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Social Media Week's top takeaway: Stop thinking about social as a channel

29th Sep 2014
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In among the preponderance of designer beards, thick-framed glasses and cartons of coconut water at last week’s #SMW London, some intriguing discussions were had about the next steps for social media and social’s role in connecting customers to businesses more effectively.

One talk from Nicolas Roope, founder of marketing agency, Poke London, was perhaps most pertinent in suggesting that too often, businesses were struggling with social media not through lack of connectivity but because they were still treating it as a channel, rather than just another part of the organisation.

In an almost Cantona-esque fashion, Roope also described the current role of many social media professionals being akin to seagulls feeding from the scraps of trawlers; but that this was usually down to a fundamental flaw in organisational thinking.  

“If you look at society, it’s really clear that social media is informing the way we work, the way we think, our behaviour, our preferences, our values, our decisions.

“Why aren’t we directing our brands fully to this? Why are we still treating it as this weird peripheral activity outside of something that remains largely untouched?

“When I started doing digital I thought everyone would jump on it and the world would change in five years, but we’re still dealing with some of the most basic concepts that actually businesses struggle to understand.”

Roope suggested that the hang-up about social was often driven by brands with products not necessarily designed for the digitally-connected world, where brands with a ‘story’ and a ‘truth’ were better placed to woo consumers:

“If you push a trolley round a supermarket, you look at the shelves and say, these products were conceived, constructed, built, packaged and designed for a different time; for broadcast media if you like. They didn’t really need a story or a truth. They had a brand and then they knocked up a template, made a nice design, a nice logo, gave it to an advertising agency to dramatise it, put it on TV and then people went to the supermarket and made their preference.

“But then, when you see disruption and start-ups and ask why that’s happening and gained momentum, the answer is simply opportunity, and that opportunity is left by brands that aren’t evolving and fitting into this new world.

“We hear a lot about connected products and this idea of the Internet of Things, but I’d argue that every product is already connected. What product doesn’t have reviews, third-party reviews, comments, internet advocates. You’re already connected. Rather than obsessing over being connected, I’d say to brands - step and understand what you stand for. The simple truth that can guide you through this.” 

Social Media Week was held across 9 countries, involving over 1,000 events and 3,000 industry speakers. 

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