3 Lessons We Learned at Social Media Marketing World 2018

Emily Salshutz


What do you get when you take 5,000 marketers and creators from across the globe and bring them to San Diego? Social Media Marketing World, of course!

Last week we were proud to both sponsor and attend Social Media Examiner’s annual social media marketing conference, SMMW. The event is designed for marketers and content creators to learn together and connect over a shared passion for telling stories on social media. And yes, that’s exactly what we did.

What were we up to exactly? Dim the lights, and enjoy this video recap.

In addition to welcoming new folks into the Animoto community at our booth, we were lucky enough to attend many of the sessions taught by social media experts. With 120+ sessions presented in 3 days at SMMW, it’s impossible to attend them all, but nonetheless we learned too much not to share.

Lesson #1: Now is the time to focus on meaningful social interactions

Earlier this year, Facebook announced a major algorithm change, and its impact was felt by both  presenters and attendees at the show, as well as the founder of the conference itself, Michael Stelzner.

Stelzner shared that brands should expect decreased reach on Facebook’s News Feed, but that this change, while disruptive, is actually an opportunity. Businesses can still find success on Facebook, connecting with small, targeted audiences.

Something that isn’t changing with the News Feed updates? Value. Businesses should continue to focus on sharing the right type of content for their ideal customer. The switch? You want to create content that folks regularly want to search for and engage with.

To adapt, businesses should create content that encourages meaningful interactions. What are meaningful interactions exactly? It’s not just a like or share, but a like or share that leads to more engagement that’ll be weighted more heavily. A person liking or reacting to a post from a publisher that another friend shared or multiple people replying to comments on a video they watched, are two examples. Video, as you’ll see, is a major way to encourage meaningful interactions.

Lesson #2: The video marketing landscape is still evolving, so there are are plenty of ways to get started with video.

Video marketing was a theme amongst most of the speakers, but it’s clear that there’s more than one way to create and share videos today.

In his keynote, Stelzner referred to three emerging types of video content that creators and businesses should be testing: on the go, lean forward, and lean back video.

On the go video capitalizes on short attention spans and the quick scrolling nature of the News Feed. These videos tend to either be short, looping videos in the feed or stories content on Instagram and Snapchat. This type of video is usually created using a mobile device and on the go.

At Animoto, we use Instagram Stories to share a glimpse behind the scenes at Animoto, teach mini-lessons on video marketing, and share breaking news. We also use text-only videos, containing one or two blocks to share short, looping videos on social, like this one we created to inspire our community leading up to Valentine’s Day.

A post shared by Animoto (@animoto) on Feb 8, 2018 at 3:01pm PST

Lean forward video is all about fostering a video content experience that’s interactive. These videos actively encourage tapping, swiping, and exploring.

As an example, live video is lean forward video. Live video encourages your viewers to comment and react, even when they’re not prompted to do so. At Animoto, we love to go live whether during one of our monthly shows or for a special occasion, like International Women’s Day.

Going live gives us an opportunity to connect and learn about our community, develop better content, and re-purpose the live content into on-the-go videos, like this quote video from our International Women’s Day event.

A post shared by Animoto (@animoto) on Mar 9, 2018 at 2:56pm PST

360 images and videos are included in this category, like this 360 photo we shared during Social Media Marketing World itself! Making a game out of social video content, and encouraging interactions is what lean forward video is all about.

And finally, there’s lean back video. This is immersive video content that is created with dedicated and repeat viewership in mind. Video series are fall under this category, whether they’re shared on the News Feed or on Facebook Watch.

Lean back videos don’t need to be long. They can be as long as it takes to share the story you want to tell. Social Media Examiner created a weekly show called The Journey to take their audience behind the scenes of what it takes to run their business. Each episode is around 8 minutes long, and the narrative centers around a different topic for each episode. Marketing consultant Mary McGurn uses Animoto to create semi-weekly videos, like this one, that introduce the adorable pets that are up for adoption at the Berkshire Humane Society. Each video tells the story of a different animal and uses the same format throughout.

While there are three different types of organic video content emerging, it’s not too late for businesses to give them all a try.

Lesson #3: Experiment often and don’t be afraid if it isn’t perfect on the first try

Trying and testing new video formats out can be overwhelming, but most of the speakers at SMMW echoed this last lesson. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and don’t shy away if your content isn’t spot-on. You’re learning a new skill, and it’ll improve with time.

During his presentation on live video, social media coach Alex Kahn shared what his first ever live stream looked like. It wasn’t flashy; it was simply him sharing what was happening behind the scenes at his office. From there he built up a show and social media following, but he still experimented with live video, even if his set up wasn’t ideal.

Online marketing expert Amy Porterfield shared similar thoughts in her presentation on getting over the fear of live video, saying, “Your why has to matter more to your than your insecurities.” It can take time to build the confidence, but that comes with easing into a new platform—like live video or a long-form video series—and not being too hard on yourself. Your setup can be simple to start, but it’s key that you keep showing up so you improve.

While there is so much to learn at Social Media Marketing World—and this is just the tip of the iceberg—our favorite part every year is meeting the Animoto community face to face, and welcoming new folks into the gang. If we met at SMMW this year, don’t be a stranger! Stay involved by joining our Facebook Community or finding us on Instagram for a daily dose of video inspiration. See you there!