My impressions from Social Media Week London 2015

I’ve just returned home after 4 days at Social Media Week London 2015. With my head full of impressions and inspiration, I decided to write this post. A summation of my experiences, similar to what we did after Dublin Web Summit 2 years ago. Since these were a very busy and exciting few days, I’m gathering up what I’ve seen and what I’ve thought. I hope this will be helpful for those who have attended this year, for those who didn’t, and for those who are wondering what’s coming next year.

It was my second Social Media Week in London. I was there for the first time in 2012, when I had the pleasure to present during a special session dedicated to Facebook Open Graph. It was a great experience, and I recommend it to everybody working in social media – the events are currently held in several cities, so you might find one at the right time and place for you to attend.

The main topics of Social Media Week London 2015

There was a very broad range of topics presented and talked about during the event. However some of them were more important than others, demonstrated by the numerous speakers on these topics:

  • Video, video, video! Videos on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, as well as new emerging platforms like Twitter’s Periscope or Meerkat. Even Twitter’s Tariq Slim’s presentation was dominated by video and examples of video campaigns (see this case study on Skyscanner). Video was also one of the primary topics during the panel about recruitment. Following alongside the development of more services and better bandwidth, as well as interest from users, video has been dominating the Internet. Both with pre-prepared ads and live streaming. Last but not least, there was also great interest coming from digital agencies, publishers, and social media platforms to get their hands on big budgets, who are inevitably being moved from TV to online channels. Of course, video opens new challenges to advertisers – e.g. the expenses of movie production and the need for different skills. Moreover, the ideal kind of video for Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram differs – one more challenge for producers.
  • Multichannel contact, when users are precisely targeted at different online places. Technologies like retargeting or custom audiences, based on one’s client base e-mails, are employed here. What’s more, so-called sequential storytelling takes place – the messages conveyed changes in time as the story develops. This approach looks like a mix of creativity in storytelling and the precise use of technological utilities of social networks. Hopefully, the ads we will be receiving because of this will be as funny as this example:
  • Competition for attention. Not only are more and more users online, but more content is also being produced by the media, individual people, and by companies. In this world, it’s quite the channel for companies to attract attention to themselves. In recent years, content marketing was a very successful strategy, including for us at Sotrender. However, it might become more difficult now, with this growing competition. Marketers should use new ways to garner attention, be it through creativity, humour, real-time marketing, or perfect usage of a channel.
  • Social media analytics and social media intelligence – of course, it’s our domain at Sotrender, so we always pay considerable attention to it. Many sponsors and as much as 4 out of 5 exhibitors come from social media analytics territory. It’s great to see such a large interest in our business – but on the other hand it gets more and more difficult to differentiate your product from the numerous social media tools on the market.
Sotrender Blog Social Media Week London presentation

Glanfranco introducing the 2nd day of the event


Interesting presentations of Social Media Week London 2015

Just my picks from the long list of 117 talks, panels, and workshops:

  • Ogilvy’s Rob Blackie’s presentation entitled “Social CRM: What it is and how you can use it to grow customer value” – some parts of this presentation can be found here.
  • Consistent brand storytelling in a multiple device age – Interesting message about brand storytelling from Saatchi & Saatchi’s Tim McLoughlin, featuring excellent campaign examples.
  • Havas People’s panel entitled “What does the future hold for university, recruitment, and employee marketing?” – The actual HR world is usually late when compared to the marketing world in it’s usage of social media, and it’s a pity – there were many interesting insights shared during this panel.
  • Ogilvy & Mather’s Thomas Crampton’s presentation on what consumers, brands, and agencies in the west can learn from Asia. New platforms are emerging due to the censorship of foreign platforms in places like China, while well known platforms are often used in new and creative ways. You can find more info on social media in Asia, especially in China, on Thomas Crampton’s blog.
  • Georgina Goode’s presentation of a case study of, for which marketing means constant development and product improvements. This page has already won a few industry awards.
  • Twitter’s keynote Tariq Slim, who demonstrated some interesting uses of video (Periscope, Vine, GIFs, etc.) on Twitter, including the above mentioned case of Skyscanner, as well as detailing the story of the Spanish town Jun, which communicates with inhabitants on Twitter. A summary of his talk is here.
  • HeyHuman’s Neil Davidson on the “Tinderization” of relationships with brands. The key message was that it’s not necessarily love that brands should be aiming for – best friend, friends with benefits, or a quickie is sometimes enough. The whole typology looks to me like a metaphor, with no serious data backing it (yet) – but quite an interesting one.
  • General Assembly’s Intro to growthhacking, led by Howard Kingston. It’s a very trendy approach to marketing. This presentation was quite basic, nevertheless interesting. Howard covered 4 main areas:
    1. Product Innovation
    2. Blue Ocean Channels
    3. OPN’s
    4. Funnel Optimisation
  • Christie Fidura, from The Perfect Circle, on the differences between jobs of community managers and social media managers.

