If you followed social media professionals in one of the 11 cities that hosted Social Media Week, your Twitter feed was overflowing with interesting user-generated content factoids, thought-provoking engagement graphs, and the ever-present #SMW hashtag. As a marketing professional who dedicates a big portion of her time to social media marketing, I devoured presentation after presentation, happily live-tweeting about analytics and different types of creative. Combine my love of word sleuthing and data mining into a week of panels, and you have one happy marketing geek. 

In true social media fashion, here are my top three takeaways from 2014 Social Media Week. 

@KatieZup: For user-generated content, build on what your constituents are already doing on social media. #SMWUGC

During a panel on UGC, Matt Gibbs from SparkReel’s made compelling points regarding “leveraging existing consumer behavior” and building upon what your demographic already does on social media. Using the example of selfies, which his client’s followers were already sharing, his company built a UGC campaign around a brand-related selfie contest. With a simple call-to-action (that resonated with their users), the brand saw huge participation and engagement. For your event, participants could share photos from the finish line on Instagram or post their team’s fundraising story on your Facebook page. Build a UGC campaign harnessing their passion in a way that brings your mission home. @KatieZup: Do you have best practices for UGC at your organization?

@KatieZup: Social media is the world’s largest focus group. #SMWSocialMediaAwesomeness

While sharing insight on how to achieve social media awesomeness, Greg Getner from Young & Rubicam Midwest declared that social media is the world’s largest focus group. In the event industry, no one knows your event like dedicated, veteran attendees. As you’re looking to grow your event, change one of its components, or invest in a specific part of the event, why not ask your attendees for advice via social media? Engage with them to see if a specific incentive item is truly a fundraising incentive, or reach out to see if your attendees have any ideas on how to make the opening ceremony more impactful for your event. Though you can’t incorporate all of their ideas, make sure to specifically share and credit your followers when you implement any of their ideas. Your brand followers will see that you listen, value, and act with their opinions in mind. @KatieZup: How do you use social media to collect data and engage with constituents?

@KatieZup: Make sure your graphics and photographs tell your story the way you want it to be told, keeping the platform in mind. #SMWVisualStoryTelling

Nearly every panel touched on the importance of meaningful visuals. During a session on Visual Storytelling for Social Media, Sarah Eva Monroe of the Digital Professional Institute shared a Socialbakers.com study which looked at the top 10% of posts by brand pages, from an engagement perspective. They found that 87% of shared posts from Facebook pages involved photos. As you look through your event photography, carefully select meaningful, stimulating photographs that will #1 captivate your audience and #2 encourage organic sharing. Don’t be afraid to test different imagery to see which gains the most momentum with followers. In addition, be mindful of the outlet that you’re using to share your visual. While a photo with tiny details might look stunning on the Facebook desktop interface, a user flipping through an Instagram feed might be more dazzled by a different image. @KatieZup: What types of photography do you see perform best on your Facebook page? What about on Instagram? Twitter?

By taking industry best practices and applying them to your organization’s social media output, you’ll be able to engage at a deeper level with constituents. Using social media analytics, you can quantify and improve that engagement and continue working towards your organization’s vision.

When Katie Zupancic isn’t over-using hashtags (both in social media posts and verbally), she works on marketing and sponsorship for MuckFest® MS, an event that rallies participants for a mucky 5K romp through mud and obstacles in support of a world free of multiple sclerosis. Connect with her here: LinkedInTwitterGoogle+

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