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Mashable Media Summit: High Impact Social Media

June 12, 2010

The Mashable Media Summit in New York City on June 8, 2010 was my first Mashable event (not counting the Mashable Bash at SXSW) and was definitely what you’d expect from Mashable: a solid mix of inspirational speakers and innovators in social media telling their stories.   One of the rewarding parts of the summit were the impactful examples of social media at work, including quantifiable results.  Some of the most compelling highlights for me included:

  • The Roger Smith Hotel‘s use of social media in hospitality to engage with customers and ultimately drive revenue.  Brian Simpson, the Director of Social Hospitality at the hotel, explained how they used social media to help fill rooms, sell food and use the hotel as a place to congregate and events.  Twitter played a role to help drive promotions and engage with guests– both through tagging regular guests as social media connections and providing promotional codes for discounts and free rooms.  They used Foursquare to help them engage with guests– with employees of the hotel and guests of the hotel providing tips and recommendations about the hotel where people who checked into the hotel would see them.   Hosting a variety of events at the hotel, such a Social Media Breakfasts, helped create “earned PR” in the form of posts on influential industry blogs such as Hotel Chatter and others, helping increase guest traffic to the hotel.  The impact of their social media efforts were real:  they saw revenue climb by 32% over 2009-10 at Lily’s, the restaurant at the hotel– pretty solid results in a bad economic environment.   They also saw the number of events at the hotel increase by 36% in 2009.  If you run a hotel or restaurant, you should absolutely be using social media as part of your strategy to attract new customers and engage with existing ones.  Roger Smith Hotel provides a great example.  Another great example is the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, NH who I saw speak at the  Social Media Breakfast New Hampshire #12.
  • Starbuck’s use of social media to increase their brand equity and revenue of the company. Chris Bruzzo, VP of Brand, Content and Online of Starbucks, gave inspirational examples of how Starbuck’s uses videos, Twitter (My Starbuck Ideas to bring customers into their organization), Facebook (Free Pastry Day, which garnered over 1,000,000 transactions for Starbucks stores) and other social media to drive the Starbucks brand.  One of the best was their All You Need is Love video, where musicians in 156 countries came together to help fight AIDs in Africa:

Starbucks helped raise over 10 million days of life with the use of this video.  Also, by using content like this video to create a social experience, they had a positive impact on the Starbucks brand and sales in their store.

  • Foursquare’s continued potential to enable businesses value. Adam Ostow’s interview of Foursquare’s CEO, Dennis Crowley, gave insight into how Foursquare could provide additional business value in the future.  For instance, unlocking badges could provide rewards to those who unlock them.  This could be tremendous value for companies, where they could receive any number of benefits from giveaways and free products to points towards other rewards (think airline miles, free cell phone minutes, etc.)., which would help drive interaction with the company.  I could easily envision developing a badge for the company I work for to drive such promotions.  At the moment, however, badges are very hard to get awarded given Foursquare’s stinginess in awarding them (I suspect it’s probably a pay for play thing at the moment, which is understandable to help prioritize– all software companied so this).  Crowley talked about how this could change in the future with self-service tools that would allow companies to develop their own badges.  Making it easy for businesses to build within and on top of Foursquare (i.e. release of open APIs) was a main theme Crowley hit on and puts Foursquare on a solid track to enable business value.
  • Social media’s impact on the media is profound. Sanjay Gupta interviewed KC Esteson, SVP and General Manager of CNN and Pete Cashmore, CEO and Founder of Mashable.  The conversation centered around speed and quality of news in the day of “instant” news through social media and deciding on what is reported on and how it is reported on, and how social media has impacted those decisions.  I’d never really put myself in the shoes of a major media news organization before– either “traditional” such as CNN or solely and online one such as Mashable, but it was interesting to see the type of ways social media has profoundly changed how they do their jobs and the decisions they make.  In viewing it primarily as a consumer, I walked away convinced that both Mashable and CNN have it right in saying that both editor-decided content and user-generated content has room on major news sites.  I wouldn’t have necessarily said that before, previously seeing a clearer divide between the two where I’d never think of going to CNN for user-generated and trending topics and reserving that for sites like Mashable, Digg and others.  However, CNN has embraced user-generated content (see the iReport) and recommended and trending topics (using Facebook’s social plugin as part of CNN.com) and mixed it in with their editor-determined

    CNN's KC Esteson, Mashable's Pete Cashmore and CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta

    content, which has made them a richer and more engaging site for their audience.  Social media has also re-enforced CNN’s online strategy, making it equally as important to what they do on the platform they are most known for– television.   Something they often do is release programming online first (such as Larry King’s interview of LeBron James), which helps drive viewership on television.  They also integrate Twitter as a main part of news reporting (the riots around the election in Tehran helped revolutionize how organizations like CNN think about reporting, which CNN at first did not embrace), and have made their content compatible on mobile devices (ensuring content can be viewed in mobile browsers and developing CNN mobile apps), both of which also helped rienforce their online presence and delivery on television.

Musician Josh Charles

There were so many other highlights to Summit, such as Ricky Van Veen’s College Humor and tips for those working with video, actor Ed Norton’s inspirational use of social media for non-profits and fundraising called Crowdrise, musician Josh Charles re-telling of how he connects music and social media (not to mention his great live performance), Dan Rollman’s inspirational and insanely funny Universal World Records Database (URDB) site, and the hysterical satire of Baratunde Thurston of The Onion of social media’s lighter side.  Check out Mashable’s recap of the event, which includes all the videos.

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