Up Search at SAScon Mini 2014

Written by Run2.
· 4 minute read

Last Friday, some of the UP Search team were fortunate enough to attend the 2014 SAScon Mini Conference which is the little sister event from the main 2-day SAScon event. The event itself was sponsored by Melbourne Server Hosting. A server hosting company that lends its service to a variety of different companies including us.

SAScon Logo

SAScon itself is one of the UK’s biggest Search, Analytics & Social Media Conferences which takes place in annually in our great city of Manchester.

The spin-off event did not disappoint. With excellent Keynotes from our featured speakers Drew Benvie founder of comms & social media agency Battenhall and Dom Burch who is head of social for Walmart UK (Asda) we knew we were in for a treat.

Honourable mentions also go to Neil Yeomans from Lakestar McCann for his talk on Google PLA’s, Phil MacKechnie from Money Supermarket for his keynote on How to Break Bad Marketing/SEO? and finally, a discussion on how to better optimise online forms for maximum conversions by Tom New. All were extremely insightful.

Excitement for the event was evident with which Twitter nearly exploded a number of times with the number of social commentaries during the day from Marketeers, SEO’s, Social Media Managers and Designers all using the #SAScon hashtag to engage with one another. I’m also led to believe that #SAScon was trending in the UK.

Hyped and alert from the copious amounts of free coffee I hammered, we were ushered in to the main room where we were told of the days itinerary. After the initial introduction to the days proceedings, we quickly moved on to the nitty-gritty.

State of the Digital PR Nation

First up was founder of Battenhall PR Drew Benvie delivering a keynote on how ever-evolving social media has pretty much changed the landscape of digital PR and will most definitely continue to-do so. Drew Benvie, for those interested, wrote the wikipedia page for social media so we knew we were gaining valuable insight from someone with genuine industry authority.

He began by detailing his own experiences in digital PR through the years and how he has had to adapt to the ever-growing influence social media has had on the industry.

Drew explained that in this day and age the majority of media is seen on some sort of screen (90% in fact) and, as such, this is seen as the best way to communicate with people. Businesses are now coming round to this. He went on to say that UK business in particular are way behind our American counterparts where they have embraced the use of social media in their marketing to a point where a San Francisco newspaper actively send their staff to social media bootcamp. He went to suggest that this practice may not be too unusual in the not so distant future as companies/brands continue to evolve with the times.

A major impact of social media was the inevitable distraction of the brands customer. Truth is, not all companies use social media as well as they should. From his experience, Drew states they generally grant one person social access who effectively becomes the voice of the brand and while he states that this protects companies who are worried about a ‘hacker’ culture; he went on to ask, why not make everyone digitally and socially literate? This way the brand can optimise its outreach and respond to customer’s queries/questions much quicker, which is paramount to proper use of a brand social media.

He then went on to discuss the four emerging forces that he forecasts to have an impact on social this year.

1) Wearable Tech
With wearable technology such as Google Glass and Samsung Galaxy Gear enabling the user to log what they’re doing with more detail, this is enable brands to better look at what we like/don’t like and in turn, gauge a better view on how to market to the consumer.

2) The Rise of Photo Sharing
Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat look to have changed the face of social media. Image sharing is now more popular than ever and is something brands will look to utilise in the coming months.

3) Messaging Reinventing Social
Privacy is still a huge concern for consumers and brands alike and the idea of instant messaging is something all seem comfortable with. A trend that is seeing both Snapchat and Whatsapp being referred to as social media more often.

4) Social Data is Driving Smarter Business
For any Digital Marketer this is nothing new but as we gain more insight into the audiences behaviour we can utilise this data to better market the brand to its key demographic.

In his conclusion, Drew asked: as trends continue change, where does this leave us? Ultimately we shouldn’t be victims of routine, tailor social media to the individual brands needs and with the face of social media ever-changing, don’t be afraid to experiment!

His full slideshow can be found here.

Why Content and Context are the Key to Making Meaningful Social Connections

After my turkey & leek pie and TWO helpings of the bakewell tart, it was time to reconvene for the afternoon session of keynotes and discussions. Like the morning sessions, there were presentations going on in both rooms and we decided on taking in a talk from Dom Burch who is Head of Search at Asda.

On a personal note, this was my favourite of many high quality presentations we were treated to on the day. Not only was it as educational as the others but also very entertaining as he was happy making fun of some of his brands previous mistakes and how he learned from them.

Dom Burch ASDA

We are all aware of Asda and it’s brand and to hear from someone in his position talk as frankly as he did regarding his daily practices, engagement techniques and brand faux pas (namely, mental health patient costumes) was a real pleasure.

He spoke of how they had developed a social media strategy that was to be concise and transparent enough with their audience that would enable them to build up trust and in some cases jump to Asda’s defence should a mental health patient costume uproar happen again.

This was achieved hand in hand with creating quality content the audience can enjoy by devising a clear editorial calendar in which the brands posts were split into three categories: Strategic Marketing, Responsive & Tactical and Engaging interactions. This provides the audience with varied content and keeps both engagement and trust at optimum highs.

Dom soon moved on to what trends he would expect for 2014 within social media which he called ‘Dom’s dirty dozen for 2014’ this raised a few laughs as he followed by pointing out they weren’t his dozen nor were they dirty.

Still useful nonetheless:

1) The resurgence of the advertorial
Sponsored posts from actual brands will be increased in weight.

2) Employee advocacy is now key
Word of mouth from employees will be paramount for brand reputation.

3) Engaging content will still be rewarded
Content is king, engagement is queen. This is still as true as ever.

4) The age of advocacy
Much like point 2, people recommending is you very important for trust factors.

5) Pay to play
As many of us will already be aware, Facebook are now pushing quite heavily to use their paid service to maximise reach and gain new likes/followers. Expect the others to follow suit.

6) Millenials will fuel even more video sharing
Millenials (young people) have grown up on youtube culture and love to share any exciting videos on social platforms.

7) Death of a Social Media Manager
Some social needs to come from within the company, instead of taking over campaigns we need to train and encourage brands to contribute it in house.

8) Social organisations will be the real winners
If you are good at social you’ll engage, respond and build trust and this will boost conversions and is even measurable to a point.

9) Customer expect instant responses on social channels
This is pretty self explanatory. If a customer tries to get in touch via social channels then respond ASAP so that you’ll boost your trust factor.

10) Growth of gamification on social
People like to play games when on Facebook in particular so we expect to see a sharp rise in the number of brands looking to monetise this.

11) Key influencers/content creators can now monetise their position
Industry influencers are becoming savvy. They will more than likely begin to charge for their time and their influence.

12) Stronger interplay between social and TV
More and more people are browsing social media whilst watching TV and you’re likely to see more correlation between the two mediums.

Dom’s presentation was certainly insightful and in truth, there was much more that could be discussed but I was too busy enjoying myself to take notes. My bad.

His full slideshow can be found here.

In conclusion, We heard from some great speakers about the industry we all love, met some interesting characters throughout the day and ate some great food.

Here’s looking forward to the next SAScon in June.