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2011 Midwest Social Media Summit: The Ultimate Summary

By | November 18, 2011

Content. Yesterday’s Midwest Social Media Summit in Landerhaven can be summed up in a single word: content. The concept was most boldly illustrated in content marketing evangelist Joe Pulizzi‘s proclamation that “Mediocre content does nothing for your business.”

Make no mistake about it, content was the word of the day. For all the talk of social media, nearly every single speaker or panelist preached the virtues of having quality content that resonates with your audience. Consider: if you want to actually achieve anything meaningful with social media for your business (besides simple connections), you need to have valuable content that lends itself to sharing.

“Well, of course,” you’re saying, “tell me something else I don’t know.” And where are the social media secrets? How do you rule Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn et al.?” Don’t worry, the experts had a few things to say about that, too. If you couldn’t make the event (or spent all your time there checking email, Twitter and LinkedIn on two devices), below are my CliffsNotes.

The Ultimate Highlights of Midwest Social Media Summit

On content:

  • Joe Pulizzi: “Mediocre content does nothing for your business. In fact, it hurts your business.”
  • Paul Roetzer: “Content is what wins,” both with your audience and currently in Google.
  • Joe Pulizzi: “If your content isn’t interesting, you won’t be found.”
  • Paul Roetzer: “Offer content rich in value.”
  • Joe Pulizzi: “Tell better stories to do well on Google.”
  • Paul Roetzer: “Use content to drive other elements of your marketing strategy.”
  • Paul Furiga: Use the “rule of thirds.” “No more than one-third of your social media content should be promotional. One-tenth is great.”

On social media in general:

  • Michelle R. McGovern, Mary Henige et al.: “Listen first!” As Henige put it, “People are talking, whether you’re listening or not.”
  • Paul Furiga: “It’s all about your objective. Just because you can be on Twitter doesn’t mean you should.”
  • Alexandra Debelnogich: “I look at each social media site as a microsite.”
  • Rob Fisher: “The key to engagement is trying to fit them [customers/audience] into your voice.”
  • Alan Gaffney, on applying corporate social media policy in different cultures/countries: “Understand the right way to participate.”

Butter — Joe Pulizzi: “Social networking is like butter,” implying content is the bread, or essence.

Fossil fuel — Joe Pulizzi: “Traditional marketing is like fossil fuel; social-media marketing is like renewable energy,” because one is sold/distributed once before being discarded, while the other is self-sustaining over a longer period.

Love/hate — Mary Henige: “There’s a very small line between love and hate” with frustrated customers who often just want someone from the company to listen to them. “It’s worse to have indifference.”

Spam — Alan Gaffney: “Don’t spam your audience with social media.” Always ask if you’re giving value, and always look to add it.

Secret weapon — Jeff Rohrs, quoting venture capitalist Fred Wilson, “Email is social media’s secret weapon.” The idea here is that after people find you via social media, you can stay engaged with them over time with their email addresses once they opt in to your e-newsletter.

Scope — Michelle R. McGovern, on dealing with massive scope of social media: “Break it down into little teeny-tiny parts.”


On LinkedIn:

  • Steve Melfi: “Make sure your company is represented in the summary line” [of your personal profile].
  • Patricia L. Wagoner: “It’s great for passive [job] candidates. … the largest database of candidates in the world.”

On mobile:

  • Matt Lehman: Mobile has a 10X adoption rate compared to the early desktop web.
  • Barbara Cagley: “Start with the purpose of the app, then look at the technology.”
  • Dan Carbone: “You gotta find your own mojo,” on what works in mobile.
  • Matt Lehman: “Don’t start with ‘We need an app.’ Start with strategy; the technology will follow.” This echoes Paul Furiga’s thoughts on Twitter above.
  • Barbara Cagley: “Most mobile apps are not used or deleted after 2 weeks,” which underscores the need for strategy.
  • Matt Lehman: “Mobile allows you to get more deeply integrated with social.”
  • Dan Carbone: Creating aggregration tools can help users avoid the fatigue of switching between mobile apps, especially with dueling social media platforms.

On 21st-century organizations:

  • Roetzer reiterated a current business meme: “Take more risks … be willing to fail. Create organizations that embrace failure.” As for the age-old debate of sharing industry knowledge vs. protecting it from competitors: “We have more of a symbiotic relationship with competitors than ever before,” when you consider how much we network with them at conferences and over social media networks themselves. “There’s space for everyone” … [at the playground].
  • Joe Pulizzi: Referral traffic is the most important to measure, because it comes from relationships and networks that could outlast Google or whatever other search-traffic driver that might change over time. Don’t be too dependent on Google, because you could end up like eHow.
  • Steve Melfi: “Use ‘staying’ interviews [as opposed to “exit interviews”] to get insights into company branding from employee perceptions when asked, ‘Why do you stay?'”
  • Curtis Danburg, on delegation: Told the his former Cleveland Indians coordinator of digital media he needed to be “mayor of the Social Media Deck” and foster an all-around community, not just digital networking.

In true Dan Patrick-style, I’ve delivered you some highlights. If you want to get more, check out the event hashtag (#MWSMS) or follow all the panel speakers on Twitter:

  • @ParkerHannifin
  • @Progressive
  • @barbcagley
  • @ideaengineinc
  • @PaulRoetzer
  • @JuntaJoe
  • @MaryHenige
  • @ffcommunity
  • @rfisher1228
  • @PaulFuriga
  • @WordWritePR
  • @Elektrobuyblog
  • @Indians
  • @MelfiSteve
  • @CareerCurve
  • @jkrohrs





About Paul Richlovsky

Paul brings a writing and teaching background to his marketing career, where he's been happily active since 2006. After spending his early years serving clients as a Web copywriter and account manager, he currently leads Fathom's own content strategy in collaboration with sales, marketing and others across the company. He is an enthusiastic marketing automation practitioner and active member of the Cleveland Marketo User Group. He also serves as editorial director of Fathom's website and blog and has written/edited multiple guides on marketing, including for audiences in healthcare, higher education, financial services, retail and manufacturing. He previously was lead blogger and managing editor for, a resource for individuals interested in career-focused education. With a BA in English from the College of Wooster, he is also the author of a collection of poetry, "Under the Lunar Neon." He is particularly interested in usability, readability, ballroom dancing, bachata, racquet sports, and romping with his niece and nephews.


  • Matthew Travers

    Nice Recap Paul,

    It looks like it was a good event to attend, the speakers had some interesting points to use when interacting online to make sure you’re consistently putting out valuable information that your audience can connect with!


  • Alexandra Debelnogich

    Great time being a part of #MWSMS yesterday. Excellent summary with a wealth of insightful social media information.

  • Craig James

    Hey, thanks! Been culling my findings (which were many too)… Your CiffsNotes helped. Cheers…

  • Anne Hydock

    Paul – This truly was The Ultimate Summary. Thank you for providing an informative and thorough summary of the day’s events and take-aways. Your support and help with this successful event is most appreciated.

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