Didn’t Attend Digital Summit 2014? Here’s the Digital Download!

I just got back from Digital Summit 2014 in Atlanta, which is coined as “the event where industry leaders and top content converge.” Digital Summit ran from May 20-21 and featured over 100 thought leaders who are actively involved in shaping tomorrow’s platforms, processes and content that will impact how brands, media, fans, viewers and customers publish, interact and engage. If there was one big thought that I heard over and over in every keynote and panel – it was that content and processes MUST ENGAGE in order to be successful in today’s digital world. If you weren’t able to attend Digital Summit – no worries! Here are the exciting play-by-play moments and the most valuable insights, best practices and execution techniques I picked up from its amazing line-up of speakers.

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It’s almost Friday – so let’s start with the fun moments first!

Did you know that the iPhone’s voice app – Siri – is based on the actual voice of a real person? It is! Atlanta’s own voice actor, Susan Bennett, is that original voice! She kicked off the event talking about the experience of serving as the talent behind a mobile app – a process that began way back in 2005.

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Susan Bennett at Digital Summit

I happened to be exiting the theater with her at the same time and had a quick chance for a #selfie with “Siri”!

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Kathy Cabrera poses for a quick self-portrait with Susan Bennett

Due to travel issues, one of the major keynotes – Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer – wasn’t able to join in person, but (and speaking to the power of video) still made his presence personable in the next best way – by making a video from where he was stuck on a layover in London!

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Steve Wozniak makes his presence known through video at Digital Summit

There were a number of amazing speakers from all areas of the digital world who offered their knowledge, expertise and yet-to-be-answered questions for the future. They provided some amazing nuggets of information that I actually put into practice right after the conference in providing some client counsel. Talk about extremely timely advice!

Below are the top five most relevant tidbits that I picked up from the best and brightest in their fields at Digital Summit:

1. If you’re trying to make impact on social media as a brand without any paid advertising budget, you’re wasting your time. (For guidance on best practices, see my earlier blog this year on the same finding – it’s no longer a free lunch for social media.)

2. What’s the ROI of social? It’s not directly apples to apples compared against search marketing, direct marketing, or any other kind of digital marketing. Social is most valuable when viewed as an engagement tool, a brand awareness and buzz-building tool, and a complementary tactic to all other marketing activities. In other words, to get the best ROI, don’t go social in a silo. It’s a bottom-line improver, but not an isolated, on its own bottom-line impacting factor.

3. I personally check my smartphone over 100 times a day and I bet a lot of you may check it just as frequently. Coming up with content to engage a mobile audience will determine your future success in the digital world. For every piece of content you disseminate online, it has to be strategically mobile, as well – format emails for mobile, make videos shorter for mobile, and advertise in social media newsfeeds with mobile-friendly ads.

4. To quote one of the speakers on video, Jeff Perkins at PGi: “Video is no longer an option – it’s a requirement.” In my view, businesses can learn from major online + mobile media companies like Yahoo, whose director of programming, Bonnie Burke Pan, spoke of its savvy strategy to engage the masses by making content personal. She suggested companies “tell stories” using such tactics as making their brand into an actual character, and targeting their video content to exactly the right audience based on their interests and preferences.

5. Finally, as an at-large best practice – consider focusing content on quality vs. quantity for the best impact. Good content will move itself. The better the content, the more people who will see it, engage with it and share it. Roy Sekoff, president and co-founder of HuffPost Live and a founding editor of The Huffington Post, shared this: HuffPost Live, the broadcast media platform of The Huffington Post, originally started out with 12 hours of daily programming. They actually improved their engagement rates, views, shares and overall results when they improved the quality of content and cut it down to eight hours/day. Below is a snapshot of their success to date – not bad – and proves quality trumps quantity every time!

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What are some of the questions you still have about how to prepare your company’s digital strategy for success? You’re welcome to leave them below. And, IDEA: Engage the Digital Summit audience even if you weren’t there! Read the live tweets others published with this #DSUM14 official show hash tag – Twitter feed!

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