Social Media Week London - John Lewis and innovation, cloud companies, Pinterest, Alexa Clay on misfits and more...


Social Media Week London is a conference that aims to share ideas, trends, insights and inspiration to help people and businesses understand how to achieve more in a hyper-connected world. Michelle Milner and Hasan Hussein from Carat’s Social Media Insight team went along earlier this month – here they tell us what they learnt…

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Letting the Story Drive Technology: Hosted by John Lewis

John Lewis’s Innovation Manager, John Vary, led a presentation; the main theme being around how John Lewis leads idea generation, and about JLab, which helps start up retail businesses.

John Lewis’s Oxford Street store most recent window display features Charlotte Tilbury (a make up brand) which is currently being promoted through television screens in the shop windows, sharing make-up demonstrations and beauty ideas. The promotion includes case studies of customers who have been transformed with Charlotte’s help, who believes that make up can make women ‘conquer the world.’

  • The lesson: We should be encouraged to be innovative, constantly push boundaries and embrace collaboration.

What Is a Cloud Company and What Opportunities Does it Present for Your Business?

This talk was hosted by Co-Founder of Virtual Employee, Shaunvir Mahil. His main objective was to encourage businesses to use cloud services to allow better scalability and lower costs.  He maintained that exploring new ideas and embracing change is key in today’s environment.

  • The lesson: More and more services are now available through cloud companies and entire companies can be run this way.

Pinterest Talk

This talk was held by Pinterest’s Marketing Manager Zoe Pearson and delved into three main areas:

1. Why Pinterest isn’t actually a social network

2. Why Pinners think differently than other platform users

3. How to target this audience and what you’re doing wrong right now

One of the examples shown for its success was Reiss’s board, which features a variety of interesting visual fashion content/pins.

Zoe also gave an example of one pinner’s creative use of Pinterest calling it “My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter”. Here the user has used old magazine content/images of children and developed a story around her imaginary child “Quinoa”. Now with over 100k followers the board has obviously been a success and an example of how content can be recycled and used in a creative and interesting way. 

  • The lesson: Pinterest is very different from other social networks and we need to understand more clearly how it works.

Misfit Innovation Talk - What Can Brands and Agencies Learn From Drug Dealers, Pirates and Dissidents

This talk was led by Alexa Clay who is the co-author of The Misfit Economy, a book that explores “underground and informal innovation”.

She gave examples of how the formal economy can learn lots from misfit cultures and cultures such as Mexican drug cartels and their hierarchal structure.

  • The lesson: Organisations should become more philosophical and reach out beyond their own structure.

Digital Influence: The Challenges of Getting It, Guiding it and Growing It in Today’s Hyper Connected World

Heidi Myers, Head of Marketing at Meltwater, and LJ Rich, BBC Click Presenter, led this session.

The talk was based around ‘Brain Food’- a marketing debate hosted by Meltwater (media intelligence software as a service company) which has occurred in many cities throughout the world, including Dubai and Dublin. Usually this event lasts a few hours, so Heidi summarised it for us in about 15 minutes. The concept is that you only know how well your business is doing when you know how well your competitors are doing. Meltwater came up with ‘Outside Insight,’ which explores this idea and #outsideinsight has been trending worldwide due to the Brainfood event.

  • The lesson: Look at competitor activity in order to gain real insight into your own business.

LJ Rich then spoke about how she uses social to interact with her fans when she presents/ performs at concerts (she is also a musician). She uses live video streaming (Periscope) and set up a live stream for us to see how instantly people respond to live videos. She said as an influencer, she wants companies to make her feel special if they were to approach her. She wants companies to start conversations with her and not just send her generic messages to try certain products or services. She also said her followers engage with her content a lot because she’s constantly asking questions.

  • The lesson: Start conversations with influencers, have real conversations, ask questions, interact more deeply.


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