Marketing’s Biggest Takeaways from #SMWOne Virtual Conference

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The all-virtual conference program #SMWOne is in full swing, and Open Influence had an amazing opportunity to both present and attend this awesome event. Organized by the folks over at Social Media Week, this digital assembly of marketing’s best minds will continue until the 28th and, in total, will feature over 100+ hours of live content from over 300 speakers.

Kicking off the event, founder and CEO Toby Daniels discussed the ever-present elephant in the room: the impact of COVID-19 on every facet of life.

Toby Daniels, Founder and Executive Director, Social Media Week, opening SMWOne on May 5, 2020

However, Daniels’ opening remarks focused on all the positive work that’s been done over the past few months, especially our global effort to keep the communities connected in a time of great separation through digital technology.

“We are witnessing a moment of global unification,” said Daniels. “Despite our differences, political or otherwise, and regardless of our physical separation, we have never been never been more connected to each other.”

Key Themes from #SMWOne

1. Empathy is Everything

Social Media Week’s original global theme for 2020 was HumanX, which stresses the importance of human-first experience-driven strategies in today’s digital marketing environment.

Gary Vaynerchuck, CEO of VaynerX in discussion with Toby Daniels

That central theme can still be felt through a number of the major presentations, such as in marketing guru and superstar Gary Vaynerchuck’s discussion on empathy.

“When I think about empathy, I think about compassion and sympathy” the social media personality and CEO stated. “I think about it as, What’s in it for the other guy, or the other gal?”

Today’s consumers are more compassionate and concerned than ever before – about their community members, about the environment, and all other aspects of their lives! Brands need to make sure their marketing reflects this growing global consumer awakening and as Vaynerhuck puts it, that means providing them value instead of taking up their time.

“I always put my employees first, period. That’s empathy for me. But then it’s not even about my clients. It’s about the customers of my clients – they need to be taken care of. It’s a radical shift in the way we think about business. But we need to be thinking about their side of the equation!”

How can brands provide value, especially in times of global crisis? As we’ll see, it can come in many forms, from entertainment to education to everything in between.

2. The Power of Human Connection

The brands that are currently setting themselves up for success in a post-COVID world are the ones that are providing value to their audiences at every turn. Our CEO Eric Dahan gave a presentation on The Power of Human Connection, which discussed how savvy brands are leaning on influencer marketing strategies such as partnering with content creators to provide their customers with entertainment, education, and other forms of support to help them through this difficult situation.

global influencer marketing

Dahan noted the growing DIY trend that has emerged around the globe as people have been forced to adjust to life indoors. As people are busy teaching themselves new skills, seeking out information to help them maintain a sense of balance and normalcy, brands have a tremendous opportunity to tap into these conversations organically.

One such industry that has seen a huge boom in DIY sales is beauty, which has seen sales lifts home hair coloring kits and other products aimed to help people style themselves without limits, but without having to leave their homes.

CEO Eric Dahan presenting during #SMWOne

Clever brands such as Biore and L’Oreal have been partnering with influencers to help consumers find and use their products more effectively, providing value in a time when they need it most and forging lasting connections for well after this situation has passed.

“I can even attest to the power of the DIY trend,” Dahan mused towards the end of his presentation. “After three months in quarantine, I finally had to cut my own hair at home.”

3. We’re Living in a Digital-First World

As a result of COVID-19, the entire world has had to adapt quickly to life indoors. Once again, many of our best solutions are being found using digital technology, and no better place have we seen that play out is through Instagram.

Kay Hsu, Global Lead and Director, Creative Shop, Instagram, presenting during SMWOne

“Creativity flourishes in constraints,” said Kay Hsu, Global Lead and Director of Instagram’s Creative Shop.

“Right now we’re seeing a lot of physical experiences being adapted to Instagram…DJ nights, reading to children, whole orchestras, plays being adapted..we’re even seeing virtual dinner parties using Instagram Live!”

Among those leading the charge in our global transition to a digital-first world is Generation Z. Having never known life without the internet, these digital natives are often the savviest and most educated media consumers out there.

“Gen Z is known for being resistant to typical advertising,” said Emily Giannusa, VP of Digital Marketing at HBO. Their team had to find a way to target Gen-Z for the release of their critically-acclaimed drama Euphoria, and they knew digital platforms were the strategic decision.

Since its release in June 2019, the two most successful marketing channels for Euphoria’s team have been, unsurprisingly, YouTube and Snapchat. Digital platforms allow marketers something incredibly unique and valuable that other forms of advertising simply don’t, especially when it comes to Gen-Z: the ability to partner with the platforms’ best creators directly and create content that is guaranteed to resonate.

The Show Goes On

#SMWOne is far from over, and we’ll be sure to keep watching their content for tips, tricks, and insights. For now, we hope you’ve enjoyed this summary of what has caught our attention so far. If you’d like to see for yourself what SMWOne is all about, there’s still time to register! They also are part of a great Buy One Give One program so reach out to us, we may still have a few tickets!