Top 10- What’s Next DC 2011

On Monday I spent most of my afternoon at an awesome conference called What’s Next DC. The conference largely consisted of a variety of Marketing/Social Media/PR/SEO gurus (GovLoop’s own Steve Ressler included) all coming together to talk about what’s working for them now, and how to make improvements in the coming months and years. Pair their presentations with a host of simultaneous niche discussion groups, and you’ve got a pretty happening conference.

For the most part, I found the presenters and their content interesting and informative, and only on rare occasion did I find myself muttering the occasional and inevitable “meh.” Admittedly, I am by no means a marketing master, yet I managed to come away with a number of tips and useful nuggets that I’d like to share. Yes, the concepts are pretty simple and possibly even cliche, but to that I’d say, if they are so simple, why are so few organizations doing them? Sometimes the simple things we think we know best, end up being the things we do the worst. With that in mind, off we go:

10. The real-time Twitter feed displayed at the front of the conference room. Great idea. Every conference should make arrangements for this.

9. WIIFM?- “What’s in it for me?” Everyone can usually answer this question for themselves as a business well enough. However, if you have trouble answering it from your customers point of view, then you should probably consider reevaluating what you’re offering.

8. Everyone is in customer service. Many of us shudder at the thought of customer interaction, but it really is unavoidable. In any organization, everyone plays a part in the customer experience whether it be through direct or indirect means.

7. Language matters. Example- when Facebook changed their “become a fan” option to the simple one-word, “like,” popularity of its function skyrocketed.

6. Statistics do and don’t matter. I say “do” because (obviously) they DO! Measurement is a key element of success in just about everything. I say “don’t” because quite often the numbers that we hear flying around aren’t relevant or simply incorrect (and I heard a lot of them that afternoon). Check your methods and your sources before you base critical organizational decisions on statistics. Or better yet, develop your own! After all, they say 87.5% of statistics are made up on the spot…

5. A few online monitoring/researching tools that if you’re not taking advantage of, you should: Google Adwords, Google Insights, Haro.com, survey monkey, toluna, and traackr.

4. Bringing people together (on or off line) is HARD. The What’s Next DC conference organizers did an awesome job at this, but often we take this seemingly easy task for granted.

3. This one is obvious, but if your organization doesn’t have a Facebook and/or Twitter presence then it should, whether you’re in the public or private sector. It’s a bit frightening, but it quite literally puts your target consumer group, and their individual networks, in the palm of your hands.

2. When giving a presentation, content IS NOT king. Make your content valuable, of course, but if you do not engage your audience and are not energized when speaking about your topic, people will automatically tune you out and your whole presentation will have been essentially worthless. It seems like this is especially one of those things that everyone knows, but very few people successfully do. The real-time twitter feed in front of the audience was very clear evidence of this…

1. People have 2 problems they face almost every day- they have no time and they are bored (a bit paradoxical, no?). People have an inherent need to be entertained! They also need to belong, to share, to lead and be led, and to learn. Successful social media outlets help to fill those needs.

So what is next for DC (as well as businesses and governments everywhere)? Even after spending most of my afternoon listening to presenters, I’m not quite sure I can fully answer this question. I believe this particular conference did an excellent job at describing what’s now, but I found myself still wondering what is really next for businesses and technology. We live in a time where technology is growing at an exponential rate. The innovation and technological advancements that have taken place within the past couple of years is pretty mind-boggling. Just a few years ago, smart phones and tablets were barely emerging, and now they’re in the hands of most of my friends and acquaintances. Those two things alone have revolutionized the way many people interact with each other, receive their media, and, on a larger scale, live. At the rate technology is evolving, if you’re not already tapping into what’s out there, expect to get left in the dust. While I anticipate things like Facebook and Twitter will be around for many years to come, who knows what kind of revolutionary advancement is out there, when it will happen, and how will it again change the way we all live. Are you ready?

If you have any thoughts/comments, go ahead and share! What do you think is next for DC (and beyond)?

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Shannon Donelson

Awesome blog Jeff! Sounds like What’s Next DC was an awesome event that brought the best of the best together! Lots of great insight and info!

Big Picture Inc

Hey Jeff,

I haven’t heard of Haro and I had a little trouble finding Haro.com (#5). I did find “Haro Quality Flooring,” but I don’t think that’s what you were going for…I enjoyed reading this, and I think you touched on one of the next big things with smartphones. Aside from mobile advertising, I think geolocation/geotagging will become much more important, but I also feel that an increase in privacy concerns will come with it.

Here’s an interesting article on the smartphone “weapon”.

Jeff Ribeira

Thanks for bringing that up Tabitha. I only now realized I typed that in wrong. The HARO (help a reporter out) website is actually at http://www.helpareporter.com. It’s a great resource, but I suppose it would be more useful if I gave you the right address…Sorry about that!