30 Sept 2014

Social Media Week 2014 Offered Answers to Most Questions Related to the Online World

How to create engaging content? What are the biggest challenges in faced in content marketing today? How are companies using the online space to design products specific to target audiences? How to brand yourself using social media? Answers to these questions and more were offered in the Social Media Week held in Mumbai.

Many digital enthusiasts were looking forward to this event. Held from 22nd to 26th September, this event would feature renowned speakers and influencers focusing on the online world is evolving and how we can adapt to it. Since I had stepped into this world recently, it wouldn’t be wise to give SMWMumbai a miss. Some friends had attended the event held in 2013 and were impressed.

The event flagged off with a ride on Sunday 21st September. Many riders (including yours truly) had assembled at Fountain Hotel and rode from there to Talasari. While I didn’t go for the ride, I heard it was fun.

Thanks to Blogadda, I got a pass to attend the event on 23rd and 24th September. Unfortunately, I could only attend on 23rd. Thanks to April broadcast, however, a lot of people (including me) got to view the event even if we couldn’t make it to the venue.

Ah! The venue. Novotel Hotel in Juhu. Step out in the hotel’s open spaces and you were greeted with the sound of the ocean. And the view of the ocean over the swimming pool and the verandah outside the seminar halls was a sight to behold.

The volunteers at the event were helpful and spontaneous. When I told them I had come through Blogadda and didn’t have a physical pass, they promptly made one and handed it over. No questions asked. They also informed me of the events being held in specific seminar halls at that time.

The seminar for engaging content was conducted by Payal Karwa and Varun Duggirala. They spent an hour providing us with insights on creating engaging content. They elaborated on aspects like story telling, creating an emotional bond and understanding the brand’s USP and designing content accordingly. Varun further kept us engaged by asking the audience to describe the brand as if it were a person and then simulate how it would behave on each platform. He did this by making the audience interact online and offline. It was interesting, unconventional. The ‘engaging content creation’ seminar kept us engaged right till the end.

Lunch was great, albeit somewhat spicy. The chicken pomegranate chaat was delicious. Plus I got to meet Manish Pandey and Amit Panchal. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - those guys work like they’re on Red Bull all the time!

The next seminar was conducted by Navneet Kaushal of PageTraffic. It was on content marketing and the challenges faced. He rightly pointed out that the biggest challenge for social media marketers today is content distribution, not creation. It’s no use creating great content which just sits around waiting to be discovered. You have to be proactive and innovative in your attempts to reach out to people. He educated us on content curation tools to write articles which people want to read. Further emphasis was placed on sticking to a content calendar, stock images (some of them cost just $1) and being versatile. Posting the link to a 1,500 word article on SEO on a Sunday doesn’t make sense. Photos of happy puppies do, which make people celebrate the Sunday. And to an extent, you need FB ads to promote your content and increase page likes and website hits.

What Navneet Kaushal talked about are strategies followed by many online influencers like Neil Patel, Sean Ellis and others. It made complete sense. Navneet has been blogging for SEJournal and ClickZee since long now. Audience asked him how it helps in conversion, and he said that it doesn’t directly help. Instead, it helps build the brand PageTraffic and establishes them as an authority. And authority breeds trust, which then helps in conversion. Words of wisdom which should be heeded and adopted by us all. For me, Navneet Kaushal’s session was the highlight of the day.

I then walked into IBM’s session of how the digital space is helping brands profile potential customers and create products catered to their needs. Since I walked in while the session was almost over, there isn’t much to share. But it reminds one of the algorithms used by Target, the supermarket, to profile shoppers and send them e-mails of products which customers will find relevant. It’s amazing how much the digital world is advancing. A few people voiced their concerns over brands able to peek into our personal lives, but it was rightly countered with the view that brands can only access information which we have posted online. The less we share about ourselves, the less brands will know. Hence, the onus lies on us.

The final session was the one I was looking forward to most. I was intrigued about how people can use social media to brand themselves online. But it turned out to be quite generic. Tanvi Bhatt made it a typical personality development session with just the last 15 minutes spent on how to use social media. Plus her tips were for novices; those who haven’t used Twitter or LinkedIn or don’t blog. It may have been useful for a lot of people there, but I feel it could’ve been more specific and detailed.

After the event, I got to meet Apeksha Harihar, Meera Rai and Hitesh Rajwani from Social Samosa and Sachin Uppal. Had a lengthy discussion about the online space with them which was just as good as the seminar itself. I missed the rest of the days - was looking forward to hearing Kunal Jeswani and Jeff Bullas… maybe next time…

The event was a great experience. It was wonderful to see people share insights and bond like they’ve known each other for long. Passionate discussions, networking and information exchange made the event fun. And the venue was the icing on the cake.

Thanks Blogadda for letting me attend the event. I had missed it last year and wasn’t prepared to give it a miss this time. The event is recommended to everyone who is in the digital space - whether you’re pursuing a career in the field or not. 

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