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#WeMadeItWeird Panel Recap at SXSW

#WeMadeItWeird Panel Recap at SXSW

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Social media cannot and will not be ignored. Social has become an essential part of the marketing strategy for most companies. Social media as a marketing method is different from traditional print, television, radio, and even paid search, because it isn’t one way. With the emergence of social media, brands have a way to directly communicate and converse with their fans and customers.

Effective social media marketing requires a conversation between brands and their consumers. It requires engagement and leaves opportunity users to have a voice and contribute content. Social media gives everyone a chance to have a voice and build influence. It is fast-paced and very current. All of these elements combined can make social media usage for brands be potentially both extremely effective or disastrous.

At South by Southwest 2014, the panel, Social Media, #WeMadeItWeird, featured a highly engaging conversation regarding social media as a marketing tool today. The panel consisted of our very own, Anne A. Ward, CEO of CircleClick, Charles Michael Yim, CEO of Breathometer, Dashiell Driscoll, Community Manager and Content at Funny or Die, and moderated by Derek Andersen, Founder of Startup Grind.

The all-star panel hilariously rocked the discussion using social media and they woke the room of sleepy people in the Samsung Blogger Lounge early on Monday morning. Even the cameraman was holding back his laughter… But despite the humor-laced conversation between these industry experts, the content of the panel conveyed much more than just jokes.

There’s a delicate balance between playing it safe and pushing the boundaries for engagement – Anne A. Ward, CEO of CircleClick

The panel touched on cases in the industry where social media usage went awry.

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Dashiell shared a story where controversy sparked when a pre-scheduled post for Funny or Die discussing gender issues (in jest) coincidentally published at the same time as the news on Senator Wendy Davis’ Texas women’s rights filibuster. The pre-scheduled tweet seemed to give the impression that FOD was insensitive to the ongoing issues, which clearly they were not.

Anne shared a story where an executive in the Public Relations industry tweeted a very insensitive and racist joke or comment on Africa and angered the public – ending her career.

Stories of social media fiascos have appeared time and time again in the media even with major brands like McDonalds, Home Depot, and others. But being completely boring on social media won’t work either.

Be an account that you would want to follow. If it’s not worthwhile to say, then why are you? – Dashiell Driscoll, Community Manager at Funny or Die.

There’s a lot of noise on the internet, if the brand doesn’t have a distinguishable voice and doesn’t know how to be entertaining or interesting, users have no incentive to follow it. This completely defeats the purpose and effectiveness of social media.

Overall, social media can be leveraged as a direct way to connect and engaged with customers and spark digital conversations. Effective use of social media was a critical part of growth for companies like Nasty Gal, but it can also damage reputation like the example above about PR Executive Justine Sacco. Social media in marketing is a lot more personal than previous traditional marketing methods. This appeal makes it very exciting and well, “weird” at the same time. Even social media accounts from big brands are ran by people and people make mistakes. And now, with the rise of mobile, the timing and responsiveness from companies comes into play, upping the stakes, and it leaves room for both error and opportunity.

Charles summed it up nicely on the most important factor to keep in mind with using social media for your brand.

It starts with common sense. Know your audience. -Charles Michael Yim, CEO of Breathometer.

Broadcasting something on a social media account with a large following is like yelling into a megaphone in a room full of people. Just remember as the panelists emphasized, use common sense, be yourself, but be the best version of yourself. #socialmediawisdom