Second-Annual Westchester Digital Summit Highlights Digital-Marketing Synergy

If it wasn’t already obvious that digital technologies are transforming everything about the way we do business today, last week’s Westchester Digital Summit at the Ritz-Carlton in White Plains made that fact perfectly clear. The event, which nearly 300 professionals tweeted and hash-tagged their way through, is the brainchild of Chris Dessi, founder of White Plains-based social media marketing agency Silverback Social. In its second year, the Summit featured 29 speakers—all of whom led the audience to the conclusion that companies failing to embrace digital marketing and social media are on a death march.

“Every person in this room and in business is underestimating the transformational impact of social media,” exclaimed keynote speaker Gary Vaynerchuk, founder of Vayner Media.

In fact, the lines between traditional and social/digital media and marketing have blurred such that Lisa Stockmon, chief marketing officer of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (headquartered in White Plains), declared in one panel,  “There is no digital marketing, it’s all just marketing.” She also squelched the ROI concern around social media by noting, “You can’t afford not to be part of the conversation.” Further proof of digital’s power? Quinn Kilbury, brand director, told the audience why Newcastle Brown Ale (from local favorite Heineken USA), devotes 100-percent of its marketing budget to digital: “Everything you do has to be about digital,” he explained.

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Attendees and panelists from MasterCard, IBM, Facebook, LinkedIn, Huffington Post, RebelMouse, Omnigon Communications, Influence & Co, ESPN, and many others, tackled a variety of hot topics crucial to building and crafting the right digital presence.

Here, some key takeaways:

Digital content needs to be engaging—and appropriate.

When you only have 140 characters or six seconds of video to drive engagement, it has to count. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Stockman stressed the importance of  “emotional content,” while Charlie Nowaczek, president of Kinetic Social, explained that content must hit “the right people at the right time.” And “bite-sized content” is best for Twitter and mobile, while “long-form works well for YouTube,” noted Peter Vlastelica, EVP of Digital for Fox Sports. Vaynerchuk echoed those sentiments in his keynote:  “The middle is getting shrunk. Shortform and quality long form [content] are winning,” ‪he said.

And it should make your brand relatable.

“We never use social to say go use your MasterCard.  It’s about relating to people and getting them talking,” explained Gregg Weiss, VP of social media for MasterCard.

You should be using (or at least learning about) these companies:

Vine (Twitter’s mobile video app); MoPub (mobile advertising); JustUnfollow (grows Twitter and Instagram following); SnapChat (photo messaging); Tribber (“influencer” marketing), Sprout Social (social media management), Givver (send donations with a Tweet); TweetDeck (track and organize your Twitter feed); Thunderclap (“croudspeaking”).

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Social media works for organizations of all sizes.

Global giant IBM’s Tami Cannizzaro, VP of marketing for its Industry Solutions division in Somers, told a packed room that she wants all IBM employees to be “brand advocates” on social media. At the other end of the spectrum, Natalie Barreto, national social media manager for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, explained how the organization pulled in $168,000 in donations in one day using a social media blitz.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one struggling with Google +.

Some of the brightest minds in digital marketing admitted during one panel that they hadn’t yet figured out how to use Google + effectively either.  

Westchester is ahead of the curve. (Really!):

Westchester County has been named one of the top 10 digital counties in the United States eight times by the Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties. Who knew?

Our CEOs & Business Leaders Golf Outing is August 5!

Our Best of Westchester Party is July 24!

Our Westchester Home Design Awards event is June 26!

Our Wine & Food Festival returns June 4-9!

Our Wunderkinds event takes place on May 23!

Our Best of Business Ballot is open through May 15!

Our Healthcare Heroes Awards event takes place on May 9!

Our Westchester Home Builders Awards take place on April 4!

Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Forum is March 14!

Unveiled: A Boutique Bridal Brunch is February 25!

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