Lessons Learned from Social Media Week Chicago

5 min read
By: Maddy Osman

At almost the last minute (the Friday before), I was lucky to be granted a press pass to Social Media Week Chicago. As a result, I moved my schedule around to take advantage of learning from and networking with some top digital marketers from Chicago and beyond.

After numerous sessions and hours at Social Media Week Chicago, I could try and tell you everything I learned… but instead, will give you some of the topics that kept coming up, and how you can make use of them for your own brand!

Lessons Learned from Social Media Week Chicago


One of my favorites, and perhaps the most useful talk for me was by CBD Chicago. They showed us step-by-step how to create an infographic, keeping in mind most of the room didn’t have a design background.

They shared some situations when it might be appropriate to use an infographic:

Finally, some design considerations:


Influencers are one of the hottest topics of the year. Almost every speaker I listened to had something to say about them.

Working with Influencers

But one of the best takeaways in regards to working with influencers is to give them creative leverage when you’re interested in working with them. They’ll be able to seamlessly weave your brand’s story into the content they’re already creating in a way that makes their audience interested.

Many different speakers talked about using influencers if you don’t have a high budget for Marketing. The Shedd Aquarium invited bloggers to come in for free and gave them free parking, but didn’t pay on top of that. Erin Bassett of the Windy City Bloggers Collective warns that all else equal, however, you’ll get a better product when you pay for it.

Being an Influencer

On the influencer side, Erin recommended getting rid of blog ads. They pay too little for how many clicks are required, and how distracting they are. She also mentioned that blogs are the fifth most trusted source for accurate information behind news sites, Facebook, retail sites and Youtube. This realization gives bloggers more clout when working with brands.

Another point worth mentioning is that there’s more to a blogger than just their blog. You should also consider their reach on social, email newsletters, etc.

Finally, whether you’re an influencer or not, here are some interesting takeaways about our Twitter profiles, from InsightPool:


At Social Media Week Chicago, I learned a lot of new tips and tricks that brands have been using to make their content interesting.

One of the best tips comes from Onion Labs. It’s kind of situational, but could easily be applied in other scenarios.

Onion Labs talked about how they were working with a liquor brand and wanted to create a campaign for the holidays. They said that it’s a widely known fact that when you drink around your family, it’s not always because you’re happy. One of the ads instructed the user to make a drink and “Put the blender on loud so you don’t have to hear your family complain” (paraphrase).

Bringing humor to the equation, not to mention taking a different perspective than anyone else, is a great way for your content to get noticed.


Synthesio put together an excellent talk about measuring the ROI of social media marketing. One of the most interesting stats they brought up is that 53% of social media marketers don’t measure their success. Which begs the question… why even bother if you don’t know what it’s doing for you??

A couple other interesting points they brought up during their talk:

On paid ads, one pointer that stuck with me was from the American Egg Board. They talked about boosting a post on Facebook if it was performing well within the first 5-10 minutes of it being live. It’s something that seems simple, but I hadn’t thought about it before.


One of my favorite panels of the week was put together by the Publicity Club of Chicago. The panel featured creatives behind the Shedd Acquarium, American Egg Board and Onion Labs. One of the best takeaways I got however, was from an employee representing Edelmen’s client Slim Jims. They talked about creating a persona so rich that they had a name and birthday for it. They asked, “Would Bill (their persona) do this?” for every piece of content they created.

They also left me with these nuggets that could likely be applied to any brand in regards to content creation:

Content created with those 3 c’s is likely to get engagement of some sort!

Employee Advocacy

One of the most interesting stats that stuck out to me was during WOMMA‘s talk about measuring Word of Mouth. An under-utilized, but important part of your marketing strategy should be getting your employees involved. The stat that stuck out to me was that your employees have 10x the reach of your brand.

The key is to make it easy for them to get involved. Create pre-made copy with images they can use. And don’t make it a requirement – most will be happy to help their company reach new people!

My brain is exploding with new knowledge and it’s time to settle back into my regular routine! If you went to Social Media Week Chicago – what new knowledge did you pick up? Or what would you add to this list? Share in the comments!

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Final Thoughts: Lessons Learned from Social Media Week Chicago

My brain is exploding with new knowledge and it’s time to settle back into my regular routine! If you went to Social Media Week Chicago – what new knowledge did you pick up? Or what would you add to this list? Share in the comments!

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Maddy Osman

The Blogsmith

Maddy Osman is the author of Writing for Humans and Robots: The New Rules of Content Style. She's a digital native with a decade-long devotion to creating engaging, accessible, and relevant content. Her efforts have earned her a spot in BuzzSumo’s Top 100 Content Marketers and The Write Life’s 100 Best Websites for Writers. She has spoken for audiences at WordCamp US, SearchCon, and Denver Startup Week.

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