by Brianna Kozlarek – Director, Digital Engagement

A few weeks ago, I attended Social Media Week Los Angeles 2019. I went last year and walked away with a lot of ideas, tips, tricks and new partnerships, so I knew that I wanted to attend again this year. I also firmly believe that taking a few days away from your routine (and laptop) and surrounding yourself with others who share your interests and passions can absolutely breathe new life into your work. It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day projects, so taking some time to network and learn from your peers is invaluable to keeping you tuned in and inspired.

Being Social Media Week in the year 2019, there was of course a HUGE focus on influencers and the relationship they play within marketing. While interesting, and a certain necessity for consumer brands, this doesn’t 100% directly relate to the work that FLIRT does. However, I think there are a lot of best practices to be learned from the rise in influencer marketing, in that consumers and coworkers alike are craving authenticity and relatability more than ever before. Traditional advertising and marketing just don’t resonate with today’s two second attention span. Finding an authentic voice within your organization, whether it be from the CEO or a nominated colleague, is critical in creating a loyal and passionate workforce.

Beyond the major theme of influencers, here are my top three takeaways from Social Media Week 2019:


  1. Speak your truth and be authentic

This sounds like an easy one, but not-so-shockingly, many large organizations are still taking the old school route on communications and sending out over-complicated and overstuffed messages with no real value. This is so important because the relationship you keep with your audience speaks volumes to your return on investment – what’s the dollar amount on employee retention? Organic company/brand advocates? Answer: it’s invaluable.

To start, aim to be a glass company versus a black box company. Black box companies aren’t transparent, with carefully curated messages coming from leadership that feel stiff and unrelatable. Glass box companies are open, honest and own up to their mistakes. Think Facebook (black box) vs Tesla (glass box). Be like the glass box companies to instill trust.


  1. Brands need to take calculated risks

It’s important for companies and brands to stay relevant and a part of the conversation online, and it’s no secret that a carefully timed clever tweet can completely shift public opinion on a brand. Whether this is good or bad, it’s the truth, and for the most part it cannot be planned. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about tools like HootSuite to make your life easier, but if everything is scheduled, you can’t be in the moment, reactive and SOCIAL.  

So how do you decide whether to weigh in on a social conversation or topic? You should only do so if it feels authentic to your brand.  How do you know if it’s authentic? Have strong values and points of view in place already, so it’s easy to identify the right moment. It also takes a little bit of guts. A perfect example is the Gillette #BestAManCanBe campaign, which is a great example on leading the charge on a cultural shift that feels authentic to the brand.


  1. Go deeper: Tell stories with depth

Adults spend 11 hours per day consuming media. If you’re going to engage, it better be good, or it won’t stand out.  A lot of brand activations focus too much on the photo ops or instagrammable elements rather than the actual real-life experiences and the emotions they want the attendees to feel.

In the age of instant gratification, constant scrolling and the pressure to do & have it all, at the end of the day people just want to connect and feel heard. The best way to have a memorable impact is through storytelling. A few tips on how to make a good story great:

  • Be aware of the cultural landscape
  • Understand the emotional sentiment around these movements
  • Create a flexible experience across cultures & languages
  • Trust your audience to co-create your story


All in all, it was another highly interesting and memorable week of learning. We live tweeted throughout the week, so follow along @FLIRTComm and let’s keep the conversation going.


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