Digital Marketing is Human-to-Human: Our Recap of Social Media Week 2020 in Austin

Digital Marketing is Human-to-Human

LuckyTamm Digital Marketing was thrilled to send VP of Business Development Kat Cox and Client Happiness Hero Marlowe Justus to the Social Media Week Austin (SMWATX) 2020 conference at the Austin Central Library last week. Over three days of presentations, workshops, and networking, Marlowe and Kat got an update on the state of social media and where it lies with brands and business. Here are a few takeaways:

Kat & Marlowe at SMWATX 2020
Kat Cox, left, and Marlowe Justus at SMWATX 2020.

It’s not B2B or B2C; It’s H2H

The one overarching theme of SMWATX 2020 was that digital marketing, and especially social media marketing, is primarily a human-to-human format. You can no longer think of your company as B2C or even B2B; you have to start thinking in terms of H2H. While different experts disagreed on what exactly that meant or how to achieve it, they reiterated time and time again that marketing can no longer be throwing your ideas out into the ether and hoping someone picks up on them. Instead, marketing is now a conversation between two human beings. While influencers, ambassadors, and other individuals should be part of your social media marketing strategy, to truly achieve this human feel, you need to start sharing insights and the insider view of your business..

Know Thy Customer; Know Thyself

Time and time again, presenters reiterated that social media marketing brings you closer to your clients as individuals. In fact, several, like Neal Hughes of Sol Marketing, recommended creating a single customer avatar that you speak to in your marketing materials. This avatar should be extremely specific, down to what the customer looks like and how their day looks. He gave an example of one client who named their avatar Stephanie and had a cardboard cutout of her that would sit in on marketing meetings. On the flipside, many presenters reiterated that knowing your business, from who you are on an individual level to what you stand for from a global mission perspective, is just as important. Lyn Graft, founder of Storytelling for Entrepreneurs and author of the recently published “Start with Story” (which Kat won a copy of!), pointed out that a founder’s story is the entire point of a brand. 

Lyn Graft Presents at SMWATX 2020
Lyn Graft, author of “Start with Story”, presents at SMWATX 2020.

Know Where You Don’t Belong

Social media platforms provide access to people in specific niches, and not every brand can thrive on every platform. They gave a great example of TurboTax trying out advertising on TikTok, a video platform, and failing miserably, because they posted a PDF rather than a video. They’ve learned a lot since then, apparently, but it was a great reminder that just because a social media platform exists doesn’t mean every brand belongs on it. TikTok might be great for a brand that wants to reach GenZ, while Facebook is better for Baby Boomers. At the same time, Twitter is a good place for a brand that has a lot to say in terms of politics or news, but Instagram might work better for a visual brand. Knowing where your brand belongs is as important as knowing what your brand stands for. 

Video is Hot and Only Getting Hotter

Video is still the number one content format out there, and it’s not showing any signs of stopping. While Dennis Yu, CEO of BlitzMetrics, recommended jumping into the fray with cell phone videos regardless of their quality levels, Matt Sample of and Kevin Petersen of Cisco argued that quality videos would make all the difference. Molly Mahoney of showed us that live video is one piece of content that you can repurpose across social platforms and really engage customers. But the main takeaway: video is where it’s at. 

Rewire How You Think About Social Media Advertising

Another big takeaway from the week was that, although people say Facebook is dead, it’s still the largest and most-used social media platform out there. Advertising on Facebook is growing year after year, and it’s not going to get any cheaper anytime soon. Presenters reiterated that Facebook ads have to be part of a long-term retargeting strategy based on individual interactions with the ad, rather than just a single ad put up for anyone in your demographic outline. But another point made by Curt Maly of Black Box Social Media was that one reason Facebook ads don’t work for companies is that they’re operating under the assumption that Facebook ads will bring them revenue, when in fact, Facebook ads are designed to bring in data. Once you realize that you’re paying Facebook for information about who your customers are and what they respond to, you can find a much more winning strategy with Facebook ads. 

Tools, Tools, and More Tools

One thing we were overloaded with was tools that we can use to help our customers achieve better marketing. Braxton Manley of Braxley Bands shared his process of creating eye-catching content with high engagement rates through simple editing apps including Over, Polarr, and Filto. Presenters talked about the multiple uses of Instagram Stories, which is not just for sharing content. IG Stories can be used to add filters, stickers, gifs, and text over photos which can then be saved and shared to any social platform. IG Stories can also be used to create user-generated content through polls and Q&A. User-generated content essentially takes out some of the time-consuming work in creating content. 

Use the People Who Love Your Brand as Ambassadors

Lastly, since this was a conference about the human-to-human aspect of digital marketing, we learned a lot about how to include human beings in marketing strategy. Jane Ko of the blog A Taste of Koko encouraged brands to tap into the power of micro-influencers. Micro-influencers are social media personalities who appeal to very specific groups of people. They have a smaller number of followers compared to macro-influencers, but have much higher engagement rates which is what matters when they are sharing sponsored content. Collaborating with micro-influencers who appeal to your target audience can help get your products and services in the feeds of people who will buy them. Meredith Howard of Deloitte also took us through creating a social media sharing platform to leverage your employees’ social media usage to promote your company as a whole. By providing employees with good content that makes them look good or aligns with their own visions, you can increase your company’s reach through genuine human interactions. 

Meredith Howard presents on Amabassadorsd
Meredith Howard of Deloitte lays down a stat about people trusting humans over brands.

Overall, we got a lot to think about social media marketing and how we can improve it for our clients. If you’re looking for help with social media strategy, get in touch!