Our Top 10 Takeaways from the PSOJ Social Media Business Conference 2017

On February 28, 2017, the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) hosted its first Social Media Business Conference at the Worthington, Spanish Court hotel in Jamaica. The venue was full to capacity with attendees from all levels of business and marketing life, ready to sit at the feet of the impressive lineup of tech-savvy presenters.

The conference, which targetted CEOs, managing directors and marketing executives, featured international marketing content presenter Carla Johnson, author, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing; as well as names like Raymond Buckle of Maxxion/Silverstone out of South Africa; Ross Sheil, a successful social media strategy consultant; Anissa Holmes, author/dentist/owner, Jamaica Cosmetic Dental Services; RoryBurchenson, lead marketer of Red Stripe; and Robert Morgan, who played a large role in using social media to help the Jamaica Labour Party’s pull off a surprise win in Jamaica’s 2016 general elections. They provided a wellspring of knowledge on how to effectively leverage social media to grow business. Here are diGJamaica’s top 10 takeaways:

1. Think strategy, team and tools.

Companies must have a strategy: a clear direction and plan of action. They must have a team: the right people who have the skills and knowledge to brilliantly execute this strategy. And they must have the tools: it is important to invest in the right tools to help you get the job done.

2. Don’t just be digitally present. Have digital presence.

Ross Sheil made this point. It’s not enough to have a Twitter, Facebook or Instagram account. These accounts must have such an impact that they carry weight. Your company’s digital presence must be felt. It must resonate with your audience. If you stop to think about it, there are some brands that have presence on the social media landscape – they are popular and everybody knows them. Then there are others that are merely present. They have an account, but their content is nothing outstanding. Which do you want to be?

3. Tell a story that evokes emotion and provokes action.

Dr Anissa Holmes brought this point home with her illustration of how her company, Jamaica Cosmetic Dental Services, used Facebook to attract customers and increase profits. It all boils down to the story. It must be a story that evokes emotion in people – something to which they can relate or about which they care. And that story must be compelling enough to prompt them to act (preferably in the company’s favour).

4. Compete on a broader scale.

Carla Johnson challenged every brand in the room to think way beyond their limitations. Why? Because it automatically raises the bar and enables you to create value at a much higher level. It’s not enough, she urged, to compete with brands in your own country or region. Think international. What are the best brands out there? That’s your competition!

5. Avoid brand detachment disorder.

Sometimes you think of yourself as a ‘small’ brand, unable to compete with or even begin to relate to the ‘real, larger’ brands out there. As a result, you dismiss awesome ideas and strategies because you just don’t see yourself as ‘big’ enough. Carla Johnson will have none of it! She encourages all brands to get rid of that way of thinking and to start to see themselves as capable. Think bigger than where you are. See yourself as part of a global market, and compete with the giants.

6. Overcome fear of creativity.

Creativity, Carla Johnson says, is a muscle that must be exercised to be developed. Many people do not realise this, and many people are afraid of being creative. Johnson encourages businesses to dive into the creative stream – be unconventional, stand out, make a difference!

7. Think audience, not customers.

Social media marketing is a collaboration between the company and its customers. The customers cannot be perceived as customers only. They have value far beyond their spending power, and a company needs to find common ground in other areas other than just pending power. Think audience: who are you talking to and what do they want to hear or care about, as opposed to just customers – people who buy from you.

8. Think CHIME.

This is a sweet acronym from Carlette DeLeon that will help marketers remember five key qualities for their message across all platforms: It must be Creative, Harmonious, Interactive, Mobile and Engaging.

9. Evolve or die!

Dennis Brooks couldn’t have said it better. Many of the day’s presenters made it clear that social media has taken over the media and marketing landscape in a big way. Companies must come to terms with this, embrace it, and begin to harness it for their own benefit. If they do not evolve with the technology and marketing strategies this presents, they will die.

10. Hire the right people.

In the panel discussion segment, journalist Dennis Brooks and public relations manager Carlette DeLeon were both very clear on this point: Businesses must treat social media like it is real work, and hire accordingly. It is not something to pass off to a novice. It is an essential part of brand management/leveraging and should be seen and treated as such. Companies who fail to understand this do so at their own peril.