Live conference blog: The social revolution

4 steps to maximizing your social media efforts.

Please excuse any typos. This is a live blog.

“Today communication is not just transactional. We’re moving from an era of transaction to engagement,” says Dux Raymond Sy (@MeetDux), PMP Managing Partner, Innovative-e.

Four steps to help you maximize your social media efforts:

1. Define success criteria.
Don’t engage in social media because it’s what all the cool kids are doing. Be intentional. Have a purpose.

Identify your goals.
Are you trying to spur engagement? Build your brand? Encourage sales? Tap the industry pulse?

Know your cost considerations.
Do you have the right tools? Do you have the right staff? Do you have the ability to advertise effectively?

Have the right metrics in place to gauge thought leadership, sales and customer service

2. Integrate your existing business strategy.

Social media channels augment existing business strategies. A holistic approach is key.

Example: Promoting an event

Launch the event.
Call for speakers, promote via blog posts, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Flickr.

Build momentum.
Create news release template for all sponsors, create a social media schedule, use scheduled tweets and Facebook blog posts, have articles on partner sites, and use video interviews for promos.

During the event.
Live blog, create session hashtags, use Twitter during events, use video streaming, and try something fun, like a talent show.

Sy calls this social networking at its finest.

3. Use relevant tools

You can connect LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Seismic can be used on phones and on tablets.

Sy uses this to schedule tweets.
Shortens URLs, you can add it to your browser. You can also save links and do light analytics on how many people have clicked on a particular link.

4. Amplify
You should aim to influence influencers. Maximize your “echo” system by encouraging people to participate in social media with you. During his closing keynote, Sy encouraged people to tweet and create an interactive, memorable experience.

And he took it a step further, he taught #RaganMSFT attendees how to Gangnam Style.

Special shout out to @Tosolini for being on hand to capture the video via iPhone – great example of using phones to capture moments as they happen.


Gabe Zichermann (@GZicherm), Conference Chair, Gamification Summit, and Editor, Gamification.Co, began by explaining five core ways to raise your fluid intelligence, which is the driver of innovation:

  • Think creatively.
  • Network.
  • Challenge yourself.
  • Seek novelty.
  • Do things the hard way.

As games challenge people to do a number of the above things, they help increase fluid intelligence.

People are compelled to engage in games because when you challenge yourself to try something and you achieve it, your brain secretes dopamine which makes you feel good. This is intrinsic reinforcement.

Gamification the best ideas from games to change behaviors.

To understand how—and why—gamification works, it’s important to look at the hierarchy of rewards

1) Status
This allows people to “level up.” Biologically, we are wired to desire status. In a study of baboons, researchers found that the highest status baboons have the lowest amount of cortisol (stress chemicals) in their blood.

2) Access
Access involves living people an in, be it access to people or things.

3) Power
Appeals to the desire to have control over something or someone.

4) Stuff
Reward people with cash, prizes, badges, etc.

Zichermann shares examples of companies that successfully use gamification:


Codecademy, a company that helps people learn code, uses gamification to make learning code more interesting and compelling. The gamified system Codecademy created focuses on making learning code fun and aligning teachers and students with incentive structures. Teachers constantly positively reinforce students, which keeps them coming back for more.

Take home: When encouraging employees or your audience to engage in a particular behavior, reinforce the behavior you want to see. Understand that fun is a key element in encouraging people to engage. Codecademy used the power of ‘stuff’ to encourage people through praise.


StackOverFlow seems, at first glance, to be another Q & A website like Quora, but it’s more than that. A million people log on to answer questions about particular software—for free. This includes the world’s top software developers.

Why would they do this for free? Because they play for virtual currency, known as ‘creds.’ A certain amount of creds makes you an expert at a topic. You achieve status in your area of expertise.

Take home: Know what’s important to your audience. Everyone wants status and people enjoy stuff–in the form of ‘creds’ here.

Diaper Dash
One would think that after a long day of being a mom, the last thing any mother would want to do is play a virtual game in which the core challenge is managing babies. But recent moms greatly enjoy this game. Why? It allows them to express themselves, train, and learn more about what they love.

Take home: Build on people’s interests. Understand their challenges and how you can make their lives easier through games.

NextJump created an employee incentive program to encourage employees to work out. The owner of the company is passionate about working out and understands the benefits of exercise, to name one, people who work out are cognitively superior to those who don’t.

NextJump built an app that incentivized employees with money. 12 employees began working out consistently. NextJump took it a step further and introduced two game mechanics. One that allows people to play in teams and another that sets up leader boards to pit teams against each other.

Nearly 80 percent of NextJump’s employees work out now.

Take home: You can’t force people to do something they don’t want to do. NextJump incentivized people through power—the power to have one team reign supreme over another.

