We joined over 150 delegates attending the LincUpLive social media conference in Lincoln on Friday 24th February. The eclectic audience included local businesses, students as well as representatives from the media and public sector all seeking to learn and share their experiences of social media.
Co-founder Glenn Le Santo kicked off proceedings in the luxurious surroundings of the new DoubleTree by Hilton hotel with an inspiring speech about how local businesses should embrace social media. He made the case for business owners to trust their staff and encourage them to make connections online.
Think global, act social
The first keynote speaker was Delphine Remy-Boutang, former head of Social Media at IBM who explained how the company has turned to social media tools to improve internal communications. Using their own versions of Facebook, Twitter and Slideshare, IBM has encouraged its thousands of employees to become more social at work. You might expect this computing giant to be at ease with the transition to become a more social business but Delphine explained how "IBM was at the GCSE level of social media". She continued that businesses should "Think global and act social. You need passionate and engaged employees to be successful." An inspirational keynote delivered in a lovely accent..
When you're a brand, all that matters is your content
Yann Gourvennec, Social Media Director of Orange led a breakout session where he explained that "Social media for its own sake is useless". He talked about Orange and its business blogs, making the point that its not the medium thats important, its the content. "For those who master the technology don't worry or see about the technology", Yann explained "Networks don't stop with technology, networks are people. When you're a brand, all that matters is your content. That's what your customers interact with and that needs to be compelling. The future of social brands is to supply content that is so engaging that people want to share it across their network"
I don't see that niceness is restricted to any particular sector.
After a quick refuel of coffee, the attendees returned to the main room for a Keynote from Stuart Witts, Head of Social Media at Marie Curie Cancer Care. Stuart gave an emotional insight to the people behind the social media numbers, every one with their own story. He made the case that social interactions should be genuine and real. "If someone has a great story or experience to tell, then make the connection with them, build a relationship and then nudge them into sharing this across their networks. This way the story comes from the heart and people can relate to this"
Stuart finished his talk explaining that although he works for a charity, "I don't see that niceness is restricted to any particular sector. Niceness should not be eradicated from business, niceness should push back into business."
Acquisition, engagement, conversion and retention
After Stuarts heartfelt keynote we returned to the hard nosed world of business with a practical assessment of the value of social media from Susan Hallam of Hallam Internet. Susan outlined the practical reasons why businesses get involved in social media including lead generation, increasing sales and revenue, search engine visibility or even cost savings. She turned to our own analytical guru Avinash Kaushik for further insights into the processes of measuring social media effectiveness:
Conversation is not about broadcasting, its about interacting and building a relationship. Then if the content and the relationship are right then you can look for Amplification. This is when your messages are passed on through other networks, "going viral" if you like. Then you can enjoy the Applause, either in new followers or credibility. Which finally brings the Economic value of your social media activity
Brands don't tweet, people do
The next breakout session I attended featured hot headed social media consultant, Joanne Jacobs. In last year's keynote she challenged preconceptions about influence in social media, a subject she returned to with gusto again this year. Joanne made the case that "Advertising is all about lying to everyone about everything and that social media is a rebellion against this." She went on and explored the differences between the "real" you and the "digital" you. We even had a conversation about William Gibson at one point!
When we managed to get back from the land of science fiction, Joanne made the point that even though you might work for a brand, its the people that matter. "Brands don't tweet, people do" but because people are human we get to see the whole picture and that means you shouldn't tweet after coming home from the pub. Be careful online, you never know when its going to come back and bite you."
Our presence on twitter was worth 100 cops on the streets
The final keynote was from Richard Crompton, chief constable of Lincolnshire police who talked about trust and transparency. He argued that to make a real difference in the community, the police have to enjoy the trust of their community and this comes with transparency. Richard went on to explain about that when the English defence league marched in Birmingham, the police had officers on twitter keeping the public updated on what was actually happening and that "our presence on twitter was worth 100 cops on the streets"
Richard then moved on to talk about leadership and the difficulties of getting an organisation to empower its staff on social media. He highlighted the usual issues organisations have about trusting their staff and then gave us possibly the best quote of the event when he said that "We trust our staff with Tazers which can kill people. Why can't we trust them with a mobile phone?"
LincUpLive will return on Friday 14th September with another social media conference, this time concentrating on the role social media can play in the food and drink sector.