Takeaways from the Social Media, Direct Marketing & Making Money Panel at #SMW
This Wednesday I attended the Social Media, Direct Marketing & Making Money event as part of Social Media Week. It was a good evening with an experienced panel of social media experts including Roger Warner (Founder Content & Motion), Molly Flatt (1000heads, WOM Evangelist), Adam Paulisick (Senior Director, The Nielsen Company’s Online Division), Geoff Hughes (Biz Dev Manager, Syncapse & Facebook Developer Garage) and social media and marketing lawyer Stephen Groom (Head of Marketing & Privacy Law, Osborne Clarke Solicitors) who were ably chaired by Justin Pearse (Editor, New Media Age).
There was an interesting mix of attendees at Concrete, Shoreditch with the majority of people describing themselves as ‘other’, rather than being from agency or brand side. All the panel members did well and made compelling arguments in favour of social media. They employed some useful metaphors to discuss issues from measurement to disclosure and I suspect the panel have to make the same polished arguments to clients day in, day out.
One thing is for sure, the panel will certainly face tougher crowds than Wednesday’s audience by the Silicon Roundabout. Although Molly Flatt was the only person in the room with ‘WOM Evangelist’ in her job title, judging by the lack of rigorous questioning and dozens of nodding heads, she was not the only evangelist in attendance. This lack of real debate is perhaps unsurprising at a social media event in the heart of the capital’s techie community, however it would have made for a better evening. There was also the usual discussion about the ‘next big thing’, but quite honestly we don’t know what it will be or when it will come. We can use research and data to make recommendations, but it’s not us who gets to decide what’s popular.
I took away three key points from the evening:
1. Different views make a debate
For me, the evening would have been much better if the panel had a wider mix of or dare I say it, conflicting views. The evening could have done with a WOM antagonist or two. Not only would this be more entertaining, but I believe lead to stronger arguments being formed. When the whole panel broadly have the same point of view, it’s hard to have a good debate. That’s not to say the panel didn’t do well. They really did. But without an opposing argument it becomes slightly repetitive when a consensus is reached from the beginning.
2. Is social media approaching maturation and acceptance?
The second point perhaps turns my last one on its head. Is the lack of discussion points and challenging questions partly to do with the maturation of social media? Are people beginning to accept the value social media as you would traditional PR and marketing activities? Perhaps. Nonetheless, the calibre of the arguments put forward by the panel was strong, so I’m confident it is this coupled with numerous metrics which is helping social media to mature and become accepted.
3. Social media marketing is becoming more regulated
Thirdly and for me the most insightful part was what Stephen Groom, social media & marketing lawyer had to say. He talked about the Advertising Standards Authority’s online remit and how it will be greatly expanded from March 2011 – and importantly, how agencies can begin to protect themselves and their clients from litigation. Knowledge of this ruling seems an area that many are woefully lacking in and I expect we’ll see some cases testing the water from next month. It’ll be interesting to see how agencies adapt to the new rules, but I think it is an opportunity for us all to adopt the WOMMA Honesty ROI.
Whilst, I’m an advocate of social media, evangelist even, I don’t think the panel were challenged as much as they could have been. That aside, it was great to hear the legal perspective on the ASA ruling and see a couple of familiar faces and network with a few more.