Instead of annual reviews, companies like Spotify and Facebook use Rypple, an app that tracks employee data on a different level. When people help each other, they can track it in a gamified manner. This makes the process more organic, rewarding and appealing.

Take home: Be creative. Use games to change systems and encourage participation.


Thomas Smith (@ThomasSmith), Social Media Director at Disney Destinations, shares top tips for creating powerful presence on social media.

Disney is a powerful brand. But a great brand isn’t enough to foster and grow a social media presence. Luckily, Disney knows how to create an impressive network.

“Well, a mother, a real mother is the most wonderful person in the world.” – Peter Pan

Disney knows this. Everything Disney has done on social media stems from the Walt Disney World Mom’s Panel .Knowing your brand’s advocates is key to communicating your message and growing your network. Let your fans help build your brand.

“Curiosity often leads to trouble.” – Alice

But Alice ended up having so much fun. Smith challenges social media communicators to “Ask what if? And why not? Be curious.”

Look at your social media strategy and consider what you might try to make it different and better.

“Can you feel the love tonight?” – The Lion King

You have to get people to experience a story and feel the emotion. “We want stories that are so good they’re contagious,” says Smith.

“Dig a little deeper. Think of something you’ve never thought of before.” – Winnie the Pooh

Find creative ways to showcase your brand and stories. Disney creates Facebook pages for popular characters from movies. Dory the fish from ‘Finding Nemo’ has her own Facebook page, and it’s popular!

“Listen to me. The human world is a mess.” – Sebastian

Sebastian is right. The human world is a mess—as is the world of social media. Disney “adds structure to the unstructured,” as Smith says, with an in-depth social media editorial calendar. Disney hosts ‘Mystery Monday’, ‘Moms panel Tuesday’ and more on its blog.

An editorial calendar creates structure so you’re not starting from scratch every week. It also helps people anticipate certain content.

“With you here, I know life is more fun.” – Winnie the Pooh

On the Disney Parks Blog they have a lot of two way engagement with experts. It gives people access to Disney and humanizes the brand. People have also have access to executive leadership. As Smith says, “People connect with people.”

The live chats Disney hosts on its blog are peppered with images, schematics, drawings and more to keep viewers engaged and commenting.

“Today’s special moments are tomorrow’s memories.” – Genie

Give a little. Disney offered fans from its blog exclusive access to new rides. Give your fans something to remember you by.


Ryan Penagos (@Agent_M), Executive Editorial Director for Marvel Entertainment’s Digital Media Group, shares tips to create an engaged, enthusiastic following on Twitter.

Marvel is a fun brand with legions of loyal followers. But it’s the creativity and personality that its social media team uses that makes Marvel’s Twitter account one to emulate.

Penagos shares his top tips:

Create a personality for your brand.

Marvel has unique voices for each of its characters. Deadpool – @RealDeadPool –a psychopath comic book character, tweets rants that multiple people from Marvel’s social media team contribute to. This expresses the chaotic nature of the character.

Tip: If you have multiple Twitter accounts, make sure you’re always tweeting from the right one.

Use Twitter to help launch events.

Twitter can be used to create excitement around an event. Marvel hosted a Twitter chat to create buzz around the movie ‘The Avengers’ and asked writer/director Joss Whedon to contribute to the chat, as well as stars Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson and others.

Should you create multiple handles?

At first, Penagos was against creating a handle specifically for the popular movie/superhero team ‘The Avengers.’ He thought it might detract from the @Marvel Twitter handle. But after further thought, he realized that Avengers fans are a very specific group of people that should be catered to. It’s about finding that balance between potential and already built-in interest.

Create intrigue.

Penagos uses the hashtag #seeeekrits to create intrigue around content he tweets. Tease your fans a bit—but not too much!

Be authentic when considering partnerships on Twitter.

Make sure it makes sense for your brand and your brand’s followers. Be authentic. @AgentM—fun fact—doesn’t like soda. So he won’t work with soda companies and push tweets about drinking soda. His followers would find this inauthentic because they’ve built a relationship with him.

Thank your fans.
Marvel created the hashtag #AvengersFanoftheday to thank fans on a daily basis.

Be creative!

In a comic book series, Marvel character Wolverine created a school—The Jean Grey School—in honor of his love. Writers and editors of the series added Twitter feeds to the comic. They gave each fictional student a handle and have them go field trips on Twitter. @JeanGreySchool interacts with the children’s accounts and fans.


Sean O’Driscoll (@seanodmvp), CEO and co-founder, Ant’s Eye View shares thoughts on social engagement.

“Social engagement is a journey,” says O’Driscoll.

He briefly outlines the steps as:

Stage 1 – Traditional:
Traditional command and control business operations use one way communication to drive business outcomes.

Stage 2 – Experimental:
Dabbling in social engagement occurs but is discounted to business operations. Fractured tools, siloed efforts and disparate measures reign.

