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Top takeaways from Social Media Week London, 2015.

The author

Victoria Kent

Social Content Executive

A social media mecca, London's Social Media Week 2015 offered a non-stop schedule of events hosted by intrepid leaders from a variety of global agencies and brands. 

It offered a fantastic opportunity to take a look at what others are doing in the field, and the predictions they're making for the future of social. The key takeaways slotted rather nicely into several major themes, and here they are:

  1. Personalisation

'Targeting' and 'personalisation' featured heavily in the majority of talks throughout the week, and for good reason. "Everyone's talking. And it's not enough to just tell people what you want them to hear", stated digital agency, Seven, "If you want to make an impact, find out what they care about and respond."

The need to cut through the social noise is greater than ever before, and it's no good chucking content at people and expecting them to want to listen. What's more, if you're going to target a social audience focusing solely on a demographic just won't cut it– we need to make our content far more personalised, targeting behaviours, location, and interests.

  1. The rise of visual data

A hot topic at Social Media Week, data insight is crucial to informing how we create future social campaigns and the landscape of social metrics is an ever-changing one. The huge impact of 'the visual' versus 'the textual' in social media for example, is nothing new.

Every week we hear of new developments in the quality of phone cameras, the list of emoji grows longer, the GIF becomes a widespread phenomenon on Facebook and – no way! – you can now use a GIF as a profile picture. But how can we measure visual data?

At the bleeding edge of technology, visual metrics may seem a little way off for many of us social media executives, but it's not so far into the distant future as we might think. Ray Jacques from social media analytics company Sysomos announced the introduction of GazeMetrics, a tool which allows images to be analysed to understand people's relationship with a specific brand. This new technology can detect where a person wearing the brand is located, whether the brand in the image is real or fake, it can detect a brand logo which is upside-down, or in semi-darkness, and even the emotion of the person wearing the brand.

  1. Thinking like a start-up

John Lewis' Jon Vary was keen to drum home the importance of businesses to start thinking like start-ups. Being innovative, wanting to experiment with an idea and unleash our creative side doesn't need to be restricted to those in the 'creative' teams of our businesses. At John Lewis, the Innovation Kitchen was set up to encourage an open forum, a regular get-together giving employees from across the business the chance to offer their ideas, to help John Lewis push the boundaries in the digital world. Collaboration between teams to share new ideas? Perhaps it's nothing new, but perhaps we could do it better.

  1. The human side of social

A useful reminder that there's a person behind the screen, plenty of speakers at Social Media Week emphasised the importance of authenticity, and none more so than Hannah Beesley, Social Director of digital agency Iris.

If we want to inspire brand love, Hannah says, we need to create campaigns which are shareable, authentic (because people don't want to be sold stuff) and which tap into an emotional response. Whether that be laughter, a sense of nostalgia, a craving or a desire, let's keep it human.

Moving forward it's worth considering how social media insight links together almost every aspect of a business. Social data is key to business strategy – and client strategy – as the data, which is still vastly untapped, can inform customer services, marketing strategy, a client's target audience and the needs of that audience.

Watch this space.