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Speakers at the SMCNZ19 Conference confirmed Hootsuite’s social media trends for 2019.

For the sixth year running they came together. Marketers, business people, and agencies. They came from around New Zealand, but also as far as the USA and Australia. It was the country’s biggest and most recognised social media conference.

Held at SKYCITY Convention Centre, SMCNZ19 was a warm, welcoming and well-catered two day event. There was a top lineup of speakers delivering a mix of keynote and breakout sessions.

The DNA of Storytelling, Park Howell’s Conference Keynote

Park Howell, the first International speaker for the Conference, set a high standard for the two days.

Success in social media marketing, he told the audience, is about stories. Stories are as old as humanity itself. They are how we create relevance, how we teach, and how we remember.

Jordan Watson and Park Howell at Social Media Conference NZ 2019
Jordan Watson and Park Howell Photo: SMCNZ Facebook

It was little surprise to most that Park and others echoed Hootsuite’s recent predictions for social media.

From storytelling, to issues of trust. From the rise of video to the user’s retreat into private messaging. Better ads. Looking after people.

The message at this conference from the industry was mostly about reaching the humans behind the devices.

Park Howell broke storytelling into a simple, effective formula. He talked about the “A, B, T” (And, But, Therefore …) Context, conflict, and solution, in that order.

It’s the foundation for every story. From a simple tweet, to the Gettysburg Address. Park Howell gave logic to the art of writing for social.

He returned for a practical workshop on Day Two of the conference. This gave everyone the opportunity to practice his formula, and experiment with the structure of storytelling.

The Business of Video – Jordan Watson

Following Park was the world-famous-in New Zealand Jordan Watson of How-to Dad.

In telling his own story of overnight fame, literally, Jordan pointed out that views alone do not make money. They are just the vanity metric of video.

Instead, his success came from creating content that was popular with a particularly sought-after audience. The household-shopper-with-young-children.

This led to working with brands keen for his kind of realness. And eager to talk to his audience. The surprise, for Jordan, was how little the big brands wanted to change in his videos. Furthermore he maintained his own integrity by being willing to walk away from a deal if it didn’t fit his personal brand.

Former TV producer and director Michelle Sokolich reinforced Jordan Watson’s message of staying real for social media.

Her practical “let’s try it now” tutorials had people creating shareable videos for business on their smart phones. Her line was “lead with the bleed.” Start strongly. Do something with enough impact to stop the scroll.

Conference Breakout: Chatbots

Our own Chief Conversologist Jam Mayer spoke, too. Jam reminded her audience that in social media for business, much of the battle is being taken off the news feeds.

Picking up on another Hootsuite report, Jam, having been in social media since the early 2000s, described the users’ move from timelines to private message spaces.

This reflects dwindling trust in the big platforms and paid advertising. She said even influencers are losing their credibility. The personal recommendations of social circles are becoming more important than ever.

It also means there is a growing demand for direct communication with business. To meet this need for scalable, personalised customer contact, nothing beats a chatbot. Especially for the medium-sized enterprise.

Some speakers talked about chatbots as a “rocket ship to generate sales.” Jam showed how they can be a brand ambassador, building customer loyalty and trust for long term success.

Michelle Sokolich, Jam Mayer, Rochelle Sheldon, Bea Pole-Bokor at Social Media Conference
Michelle Sokolich, Jam Mayer, Rochelle Sheldon, Bea Pole-Bokor Photo SMCNZ Facebook

The fine-tuning needed to create a chatbot personality that sits well with the target customer, and represents a business in an engaging way, is a skill most tech developers just don’t have.

Jam Mayer gave examples of chatbot personality. Created with the help of marketing specialists, as well as professional scriptwriters, chatbots can be engaging, effective, and even fun!

Facebook Ads: The Stakes are Raised.

There was one thing in common among those speaking about Facebook Ads.

The days of social advertising being The Wild West are over. The price of poor planning and bad creative in ads is not just bad ROI. It’s the risk of being downgraded in Facebook’s algorithm.

With the greatest digital advertising platform comes great responsibility. Ads need to be relevant and engaging, and audiences need to be properly researched and tuned.

Facebook Ads’ specialist Cat Howell talked about the importance of testing audiences before starting any campaign.

Cat suggested using tracking pixels at every stage of the process. It helps optimise relevance and the user experience, and build it into a measurable ROI. An all-round high-five to Facebook, the client, and the user.

Conference Highlight: You are Enough

Probably the most thought-provoking speaker of the Conference was Cathy Mellett. Cathy reminded us that the social space is an intimately human space.

Some speakers talked about formulas for success. They bragged about hacking the algorithms to earn six figures. But Cathy’s focus was on the pressure social media can put on people. Particularly digital natives, who have grown up in the online world.

Cathy’s warning was that we, the leaders and influencers in social media, have a duty of care to our audiences.

These audiences are the very people the social media industry depends on for its success. We should be setting the standard of moral accountability. We should be looking after them.

Social Media Conference speaker Kathy Mellett image - Milennial holding a cellphone
Photo: Cathy Mellett Facebook

Hosted by a team of MCs led by Andrew Baird, 2019’s Social Media Conference was well received.

The conference was a chance to learn, polish skills, and update knowledge. It was an opportunity to network, and a chance to connect with many highly respected people in the social media industry.

Thanks to founder Wanita Z and The Online Business Academy for setting up another successful conference.


Conversologie was responsible for creating Jenda, the Conference chatbot. It included a pre-sales flow, scheduled announcements, updates, and question responses during the two day event.

Visit our page for more about our options for chatbots.

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