One of my most popular posts last year was the one I wrote after I attended “Canada’s Mobile Social Conference” or MoSo in Saskatoon, where I compared the city to Silicon Valley. This year I volunteered at the hometown event as part of the live tweeting social media team. This meant providing real time reporting in a focused, analytical way for 8 hours nonstop two days in a row, all in 140 characters or less. No sleeping at the wheel possible so I was especially grateful for the inspiration, humour and brilliance of speakers and attendees who kept me awake and engaged. Lots to learn and see and do (not the least of which is the indie music festival that also happens at the same time, MoSo Fest). But what struck me after two days of presentations and casual MoSo chats was how much these digital entrepreneurs had in common with my filmmaking and screen media friends in terms of their vision, and how much these digi folks had to teach screen media about being digitally savvy in business. Here are seven of the lessons echoing throughout MoSo (giving credit wherever I can via Twitter handles) that should resonate for every entrepreneur, whether filmmaker or mobile developer:
Lesson #1 – Use your passion to persevere.
Building a business (or making a movie) is hard; passion needs to fuel you. If you love what you do and the story you are telling (and can channel a bit of inner crazy) your job will not feel like a job. @DanMartell, @DarrenHailes, @Azita Ardakani
Lesson #2 – Choose quality over quantity.
More is not always better. Inspiring a small group of highly engaged and motivated people can often take you a lot further than having a massive casual following. If you connect on the small scale, you can understand your audience/customers and harness their passion and interest. Soon they will be doing the selling for you. @DanMartell, @SaulColt, @Analytic_Design (Karyn Zudinga)
Lesson #3 – Anticipate the patterns in the big picture.
Look at the data available (user testing, SEO keyword research, online reputation intelligence, etc). Read books and articles. Look at trends and extrapolate. Ongoing opportunity analysis like this can get you ahead of the curve and help you be proactive instead of reactive. To achieve the highest levels of success in the digital world (which is relevant to every business these days) you need to find these patterns, make a plan, adapt, innovate and get there before everyone else. @Julien Smith, @BrendanKing, @Swicker (Rob Swick)
Lesson #4 – Test your preconceptions.
One presenter asked, “What are your unexamined assumptions and how much are they costing you?” It’s so true. We all have preconceived ideas of what our audience/customers want, how they are talking about what they want, and even how they are talking about our story/brand. In today’s marketplace it is critical to do the research, to ask the questions and to really listen to what is being said (and not said) in order to have a viable, long-term business model. @Swicker (Rob Swick), @Analytic_Design (Karyn Zudinga), @Julien Smith
Lesson #5 – Be human.
Social media and online conversations are really about human beings connecting with other human beings. To leverage these channels for your business, you need to let your brand and your brand’s story be as human as possible too. Be authentic, be flawed, and show people your true self. Let people see themselves in your brand. This will allow you to build an incredibly strong connection to your audience/customers. Then they will want to buy what you are selling. @SaulColt, @DaveCarroll, @Azita Ardakani
Lesson #6 – Give your audience an experience & make them part of your story.
Brands are storytellers whether they want to be or not. They can be good storytellers or bad storytellers. Here is where screen media folk can shine in business because they tend to be outstanding storytellers. Tell an interesting story, give your audience/customers an unforgettable experience. Include and deeply engage people and then their stories start to include you (which can lead to crazy, viral word of mouth). @DarrenHailes, @SaulColt, @DaveCarroll
Lesson #7 – It’s all about the (online) conversation.
In the age of social media, conversations are happening faster and spreading wider than ever before. Your brand is the sum of the conversations about it. One speaker talked about your digital footprint (what you say about your brand) versus your digital shadow (what others are saying). Your shadow is often much, much bigger than your footprint. It is important to understand you cannot control this digital shadow, but you can participate in the conversation. Be human, interesting and open to learning (even about yourself and your brand) and you can turn that conversation into an amazing success story. @BrendanKing, @SaulColt,@Azita Ardakani
What Do You Think?
First a shoutout to the organizers and volunteers at MoSo 2012 who work so hard to put on such an amazing event that is growing up VERY fast, and especially the rest of the social media team I worked with – @dezguy, @katrinavision, @dejong and @photoliam. Were you lucky enough to go to MoSo this year? I’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts, ideas, questions below or send them to me at annelise (at) veria.ca or on Twitter @veriatweet.
Or revisit the previous issue: The Power of the Humble Hashtag: #SocialTV & Beyond