What to Expect at Social Media Week 2018 | V by Viacom


What to Expect at Social Media Week 2018

The trends and topics to watch for in the week ahead.

Apr 23, 2018

There are plenty of questions about the future of social media leading into Social Media Week 2018—from understanding the Facebook’s algorithm changes and YouTube’s brand safety measures to the rise of chatbots and blockchain.

The panels at the 10th annual conference will “explore the intensifying conflict between community and individualism.” Speakers will be trying to explain and understand how social media has enabled our narcissistic and addictive tendencies, why the communities created by technology isolate us, and the implications of artificial intelligence.

We talked to 9 panelists to find out their thoughts on the nature of communities online, and on the trends and topics that will be top-of-mind in the week ahead.


Alberto Brea, EVP, Group Planning Director, Edelman NY

What he’s listening for … I am looking forward to Meredith Kopit Levie’s keynote on “Why Truth is Worth Paying For.” In today’s era of “fake news,” trust is a hot commodity. I think publishers like The New York Times have done a fantastic job monetizing trust. The Times‘ digital business has more than doubled in the past six years and created a successful blueprint for how to become a digital-only publisher.

What he’ll be talking about … My panel is about creativity and data. Today, we need creativity more than ever to break through in the sea of content, but we need it in a way that’s relevant and useful. Until now, we kept the creative world and the data world apart to manage complexity. We assigned different stages of the purchase funnels to each world; creativity is the upper funnel and data is the lower funnel stage. We created different tribes to run each world. But mobile has changed everything. Mobile is connecting the funnel, and connecting creativity and data. This means that we need ideas that are contextually relevant as the moment has become the message.

Panel: “Creativity + Data: How to Develop Personalized Experiences that Capture Both,” 4/26 @ 9:30 a.m.


Alison Hillhouse, Vice President of Youth Culture and Trends, MTV

The trends to watch … Overall, the theme of ‘Closer’ for SMW is very in tune with what we are studying in the research team at MTV—where tech meets humanity, and how that impacts this generation of young people. I’m particularly interested in the future of news with our young audience, as how and what they are consuming changes all the time as the media industry rapidly morphs. Vox is going to speak on ‘How a Cluttered Media Industry Needs to Inspire a New Era of Storytelling,’ and I’m super curious what they are going to say as they’ve also made inroads with the next generation. Also, I’ll be tuning into all the Gen Z talks – Hearst, PFSK, etc. And…. I can’t wait to hear what Martha Stewart thinks of influencer marketing in the food space!

What she’ll cover … We’ve been diving deeply into what ‘intimacy’ looks like to Gen Z in a smartphone era, and how tech is impacting their relationships and friendships. Young people are hyper-aware of the pros and cons of technology, and actually feel a bit ‘faux-stalgic’ for the era before social media and smartphones. They talk about how in the Friends era, people seemed to have more intimate friendships because they had to actually talk in-person. We’ll touch on how tech is creating real intimacy (e.g. bonding with online friends over shared passions / maintaining daily FaceTime contact for years) and how it’s creating distance (e.g. giving them an ‘out’ to experience tough and ultimately deep bonding friendship moments in the ‘less awkward’ and more controlled spaces of tech).

Panel: Gen Z: Redefining Intimacy in a Social Media World,” 4/27 @ 11:30 a.m.

Charlie Todd, Founder, Improv Everywhere

On developing a community … Our primary method of engagement is releasing new videos and using social media to get the word out. I would say our favorite way to engage our audience is through our email newsletter. It’s the most direct line of communication we have as it’s not controlled by an algorithm.

On measuring engagement … Views are obviously the easiest metric to go by, but in today’s fragmented environment dominated by algorithms, it’s harder to measure success by views alone. Comments and shares are a better way to judge our audience’s response. (Read more from Todd on WHOSAY’s blog.)

Panel: “Creativity Meets Brand Outcomes: There is Where the Magic Happens,” 4/25 @ 10:20 a.m.

Sarah Hofstetter, CEO, 360i

The trends to watch ... The content of Social Media Week has really evolved over the years, in large part because the way we interact with social media itself has changed so much. I’m really looking forward to conversations around transparency and how we as an industry can push the platforms to create more transparent and responsible ecosystems.

What she’ll cover … I’m delivering a keynote about my unconventional upbringing and how my Jewish Orthodox faith, gender and lack of agency experience set me up for success in the ad industry. My talk is all about looking at your perceived vulnerabilities and reimagining them as your greatest assets. How, as an industry and as individuals, we can start to break through the sea of sameness and empower those who’re typically thought of as outsiders?

