Four Takeaways from the 2024 Social Media Marketing World Conference

Double Forte attended the 2024 Social Media Marketing World Conference in San Diego on February 18-20 2024.

By Alexis Karis

In an effort to stay on top of social media trends in our industry, Double Forte has long attended the annual Social Media Marketing World (SMMW) conference in San Diego (minus a few years during the pandemic). Social Media Examiner, a US-based publication founded by Michael Stelzner, hosts the conference every spring, bringing together industry experts and speakers for three days of workshops, sessions, and keynotes focused on marketing strategy, organic social marketing, and paid social marketing.

After attending the conference back in 2020, I was lucky enough to return on Double Forte’s behalf for SMMW 2024. I noticed both common themes and vast differences since I attended four years ago. Our team has shared four key takeaways from the social media conference both in 2020 and in 2023.

In keeping with this trend, here are four key takeaways from the 2024 Social Media Marketing World conference:

Theme #1: Generative AI

This should have been obvious to me, based on the fact that intelligent automation was the first takeaway in Gabriel’s blog post about SMMW 2023, but I was shocked by the sheer number of sessions at the conference that were focused on Generative AI and how to use it as marketers. Two of the four keynotes at the conference focused on Generative AI, as well as 3 of the 10 sessions I attended. Not to mention there were various other sessions about AI that I plan to watch on-demand.

As many of the experts communicated, Generative AI will not replace our jobs but should be used to make us better and faster at our jobs.

Speaker Andrew Davis gave a fascinating keynote around the idea of creating what he calls a “Digital Doppelgänger”: a “cognitive collaborator” you can build by training Generative AI tools to create content in the same way you would – but faster.

Several other speakers discussed best practices for adopting AI within your organization. Here at Double Forte, we published our own POV on Generative AI last summer. Though much has changed in AI in the last 9 months, this remains true: “Now more than ever is the time for communication specialists and the like to get ahead of AI before it displaces them.”

Theme #2: Storytelling

One theme that kept cropping up in many presentations was storytelling. Given storytelling’s importance in marketing to consumers, it’s a topic we’ve written about before. Specifically, in a 2021 blog post about LinkedIn Storytelling and most recently in a 2024 post about PR Trends.

Stories are just one way to communicate a message to consumers, but they’re an effective one. Speaker Dr. J.J. Peterson gave a fascinating workshop about how to tell a story in a compelling way, using classic movies as examples of how a story works. As marketers, Dr. Peterson reminds us that in most stories, we should not be the hero of the story, but the guide who can show consumers how we’ve helped people (or even ourselves) solve problems and succeed. The hero of the story, he reminds us, should be the consumer.

Theme #3: Customer Journey

Many of the industry experts who spoke at Social Media Marketing World 2024 also discussed the customer journey, and how understanding it can make our social media strategy more effective.

The first workshop I attended with speaker Ben Amos focused on video strategy for business and discussed the customer journey heavily. He gave numerous examples of how our video content can serve consumers across various parts of their customer journey – from awareness of your brand, consideration of using your product or service, to purchasing it and then finally becoming an advocate for said product or service.

Presenter Jerry Potter discussed the customer journey as it pertains to creating reels, stories, and messages on Instagram. Through his examples, Jerry demonstrated to the audience how these different forms of content could be used across various points of the customer journey, such as using collaborators on Instagram posts to increase the potential viewers, and therefore create more discovery for your brand. Or using Instagram stories to provide consumers more ‘behind the scenes’ information on your brand during the conversion stage.

Theme #4: Trust

And last but not least, trust was a word I heard frequently during the conference. It fits hand in hand with authenticity, which was also mentioned in many presentations, and was a theme of my 2020 SMMW takeaways. With social media, you can build trust just as easily as you can destroy it. But even with the risks, these platforms are still a great way to meet consumers where they are and relate to them in an authentic and honest way.

In a presentation by Robert Rose about crafting a content empire, he re-defines marketing value for the modern consumer, with trust being a key component of providing value. As he says in the presentation, “Familiarity breeds trust. We must reach out to build trust with others,” in order to enhance our impact. As you develop your social media strategies, consider how the content you are sharing can help followers trust the information you provide – as a peer who understands them or as an expert who can help them.