Tuesday night I attended a packed Social Media Club Seattle event where a super-smart panel of people who lead social media efforts at major Seattle-headquartered companies talked about both broad trends and companies’ activities for social media in 2012 and 2013.

The panel:

You can view all tweets from the event at the #smcsea Twitter hashtag and another blog post on the event, by Kelsey Kaufman: Social Media Club of Seattle: Trends for 2013 (And What They Mean for Digital Marketing).

My top takeaways:

Connecting social to ROI in 2012 and 2013

  • In 2012, there was heavy pressure to connect social media work to business impact and in 2013 there will be even more.
  • Some brands are cutting the number of social media sites they use or are more hesitant to add new ones.
  • Hopefully 2013 marks the end of “shiny object syndrome” where brands add the Pinterest or Vine of the day just because it’s new and cool. (This relates to a good point I heard at Seattle Interactive Conference 2011: Make sure you’re using the sites you’re already on very effectively before you add new ones.)

Community management: Leveraging community to lighten your workload

  • Microsoft’s MVP (Most Valuable Professional) customer advocate program has extended online to customer support. If a big brand you work with has a need for more third-party online advocacy, existing customer advocate programs are a good place to start.
  • Brands should establish what their audience wants and what motivates them, then tell the audience what the brand wants, and use this information to establish and maintain a non-monetary exchange (aka gamification.) Establishing what both parties want is difficult.
  • REI has launched a crowd-sourced photo project leveraging the rise in photo-sharing and checking in on social media titled the REI 1440 Project.

Reaching non-English-speaking and niche audiences

  • The City of Seattle hosts informal meetings with Seattle’s cultural media to ask them the best way to communicate with the communities they represent. For example, they ask if the City of Seattle should translate materials or give the reporters materials in English for them to translate themselves.
  • REI has social media communities for each of its geographic markets where it has stores. Store employees run the accounts. Note: I know Nordstrom killed store-specific activity to consolidate to one account on each site. I wonder if REI has seen success in this that Nordstrom didn’t.

Data and measurement

  • Defining and measuring success for social media support is much more difficult than with traditional support due to the wider variety of reasons that people use social media for support. With traditional phone and email support, customers usually have one question that they are seeking an immediate answer to, whereas with social media support, customers could be looking to continue a previous conversation, complain or other reasons.
  • Amazon and REI are prioritizing development and successful of their own social platforms in 2013. They didn’t elaborate on why; my guess is so they can own customer data.
  • Amazon and REI rely heavily on measurement and audience data to drive strategy:
    • Impressive for REI given that its social media team is only 4 people. REI is weighing options for buying a paid measurement tool so they can get comprehensive information on where people talk about them online.
    • Amazon values experimentation via small tweaks in social media and measuring the impact., much like Wetpaint does.

Social Media Club Seattle January 2013 audience attendees photo

Photo of January 29, 2013 attendees taken from a Facebook photo album by Social Media Club Seattle

Disclaimer: I work for Microsoft 40 hours a week via my job at Waggener Edstrom, but I don’t use my personal blog or social media profiles for work purposes. My boss tells me that I can blog about whatever I want within the boundaries of common sense.