When you’re in the experimental stage, you’re probably not considering ROI.

Stage 3 – Operational
Social engagement is more embedded in business operations. Internal training, channel alignment and campaign integration. You’re beginning to deliver tangible results.

Stage 4 – Measurable
Social engagement drives real business results with systems and tools fully optimized to support confident and competent employees. You’re fully harnessing online relationships.

Regarding data, “Nobody needs more data, you need more insight. The problem with tools is they give you a river of data.”

Stage 5 – Fully engaged:
Social engagement and customer experience is part of the organization’s DNA. Increased revenue and loyalty are realized.

O’Driscoll then shared the difference between influencers and advocates

Influencers – What they do to influence others is typically commingled with their profession. Someone who actively shares their opinions, passion expertise through their large personal and professional networks.

Advocates – Someone who proactively defends promotes and participates in the public conversation for a particular brand, product service or cause

How do you build a sense of parenthood around your product, brand, idea and build a network that will defend it to the death? Everyone’s seen an ugly baby, but no one’s ever had one. You’re going to defend what you love!

And, as mentioned, social engagement is a journey. The three stages of engagement are:

I like you: You meet my functional needs. That’s satisfaction.

I love you: That’s loyalty. Relationship orientation. The product exceed expectations. People are actively engaged with the brand and recommend the brand.

I defend you: This is the end goal. People will go out of their way to tell naysayers that they’re wrong and why they’re wrong. That’s advocacy.


Frank X Shaw (@FXShaw), Corporate Vice President of Corporate Communications at Microsoft, shares top tips to help communicators manage the ever-changing world of communications.

The publishing explosion, as Shaw calls it, has changed the way people and companies communicate.

Today, there are dynamic influencers that change all the time. Shaw likens this trend to the political debate last night and the ease and frequency with which people were able to share opinions on social media.

This explosion allows companies to directly tell their story in a way that’s crisp, compelling and unhindered. Shaw quipped that when Microsoft started publishing original content on its website that expressed the company’s views, reporters were up in arms saying, “You have no right to tell your story directly, that’s our job.”

Internally, the explosion of publishing spurs companies like Microsoft to publish content that connects and resonates with employees.

And on social media, you can target an audience with the content you choose to publish. Shaw stresses the importance of using images to share your message as well as creating a particular tone that invites readers to engage with the company.

“Engaging invites attention,” Shaw maintains. When encouraging engagement, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have the right resources to engage or respond? Are you using social media?
    -Are you able to monitor it adequately and respond as necessary?
  • Do you know when to engage?
    -Know that there’s a time and a place to get your message across.
  • Are you using the right tone to communicate your message?
    -If you’re going to employ humor, you need to know what you’re doing and how to do it well.
  • What is the value you can deliver or contribute?
    -You can say as many things as you want, but what is the value you can provide?
    – Shaw cites Microsoft’s internal blog as a way that the company delivers useful, valuable information.
  • Do you know how to shift the conversation in your favor?
    -If people are talking about your company on say, social media, are you able to shift conversations to convey the message you want to share?
  • Does the risk of engaging outweigh the reward?
    -Consider the risk of communicating your message. Think about the impact your message might make.


Drew Keller, (@DrewKeller) Owner of StoryGuide, shares best practices in using video for branding

There’s more to video than simply pointing and shooting and hoping for the best. Videos can be used to capture your brand’s message, draw in your target audience and elevate your brand to new levels.

Ask yourself these questions before creating a video:

1) Why am I making a video?
Is it just because your CEO thinks you should? You should know who you’re trying to reach, if video is the appropriate medium and understand that video is a part of a larger narrative.

2) What are your expectations?
It shouldn’t be about the number of views, but about communicating an emotional expectation. Your story should have a beginning, middle and an end. As viewers, we engage in things by projecting ourselves into situations. You audience should be able to relate to the video.

3) Am I actually funny?
Humor is hard. There’s a rhythm and a cadence to comedy that you have to understand. In corporations, funny pieces are almost always done at the expense of someone else. Sometimes using stereotypes. This can be a questionable practice. It’s the easy joke.

4) Do you know your audience?
Do you have a clear idea of who you’re trying to reach? As Keller says, “If your audience is everybody, it’s no one.” Think about who’s most likely to share your content – these ‘tastemakers’ drive awareness.

5) Are you providing any form of newness?
Unexpected things and elements of surprise engage people. Don’t make your content the same as everyone else’s. Create something that has a sense of newness to it and stands out from the crowd.

Quick take-home video tips:

  • Be consistent
  • Tell a unique, creative and compelling story
  • The tone of your message should fit company values
  • All brand assets must fit your brand identity
  • You should be able to respond quickly to challenges
  • Like everything else in life, sweat the details


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