Overheard At Social Media Week Chicago: Day 3



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

Our third 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.


Betsy Hoover, Founding Partner, 270Strategies

On the relationship between technology and politics:

“The story of technology and politics is a really interesting. While technology has influenced politics a lot, we’ve actually changed much more slowly than what we see in other industries and from where our consumers are getting information and spending their time. In politics, you are encouraging people to vote, volunteer, and donate to something they care about. This is about participating in something because you want to see a better world. You’re acting with your values. You’re appealing to a different part of people. So, when we’re building a digital strategy for a political cause, we are using the same mediums like mobile and social, but approaching messaging and targeting in a totally different way.”

On how technology can be used to improve politics:

“The media gives politics a bad name, but there’s a lot of good that happens inside of it. Campaigns are a tool to organize and reach out to people who want to enact change and be a part of something bigger than themselves. In politics, every person has one vote and every vote matters. It’s empowering to give people that vote and give people the tools to show up. Technology gives us the chance to reach beyond the media and build our own narrative, and bring that part of politics out.”

Aaron Huey, Photographer, National Geographic

On social as a multidimensional storytelling tool:

“I do a lot of work with communities and the National Geographic stories that result from that work can end up defining who those communities are for decades. In those stories, you can really only get a few perspectives in and the communities wind up saying, ‘Well, what about all of the other things that make us who we are?’ With features like [Instagram] Stories and live video, we can allow those people to tell their own stories and give some more glimpses than what ends up in the magazine edit.”

On social media as a parenting tool:

“I started taking my son Hawkeye on the road with me when he was four. I saw what happened when he started pushing the button on this analog Polaroid-style camera—how people lit up and how it opened doors and people wanted to talk to him. People different than we were used to being around. I started using it as a tool to teach him about the world and how to engage with people. It was never about him as a prodigy or him as ‘the four-year-old National Geographic photographer.’ That sounds cool and it’s a cool shtick, but it was really about how we get children to engage with the world around them and those that are different than them. I see it much more as a teaching tool that can show other parents how to do the same kind of thing.”

Darren, San Antonio, Texas. Photo by @hawkeyehuey

A post shared by Hawkeye Huey (@hawkeyehuey) on

Adam Quinn, VP of Digital, National Geographic

On Nat Geo’s leadership in social media:

“Nat Geo is amazing at storytelling because the way we manage our social accounts. We let the photographers become the superstars for our storytelling. It’s unique across different publishers in that we’re a massive brand, but social media allows us to speak one-to-one and make people feel like they’re closer to our photographers, scientists, and explorers. We’re lucky that people are curious about the planet. People yearn for deeper content and more storytelling and we’re taking that approach of aligned content across all of our different platforms.”

On brand partnerships:

“We work with brands to find out what they’re trying to do that aligns with our storytelling and content and how we make that a part of the social conversation. We’ve done amazing work with brands like Subaru around their National Parks networks, Microsoft’s efforts to promote women in STEM, and Stella’s support of World Water Day.”

Marc Landsberg, Founder & CEO, Social Deviant

On what makes a brand magnetic:

“One of the fundamental premises we preach at Social Deviant is to stop chasing and micro-targeting audiences and really plant a flag. So, how do you build a magnetic brand and stop chasing audiences? There are three components. First, you have to have a point-of-view—a singular brand purpose. Next is having a clear personality so people can connect. And third is relevance, or making sure people find some value and relevance in your brand. My favorite magnetic brand is Warby Parker. They stand for artistry and self-expression, they show up to the world with interest, and they’re highly relevant when it comes to both function and form.”

On how to unearth your brand’s purpose:

“At Social Deviant, we go through brand purpose workshops, which are a series of exercises designed to uncover what’s true about them, what’s happening in the cultural current, and what are their product or service truths. We do a lot of stakeholder interviews, talking to customers, clients, employees, and leadership to get a careful sense of what the brand stands for, what role that brand wants to play in the world, and how they want to show up. Then we dimensionalize, based on all that input, what their personality should be, what their tone of voice should be, what value they bring (emotional or functional) and how they can be relevant to their audience. It’s a series of interviews, workshops, templates, tools, and elbow grease to come up with the creative ideas.”

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