Social Media Week London: Flashdance for Brands

For the Ketchum London team, day three of Social Media Week London centered around a #SMWLDN event at our Shoreditch office.

The event, “Flashdance For Brands,” was a platform to discuss the reality of always-on communications and what it takes for brands to succeed in an always-connected social world.

Our own Andrew Jennings chaired a discussion with several leading lights of social media. Here are my top four takeaways…

1. Think human, not humor – David Levin, Founder of The Dolphin Pub and renowned Twitter personality, is employed by a host of regional brands to tweet on their behalf. His standout piece of advice was that it’s not always about the LOLz, but rather understanding the mechanics of social media and exceptional storytelling. David argued that a whole slew of brands are all trying to occupy the same online personalities, thus limiting their differentiation and not showcasing the truest version of themselves. The simple act of having a pleasant and authentic online personality is paramount.

2. Curation is the new narrative – Philip Byrne, Associate Creative Director at Buzzfeed, is the guy brands turn to when they want an advertorial. His team works to create fresh content in keeping with Buzzfeed’s fondness for listicles, quizzes, gifs, games and video. Phil’s basic assertion was that, just as we individually retell the best jokes we hear from our friends, brands shouldn’t be afraid to step outside of their normal conversations to retell the best stories they encounter within their communities. Phil championed the idea that the Internet is now in a “social age” where most users get their content from what is shared. Therefore, it’s vital for brands to understand the currency of sharing.

3. Everyone is hijacking everything – Tinni Guha Roy, Vice President at Emanate PR, declared that the entire notion of hijacking hashtags (when a popular hashtag is used by an entity or individual for a different purpose than the one it was designed for) is now outmoded, because social is by its very nature a shared conversation without direct ownership. Tinni’s advice was that when “hijacking” is done with warmth, kindness and speed, it can still be a highly effective device.

4. Advertising needs to know mobile – Nate Gosselin, Head of Strategy at Sharethrough, talked about how changes in the way we view the Internet mean online advertisers have to shift course as well. He touched upon how native advertising has succeeded banner advertising and asserted that the next, already tangible, leap is in-feed advertising.

Before the event, the Flashdance metaphor felt like a fun excuse to crowbar in some brilliant gifs of Beyoncé and introduce a livelier format. After hearing our presenters discuss their social media experiences, I’d say it also underscored the need for brands to demonstrate precise rhythm, timing, agility and grace under pressure.