10 Things We Learned from SMW Chicago in 2015

Social Media Week

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Last year, the #SMWChicago community had the opportunity to hear from leading individuals and organizations across technology, entertainment, marketing, and media.

As we start getting ready for the return of Social Media Week Chicago later this year, let’s look back at some of the things we learned, from data marketing and influencers to virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

1. 1871’s Howard Tullman Presents The Top 10 Tech Trends for 2016

In the near future, the way businesses interact, engage, and sell to customers will be entirely different. The ground rules and the new ways of communicating with individuals will take the best of the best that exists today, learn from the failures, and make both sides happier along the way. At Social Media Week Chicago, 1871’s CEO, Howard Tullman, presented 10 cultural trends and technological innovations that will impact businesses around the globe next year.

2. Chicago’s Professional Sports Teams Participate in SMW Chicago

Digital marketing leaders from the Chicago Bulls, Cubs, White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks, Fire, and Sky joined SMW Chicago to discuss how professional sports teams are leveraging social media to promote their brand, increase engagement with customers, and impact their bottom line.


3. Game Show Winner, Trusted Advisor, and Talented Chef — The Many Faces of IBM Watson

Watson has been hard at work since Jeopardy. IBM pioneered Watson across a range of new industries, geographies and professions, with the purpose of changing the way that we work and live. The beginnings of Watson and Cognitive Computing can be seen in applications as diverse as medical research, oil and gas, financial services, cooking, and fantasy football. Explained by Carolyn Calzavara (Engagement Manager, IBM Watson Group) Watson has ignited the imagination of a culture of developers, industry experts, and professionals. As new applications and ideas continue to spring forward the only question is — what will you do with Watson?

4. Trends, Challenges and Insights Into Shared Economy Startups

Several on-demand startups joined forces at SMW Chicago to discuss trends, challenges and insights into the shared-economy sector. Speakers from prominent Chicago startups included David Katcher (General Manager, Lyft), Kelly Seeman (Business Development, Postmates), as well as executives from Luxe, Sprig and Starchup.

5. The Future of Social Data: Social Intelligence

Hosted by our global partner, and social media analytics company, Sysomos, Amber Naslund (Senior Vice President of Marketing, Sysomos) demonstrated how just listening to online conversations is not enough. Many businesses still struggle to capture and analyze all the rich information and insights the massive social data landscape provides.

6. LinkedIn Presents: How to Hit Your Content Marketing Out of the Park

Sean Callahan (Senior Manager of Content Marketing, LinkedIn), discussed how content marketing is a competitive sport, and to achieve a grand slam in content marketing ROI, you need a great team around you. Sean explained how visual Tweets receive 3x the amount of engagement, why content marketing should be about answering your customers greatest questions, and re-purposing your greatest content like leftover turkey.

7. “Five Core Tenets for Creating the Social Enterprise” with Accenture Digital

Companies continue to struggle with measuring the real business value of their social media marketing and engagement efforts. Disconnected brand presences lead to a lack of adoption and consistency across departments resulting in multiple siloed solutions and disoriented customers. Accenture’s recent “Five Tenets for Creating the Social Enterprise” report (which you can download for free) digs a bit deeper in this examination for how to best capitalize on social.

8. Generational Mashup feat. Speakers Age 18, 21, 25, 34, 63, and 91

Multiple generations, from a high school student to a retiree, came together at SMW Chicago to discuss, compare and contrast how each uses technology today. Ben Foster (Senior Vice President of Digital Strategy, Ketchum) tossed out questions about specific social media channels, their perceptions and usage, and what attendees can learn in order to better market to these demographics online.

How a 91-year-old reacts to seeing @Facebook ads. #SMWChicago

A video posted by Ketchum (@ketchumpr) on

9. Breaking Down (Design and Content) Barriers with Havas Worldwide Chicago

Commerce vs. culture… School smart vs. street smart… Long form stories vs. “instacontent.”… TV stars vs. YouTube celebs. Chuck Anderson (Creative Director of Design, Havas Worldwide Chicago) Jason Peterson (Chief Creative Officer, Havas Worldwide Chicago) offered a reality check to attendees, explaining how social media has literally exploded traditional silos that have ruled they day since the birth of advertising. Nowhere has this convergence been more extreme than in the area of content creation. The iPhone, Instagram and plethora of social tools that pop up daily have democratized creativity in unprecedented ways.

“Know your value. Never be desperate, especially on social.”

“If you know your audience you can embrace negativity in a calculated way.”

“Be social. Mean what you say. Say what you mean. Be a part of the conversation.”

“If you put it out there, you need to put it out there with the expectation of a response.”

10. The Onion Discusses Politics and Their 7 Trillion Monthly Readers

More than ever before, people rely on nontraditional media outlets as their main source of news. With the 2016 election right around the corner, satirical news sources, such as The Onion, have a particularly strong ability to influence voters all over the country. Mike Gillis (Staff Writer, The Onion) and Seena Valli (Senior Writer and Sports Editor, The Onion) made the audience laugh, think, and hypothesize the current state of news, publishing, and satire’s effect on both. They also informed attendees the true impact that The Onion has: 7 trillion monthly readers!

SMW Staff

SMW News, Social Media Week


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