Smart Social Summit Day One: From Conversation to Connection

Editor’s note: In October of this year, the greatest minds in social will gather at Spredfast’s Smart Social Summit 2017. Register here today and follow #SmartSocialSummit on Twitter for more updates.

Dozens of speakers and hundreds of attendees shared at least one important thing in common as Smart Social Summit 2016 got underway: conversation. Leaders on stage talked with audience members. Backstage, employees chatted with keynote speakers. In between sessions, attendees talked, both online via social and face-to-face under sunny Austin skies.

Conversation is at the root of human connection, and the first day of Summit content programming hummed around that fact, but also hinted at something more: Social presents marketers a unique opportunity precisely because it is a two-way method of communication. So as a marketer, how do you take a conversation and turn it into a lasting connection with your audience? And how do you change your internal teams so that their conversation and connection leads to innovation? Finally, how do you take social conversation—and social data—and use it to drive bottom-line business value?

We’ve got answers—and more to come. Stay tuned for our day-two recap tomorrow, and much more compelling content in the coming weeks. For now, three ways to turn conversation into connection:

To Connect With Your Audience: Be Authentic

We heard it over and over today—as a brand, if your message isn’t honest; if it doesn’t represent who you are and what your brand values, it simply won’t resonate. Johnson & Johnson Global Content Lab Director Carrie Sloan mentioned it in her breakout session on next-generation content: “When you can newsjack in a way that’s authentic to your brand, you literally can change the conversation overnight—but you don’t want to be grasping at every keyword coming down the pike or you’re going to look ridiculous.”

You don’t want to be grasping at every keyword coming down the pike or you’re going to look ridiculous.


Eric Toda explained on stage that Airbnb remains authentic by relying on its user community to help tell its story — indeed, that a full 90 percent of the content the company uses is created by Airbnb guests and hosts themselves.

As a brand, Airbnb also shares the values of their global community—values of inclusiveness, and of belonging, no matter where you are or who you are. Because those values are baked into the fabric of Airbnb’s brand, Airbnb is primed to take a position on social issues that mirror those values:

The result is a moving, genuine campaign and a bold point of view from a brand that deserves celebration.

To Find New Opportunities for Conversation and to Assess How Well You’re Connecting: Lean on Data

Spredfast has long beat the drum of social data—as keynote speaker Chris Kerns said, “Social is an always-on focus group. Market research costs a lot of money—social data doesn’t.” Social simply shows us trends we cannot see elsewhere, at a speed we cannot find elsewhere. It has the power to show us real-time shifts in culture—as marketers, it then becomes our task to jump on those shifts (or, if they are inauthentic to our brand, to let those shifts pass).

Also make sure that you’re optimizing with whatever data it is that you’re using to measure your success, said ROCNATION’s Matthew Siegel. Siegel called on that old phrase, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything can be counted counts.” So how does ROCNATION approach data optimization? In two steps:

  • Do count everything that can be counted.
  • But only make decisions based on what actually counts, after analysis.

To Evolve your Internal teams Toward Connection: be Open

Conversation and connection are important internally, too. Peter Vaughan, Director of Brand Innovation & Social at Charles Schwab, explained how their social team facilitated conversation and collaboration at all company levels by opening up access to their social data with the help of Spredfast. Now, all of their social data lives on Dashboard, and any executive can jump on and look at any time, increasing company engagement with their social efforts and the perceived value of the social team.

Opening up social data can increase company engagement & the perceived value of social alike.


Vaughan also talked about concrete ways companies can guide their internal teams toward innovation. He told the session that Charles Schwab also examined the ways physical environment can impede innovation by taking on cubicle culture: walls between employees and departments can offer focus, says Vaughan, but they can also stop the free flow of ideas and questions. Charles Schwab found that an open work environment, and even getting out of the office, can aid innovation.

We can’t wait to talk more with you tomorrow—and to take those conversations to the next level of connection.

October 26, 2016
Taking the Pulse of Politics on Social
October 28, 2016
Smart Social Summit Day Two: Why and How Brands Should be Human
Jaime Netzer is Spredfast's Senior Content Marketing Manager, leading content operations. A Lawrence, Kansas native, she traded seasons for breakfast tacos seven years ago and hasn't looked back since. Also a fiction writer and journalist, Jaime tweets semi-regularly and reads constantly.