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I’ve heard also nice things about The Misfit Economy’s Alexa Clay and her presentation, with the very catchy title “Misfit Innovation – What can brands and agencies learn from drug dealers, pirates and dissidents” – but I missed it unfortunately. Of course, I couldn’t be at all the presentations I wanted to see. So please help me and your fellow readers by naming your favourites in the comments section.

What else did I enjoy at Social Media Week London 2015?

  • Broad range of topics. From trends to tools to case studies of campaigns, it was quite diverse.
  • International crowd – people were coming to this event from all over the place. Besides many Londoners, I’ve also met awesome people from Italy, Brasil, USA, Spain, and even Putney 😉 (How’s it going, Daniel?)
  • Small expo with 5 companies presenting their services. Sometimes there weren’t many people, so we could easily talk about their services in detail.
Sotrender Blog Social Media Week London

A great chance for more detailed discussion

  • Hashtags – it’s such a simple thing, yet still many event organisers have problems with them. The event had 1 clearly communicated #SMWLDN tag (which happened to get into the top UK Trends on Twitter). Moreover, there were even special hashtags for specific presentations. Most speakers had their Twitter handle communicated in the speech too, usually in their slide footers. That made backchannel Twitter interactions much easier. And if you’re still not sure how hashtags can benefit you, Sotrender is here to help.
  • Coworking space, organized by WeWork – great for people willing to work in their downtime – although it seemed some of them spent the entire conference just sitting with their head immersed in their laptops.
  • Party at WeWork Moorgate, with free alcohol and hardly any food besides popcorn. These 2 factors resulted in many participants really hitting it off on that night. And the party was Twitter-powered too!
Sotrender Blog Social Media Week London tweet beat

A Twitter powered party


 What did I dislike at Social Media Week London?

  • The venue. The main venue at Victoria House was just too small for that many people. It’s really motivating to see that many people interested in social media – but it was also a bit uncomfortable for the participants. Especially the Masterclass track presentations, which were often overcrowded. It was difficult to get a seat, and the room was quick to get heated. There was also a Demo Room, but it was decidedly small. I wanted to take part in a We Are Social workshop on Innovation but it seemed there were twice as many people interested in it than there were spaces available, so I gave up.
Sotrender Blog Social Media Week London Masterclass

The venue was just a bit too small for the amount of people


  • Location of independent events, spread too thin throughout the city, e.g. The National Gallery, City Hall, or Google Campus. Some of them were really interesting, but in each case it was an additional 15-20 minutes to get there, making it difficult to synchronise with the main event.

Some tips on preparing for a social media event

Most social media events still take place in the real world, and are about much more than just presentations and speeches. If you really want to benefit from them, it’s good to prepare in advance. Such a big conference is a great opportunity to meet people. Your friends, clients, prospects, and suppliers might also come there. So it’s a good chance to say hello and to meet them, or to at least exchange some emails or tweets. A good thing about social media events is that most of the speakers and participants tend to be very active in social media too. You can start networking with them and following respective hashtags and discussions before the event. For a bigger impact, you can also try to coordinate your other marketing activities with the event, to get maximum visibility. In our case, it was Fanpage Trends UK: our new monthly report on the communication of the UK’s largest brands. It was released just a couple of days before the event and got covered quickly, e.g. on . Moreover, there was my guest post on the timing and frequency of posting at the Social Media London community blog, issued on purpose during the event.

Thanks for Social Media Week London 2015!

Thanks to the organisers, especially to the untiring Gianfranco Chicco, as well as to all volunteers who made this event happen. Hope to see you soon on one of the next Social Media Week events in London. Or perhaps in Milan – where I’ve heard it’s the biggest in the world!

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