What We Learned at Social Media Week London

Four weeks ago, I moved to London to join We Are Social’s grad scheme. This was very exciting for several reasons. Apart from the obvious benefit of working in a city where a pint at lunch is almost obligatory, I’m crazy about the fact that there are so many talks, seminars and events about social media and advertising around town every single week. There is, however, always one event that dominates my calendar: Social Media Week.

Having used my Scandinavian wits and charm to sweet-talk my way to a pass for the main stage, I hopscotched back and forth between the office and the SMW London HQ all week. Here are three main themes I took away from the events.

Social media, campaigns, storytelling or any other element of the marketing mix means nothing without one thing: creativity. Fortunately, one event at SMW addressed just that.  In fact, it addressed the stuff that could be inhibiting the flow of your creative juices.

According to BBH, there are three major factors that could be limiting your creative potential:

Snapchat was the talk of the town at this year’s SMW. Whether it was to cement the platform’s world-domination or address Instagram stories, many talks put Snapchat in pole position of the current social media race.

At our own event, Snapchat 101, Charlie Cotrell, Stephen Sharifian and Chris Watt gave their input in regards to the platform. Here are some of the key take-aways:

  1. In 2021, Snapchat active use in the UK will outweigh that of Facebook. In other words, figure out how to incorporate this platform in your strategy. Now.

  2. Don’t believe me? Snapchat’s rating as the most important social network among teens in the US has gone from 13% in 2015 to 28% in 2016. Instagram’s has gone down, from 32% to 27%, and Facebook is trailing at a smooth 17%.

  3. Oh, and Instagram stories has so far had no immediate effect on Snapchat usage and millennials still prefer Snapchat Stories to Instagram Stories.

There was, however, a general consensus that Instagram Stories could threaten some user segments of Snapchat, primarily those outside the millennial segment. So it’s still a matter of considering which platform caters to your target audience. The future of social
No SMW would be complete without discussing the future of social media. The panel at the Social in 2020 session discussed where they saw social media heading in the next four years. One of their main points was that the role of social will continue to grow exponentially. However, social media will also morph more into becoming a part of everyone’s job. 

When asked which platform the speakers would want a 10% share in, Snapchat and WhatsApp were big contenders. This, to me, makes perfect sense, primarily because of the consumer shift towards private digital spaces. According to Fortune, Facebook is experiencing a serious decline in the amount of personal updates on the platform and 70% of Snapchat users use the platform primarily for sending messages.

To finish where we began: think of how Snapchat (and other messaging apps) can be incorporated in your strategy. Now that Facebook will also begin monetising and allowing sponsored ads on Messenger, consider  how you can create campaigns, strategies and content without being perceived as a blatantly obvious advertisement.

That’s all from me!  See you at next year’s Social Media Week London!