By Eimear Dodd Journalism MA student, @TheCity_Dublin editor, @Irish_TechNews

Samantha Kelly, aka @Tweeting Goddess and founder of the Social Media Summit, opened its first day by telling attendees that “selfies are allowed”. Everyone was being encouraged to tweet, post and share their experiences.

Over 300 business owners, digital marketers, and social media professionals had the opportunity to network with one another at the event held in Croke Park. Irish and international experts also shared their experience in making the most out of social media for business.

The venue was filled with opportunities to talk about the event on a preferred social media platform. The magazine cover booth proved very popular as a spot for photographs. Morning breaks featured walls of doughnuts. Even the conference centre toilets were re-named the selfie room and the thinking room for the duration of the summit.

And for GAA fans, the Liam McCarthy and Sam Maguire trophies both made an appearance on Day Two.

Day One featured presentations and talks from Irish and international social media experts. The second day was more practical with a choice of workshops to attend from mid-morning. Here were a few common themes and trends over the two days.

Video is the future

A key takeaway was the importance of posting quality content regularly that speaks to the audience. Several speakers highlighted how different social media platforms are prioritising video content. Mari Smith, the Queen of Facebook and keynote speaker, offered strategies for developing high quality video content using free online tools during her well-received presentation.

Gregory Owens, Senior Sales Manager at Twitter, described research carried out by the company which indicated that video was more memorable for users.

Michael Nagle, Paddy Power Betfair’s Head of Social and Digital Content, talked about how video on mobile was driving organic views of their content on Facebook. The betting giant has even hired a social video producer to work across their social media channels. He also spoke about re-purposing Facebook video content for Instagram and Snapchat.

Metrics

Multi-platform social media management is labour-intensive. As such, businesses have to monitor and measure their social media presence to assess the resource investment.

The available analytic tools make it easier for businesses to do this. Ciamh McCrory, Head of Digital Communications at Insight Consultants, talked about the importance of measuring everything. She encouraged attendees at her workshop to measure using the available data then make adjustments to strategies.

Liam Corcoran, Newswhip Head of Communication, spoke about content trends that suggest a data-driven approach is a more sustainable strategy over the longer term than a viral hit.

While social media is time-consuming, it is financially cost-effective for startups. This was discussed in detail during the fashion panel. Chupi Sweetman, Chupi founder and Creative Director, described how 20 hours out of her 70 hour working week was spent on the jewellery business’s social strategy which was focused on Instagram.

Social media is social

Both online and offline, the Social Media Summit was all about people. During her workshop, Samantha Kelly talked about how she uses Twitter to chat and interact with others. She encouraged attendees to be a positive and professional presence on the platform.

Jamie White, Leading Social founder, spoke about how social media allows companies to think long term about their relationships with customers. Businesses had the opportunity to listen to their followers and could use this to improve service.

Influencer marketing also came up during the summit. A key insight was the importance of selecting the right influencers. Lisa Toner, Hubspot Senior Marketing Manager, spoke about the value of developing a deep understanding of the customer was a first step towards identify potential social influencers. She also encouraged the audience to manage these professional relationships as a long –term resource.

John Glynn, founder of the Gavin Glynn Foundation, received a standing ovation for his talk about using the internet to research potential treatments for his son. The foundation, set up in memory of Gavin who passed away in 2014, helps families with transportation, accommodation and other costs associated with travelling overseas for treatment.

The Social Media Summit itself was an example of how social media can build relationships in the real world. There were plenty of opportunities for the attendees to network and talk to one another. And there was plenty to chat about during the two days. If you missed the event, check the hashtag #SMSummitIRL to get a sense of the conversations.


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