Here's What You Missed At Business Insider's Social Media Conference

henry blodget, social media roi, bi events, september 2012, bi, dng

Photo: Daniel Goodman / Business Insider

The ‘return on investment’ for a company’s social media activity can be something that’s a bit difficult to quantify. The industry is rushing to develop metrics, but sometimes even navigating those can be difficult. Understanding the state of social media can be a challenge.At Business Insider’s Social Media ROI conference on September 27th, at the Apella conference centre in New York City, industry leaders provided insights into how a company should view its investment in social media and gauge its returns.

For many companies, sales is the end game. But we heard from panelists who extolled the value of social media for driving traffic, engaging with customers, and building brands but downplayed its ability to serve as an actual, standalone marketplace. 

Overall, many spoke of the ways they have crafted strategies to turn social media engagement into financial gain and store visits, whether those stores are online or offline. 

In case you missed the action or the livestream, or just want to remember the good times you had while there, we’ve gathered some of the best insights from our panelists to share with you.  

Held at the Apella conference centre, many parts of the day were livestreamed on Business Insider. We will also be publishing video break outs from the day over the next weeks.

Henry Blodget introduced the first interviewee, Susan Lyne of Gilt Groupe.

Lyne said that different parts of her business work best with different platforms. The highly visual Pinterest is perfect for Jetsetter, Gilt Groupe's travel site.

There are bumps on the social media road, however. Gilt closed their Facebook storefront in 2011. Lyne recalled a friend telling her it was 'like selling in a bar'.

Attendees listened carefully as she explained how Gilt uses sites like Pinterest to build brand awareness and provide opportunities for engagement.

Kip Levin, Ticketmaster's Executive Vice President of ECommerce has had success with Facebook integration, they're seeing around nine dollars in revenue each time someone shares their seat location for a show.

Third from the right, Adam Kmiec of Campbells said that Twitter's ad sales team has Facebook beat, especially when it comes to showing data.

Chris Fralic, a Partner at First Round Capital, joined the praise for Twitter's ad product, saying that it's come on particularly strongly in mobile.

The conference would not have been possible without valuable support from our sponsors.

Coffee breaks provided opportunities for networking.

Conference goers excitedly discussed their own social media strategies and the information from the panelists.

The next panel discussed how brands used different platforms for different purposes.

Jack Daniels' Carmen D'Ascendis joked that his company started with social media in the 1860s. He described the company's strategy as trying to host a thought provoking, relevant cocktail party.

Ford's Scott Monti joked about how hard it is to define Social Media ROI: 'What's the ROI of a TV commercial? What's the ROI of a press release? What's the ROI of putting your pants on every day? It's hard to measure but there's negative consequences for not doing it.'

The audience seemed to agree.

A presentation from Offerpop highlighted it's new integrated social media platform which works to build engagement, collect data, and convert fans into sales.

Lots of discussion took place during the networking coffee breaks.

Eileen Loustau of iShares at Black Rock told us that finance professionals tend to be more comfortable blogging than with Facebook or Twitter because it feels more professional.

In finance, strict regulation means a stricter social media policy. Loustau's built a strong program, but it is less reactive due to the approval process.

At the next panel, TBG Digital CEO Simon Mansell (second from the right) said that the worst mistake companies make on Facebook is the pursuit of likes. The real goal needs to be revenue.

Moderator Pam Horan, the President of the Online Publishers Association.

Event sponsors had spaces outside to meet with potential clients.

Most panels included opportunities for the audience to ask their own questions. Many took advantage of the opportunity.

Business Insider's Jay Yarow hosted a panel on authenticity. Viacom's Thomas Fishman (centre) said it's essential to approach each platform with the goal of speaking the native language.

Joey Bergstein, the CMO at 7th Generation said that he trusted the people he had interacting with customers on social media because they really believe in the company's core sustainable message.

Thomas Fishman, the Director of Social Media at Viacom Media Networks has different accounts that interact with different audiences. Fans of Teen Wolf and Jersey Shore, for example, can be very different.

Fishman emphasised that making mistakes sometimes was part of interacting in real time. You need to give people room to both err and apologise authentically.

More intimate lunch sessions were a good opportunity to learn more about specific sponsors. Ari Brandt, CEO & Co-founder, Mediabrix, explained how his company can help your company ensure its ads are seen on Facebook.

Jared Roy, Director, Global Client Services, Webtrends, discussed having a programmed approach to your Facebook page and the metrics you need for that.

And there were plenty of opportunities to learn more about sponsors at their booths.

33 Across gave everyone at the conference an example of a social persona, which broke down how to reach a targeted audience with social media.

Dan Roth, LinkedIn's Executive Editor told BI's Henry Blodget that one of LinkedIn's selling points is that it represents people's professional identities, which is great for companies looking to protect their brand.

An example is a LinkedIn group for professional women, sponsored by Citi, that allows them to interact with potential customers in an entirely new way.

At the next panel on social media strategy, Pepsi's George Smith talked about the delicate balance between promotion and conversation. Both deal seekers and people looking to interact follow brands.

Business Insider's Nicholas Carlson hosted a discussion of social media in the military with Sgt. Mark Fayloga of the Marines and LT Shawn Eklund of the Navy

One of the best surprises of the conference, relayed by Sgt. Mark Fayloga, was that the US Marine Corps has an active Pinterest page.

Todd Robinson, the Senior Vice President of Digital Marketing & Social Media Strategy at Bank of America shared how important it is to share personal stories and get involved with communities on social media.

Robinson also highlighted the power of infographics, which he said get three times more amplification on social media.

A charging station, because if you are at Social Media ROI you are probably going to need a little extra juice for your phone by the end of the day.

The next panel, hosted by Business Insider's Alyson Shontell focused on social commerce.

Jill Braff of the Home Shopping Network said that social commerce is almost a misnomer, it's all about building relationships, about trust, not just the transaction.

Gap's Rachel Tipograph said that a benefit of social is that it's low cost, that you can experiment. That's very exciting on Pinterest as it builds more platforms for brands and more analytics.

Chrysi Philalithes the Chief Digital Officer of (RED) described how her group used brand partners to become the first cause with 1 million likes on Facebook.

Perhaps they are discussing the insights learned about Facebook engagement.

While others may reflect on their own.

Animated discussion were a hallmark of the networking breaks.

A second give away rounded out the afternoon.

Henry Blodget started to wrap up with a Business Insider Intelligence report on mobile social media

At the final panel of the day, L'Oreal's Rachel Weiss revealed that she was bored of Pinterest, despite the platforms huge female user base.

At the close of the conference everyone gathered outside for drinks.

The bar was flowing.

And it was a good time for all.

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