Live from Digital East: Social Media

By Renee Revetta | Oct 18, 2010
More Articles by Renee

Time for social media at Digital East! The panelists included Sean Whiteley (, Sashi Bellamkonda (Network Solutions), Alexandra Nicholson (USA Today), Jon Carpenter (Living Social), and moderator Stephanie Quay (Meebo). This post covers how each of these brands use social, as well as industry predictions and key points of advice. A great thing about this panel: they all use social for their brands differently.

Laying the groundwork for social media, Sean of said it’s now mandatory to have a social media strategy. The panelists have also seen social media platforms communicate their developments better recently. Not only is it important for companies to communicate how to use social to their employees, but also important that the social platforms communicate their updates with their users.

The platforms

At the question of what platforms should be used – it depends on your goals and on your business.  Addressing the B2B heavy audience, the panel said that brands must listen to what people are saying on Twitter and  Facebook. Although the two platforms might be used differently, the resounding message from the panel is that they’re still both very important. Sashi stressed the importance of Facebook for small businesses especially.  He also suggested to have a Like button on your website and incorporate social into your traditional marketing campaign.

At USA Today they mostly use Twitter to share their content (with 115 different Twitter accounts), and Facebook to engage. Alexandra said organic sharing on Facebook is very important to them, and that USA Today mostly looks at social in the marketing/PR perspective.

Jon of Living Social said they keep customers with social – for example,  if you like the merchant, you get $1 off your purchase. Right now, they’re teaching small merchants how to use Facebook. And although their main way to reach customers is through email, they use social to promote and share their deals.

At salesforce, they use Twitter for PR and awareness marketing, but also for customer support, crowd-sourcing information, and monitoring spikes in questions or topic areas related to salesforce. Then the specific issues are routed to the appropriate area. Sean also suggested to find people who are passionate about your industry or product and let them engage with influencers. Salesforce actually hired one of their influencers/community activists.

Along with social media, the panelists said how important it is to have a good search engine optimization strategy and to not forget about tracking conversions, determining your main pipeline, and determining what results are coming from each marketing effort. A piece of advice – regardless of what platforms you use or how, social media is fickle – stay consistent as possible and provide valuable information for people.

Where is social headed?

  • Geolocation based
  • local/hyper local
  • mobile
  • increased engagement between brand and consumer
  • social media analytics (to help justify the purpose of social media)

The panelists’ social media takeaways

  • Sashi: Stay useful (+ here are Sashi’s resources he quoted during his presentation)
  • Jon: Don’t get caught up in the technology
  • Alexandra: Don’t fail big – start small and do what you understand
  • Sean: Focus on the business – ask yourself 3 to 5 questions for your business that you need answers to – and determine if you can you get those answers through social media

By the way, the presentation went on for about 50 minutes without a single mention of LinkedIn. An audience member pointed this out, and in response the panel said, maybe because it’s not as open? But there are some interesting integrations that have popped up over the past few months. Sean mentioned that since it is viewed as professional, they might need to be more careful with the open connections it creates. LinkedIn has succeeded by staying focused on its professional angle.

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