Here at AKHIA, we make it a way of life to never stop learning. Joining the Midwest Social Media Summit in Cleveland was impactful for three team members. Read on to discover their key takeaways.

Lukas Treu, Content Architect
This marked my second year attending the MWSMS. While I enjoyed both iterations of the summit, there was a decidedly greater emphasis on tactics and tools this year. Whereas some conferences tend to feature panel discussions led by paying sponsors, the panels for this year’s summit included social media managers from local companies big and small facing the same challenges we all do with social media. These professionals shared stories of success, and explained the replicable steps they took to create impact with their audiences.

I was particularly intrigued by a panel that featured representatives from BioThane Coated Webbing Corp., Ridge Tool (RIGID), and Rockwell Automation, as it offered a window into the tough-to-understand world of industrial B2B social media marketing. This is a group that can be overlooked, since B2C social media marketing case studies are much more abundant. We learned some facts echoing what I’ve seen with our clients (e.g., online forums are often the best place to engage target audiences for B2B companies), as well as facts that surprised:

  • 90 percent of B2B solution searches start online, and many include social media research
  • 40 percent of potential buyers use YouTube for product reviews according to a RIGID study
  • 52 percent of manufacturer brands are on social media and Facebook is the channel they use second most.

I was pleased to gain such great insights, and look forward to sharing them with some of the B2B marketers I know.

Jodee Hammond, Account Executive
The program for the summit tied together nicely, bringing full circle the importance of audience and how to create content that hits home for them. I concur with Lukas in being particularly interested in the BioThane, Ridge Tool and Rockwell Automation panel, as their businesses are most closely related to accounts that I work on at AKHIA. I appreciated their honesty in their social media journey, testing what works and learning what doesn’t work. In that panel, and throughout the rest, there seemed to be a consensus on the strategy (and success) of leveraging an expert into their social channels.

I also enjoyed the opening discussion with Jeff Rohrs’ take on audience and his idea of “The Audience Imperative.” With all the excitement of content marketing, it is easy for audience development to be put on the back burner. But, we must remember that the energy for marketing originates with the audience—your greatest asset. What good is all your content if you don’t have the audience and aren’t listening to their pain points? Content and audience need each other. Although audience isn’t “proprietary” (they can leave any time), your business depends on them. While one of the first questions I always ask is “who is the target audience?” it is our core responsibility to spend just as much time developing the audience as it is developing content for them. Otherwise the content will be meaningless and be published to, well, no one. As always, it’s great to hear firsthand from others in the industry and begin putting it into action in my work.

Ryan Collins, Social Media Specialist
There’s no lack of case studies proving social channels can fall short of their potential without the support of an entire organization. I enjoyed the “Strategy of Teamwork” panel with representatives from the Cleveland Clinic, ArcelorMittel, and IMARC Research.

Where else could I get such a “behind the curtain” look at the social approach for these big brands? Each professional discussed the challenges of curating content from multiple, diverse voices across often sprawling organizations. Maintaining the individuality of subject matter experts as well as developing an overall brand voice is no easy task.

Of course, that’s the power of a company’s social and blog channels. We as social practitioners are able to funnel content from SMEs across corporate departments. Even better, responses from your target audiences can drive future content creation (and curation).

Were you at #MWSMS? What were your favorite sessions?