Last night I had the great fortune to go to the techMAP end of the year event. For those of you who don’t know, techMAP is an online and offline community of marketing and PR professionals who are riding the wave of changes in our industry. In short, they are awesome.
I had found out about the event only last Tuesday and attended without preconceptions. Five speakers spoke about what they had learned in 2010 and a little about what they hoped for 2011. I was so blown away by their quality I decided about half-way through that I just had to blog about the event for those who couldn’t attend. Here’s the main point I got from each speaker.
The first speaker was Lucy Payne, an account manager at Pass It On Media. Her presentation focused on participation. She wants us to engage with the people who will actually be using our products from the word “go.” That means we should bring them in during the planning phases. We need to do this because, “Social Media Marketers are not Social Media Users!” Of course, she didn’t mean that we aren’t obsessed by Twitter, Linked In, and Facebook, rather that while we are, our audiences aren’t. We have to adapt to how they use the media, not assume they use it like we do. (For more on not being your audience, check out this blog post)
Next up we had the social technologist Benjamin Ellis from SocialOptic, amongst other projects. His presentation can be captured by the phrase “it’s always been about the community.” He defined “community” simply as a group of people gathered around a purpose. If you have a true community then even if you leave the project, the community and excitement will keep on without you. But if your community dies, then what you built was but an interested audience. That stunned us for a moment.
Next up was Misae Richwoods, a lady with a finger in many pies. Her presentation focused on the fact that human beings don’t change. We’re quite static, really, which is why history tends to be cyclical, or as Mark Twain said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, it rhymes.” Those who participate will always be participators. She also made the point that we can’t stick to social media and not look at anything else. After all, “If all you have is a hammer, pretty soon everything starts looking like a nail.”
Kate Spiers, who runs her own communications agency, was up next. Her presentation focused on the idea that “It’s not me, it’s you.” As she put it, this is the age of personalization. You can get what you want, where you want, and when you want, so it’s about you — the consumer. Her hope for 2011 was for marketers to get more tech savvy and for IT departments to get in touch with their entrepreneurial sides. Apparently what we have now are hyperactive marketers and rule-bound IT departments. Kate wants them to come together.
The last presenter was Mark Jennings, account director at Fresh Networks and the founder of theMeet140. Apparently 2010 taught Mark that he hates social networks! Well, really the technology obsession. We’re so wrapped up in the tools that we’re forgetting to concentrate on the people, which is the part that Mark loves. He got the room laughing with stories of drunken fun at social media conferences and other events, including a business venture to market non-standard sizes of hula-hoops. And his hope for 2011? That we mature. Read his blog post. He explains it better there than I can here.
And that wasn’t it. The conversations afterward were almost as good as the presentations! Here are some golden nuggets I managed to jot down:
- A community is good because it has boundaries and is finite. So when you market to a community you have a defined audience to target instead of trying to shove your message at “everyone.”
- There is a danger that we can become native “broadcast” marketers again, losing the opportunities of social media.
- As soon as you say “social media” customers close off because so many “social media marketers” are self serving and gave the topic a bad rep. To get around this, talk instead about what social media does, without naming it.
*14/12/2010 Note: techMAP has now uploaded the slideshow that the presenters used here http://bit.ly/h8yuvW. Enjoy!