For the Ketchum London team, which I am a member of, day two of Social Media Week London kicked off at the #SMWLDN headquarters in Holborn.

Here are my top six takeaways from the day…

  1. Networking on Networking – Social Media Week London is a surprisingly serious event. The delegates and presenters are almost exclusively young, smart, informed and urbane. They are also really easy to talk to and evenly split gender-wise. I think this says something very positive about the future, and it made me feel even more confident about the potential of our industry.
  2. The Mad Men vs. Math Men grudge match continues – The debate around who should be driving communications goes on. The more creatively inclined contend there is no algorithm for great work. They extol the virtues of storytelling, risk taking and innovation. They point to examples showcasing the immense power of originality. On the opposite side of the digital coin, the research and analytics pros maintain that there is a wealth of evidence on which strategies work and why. They point to how understanding your audience, their psychology and their behavior can lead you to the doorstep of success.
  3. The development of the web has only just started – The way we use the internet changed as consumers migrated from desktops, to mobiles, to multiple screens. A quicker internet means consumers expect images and video content as a baseline. An always on, easily accessible, internet means consumers want instant interaction, and trends explode and die in minutes, plus there are far higher expectations around transparency, openness and tone.
  4. The distribution of content has changed – Once upon a time, media companies, like newspapers, could put 95% of their effort into content production and 5% into distribution. They simply knew their audience would seek them out. As we move from an internet dominated by portals (that mimicked this model) to one dominated by search functionality like Google (where people can find stuff easily) to one where most find what they need through sharing, that production to distribution ratio is evening out. That means understanding the science of sharing is vital.
  5. The very “nature” of content has changed – The most successful brands on social media are the ones that realize they can’t make themselves the center of conversations. This is a time in which social content supports brand reputation with inspiring campaigns (worth sharing), looking at customer service through a 24/7 lens with lightning fast responses. In all cases authenticity and speed trumps polished professionalism.
  6. There can be a more central role for social – As we move from an age of media relations, to influencer relations, an age squarely focused on community management and social businesses, companies are reorganizing (and potentially reinventing) themselves to accommodate this exponential growth curve. Social media has already radically reshaped how some organizations operate, with several speakers encouraging social media specialists to better understand their potential centrality. There were calls for experts to share real-time customer dashboards, support internal corporate community management, and distribute their best practices that support data-driven working, transparency and interaction.

Marketers talking about the importance of social media is nothing new. What is exciting is to be at an event where talented people discuss how we’re at the crossroads of creativity and science, where one can reflect on how social media can be a powerful catalyst for global change.

Paul Middleton is a Corporate Communications Manager and splits his time between Ketchum’s Corporate Communications team and London visibility. Paul’s job means that he is often involved in Ketchum London’s work around media, events, awards, sponsorship, campaigns and social media. Paul brings a decade of PR experience and has worked on diverse initiatives including billion pound infrastructure projects, the Notting Hill Carnival and promoting London’s West End. Outside of work, Paul is a wannabe motorcycle racer, a devoted father and a slow but tenacious runner. He tweets using the handle @pjsmiddleton