Social Media Marketing World Success Guide

Social Media Marketing World is one of the largest, if not the largest, social media marketing conferences in the world. Michael Stelzner and the crew at Social Media Examiner do an amazing job of putting on this mammoth show each year in San Diego. Getting the most out of the show requires a few simple steps in advance. For first-timers, I’ve got a few suggestions to enhance your SMMW experience.

1. Stay hydrated. You’re going to two deserts for the price of one: San Diego, which tends to be a hot, arid climate, and a convention center, which tends to run air conditioning and thus remove even more water from the air. Drink water copiously. As the US Army expression goes, if you don’t have to use the restroom frequently, you haven’t had enough water.

2. Bring COMFORTABLE SHOES. You will be walking a TON. See this lovely map below? That’s the San Diego Convention Center. End to end, it’s a third of a mile long. There’s a baseball field next to it for size comparison.


3. Bring a portable power strip and power banks. Outlets aren’t always nearby and you will burn down your phone battery being social. I’m partial to the Anker 20,000 man power brick. It weighs as much as a small brick but will keep a tablet and phone charged up all day. I also carry a Monster travel 4-port power strip, which I love dearly. It’s a friend-maker – bring it out and make friends.

Also, don’t forget your device cables. Bring 2 of each.

4. Arrive with a BURNING question that you ask everyone you meet. What one question MUST you get answered in order for the conference to be worth it? If you don’t have a burning question, you’ll enjoy the show but you won’t get the most out of it.

5. Plan your sessions in advance. Got that burning question handy? You’ll find session planning on the official agenda much easier. Use the event planner to start and be sure to add key sessions to your calendar using the handy add to calendar feature.


Planning on attending my session on data-driven customer journeys? Click here for calendar reminders for Google Calendar, iCal for Mac, and Outlook.

6. Party responsibly. If we speakers are doing our jobs right, your brains should really hurt by the end of the event. You want to get the most out of the event, so pace yourself. That business-changing insight you’ve got a burning question about may happen on the last day of the event, and you want to be sober enough and awake enough to catch it.

7. Bring earplugs. I always travel with ballistic earplugs. They’re great for reducing that screaming baby on the airplane to a dull roar, and priceless for major events like SMMW. Loud convention centers and concerts and parties are awesome… for a short while. Enough loud noise will fry you. Bring a bottle of earplugs and you will end up much less fatigued.

8. Bring business cards. Duh.

9. Bring space. As in, pack lightly so you have room for all the fun stuff the various exhibitors have to offer.

10. Bring a day pack/bag. There will be times you won’t want to lug around heavy luggage or a full laptop case. A small messenger bag will fit the bill perfectly. I’m personally a fan of the Osprey Nano, but any small bag or pack will do.

See you at Social Media Marketing World! Haven’t bought tickets? Get them here.

Disclosure: All links to Amazon in this post are affiliate links. I earn a small but non-zero fee if you buy something. The Social Media Marketing World link is also an affiliate link.

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Why is Twitter over-represented for influence?

One of the recurring questions people asked yesterday about my post on influence was why agencies and marketers focus so much on Twitter, when other channels like Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook are equally, if not more impactful. The answer comes down to data. We manage what we can measure, and we give preference to what we can manage most easily. Twitter provides more usable data on a per-post basis.

What are the kinds of data we care about as marketers? At a post level, meaning on any individual piece of content, we care about:

  • Dates things happened, to measure over time
  • Usernames, to know who we’re examining
  • Relationships, to learn who talks to who
  • Content, to know what our audiences said
  • Likes/Votes, to discover what’s popular
  • Comments, to know what our audiences said to us
  • Shares, to judge how worthwhile the content is
  • Views, to uncover our reach
  • Follower counts, to uncover our potential reach
  • Location, to discover where our audience is

We also care, as marketing technologists, how much data a social network will give us over time. How fast can we receive our data?

Look over this chart of post-level data. What do we get from each network?


We see that Twitter provides us the most data at a per-post level. Facebook appears to come a close second, except that Facebook’s data is limited to Pages for the most part; we can see Page post content, but not individual content. On Twitter, we can see both. Instagram comes in third, and YouTube comes in fourth.

We can’t manage what we can’t measure. We can measure Twitter especially well, even if it’s not the most robust or popular social network. The tools of the trade focus on Twitter because they can generate more measurement and analysis from the data – and that means an easier sale to companies and agencies.

Does this bias create distortions in our ability to identify influencers? Yes. Tom Webster, VP of Strategy at Edison Research, often points out that social media tools’ bias towards Twitter means bias in their reporting, especially of politics. Twitter is very bad, for example, at predicting election outcomes. Why? Twitter’s demographics are far from representative of the population as a whole according to Pew Research:

For example we see black and Hispanic users outnumber, as a percentage, white users, when we look at the Census Bureau’s data:


Twitter’s predictive power for elections is very poor because of the bias in its user base. Thus, when we examine influence, Twitter may or may not be the best choice, depending on what biases influence our influencers.

Should we, as marketers, examine more than one channel? Yes, if resources permit. The more data we can gather from every social network, the more complete and representative a picture we can paint, and the better our influence identification will be. Twitter will likely remain our bias until the other networks provide comparable quality of data, so we must account for its biases when we work with its data.

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Do Twitter direct messages boost sales?

One of the ‘best practices’ touted by social media ‘experts’ is to never use direct messaging features in a social network to advertise. This has become such an ingrained belief that social media users take umbrage when it happens to them.

Why? If the end user doesn’t want to hear from someone, unfollowing is a click away. Unlike email marketing, once a user unfollows, we marketers cannot message them again. They are protected from ever hearing from us.

I question the belief of never sending direct message solicitations because our efforts to build an audience must have a business-impacting goal. Why build a large audience if you never ask anything of it? Do we value the vanity number – followers – so much that we’ll forfeit leads, conversions, or revenue?

Why build an audience at all, especially on services like Twitter, where our tweets are visible whether or not someone follows us?

When I began promoting my book last month, I chose to incorporate Twitter direct messages as part of my outreach plan. Using followers’ biographies to write targeted messages (CEOs, for example, got a CEO-centric message), I reached out to several thousand followers about the book.

Did I get pushback? Absolutely. I got some delightful hate messages in response. I also lost followers at a faster rate than during non-promotional periods. Here’s a quick chart showing promotional period growth rates vs. non-promotional periods:


What else did I get? An 11% increase in website traffic from Twitter, and a 22% increase in sales from Twitter direct messages compared to regular, organic tweets.

I will gladly trade losing a few followers per day for a 22% increase in sales. My bank doesn’t accept followers as a form of currency. My bank gladly accepts dollars.

What should we learn from this experiment? Test direct messaging for major initiatives. It may not be the right tool for every marketing campaign, but when we’ve got to show results for a major launch, direct messaging should be in the mix.

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