Top 5 Tips from Social Media Week

IMG_1350Guys, I have to tell you all this up front: Social Media Week in NYC offered free coffee, Krispy Kreme doughnuts AND emoji cookies. EVERY. DAY. If this blog post reads like a very caffeinated person wrote it, then congratulations, you are very astute.

Okay, now that that excitement is over, I want to share with you the top 5 tips I learned after five days and three times as many sessions on digital and social media.

Also, I want to recommend this conference to everyone. While some sessions were duds (not a great sign when you are more knowledgable than the panelists), I found the majority of sessions to be worth my time. Pro Tip: get your passes on Cyber Monday for a pretty significant discount.

Onward with the learning!

1) Look to the future

Every digital media rockstar at the conference was talking about starting to use platforms like Snapchat and Slack. While many of us are familiar with the more public and widely used platforms like Facebook and Twitter, some of these public/ private platforms might sound unfamiliar. These platforms by no means would replace the ones that millions of people are using, they would help people continue a meaningful conversation about a topic in a place where 25,000 other people aren’t publishing content the same moment as they are.

2) Don’t target people with blanket marketing

Target people you already know care about an issue or are invested in a brand. They will then share, and it is this model of peer sharing that is highly successful for all types of businesses from corporations to nonprofits. This model is also aligned with human behavior. It has an “I will do it if you do it” mentality that actually motivates people to action.

3) Content is the honeypot

Gone are the days of using likes and followers as metrics of success. As the New York Times’ T Brand Studio team emphasized during several Social Media Week sessions, the metrics listed above are faulty; you can even buy clicks. Attention is something that you have to be worthy of to hold. In a world where attention spans are akin to that of a gnat, attention is a hot commodity. Knowing how to measure this and use it as a metric to improve strategy is key. How do you hold attention though? Look to no. 4 for the answer.

4) Tell compelling stories

Do I still have your attention? Excellent. Storytelling is important because If you are telling the right story in the right way to the right audience, you have the power to drive people to action. This action can be anything from buying a product to starting a social movement that saves lives, but the point is it drives people to do something. Action is also a great metric of success. This potential byproduct of strategic storytelling demonstrates that people are relating to your stories in a human way. They appreciate the raw and authentic tone of a story that often is tricky for brands or companies to have and use as a currency. But with newer avenues like strategically crafted branded content, even corporate brands can discover their story and use it to connect with their audience.

5) Use free tools that allow you to expand your social, storytelling and marketing efforts

Out of desperation comes innovation. We know this to be true, but many organizations still think that everything needs to be designed by a designer, coded by a developer and filmed by a videographer. As someone who has learned skills from basic Photoshop to basic coding and used tools like Canva, Piktochart, Google Fonts and more, I can tell you that there are a lot of free tools out there that merit your attention and testing. While at Social Media Week, I learned about Wirewax, a very cool interactive video tool that allows you to insert tags, photos, information and overlays into videos (there is a free version). The demo was mindblowingly impressive. Since we all know (now) that one minute of video can contain about 1.8 million words, we can acknowledge that video is a great storytelling medium; and interactive video, something that holds the user’s attention, is bound to be even more effective since it is driving the user to get involved and take some sort of action.

See how this all tied together so nicely? Now you can run off to write or film that compelling story that you have been sitting on for months and meaning to create. Just me?

There was so much to learn at Social Media Week that I couldn’t list everything here, but you’re in luck because I captured a lot of other knowledge through my tweets. I encourage everyone who wants to learn more to check out my Twitter feed @asanders88 and the hashtags #SMWNYC and #SMW15 for more nuggets of social and digital knowledge.

How to Become a Morning Person When You’re a Night Owl

With a background in journalism, I spent years keeping the same hours as bartenders, bakery owners and funeral directors. My body had always been the happiest when I could curl up in bed around 2 am and wake up around 10 am. I found that this rhythm not only allowed my body to feel rested, but also my mind. I tend to have creative bursts of energy and the urge to write a novel around 10 or 11 pm, so an early bedtime has a bad habit of stifling my creativity.