Panel: “Breaking Through the Sea of Sameness,” 4/26 @ 10:15 a.m.

Lydia Daly, SVP, Social Media and Branded Content Strategy, Viacom Velocity

What’s she’ll be listening for… Both “The Future of Brands” and “The Impact of Social Media on Society” tracks are standing out to me leading up to Social Media Week. The role of brands has shifted so strongly from something static and impersonal to engaging experiences with personalities that can act as drivers of culture.  People are acting like brands, and brands are acting like people.  Our ability to communicate with brands has completely opened up and I’m curious to see how they respond moving forward.    

What she’ll be talking about Our panel is bringing together creatives and industry experts to explore how communication has evolved from words to visuals. Gifs, memes, emojis, and photo first apps like Snapchat and Instagram all preoccupy our lives and we want to explore the reasons why as well as how that impacts content in every sense. We’re excited that Beyoncé’s choreographer and creative director, JaQuel Knight will be joining our discussion and are eager to learn his take on how the most iconic social imagery from Single Ladies to Beychella gets created.  

Panel: “Social Media & Close Culture,” 4/24 @ 10:20 a.m.

Matthew Patrick, Creator and Narrator, Game Theory on YouTube

On growing an audience … YouTube’s algorithm cares a lot less about explicit engagements like likes and comments and a lot more about implicit engagements, namely views and watch time. With that in mind, the engagements we care about all revolve around views and watch time on the platform. Likes and comments are fine, but they won’t move the needle in terms of your channel’s growth, so we place a lot less emphasis on these.

On developing an engaging content pipeline ... On each channel, we have “wheelhouse” topics that we know (and our audience knows) will bring in the highest viewership and the most watch time. For example, on Game Theory, our wheelhouse topics are anything Super Mario related (we have a huge retro and Nintendo fanbase) and episodes about the game “Five Nights At Freddy’s.” While obviously every episode can’t and shouldn’t be about these topics, we make sure that we sprinkle in an episode related to these every month or so to activate the largest segments of our fanbase and ensure that we have episodes bringing in big views and watch minutes.(Read more from Patrick on WHOSAY’s blog.)

Panel: “Creativity Meets Brand Outcomes: There is Where the Magic Happens,” 4/25 @ 10:20 a.m.

Maya Peterson, Director, Creative Strategy, Viacom Velocity

What’s she’ll be listening for … I am looking forward to both “The Gen Z Social Media Forecast” and “Reaching Young Audiences on Instagram.” I am always interested in learning more about how younger generations use social media differently and how other agencies and media companies frame the impact of that difference on culture. Social media has given young people a platform to build their own audience and a proximity to influence that’s different from previous generations. We know from our own research that many young people see themselves as brands and “a little bit famous.” I am always curious to know how brands think about influencing people who already have their own audiences and influence.

What she’ll be talking about I’m looking forward to a conversation about authenticity and brand voice because we have Barak Shragai from @Daquan and Austin Bone from Snaps who should have insightful perspectives on what authenticity means within social.

Panel: “Social Media & Close Culture,” 4/24 @ 10:20 a.m.

James Thompson, Diageo

The trend he’s discussing … I’ll be discussing the concept of how tapping into the behaviors and core values of a ‘founder’s mentality’ can often be a helpful approach. For example, defining new rules and seizing opportunities, whilst heightening the legacy that’s already in place.

The topic he’s curious about … The importance of stories in building a sustainable brand. At Diageo we are lucky to have many brands with fabulous stories. As such, we’re constantly looking at how we bring these stories to life in fresh and unique ways that keep our brands culturally relevant and at the same time allow us to connect and resonate with today’s consumers.

Panel: “Building a Future-Proof Business,” 4/25 @ 9:30 a.m.

Steve Ellis, CEO, WHOSAY

What he’s listening for … how advertising is continuing to evolve. Ultimately advertising effectiveness is directly tied to good creative and smart distribution. Make a great ad and show it to the right people and it will perform. This has been guiding our work since the beginning. Influencers can be a great creative resource that any advertiser can partner with.

What he’ll be talking about … Creativity is one of the most underrated and taken for granted components of advertising. Influence marketing can provide the most value when done right. I’ll be leading a discussion with Charlie Todd and Matt Patrick about using creativity to execute content marketing campaigns that overcome the challenges faced by advertisers in ad-blockers, shortened attention spans, ad fraud, and brand safety.

Panel: “Creativity Meets Brand Outcomes: There is Where the Magic Happens,” 4/25 @ 10:20 a.m.