The final day of the NAA Education Conference was dedicated to big picture looks at the two topics that dominated the discussion for the entire conference: the economy and social media.
NAA had invited three experts with intimate knowledge of the impact of social media on businesses to speak at a panel moderated by Eric Wu of RentWiki. The speakers were Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, Pete Flint, CEO of Trulia and Jerry Owyang, a lead analyst from the market research firm Forrestor.
The discussion put an exclamation point on all of the talk about social media in the other sessions, on the show floor and in the halls. As Owyang shared strong statistical data that showed the gathering momentum of the social web and the role that marketers could play, Hsieh and Flint talked about the practical applications of these platforms in growing their business.
The themes that were struck were consistent: Get engaged by using these tools, talk with your customers and prospects, recognize that you can’t control all the dialogue but that you can influence it. When asked what guidance he gives his employees on Twitter, Hsieh said, “Be real and be yourselves.” Flint shared his 5 Do’s of Social Media: Listen, engage the audience, educate, network and learn from others.
All three panelists discussed the need for transparency and openness in order to create a true customer service culture in a company.
Patty Blum pointed to one data point from Owyang that summed up the importance of social media: Social media use among internet consumers has increased in 12 months from 54% to 76%.
The general sessions closed with a presentation from Steve Forbes that people found remarkable for its clarity, its hopefulness and its honesty.
Forbes ventured that the economy had bottomed in March and that we were in the first stages of rebuilding following the dramatic contraction. To illustrate the vast power of the American economy, Forbes shared a fact that particularly struck Kevin Telfer: from 2003 to 2007, the expansion of the American economy was greater than the entire Chinese economy.
Other tidbits from the presentation: “You’ll make more money giving the advice than following the advice,” Forbes says. He also revisited the flat tax proposal that was a central tenet of his presidential campaign, saying that the country needs to wipe the tax system clean and start again – preferably with a 17% tax rate.
All in all, it was a captivating presentation to cap off a great series of educational sessions at NAA.
That’s it for our coverage of the conference. We hope that our summaries were useful in giving all of you a little flavor for what was going on at the industry’s largest gathering.
The Education Conference is in New Orleans next year. Visit www.naa.com and put the dates on your calendar. We hope to see you there!