Maxims from Social Media West

socializewestJust wrapped up my attendance of Socialize West, a nice little 2-day conference put together by The focus was Monetizing Social Media which is slightly out of my domain in my demand gen role with Lithium, but the subtitle Gamify, Mobilize, Optimize, Monetize captured my eye and I registered.

Two minutes in the door I felt right at home when I immediately met two Lithium customers, Firebelly who uses LSMM, and Vindicia who has a Lithium community. I thank the new ritual that’s propagating throughout social marketing conference culture to begin the show by being asked to “stand and shake the hands of your neighbors.” Just like church. It’s a great thing to do at a gathering.

“Now with the other hand, slap your neighbor across the face.”


“Yep. That’s the way most digital marketers greet their social customers—by saying hello and then slapping them with a virtual communications fire hose. We’ll be here for the next two days talking about how not to do that.“

Nice opener. Certainly got our attention. That was from conference MC Todd Tweed (@audiencemachine), our hugely energetic and thought provoking host. The keynotes were terrific. Michael Bassik, Managing Director and Chair of Burson-Marsteller, gave a great presentation on crisis management and dropped these memorable lines: “The only antidote to a crisis is to address it in a very public way.” “The worst thing you can do with social in a crisis is nothing”. Certainly made me think about the financial services crisis and how banks need to listen to and reach out to their advocates now more than ever. Or, institutions like PG&E who seems endlessly to struggle with the San Bruno disaster.

Day two of course all everyone could talk about was the fact that the first place we all went after our 2 (yes, count ‘em-2!) earthquakes the day before was Twitter. We got a wonderful presentation from Brains on Fire author Geno Church (@genochurch), who in his evangelism of “marketing movements vs. marketing campaigns” gave us these sound bites: “Campaigns employ a ‘bake it and they will come’ mentality; movements are an evolution of the spirit.” “Campaigns are all about us, us, us, listen to us (we marketers); movements are about the others that are talking about us.” “Be the fans of your fans, not the other way around.”

And I promise you Mr. Church was not in Lithium’s employ when he said, “movements happen when people share their passions” and “amazing things happen when you give up ownership”. That’s exactly what we tell our customers. Let your customers drive the conversation, share their passions and start a movement. Pretty soon you’ll have a brand nation—a vibrantly community full of passionate social customers.

Later in the day I ran into my old boss Matt Roche (@matthewroche) from Offermatica (now part of Adobe/Omiture) who’s reincarnated himself as the CEO of, an interesting new way to share web pages in personalized, permanent collections. In his optimization session, Matt reminded us that “consumption itself is a social act.”

I thought it an excellent proof point for the advice we social software providers and strategists often tell brands: “Don’t add social to your business; organize your business around social”. Consumption is a highly social thing. Geno reported earlier in the morning that 93% of us talk about brands face to face, in direct conversations with our friends, family, neighbors, teachers, co-workers … we are very social about our consumption habits already. All brands need to do is get in on the conversations that are already happening.

Lastly, I think I liked best this, again from Geno: “The future of your business should not be about technology. It should be about us—people.”

Thanks for a nice collection of marketing maxims from Socialize West and the folks at

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