Hundreds Gather At #SoFresh To Further Their Knowledge of Social Media Best Practices

PORTLAND–It’s raining hard this morning, but there are no dampened spirits inside the Doubletree Hotel’s conference rooms. Jason Keath is seeing to that. He’s the event organizer from North Carolina, here in Portland to put on Social Fresh, a conference about social media.
Social Fresh is also playing in St. Louis, Tampa, Nashville and Charlotte. And word is definitely out, for people from as far away as Boston and New Jersey and California and Seattle are here today to hear from social media practitioners at Nike, Intel, Radian6, HubSpot, PitchEngine and other companies. In his opening remarks, Keath says, “We want social media to be more efficient. We want the tide to rise and all ships with it.” Keath adds that Social Fresh is about case studies and addressing the core question: “How are you making money at this?”
I can tell you how Jive Software is making money at this. The first presentation of the day is from Barry Tallis of Portland-based Jive and Richard Foo of Nike. After a quick introduction from Tallis, Foo jumps into his slides that showcase how Jive’s “Facebook for the enterprise” applications work to build a digital asset library for the sportswear magnate. Foo refers to the solutions as “Jive Appeal,” which strikes me as a very Nike thing to say. Foo also touches on how the internal sharing of digital assets leads to external uses. He points to Jumpman23 and True City as examples.
The conference is happening in three rooms. One room for the featured speaker(s), another room for panels, and the third for guided discussions. Naturally, the hallways are also full of activity. There are two massage therapists working for tips, and several of the day’s presenters are “working” their tables. One of the reasons people go to conferences like this is to make contact with like minded people working on similar problems. One of the first people I meet today is Nicole Donnelly of Big Ruby, a social media metrics company. Next I meet Emily Fitzhugh of Portland, a.k.a. Soda Pop Girl, who hands me her card that reads “Shake It.” She’s unsure about the tagline, but I say I like it, which I do. Things need shaking all over the place.
For certain, all things social media related need shaking. In fact, I hear lots of things coming from the stage for the next several hours that don’t exactly resonate. Sometimes, it’s the pedantic nature of the speech, other times it’s the speaker’s tone. But the worst part for me are all the blanket statements. Social media is the new black one presenter says. Another presenter says blogs are social media’s gateway drug. But there’s nothing heavier beyond one’s blog, in fact, just the opposite is true. Again from the stage, we hear that the people reading our blog posts and following our Tweets are the ones who want to buy from us. Awesome! But readers of one’s blog come to read and interact, and they rarely open their wallets in the process.
Clearly, social media is a new field with no real experts. Yet, when you give a person a microphone, a big screen for their slide show and a slot on the conference schedule, all of a sudden there’s some authority to what they say, whatever they say. Thankfully, Mike Volpe of HubSpot pulls me out of my afternoon funk with a rapid fire breakdown of some key concepts.
Volpe says it’s all about brainpower today, not marketing budgets. He says think like a publisher, not a marketer. About SEO, he says links are like online votes. He says it’s wise to provide as many chances to convert a reader into a customer as possible–that every page, blog post, email signatures, etc. is an opportunity to convert. Volpe says make it clear what you want your customers to do next, while keeping in mind it’s all about them. Customers want to know “What’s In It For Me?” and marketers need to make that abundantly clear. By way of illustration, Volpe says HubSpot has 250 landing pages with 30 to 40 different offers.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.