#SmartSocialSummit 2017: Stay true, find balance, and give your audience a voice.


October is coming to a close, which means it’s that time of year where we hop a plane to Austin, Texas, to join the smartest in social at the annual Spredfast Summit. Our team took in keynotes, panels, breakouts, and one-on-one conversations to glean insights about the social media industry and its ever-evolving role in brand marketing.
As always, the event preached the importance of leveraging social listening and one-to-one conversations to create meaningful human connections. After all, over 90% of tweets deal in response and reactionary conversations, with just under 10% being proactive, branded content.
This year’s event featured former First Lady Michelle Obama, National Geographic, General Motors, Stitch Fix, and more. From automation to micro-audiences to new product offerings to content insights, takeaways were frequent and flowing. So, let’s dig in with our three favorite talking points from the event.
1. Stay true to your brand, and “lean into your DNA”. Now, more than ever, it’s important for brands to identify which platforms are a fit for their persona, where their audience is, and why they’re on social media in the first place. Don’t do things for the sake of doing things. Be purposeful, deliberate, and measured in taking on new challenges, content, and platforms.
In understanding, leveraging, and honing your brand’s oneness (what your brand offers that no other can), you set yourself apart from the field, generate and foster brand loyalty, and drive engagement.
This is particularly important for brands operating in a saturated market space or in industries threatened by disruption (ex: Amazon looming over retail).
What do you and your brand offer that no one else can? 
2. Balancing strategy, automation, and empathy. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement surrounding new technology, but AI and automation can’t effectively stand on their own. It takes a thoughtful approach, planning, strategy, and execution. Even then, efforts can fall short.
It takes a combination of automation and the human element to create a truly special experience for users. Brands need to balance the efficiency of automation and artificial intelligence with human care and empathy, as there is no replacement for the latter when showing your audience and consumers you care.
What components of your communication and response strategy lend themselves to automation over empathy, and vice versa?
3. Give your audience and micro-audiences a voice. Different pieces of content, different tones, and different topics will resonate with different groups within your audience. Through testing, marketers can identify which fans align and engage with different elements of a brand. By knowing who aligns with the brand purpose, its personality, its product, or the experience gained through the brand, brands can hone content strategy to encourage conversation within their audience.
In giving these subgroups a platform to converse and share points of view, you’re actively creating opportunities for fans to share your content through word-of-mouth marketing and brand advocacy.
Want a starting point in building this platform? How about leveraging Facebook Groups?
Well, that about does it. Another year in the books, making it four straight years for us at the Spredfast Summit. That’s a wrap for the 2017 edition of #SmartSocialSummit!

Want to work with us? Contact us here.

Want to learn from us? Get insights, context, and actionable intelligence on what’s trending in the world of culture, social, and the future when you sign up for our newsletter.

Background on The Social Lights
The Social Lights® is a social-first agency headquartered in Minneapolis that partners with clients to grow their business through strategy development, creative production, media buying, and social media management. Current clients include General Mills, Ecolab, Cargill, Caribou Coffee, Kwik Trip, Polaris and Massage Envy. The Social Lights was founded in 2011 and is a WBENC-Certified Women Business Enterprise. Learn more at The Social Lights.

More articles