What I Loved About (and Learned From) SMX Social Media

Filed in Conferences/Educ. by Matt McGee on October 19, 2007 7 Comments

SMX Social - opening sessionSMX Social Media goes in the books as one of my favorite conferences, for several reasons.

One, social media marketing is fun, right? Think about it — On-page optimization? Necessary, but pretty boring. Link building? Like pulling teeth. Crawling/technical issues? Gotta do it, but not my cup of tea. But jumping into the social media pool, i.e., making great content and seeing what it takes to have it go viral? Love it.

Two, it was a “who’s who” of search marketing. With a couple exceptions, everyone you would expect to be at the show was there, sharing tips and case studies from their experience. For example, I sat on a panel with Don Steele of Comedy Central, whose dealings with Wikipedia were great to hear and a textbook example of dealing with that site and its users.

Three, it was a great chance to say ‘hi’ to old friends and make new ones. You old friends know who you are; the new friends include Eric Lander of ADP and Search Engine Journal, Brendan Picha of Squareoak, Marty Weintraub of aimClear Blog, and several others (Derek, Frank, Brian, etc., etc.). The reason I hate hearing outsiders talk about search marketers being a bunch of spammers and losers is that I only ever meet great people at all the conferences I attend.

With that as a background, here are the notes I took from listening to each session — these are my

Top 8 Takeaways from SMX Social Media

It’s not one of my favorite songs, but the Who’s “Eminence Front” is the all-time best pre-conference song. What a great way to wake up and leave the groggy behind. It must be played at every search conference from this day forward.

Trying to develop linkbait in a tough industry? It’s a good idea to use social sites to research any previous attempts in your industry; what have others written or done to get links? Did it work? Why or why not?

For Digg and similar voting sites: Use numbers in your headline, not words written out. For example, “Top 10 Reasons…” instead of “Top Ten Reasons….”

Again for Digg and similar voting sites: Strip away all advertising and sales pitches on the article/content page; users react negatively to that and will bury the story. Don’t make it look like a sales pitch or like you want people to click on ads. Get all that junk off the screen. Just show your main site navigation and the content you want them to like.

Diggers don’t like podcasts. They don’t pay any attention. The podcast section is very different from the rest of Digg.

The Del.icio.us “Popular” page updates about every 4 hours; time your submissions to take advantage of the schedule.

Here’s a good line from Adam Sherk about his experience dealing with companies just starting to tackle social media: “Enthusiasm for social marketing is not a replacement for strategy.”

Although I sat on the panel and didn’t get to take notes, the main thing that struck me about what the Wikipedia people were saying is this: The best way for companies to be involved is to limit participation to the Talk/Discussion page; help users make correct edits. Don’t do the editing yourself.

There was a lot more that I’m taking away, but it came mainly from the case studies several of the speakers shared. There’s no better way to learn than to hear the successes and failures that others have experienced.

My Presentation

I gave a presentation on Day 2 during the “Wikipedia and Yahoo Answers” session; I was the only panelist speaking about Yahoo Answers. Knowing that so much attention would be on Wikipedia, Danny had me speak first, and then dedicated the first part of the Q&A just for questions about my presentation. I was pleasantly surprised to see a bunch of hands go up (about 1/3rd of the audience, I’d say) when I asked how many people are using Yahoo Answers, and pleasantly surprised to get 3-4 excellent questions before the conversation switched to Wikipedia.

Those who weren’t there can read up on what you missed in any/all of these recaps of my session:

You can also download my PPT slides (722k), but be warned: This PPT is the least wordy presentation I’ve ever done. It’s really a lot of screenshots. However, I did include the notes/comments I typed up for myself which you’ll see in the pane below each slide. If something doesn’t make sense, feel free to leave any comments/questions on this post.

And finally…

I didn’t take a lot of photos this week, but I’ve put a small set on Flickr.

Comments (7)

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  1. dedmond29 says:

    Matt – had a great time at the conference, learned and shared a lot and met some really great people. It was also good to finally meet in person. Hope the trip back home was safe and uneventful (meaning, delay free?).

  2. Miriam says:

    Sounds like you had a great time, Matt! Wow, that’s a lot of coverage of your presentation. Thank you for posting this.

  3. Brian says:

    Hey Matt,

    Sorry to hit this post so late, but it was good to meet you. Enjoyed your thoughts on Yahoo Answers.

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