Last week I got to spend 3 days in Austin for Bazaarvoice’s Social Summit. Bazaarvoice flew me in and paid me to do a Live #Blogchat on Wednesday night to kick off the event. For the first time, we combined Twitter with the Live #Blogchat experience, and although there were some technical issues at first, the actual #Blogchat itself went fairly smoothly. In fact, I think this format has a lot of potential and I’ll start packaging similar offerings to companies that are interested in doing Live #Blogchats in the future.
As for the Social Summit itself, let me give you a bit of background on this event before I share my takeaways. Primarily, this event was designed for Bazaarvoice’s current and potential clients. Many of the speakers were from Bazaarvoice’s clients, which were large companies. Several very large brands spoke and presented some of the work they were doing in the social, digital and mobile realms, including Home Depot, 3M, Wal-Mart, Xerox, IBM and Google. So it was a great barometer for how truly big brands are using these emerging technologies, with a heavy emphasis on social media.
With that in mind, here were some of my takeaways from these brands and what they shared, as well as the event itself:
1 – The discussion has moved past ‘Social Media 101’ for big brands. This was a very social-savvy crowd, and in fact several of the presenters and attendees mentioned their company knew the basics of social media. This makes complete sense, because larger brands typically have teams devoted to social media, whereas small businesses (for example) can’t allocate as much attention to the tools, and need more hand-holding.
2 – Eagerness to adopt social media varies by department in each company. Typically, the departments that have direct involvement with customers on a daily basis are the ones that understand the need for social media adoption, and are its internal cheerleaders. I did think there was an interesting takeaway from Ron Secrist, the Director of Social and Emerging Channels for Capital One. He explained that Capital One isn’t using social media as well as he would like because the brand is having difficulty understanding how to integrate social into its tv commercials, which are such a huge part of its advertising approach. Two words: Twitter hashtags.
3 – Big brands are desperate to learn how to increase engagement with their customers via social media. One of the things I like to do when I attend conferences is look at which topics and sessions are the best attended because that typically suggests which areas attendees need help with. There were two sessions directly covering building engagement via social media, and both were completely full with many people standing up at the back of the room, and in the doorways. The second engagement session I attended on Friday was actually opposite a session on Social Media ROI, but it was still SRO. This was clearly THE topic that attendees wanted help with.
Bazaarvoice upped the bar for connecting attendees and generating buzz among them and on Twitter
One reason why I like doing recap posts like this of the events I present at and attend is to give other event planners some ideas for how they can create a better experience for their conference or event. There’s two things Bazaarvoice did with the Social Summit that I thought were really ingenious that I wanted to spotlight.
1 – Bazaarvoice created a special mobile app just for Social Summit attendees. This app for the iPhone, iPad and Android gave attendees an easy way to get information about the event as well as tweet and connect with each other. Ian Greenleigh, Bazaarvoice’s Social Media Manager, tweeted that the app generated over 4,700 tweets in 3 days! Another thing that I thought was brilliant was Bazaarvoice added a Leaderboard so everyone could track who was the most active with the app, and prizes were awarded to the top users! The app was created by DoubleDutch, and from scanning Tweetdeck during the conference (which shows what source tweets come from, ie web, smartphone, etc), it looked like about half of all tweets with #bsocial12 conference hashtag were going through the Summit app. That’s pretty impressive.
2 – Bazaarvoice Livestreamed Social Summit plus embedded #bsocial12 tweets. This was another smart move to not only build buzz at the event, but to generate interest for attending next year’s event from those that watched at home. The livestreaming of sessions part is nothing new, but I thought it was cool that Bazaarvoice also embedded #bsocial12 tweets on the same page PLUS had a box where you could tweet directly from the livestream page, which was also prefilled with the #bsocial12 hashtag! In fact during the Live #Blogchat they changed it so the box prefilled your tweets with both the #bsocial12 and #blogchat hashtags. Really a great example of generating buzz and online word of mouse about the event.
Overall, Social Summit was a very interesting and well-run event. It’s good to occasionally attend an event where I’m not seeing all the same speakers and hearing all the same case studies. Social Summit gave me a different and more company-centric perspective on digital technologies, and it was honestly a breath of fresh air. Thanks so much to my friends Erin Nelson and Ian Greenleigh for bringing me in for Social Summit and I hope I can return next year!
If you attended the Social Summit, what were some of your biggest takeaways?