When I landed a new job and my hours shifted, I was able to adjust to a bedtime of midnight and a 7 am wakeup. Anything earlier gave me that heart-pounding, eye-drooping feeling that I hadn’t slept in a week. Recently, my boyfriend changed jobs and had to adjust to waking up at 4 am – the same time he went to bed during his previous shift – and my calendar suddenly got very busy between a graphic design class, a full time job and a rapidly filling social calendar. I decided that if I was going to fit exercise into my schedule and occasionally see my boyfriend, I would need to go to the gym before work.

I did the math. My calculator told me that I would have to wake up at 5 am to walk the 15 minutes to the gym, have an hour workout, walk back to my apartment, get ready for work and walk to the subway to embark on my Brooklyn to Manhattan commute to work. Wait, 5 am? I did the math a dozen more times and tried to think of ways I could wash my hair less to save time. In the end, I realized I would just have to suck it up and wake up early if I wanted to prioritize my health. I should note that I had two spinal surgeries in the past year so exercise not only makes me feel good, but it actually allows me to not be in as much pain as I am generally in on a daily basis.

I posted about my goal on Facebook and crowdsourced ways to get out of my warm bed and walk into the New York City air that freezes and chaps everything that it comes into contact with.

Here is what worked:

1) Drink as much water as you can stomach before bed. A friend told me about this trick and boy did it work. You will be scrambling to get out of bed when your alarm blasts Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake it Off’ at 5 am. Once you turn on the lights and hustle to your bathroom, you will be awake enough to not have the urge to crawl back under the covers (though you may stare at your blanket-covered bed with longing).

2) Blast Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake it Off.’ Not kidding. Have it cued up on your phone or ipod and hit play right after your alarm goes off. You can’t listen to that song and not want to move. Are you not familiar with it? Not to worry, here it is:

milton3) Wear something warm to bed or have a warm robe on the floor ready to be draped over you. Warmth is such a big motivator in my life. Are you warm right now? I will gravitate toward you without even knowing that I’m doing it. A big part of me getting out of bed involved wearing enough layers to bed that I wouldn’t be horribly distraught about walking around my apartment without tripling our heating bill.

4) Turn on lights. This could also involve looking at a phone or computer screen. The light from your tech devices disturbs sleep, as does flipping on a light switch or bedside light. This is generally not a good thing, but it’s excellent for waking you up when you’re trying to pry your less-in-shape-than-you-might-like body out of bed and to the gym in the morning.

5) Have caffeine! I shouldn’t encourage this, and I wasn’t even dependent on that wonderful and addictive substance before I started this crack of dawn routine. But honestly, black tea or one espresso shot is sometimes the extra jolt I need to not do an about face when I step out into the wind tunnels that are New York City side streets.


6) Get enough sleep. Not only will you not want to get out of bed if you don’t get your requisite hours, but you will be miserable about 12 hours later and will be ready to fall asleep at 5 pm.

7) Prep your meals for the week on Sunday. This is actually a good thing to do to keep your stress low and your diet healthy always, but I only started doing this recently since I didn’t have time to make breakfast or lunch before work on this new schedule. I am now a huge fan of hard boiled eggs and overnight oats for breakfast, and different snacks for lunch (grapes, a KIND bar, cottage cheese, hummus and cucumbers, etc) so I can graze all day since working out this much apparently makes you ALWAYS hungry.

8) Have a motivator. Even though I wanted to do this for my spine health, I also wanted to get into shape. This involved googling photos of Kate Upton and making my morning alarm say BIKINI! instead of WAKE UP!

9gosling) Lay everything out the night before. The first time I was able to actually get out of bed at 5 am, I spent 45 minutes gathering my work clothes and food, and putting my workout clothes on. Trust me, it’s much more enjoyable if you don’t cut into your workout because you can’t find a water bottle or the lock to your gym locker.

10) Let yourself adjust to the new schedule. It was really hard at first to shift from a 7 am wakeup time to a 5 am wakeup time without being a horrible person all day. It’s okay to ease into it. The important thing is to try to wake up earlier and get used to that before making yourself get out of bed and actually workout.

Ok, now that you’re armed with these tips, go set your alarm for 5 am. You can do it. No seriously, you can. It just might take a few weeks.