Our Top 5 Takeaways From Social Media Week Los Angeles 2021

Carly @ Relly

We’re back with another Social Media Week recap! This time we are breaking down Social Media Week Los Angeles. 

This time, we’re coming to you from sunny Los Angeles (virtually, of course). After attending Social Media Week New York, we couldn’t be more excited to continue learning from even more digital media experts with fresh perspectives, unique experiences, and professional advice to help you level up your online presence. Originally held June 29 through July 1, Social Media Week Los Angeles centered around a theme of reinvention as we continue to navigate a new, and what some might argue improved social media landscape. Featuring seasoned thought leaders from the likes of the NFL, HBFIT, REVOLVE, and many more, this is a conference we couldn’t stand for you to miss. 

Read on for our top five takeaways from Social Media Week Los Angeles 2021! 

The Ins and Outs of Influencer Marketing 

Unsurprisingly, influencer marketing was a big topic of conversation at Social Media Week Los Angeles, just as it was at Social Media Week New York. This time around, marketing professionals dove deeper than simply highlighting the enormous impact of the influencer industry. Media moguls, seasoned brand builders, and popular influencers themselves detailed how to approach working with creatives, what to expect from them, and why it’s so important for the growth of your business in 2021. 

Expected to account for over $50 billion in sales by 2023, influencers aren’t just hawking tummy tea anymore – they’re dominating social commerce entirely. If you’re wanting to increase visibility, reach new audiences, and/or develop more credibility, getting involved with influencer marketing just might be your answer. 

“But where do I start?” “Don’t I need a huge budget to work with influencers?” “How do I even find the right creatives to work with?” 

These are all questions you probably asked yourself the second you saw the title of this section (understandably so), but fear not! We’re here to debunk the myth that working with influencers is for big brands with big budgets, big teams, and big followings.  

According to Conor Begley, Co-Founder and President at Tribe Dynamics, an influencer marketing analytics platform, finding the right influencers to collaborate with can be as simple as taking note of creatives working with brands similar to yours. To do this, start following your competition on social and search for hashtags relevant to your industry. Once you’ve found an influencer you feel would represent your brand well, Begley recommends starting by giving them your product or service and simply asking for feedback. If they have a history working in your industry, chances are they have a pretty decent pulse on what works and what doesn’t. 

Not every interaction with an influencer has to be monetary. In fact, Global Head of Entertainment and Cultural Marketing at Uber Ben Trinh warned that if the creative’s only goal is to cut a check, they probably aren’t the best fit. He encouraged business owners to truly understand the influencer’s long-term goals in order to build a lasting relationship. Lasting partnerships are what really move the needle when it comes to the influencer space, so finding those individuals who align with your business’s core values is crucial.  

Social Commerce 

Selling stuff on social media.

That’s all “social commerce” is. 

The prospect of social commerce might sound overwhelming if your business is primarily brick-and-mortar, you’re new to social media, or you think you don’t know the first thing about marketing. Well, we’re here to tell you it’s actually not that scary and you DO know more than you think about marketing. 

We do it all the time! 

When you tell your best friend about the miracle eye cream you discovered – that’s marketing. When everyone on Facebook is asking where you got that cute dress from – that’s marketing. We do it all the time, and now it’s just a matter of capturing those moments and sharing them on social!

Vice President of Social Commerce at Inmar Intelligence Leah Logan urged business owners to take advantage of social shopping, noting that platforms like Instagram and Facebook aren’t just a means of advertising anymore – they’re the entire customer experience. The pandemic forced companies to provide as close to their “normal” customer experience as possible online, taking the influencer marketing industry to new heights. Logan explained that influencers are the missing link to more effective social commerce. Influencers are able to replicate the in-store shopping experience in our virtually connected world. They fill in the gaps to purchase by effortlessly connecting brands to consumers and encouraging purchase without the pressure shoppers experience from traditional channels. 

When asked about the future of social commerce, Raissa Gerona, Chief Brand Officer at REVOLVE, predicted that online shopping isn’t going anywhere, and will only continue to explode. However, she also emphasized the importance of IRL (in real life) experiences. She encouraged brands to find a way to incorporate in-person shopping into their social strategy, as opposed to the other way around. For example, try hosting a product or service launch party where customers are able to purchase at a discount. Advertise the event on social media, and make sure you have lots of “Instagramable” opportunities available. The fact of the matter is, the world is ready to get out and about, and giving your audience the chance to interact with you and your product or service in real-time is invaluable when it comes to building and nurturing your customer base.       

Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

*Ugh* Just what we like to hear. 

As if creating your product or service, crafting your brand aesthetic, and establishing a customer base hasn’t been “uncomfortable” enough. 

The truth is, if you’re a business owner, you’re probably pretty familiar with the feeling of being uncomfortable. Those early mornings, late nights, busy weekends spent working, failures, and difficult conversations are anything but comfortable. 

But New York Times Best-selling Author and Podcaster Luvvie Ajayi Jones asked us to go a step further. She wants us to be troublemakers. In her viral Ted talk titled Get comfortable with being uncomfortable, Jones speaks to those who have a hard time using their voice when they know they need to. At Social Media Week Los Angeles, she defined “troublemaking” as truth-telling. In order to be a troublemaker, you have to be different. She explained that the world thrives with the status quo, but in order to live better, structures have to change, and troublemakers force this to happen when they tell their truths and speak their minds. She addressed fear specifically, turning our perception on its head. Instead of avoiding fear at all costs, Jones thinks we should run to it. By embracing fear, we embrace growth. Fear is a universal feeling, and we have the choice to utilize it as inspiration. The presence of fear is simply an internal indicator that we’re on the right path to something greater. 

