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Top Insights, Takeaways & Favorite Moments from #SocialBrand17

For the past six years Nick Westergaard has brought speakers from around the United States to the good people of Iowa for his annual Social Brand Forum.

This event has drawn speakers like Lee Odden, Ann Handley, Joe Pulizzi, Jay Baer, Tim Washer, Scott Monty, Mitch Joel, Chris Brogan and many more!

This year, I was lucky to join some amazing speakers including Robert Rose, Melissa Agnes, Jason Falls and Marcus Sheridan as one of the speakers at this premiere Midwest event.

Since I know that many of you weren’t able to attend this awesome event, I’ve taken the liberty of pulling some of my favorite takeaways and moments from #SocialBrand17.

Nick Westergaard – The Man Who Made it All Happen

If you haven’t met Nick before, you should. He made every part of this experience amazing for speakers and attendees alike.

In addition to serving as a Chief Brand Strategist, Nick is also an author, professional speaker and an Associate Director, MBA Business Communication at the University of Iowa.

Nick believes that a scrappy approach to B2B marketing can help teams large and small get smarter with their digital marketing. His book, Get Scrappy is filled with great ideas and examples for brands looking to do just that.

Robert Rose – Reinventing Trust: The New Value of Brand Audiences & Owned Media

One of the key points of Robert’s presentation that stood out to me, was his thoughts on how technology has impacted the way we work (both positively and negatively).


Technology has enabled us to do so much that it has become a weakness. @Robert_Rose
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As we start each year, we plan to accomplish great things with our content but quickly realize we need more content, more technology and more people to get it done. But the honest truth is, more isn’t always better.

Content teams should not become asset generators that simply pump out content, the focus should be on becoming more strategic and purposeful with content planning, creation, promotion and measurement.

Yesterday also marks the release of Robert Rose and Joe Pulizzi’s new book, Killing Marketing. Keep your eye out for a review of this new book on our blog in coming weeks.

Melissa Agnes – Crisis Ready: Essential Strategies for Every Business

For most of us, the thought of a crisis doesn’t even cross our minds until we’re in the midst of experiencing one. And that is something Melissa Agnes set out to change in her presentation.

Key to successfully managing a crisis is having a crisis ready culture. A crisis ready culture is one that has developed a plan, shared the plan with the team and keeps the plan closeby in case it is needed.


Issues can escalate to a crisis but they can also present us with an opportunity. @Melissa_Agnes
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One of the biggest takeaways for the audience was the fact that an issue and a crisis are not the same and how to deal with each scenario effectively.

Jason Falls – Hacking the Conversation

True to form, Jason started off his presentation telling jokes, stories and commenting on how hot it was on stage (I can attest, it was). I have seen Jason present a few times and each time is a great experience, but there was something extra special about this presentation.

In order to participate in or “hack” conversations your customers are having, you first need to know what they are. Unfortunately a lot of these conversations happen on more closed networks like Facebook which can make it difficult to uncover what is being said.


A true understanding of your customers will make your marketing much more impactful. @JasonFalls
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Ultimately, marketers need to understand that keywords do not equal themes and raw data is not the same as actual insights.  

Marcus Sheridan – We’re All Media Companies

Marcus is a strong proponent of truly integrated sales and marketing teams. And he’s right, he’s proven how effective this approach can be. In today’s digital landscape, media is no longer reserved for publications.  

Brands have become publishers and let’s be honest, are publishing content at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, Marcus has found that most content starts as fluff when it should always start at the buyer.


More often than not, digital marketing is a program. It starts and then it ends. @TheSalesLion
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Teams must begin thinking more strategically and utilizing content intentionally in the sales process and beyond to better meet the needs of today’s savvy buyers.

Ashley Zeckman – Your Marketing Golden Ticket

When I was creating my presentation for the Social Brand Forum, I began building out some tactics that I thought the audience would find interesting, then as I thought about it further, I decided that instead of tactics, we should focus on the common hurdles that content marketers face.

As a special treat, I’ve included a copy of my deck below so that you can experience the world of Wonka on your own time (if only I could get the GIFs to work in SlideShare!).

Additional Insights From the Attendees

Below are a few of my favorite tweets shared by the conference attendees:

What Did You Learn?

Whether you were able to attend in-person, or followed along online, I’m curious to know what you found to be the most interesting tidbits of information offered at the annual Social Brand Forum.


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