We may be new to the Agency, but we’re not new to social media. As millennials, we grew up in a world of Instagram filters, Snapchat streaks and Facebook friends. In fact, social media has impacted our personal lives so much, that we’ve grown passionate about it and decided to pursue a career dedicated to it. As the newest members of the PR and social media team here at Gatesman, we’ve enjoyed flexing our social media muscles and diving headfirst into client work. By doing so, we’ve truly recognized how important social media is not only as a personal brand, but as a marketing tool required to stay relevant in today’s rapidly changing world.

Friday, June 30 marked Social Media Day, which Mashable launched in 2010 to celebrate the impact of social media on global communication. We celebrated the holiday right here in Pittsburgh, too! Five Pittsburgh-based social media experts from various industries came together to offer their insight on the current social media climate during a panel at Social Media Day Pittsburgh. The panelists included:

  • Andi Perelman, Manager of New Media for the Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Ari Lightman, Professor Measuring Social and Digital Programs at Carnegie Mellon University
  • Ben Weaver, Project Manager for Google AdWords
  • John Mahood, Owner/Founder of Imagebox Productions, Inc.
  • Salena Zito, Commentator for CNN; columnist for the Washington Examiner and the New York Post

We were lucky to attend and reap several social media strategy insights. After an hour spent scribbling down notes, recording quotes and of course, live-tweeting, here are a few of our key takeaways:

Be authentic with your audience.
“You need to get out of your own head, and get into their head.” - John Mahood

Anyone can create good content, but it takes expertise to craft something that resonates with a specific audience. Rather than pushing out content just to get it out, spend more time understanding who you want to reach and what they are passionate about, so that you can provide them with authentic content that they’ll want to engage with.

Quality, not quantity.
“Master one channel before you master them all.” - John Mahood

How do brands know if they are overextending? Mahood’s response came back to audience: “utilize what your audience utilizes.” Perelman agreed when discussing Snapchat, explaining that the platform works for the Pittsburgh Penguin’s brand because of their younger demographic. As for other brands? Surprisingly, not so much. Jumping onto every platform isn’t always necessary.

Keep up with Facebook’s changing algorithms.
“We should be battling the algorithm.”- Ari Lightman

Getting views is all about posting at the right time and using the right hashtags. Lightman explained that social media’s nuanced algorithms are constantly changing and understanding what gets positioned at the top of user’s timelines is key for getting content seen. Brands can combat this ever-changing algorithm by introducing a steady mix of paid content into their social strategy.

Timeliness and relevancy take priority over production value.
“Being timely and relevant is more important than production quality.” - Andi Perelman

The Penguin’s most shared video of the year? A 30-second cell phone video recorded at the parade. Fancy cameras and a big budget do not define whether or not your video will do well on social media. It’s all about catching those pure, authentic moments that can be shared in real time so that your fans on social media feel like they are part of your story.

Don’t get too caught up in your digital presence.
“There’s value in the physical.” – Ari Lightman

Though innovations like artificial intelligence and self-driving cars are changing the world’s landscape, it’s important to stay grounded in what’s real. CNN commentator Salena Zito explained that data can’t predict reality and it’s important to not get caught up in “all things digital.”

Placed on each of our seats when we arrived at the Social Media Day panel was a postcard with a quote. One stated, “Impossible isn’t something that can’t be done. It’s something that hasn’t been done.” Social media’s impact on the world has helped make the impossible, possible by connecting brands with consumers in a more intimate, personal way. And while hashtags, Emojis and Facebook posts may seem trivial to some, social media is here to stay. Brands must embrace it or risk getting left in the dust.