I was fortunate to travel to the Corporate Social Media Summit in Brooklyn to take in an intimate, two-day working session with colleagues, primarily on the client side. This gave me a unique look at some of the top issues that corporate social teams face on a daily basis, while also allowing attendees to ask pointed questions of some of the nation’s top in-house marketers through the app, Sli.do. CSMNY boasted speakers from Coca-Cola, Adidas, HBO, Thomson-Reuters, Hershey 3M, McAfee, Goldman Sachs, HP, Dell, and many more top brands.

Related: Social listening a key trend at Social Media Strategy Summit.

The contrast in the social media approach for each speaker was something I noticed straight away. Each corporate team had a different level of engagement with outside agencies, some working closely with strategic partners to take on the heavy, on-going workload, while others relied heavily on in-house teams to maximize social media for their brands. In the end, the Corporate Social Media Summit was a relatively intimate venue for sharing thoughts and questions relating to best practices for social teams in 2017.

While there was a lot covered in two days, below are the top five themes that I noticed while engaged at CSMNY.

“If you’re bored with your editorial calendar, odds are, your community is, too.” – Gina Michnowicz

Authenticity Matters

Authenticity has been the buzzword in social for the last two years, but what does it mean? To a brand like Hershey, it means staying true to a long-standing brand identity in an ever-changing social media landscape. For a brand like 3M, it means showcasing innovation and thought-leadership that reflects its standing a leader in consumer products. And to a security-focused company like McAfee, it means staying calm during the WannaCry ransomware attack and providing best-in-class advice to the users at a time when they needed it.

“Authenticity is a collection of choices-It’s about the choice to show up & be real. The choice to be honest.” – Brene Brown

Knowing and showcasing your brand identity is the best thing you can do in 2017 and beyond.

Regardless of which brands shared their story, my takeaway from the authenticity conversation is that knowing and showcasing your brand identity is the best thing you can do in 2017 and beyond. There’s a lot of noise in the social space. Craft your identity, and don’t be afraid to share it with the world in good times and in crisis situations.

“Don’t promise anything your brand can’t deliver.” – Mina Seetharaman

Paid Support or Bust

For brands, the days of organic content wins are almost completely over. To break through, social media content needs paid support. This isn’t news, but the way that brands and agencies plan for paid social is evolving. Many brands look at organic content as one-third of the equation now, with paid targeting and influencer marketing making up the gap between success and failure. Many of the speakers at the conference, including Kevin Hack of Hershey and Simon Cowart of Coca-Cola won’t approve a piece of organic content unless it’s worthy of putting some paid support behind.


Hershey’s Kevin Hack has three paid social KPIs: reach, resonance, and reaction.

It’s also important to set strong KPI’s for paid social to measure success. Kevin Hack said he main KPI’s are: reach, resonance, and reaction. Hack added that you can tell a lot by the amount of people who saw your content, how it made them feel, and how many times it was shared.

This is the world in which we have the opportunity to win.

Listening Shows Opportunities

You have probably engaged in some sort of social listening report for your business. There are many things you can learn through viewing a river of news, the conversation volume your brand holds, brand sentiment, and a competitive analysis. To many of the brands at CSMNY, social listening is an always-on activity that can lead to community engagement opportunities and showcase the earliest signs of a looming crisis.

For example, Hershey used social listening to capitalize on a fun activation involving Kit Kat, while BBVA Compass uses social listening to view localized community trends and measure conversation volume.

Social listening can turn routine monitoring into an actionable mini-campaign that has massive reach.

Regardless, social listening can turn a routine monitoring day into an actionable mini-campaign that has massive reach. All you have to do is listen.

Interlude: Most Interesting Fact I Learned


How does that impact your thinking about live video?

Start with The User

It’s easy for many brands to start a new initiative by looking inward for the next great idea. While that can work, starting with your audience can lead to the perfect campaign fit.

Starting with your audience, versus the idea, can lead to the perfect campaign fit.

For a worldwide brand like Adidas, its new soccer shoe needed a smart campaign launch to test market relevance. Adidas did something revolutionary when marketing its new product—the brand scrapped the predetermined go-to-market strategy and started testing the product with young soccer players in London. Termed Project #Glitch, Adidas gave the young influencers #Glitch codes to share with their most influential friends to get their custom shoe built through a special app made for the launch.

This strategy built advocacy and competition among influencers, which fueled the curiosity of European soccer players prior to launch. Adidas knew it was risky to go against its proven strategy, but trying something new and being willing to fail brought out the best in the project. The brand started with the consumer, built trust, and won, organically.

HBO uses customer-centric marketing differently: to showcase creativity around shows like Game of Thrones. UGC has become a major part of their content strategy due to the passion and curiosity that fans have for the programming. Emily Giannusa thinks that brands can ride that creativity to the promise land if they set up clear calls to action.

Plus, it was cool to ask Emily about their famous Game of Thrones Season 7 debut Facebook Live challenge.


A key theme from many of the discussions at the Corporate Social Media Summit was the concept of audio as a medium for social storytelling. While social video has been the focus of a lot of creative teams since 2014, audio—and podcasts in-particular—have seen a huge rise in popularity alongside video.

While social video is the focus, audio has seen a huge rise in popularity since 2014.

If you think about your brand and where your potential customers are, podcasts can have a massive appeal. Think about the person on their way to work, walking to the store, working out, or working hard on a massive report at the office. These are all various touch points where audio beats video hands-down. Utilizing your creative resources properly can mean that a podcast is an option for your brand at a minimal cost. Pretend that you’re already creating a webinar video for your brand. Why not capture the audio, clean it up, and turn it around for those followers who have 30 minutes to kill on the way home from work? Don’t underestimate audio as a social media tactic.

Those are the five key themes I took away from the Corporate Social Media Summit in Brooklyn. What do you think about the topics covered? Do any of these apply to your brand? I’d love to answer any questions in the comments section!

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