Overheard At Social Media Week Chicago: Day 2



Browse select soundbites from our second day of programming at Social Media Week Chicago.

Our second day of Social Media Week Chicago welcomed speakers from some of the most influential brands, agencies, and publishers around. Below is a roundup based on our exclusive interviews with some of our esteemed speakers.

For full access to their interviews, and all Stage 1 sessions, join SMW Insider.

Obele Brown-West, SVP, Digital Account & Engagement Lead, Weber-Shandwick

On how social media has fundamentally changed commerce:

“Commerce is a lot easier thanks to the technological advances that have happened within digital and social platforms. It’s a lot easier for someone to be browsing Facebook, for example, see something, click, and buy. The ease of purchase has truncated the entire purchase funnel.”

On the diminishing influence of organic social media:

“Organic [social media] has a place from a channel hygiene standpoint, especially if you’re a new brand and you’re trying to build authenticity and awareness for your product. In those cases, you do need a Facebook page and cultivating a community is helpful. On the flipside, you don’t want to just talk to yourself, which is where the paid component comes in. Marketers today need to spend money in order to not only amplify their message, but also create the message itself. These days, you really can’t create a piece of static content; you have to have dynamic content and that costs money. There’s money on all sides, including the measurement piece. In order to see if you’re effective, you need to measure your efforts—and measurement isn’t free. You need sophisticated tools in order to make sure you’re measuring from the top of awareness all the way down from conversion to retention.”

Brendan Bilko, Co-Founder & Head of Product, Dexter

On the ‘mainstreamification’ of chatbots:

“When it comes to chatbot adoption, I think we’re still in early days. That said, the growth of the technology on specific platforms has been tremendous. Slack on the business or corporate side comes to mind. On the consumer side, adoption has been slower, but it’s gaining traction as businesses start to offer things that are less splashy and campaign-y and more centered around solving a consumer pain-point. One example: Basic FAQs. For most business, 90 percent of questions they get asked are the same. So, if you can go ahead and hand that stuff to a piece of software and allow your customer service team to triage things that are out of the blue, that’s where we’re seeing tons of success … Artificial intelligence and chat tech aren’t replacing humans anytime soon.”

On the No. 1 tip for brands approaching chatbots for the first time:

“When it comes to getting started, the most important thing to keep in mind is that people are going to mess with the bot you put out into the world. Knowing the personality of what I’m releasing and knowing the use case of what I’m releasing into the world gives me a general understanding of what people might ask of it. You might then consider those responses in advance and let the user know you’ve thought about their reactions and respond accordingly. It’s important to let the user know you’ve put the time and thought into what it is you’ve released.”

Nazanin Rafsanjani, Creative Director, Gimlet

On the unique benefits of storytelling via audio:

“I’ve had the lucky experience of working in network and cable television and I truly believe that audio is the least limiting way of telling a story. It’s the way that allows you to really put the story first without a lot of distractions. Visual storytelling can be kind of distracting because you’re reacting to so many things you’re seeing at the same time. Audio allows you to tell a narrative and create an intimate connection that is a one-on-one experience: you and the story. It’s the most exciting kind of storytelling.”

On which brands are right for podcasting:

“I think that any brand can have a podcast. It comes down to if you want to engage in long-form storytelling—branded podcasts like what we’ve made for eBay, Tinder, and Microsoft—need to be approached from a listener-first mindset. The story needs to come before the brand. You can’t enter into a long-form series wanting to sell a product because you’re asking for 20 to 30 minutes of someone’s time and nobody’s going to give you that much time if they feel like they’re listening to an ad.”

On how to produce effective podcasting advertising:

“For mid-roll ads, 45- to 60-second spots, we still want those to be tiny stories. Gimlet was founded on the idea that ads don’t have to be bad. They can be additive and good. They can make you laugh or learn something about a brand, or take you behind the scenes of a brand. Traditional radio ads on commercial and public radio had tended to be viewed of as an after-thought, something that interrupts what the consumer is actually there for. It was important for us from Day 1 to take a different approach.”

Matt Britton, CEO, Suzy

On the death of branding:

“In a TV-driven world, brands were able to dictate the way they were perceived because they could communicate their message within a very tight vacuum and do so in a way that talked about their unique selling propositions and the things that made that product important. Today, brands are perceived by consumers however they want to be perceived. On top of that, the power of brands just doesn’t weigh the same as it used to in the past. All products are good and you don’t need a brand name in a lot of categories to get what you need.”

On Instagram as a personal branding vehicle:

“Consumers are pursuing experiences not just to enjoy them, but to prove they were there. Instagram is the personal brand-builder in this new world. The new social currency is experiences—it’s not the Toyota Camry, Rolex watch or Nike sneakers that get people to look at you differently. It’s sneaking down to the front row and getting a selfie with a DJ or traveling to a remote place. That’s what’s forming your peers’ perception of you. Because of that, it’s changing and reprioritizing the way people spend their money and their time.”

On how brands can keep on the pulse of culture:

“A lot of brands are struggling with having their finger on the pulse of what’s really going on: the pulse of consumers, culture, and technology. At Suzy, we’ve developed a new tool called Suzy, which is a real-time marketing intelligence tool, that allows brands to ask a finite group of consumers any question in a variety of forms and validate their thinking in the same meeting they’re in. This allows them to be data-driven in every decision they make, from the smallest to the largest, and that’s our big focus moving forward.”

Want more highlights? Browse interview snippets from Day 1.

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