It’s a numbers game – reflection from YouToo 2013

19 Apr

Today, I had the pleasure of attending Kent State’s sixth-annual YouToo social media conference.

This was an amazing opportunity to network with professionals and gain some key insights from industry leaders about some of the current best practices in social. Whether it’s consumer marketing, generating awareness of an issue or outreach for a non-profit, the professionals at YouToo had some great tips to share with us about making the most of our clients’ social media initiatives.

During the panel presentations and break-out sessions, we had the chance to sound off about some of the barriers we were working against in our organizations or even just with building a personal brand. The following are some of my favorite tips from the day.

It’s all a numbers game.

Many working professionals attending voiced the same concerns with their social media strategy: selling social to senior management is an uphill battle. Since piloting social media campaigns requires resources, both human and monetary, it’s difficult to convince CEOs it’s going to help with the bottom line. Not everyone in a company sees things though a marketing and public relations lens like we do, so we have to understand they view things in terms of dollar value.

Accredited Business Communicator Shel Holtz, the conferences keynote presenter, said it best when he explained return on investment. Holtz remarked ROI is an accounting formula. It was developed by accountants as a way of indicating monetary return. And despite the rising influence social plays in business, it still comes down to just that: money.

It’s crucial for us as marketers and PR professionals to learn how to tie our efforts back to the actual business results. Those numbers add the credibility we need to convince our money-minded counterparts, and they’re necessary for true evaluation of social efforts.

A picture’s worth a thousand characters.

The human attention span has diminished over time. Coupled with the idea that all communication is now two-way and on demand at the whim of our audience, we have a very small window to grab their attention. So how do we do this? Images.

Kevin Dugan, director of marketing at the Empower Group, explained the sharability and potential virality images have as tools for social marketing. He said data visualization is a cool way to represent numbers in a way that’s not so stuffy, and infographics that tell stories visually are like candy. Video has always been popular, but we’re even seeing a shift in how that’s used. Dougan says two minutes is a documentary, and GIFs as well as six-second clips on Twitter’s new add-on, Vine, are climbing in popularity. Check out Dougan’s slides on visual communications here.

Learning to harness the power of compelling visuals is not only advantageous, but absolutely essential for marketers looking to break through the clutter.

What do you think?

Have any ideas on creative ways to use visuals or data to sell strategy or engage an audience? Leave them in the comments below, and check out recaps of all the tweets from conference attendees here.

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