Yesterday I had a fabulous day at the SMART Social Media for Business conference in Westminster. I tweeted throughout the day, and there was a LOT of material, but here are some of the most memorable bits.

Setting the scene

John Barnes (Incisive Media) opened the event and then Charlie Osmond (Fresh Networks) and Amelia Hodge (RBS Insurance) presented the opening keynote address. I particularly liked the definition of social networks (All about me) compared to online communities (All about us). It was also helpful to hear a concise summary of the benefits of social media – engagement, insight, innovation, advocacy, natural search, customer service and increased sales and a discussion on the difference between the strategic use of social media and social media strategy.

As risk was a key theme of the event it was interesting to hear about problems (e.g. DKNY having its Facebook page hijacked by animal activists and TM Lewin’s CEO being ready to answer questions about manufacturing following the successful “How to iron a shirt” video). I also liked the case study of RS Components in how they used social media to reach customers earlier in their engineering process by providing design templates. There was some criticism of the accuracy of social media measurement and monitoring tools.


It was good to hear how Jimmy Choo (shoes!) reported a 20 times return on investment for its online advertising and social media use. I liked the quote “social media is not a one night stand but a long term relationship”. The case study of Devitt – motorcycle insurance – was fascinating. To reach the 1.1m bikers in the UK it created a community and provided lots of intelligence. Great content got them partnered with MCN and the research showed that not only were 66% warmer to the brand as a result but that 31% were more likely to insure with Devitt.


Panellists from Google, Mashable, Youtube and Mediasift (representing Twitter) chatted about a cornucopia of topics. We learned about Google Maps Hotpot and the problems of sentiment analysis where computers fail to understand sarcasm. My favourite quotes here were “People follow content rather than looking for content” and “1% of the users generate 99% of the content”.


There were some polls of the 100 strong audience. The results that caught my eye were:

The most beneficial social media tools for your business:

59% LinkedIn

30% Twitter

7% Twitter

3% YouTube


Social media is mostly used for:

39% Client engagement and business development

32% Generating web site traffic

19% Don’t use it

10% Recruitment


Who has responsibility for social media in your organisation:

39% Senior management

39% Internal marketing communications

13% Approved spokespeople

9% External agency


The biggest social media risks:

36% Not having a social media strategy

32% Losing control of your brand reputation

24% Legal or compliance ramifications

7% Data protection or security

J P Morgan

You know that social media has arrived when the managing director from J P Morgan presents a conference paper on the subject and talks about how a thought leadership campaign positioned them to have both electronic and face to face conversations with the 91 big funds in Europe. It was reassuring to hear that it took them so long to persuade the more conservative members of the organisation to support the initiative.


The increase in B2B advertising was the focus – and the updated 2 billion views a day statistics. Key quotes for me were “By 2014 Internet use on smartphones will overtake other methods” and “An iPhone user watches an average of five videos a day and uploads one a week” (obviously I am not an average iPhone user!). Apparently, video on demand advertising (promoted videos) is becoming more important and more businesses are presenting a video or video carousels on their home page.

It was interesting to hear that BA’s daily video question and answer sessions during the strike generated an average 4.5 out of 5 rating – good PR. And I loved the story of Carphone Warehouse using “unboxing” videos to raise perceptions of its product expertise. And the Siemens tag cloud of video material was awesome.

Search, SEO and Chocolate

One of my favourite sessions of the day was presented by the whirlwind of energy and enthusiasm from Judith Lewis of Beyond. As well as being a chocolate fanatic, she gave one of the best presentations I have ever seen on search – and in just 30 minutes. She started by saying that the Google algorithm is updated at least once a day. She dismissed keyword density guidelines in a stroke before talking about the importance of load time, social footprints, titles, Twitter and semantic relevancy.

I loved her story of LV “being naughty” when it increased the links from 4,000 to 16,000 in a short period of time – and the repercussions – and her stats that showed “Finland still haven’t found what they’re looking for”. She reported that Google is gaining strength in Japan and I adored her simple approach to planning keywords for each web site page. Favourite TLA (three letter abbreviation) of the conference for me was from Judith “TLD” (Top Level Domain).

The Economist

Mark Johnson, Community Editor showed that Facebook (540,000 fans) had increased page viewing by nine times and Twitter (550,000 followers) by 10 – their web site comments also increased by 53% in a year. In my view, this is the medium with the ultimate content strategy. He said “Every tweet and post is handcrafted to the medium” – which made me smile as I loathe auto-tweets and also “In a single month, comment contributors view six times more pages than the average visitor”.

Great case study of how they integrated a traditional poster campaign (remember the “two sides to every argument” campaign?) with moderated tweetbacks generating 1,000-1,500 tweets per hour. There was a tantalising taste of new “festival of debate” product that is launching soon.

Peter Abraham of econsultancy on content creation

Delighted to see my pal Peter take the stage and whizz us through some BCG stuff on the broadening of the marketing mix with the quote from Doug Kessler “Traditionally marketing talks at people, Content Marketing talks with them”. He then reviewed the McKinsey content model (Paid, Earned, Owned, Hijacked, Sold) and the Brian Solis conversation prism before presenting the model that we produced last year on selling and social media in the professions (see my earlier blog on the white paper). I was so chuffed to be in such exalted company!

Interestingly, he advised that Facebook was used for business in the US but for friends in the UK. He talked about the revenue generated from some of econsultancy’s best blog titles and the brilliant use of an answers aggregator which is now their seventh largest source of traffic. I liked his “Find your influentials” and “the more channels, the more engagement” comments.

Angus Fox – Multizone – Monitor and react

I’d had a delightful chat with Alex at the morning coffee break where we reminisced about the good old days in the computer industry (pre-PC) and considered the parallels between old fashioned time-sharing and today’s cloud computing revolution (I think I officially earned “geek” title yesterday!). Along with Judith and Peter’s sessions – this was one of my favourites. After briefly describing his approach to assessing “social media maturity” of organisations he presented an awesome range of tools that we could take away and use immediately. And I did!

Will Kintish and LinkedIn

Will (a former accountant of 35 years and master of the networking universe) was his usual exuberant and wonderful self as he spent an hour talking to an enthralled audience about LinkedIn and providing tips and hints to beginners and experts. My favourite quote from Will (although there were lots) was “I’d rather eat a box of spiders than make a cold call, so I use LinkedIn”. After Will’s tour de force I’m afraid I was flagging a bit so the final panel session didn’t make it into my notebook.

Law and accountancy firms

It was good to see the professions so well presented at the conference. I was delighted to bump into old friends from Crowell & Moring and to make new friends at Wedlake Bell and The College of Law. Olswang and CMS Cameron McKenna were presenters. There was also Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, Contact Law, DLA Piper, Linklaters and Norton Rose. I chatted to the folk from Baker Tilly International and other accountants attending included Mazars, Menzies, KPMG and RSM Tenon. Deloitte were presenting.

I must say that it was refreshing to be encouraged to use your smart phone to tweet throughout the event and the Tweet Wall during the refreshment breaks made fascinating reading. It was great to connect – both electronically and face-to-face – with so many great people – marketers and geeks unite!