns?
Len Starnes - Head of Digital & Marketing & Sales General Medicine Bayer Schering Pharma
Phil Owens - Former Global Brand Head, Yaz Family Bayer Health Care
This panel discussion was disappointing and could have been so much more effective.
I think the main issue here is that Pharma is trying to use social media in a B2C sense. The restrictions surrounding pharmaceutical marketing is just too much of a barrier that the Pharma marketing function should reassess their approach to social media and create strategies within a B2B framework.
Social media doesn’t actually employ only one B2C strategy and copying that for a B2B context just won’t work. There is no way to compare the tactics employed by the 2 streams. B2B doesn’t have the natural passion points like a clothing brand or electronic device. It’s a completely different headspace and to mimic it within B2B is an immediate fail.
The suggestion I have for Pharma is take the insights from your target and the things you know about social media and apply those to your B2B social marketing strategies. Remembering that social media doesn’t just mean digital. Social media is a complete evolution in how companies talk to their customers. Use those insights to reshape relationships with clients in ways that work for pharma.
The bad still weans some really good insight and understanding in the space. So not so bad after all.
I think the key to this being a good conference was the high level of understanding of social media and its impact on business. The other key factor was the way that case studies were more than just case studies. Strategy, methodologies and the derivation of idea processes enabled attendees to leave with new ways of tackling business issues, rather than just cool stories to tell.
If you missed this one, I strongly recommend going to the next iStrategy conference near your area.
This blog also appeared on my company's blog