Similarly, Hannah Bronfman, Founder of HBFIT, highlighted the gravity of getting uncomfortable. When asked what her advice would be for someone entering the ultra-saturated blog or social media space, she said brands need guts and a point of view. She went on to explain how embarrassed and uncomfortable she initially felt showing her face and speaking to the camera when she started sharing her journey to healthy living on social media 11 years ago. Bronfman also added how crucial it is to stand out with your point of view. If you have the same one as everyone else online, you’re not going to get noticed. 

All to say, if you’re nervous about showing up authentically on Instagram, going live on Facebook, collaborating with influencers, or even creating your social media profile – just do it. Map out the steps necessary to achieve your goal, and take the first step. And remember: that feeling of fear is only a signal that you’re onto something good.       

Reaching the Next Generation

It’s no secret that social media is your ticket to reaching a younger audience, but at this point, social media is practically the only option to reach any audience. So how can we work to target the next generation? In order to do this, you have to put yourself in their shoes. 

What do they value? Where are they spending their time online? What are they looking for in a brand? 

Thankfully, the creative professionals at Social Media Week Los Angeles offered plenty of tangible anecdotes and tips on how to gain traction with millennials and Gen Z. 

Take REVOLVE for example. Chief Brand Officer Raissa Gerona and her team realize the next generation consumer was born on the internet. They expect efficient customer service and a stress-free shipping and handling process. They also expect the opportunity to connect with the brand on their phone. Everything has to be instant because they simply don’t know anything else. Additionally, the younger generation wants to connect with a brand’s values. Social movements such as sustainability, inclusivity, and diversity have taken center stage when it comes to purchasing behavior. 

With those factors in mind, Gerona explained how REVOLVE offers free shipping and returns on the basis that buyers’ homes are their dressing rooms. Aside from making the online shopping experience a whole heck of a lot easier, this also helps build trusted relationships with customers. Maybe you can’t afford to offer free shipping and returns right now, but you can certainly make an effort to showcase your offerings on social media more frequently and creatively. Facebook Lives, IGTV videos, and Instagram Reels are a few great ways to give your audience as close to an in-store shopping experience as they can get online. 

The REVOLVE website also features a “Social Impact” page which details their commitment to sustainability, diversity and inclusion, supply chain, and community. According to Karyn Spencer, Chief Marketing Officer at Whalar, emotion drives memory, memory drives recall, and recall drives sales. Creating a page on your website dedicated to your values will help foster those emotional connections that go far beyond your product or service.

With over 60% of TikTok users being Gen Zers, it’s definitely a platform you’ll want to utilize if you’re trying to reach the younger generation. Spencer got granular and offered five tips to make TikTok work for you:

  1. Land your strategy: Analyze your competitors to decide on your differentiated approach. Spend time on the platform yourself to understand it.
  2. Representation matters: Authentically diverse strategies are a moral imperative and a business opportunity. A win-win! 
  3. Collaborate, don’t dictate: TikTok creators know how the platform thinks and feels. Tell them what your goals are and let them drive the creative.
  4. Trust in humans: Trust your team. Trust your agencies. Trust your creators.
  5. Keep experimenting and evolving: TikTok is an innovation station. If what you try doesn’t work, try something else.        

Leaning Into Culture

Cultural relevance has never been more … well … relevant! 

How lucky are we to live in an era of society so devoted to authenticity, inclusion, sustainability, diversity, and so many other previously overlooked and undervalued topics? Conversations that were previously considered “taboo” are now being pushed to the forefront and making a conscious effort to lean into culture is necessary to maintain a significant presence online. 

In addition to powerful social movements, the concept of “culture” includes lifestyle, values, emotions, and current events. It’s a way of life. Cultural relevance is imperative when it comes to understanding and responding to your audience in a way they can connect with. 

Authenticated Ventures Founder James Andrews addressed the efficacy of building a brand at the speed of culture. With audio capabilities taking over the digital media space, Andrews pressed business owners to tap into the cultural wave that’s predicted to be more than just a trend. He explained that audio allows authenticity to shine through. The intimate medium reveals expertise just as blatantly as it does ignorance. When your audience experiences that real, raw, uncut version of you and your business, they feel instantly connected with your brand. Andrews also highlighted the fact that people are looking for more in-person experiences after the pandemic. He claimed the post-pandemic archetype is someone gifted at organizing communities online and in real life.

The destigmatization of mental health and wellness was accelerated dramatically by the pandemic. Val Kaplan, Chief Marketing Officer at Headspace, led a captivating conversation surrounding the cultural trend and how to incorporate it into your social strategy. In order to normalize the conversation and serve your audience relatable content, Kaplan encouraged business owners to bring a level of vulnerability to their content. With influencer marketing dominating social media, she also pushed brand builders to focus on sharing authentic, relatable, and human creator content to appeal to their following (and yours) with the most sincere approach possible. Creators are helping to destigmatize mental health and brands that welcome an open dialog around difficult topics stand out. 

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