For those who aren’t familiar with Social Media Week, it’s a three-day social media and digital marketing conference in New York City. The sessions cover everything from content creation and FTC regulations, to influencer partnerships, brand case studies, and beyond. Some of the big speakers who attended this year (and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to) included Michael Barbaro of the New York Times podcast, The Daily, Andy King from the Fyre Fest documentary, and Amy Emmerich, Chief Content Officer at Refinery 29. The conference is an incredible experience and I highly recommend any PR professionals who work in social media or digital, whether new or seasoned, attend at least once if you can. But, for those who weren’t there, here are some of the biggest takeaways from the conference.

Authenticity is E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G.

Authenticity was a common theme throughout every session at Social Media Week and a good reminder of what we already know but can easily forget. With algorithms and social platforms changing every five minutes, ads getting called out for being too P.C. or not P.C. enough, and influencers telling the world that they paid their way into college, we have so much to keep up with that it’s hard to remember what our purpose on social is in the first place. Social media gives brands a space to creatively tell stories and it’s easy to get lost in this ever-evolving space. But, despite the chaos, we need to remember that every influencer, every sponsorship, and every post, should be reflective of the brand and its mission, and if we stray too far away from that, growth will be limited. What it all comes down to: Authenticity = trust = loyalty = longevity.

Influencer partnerships are no longer considered optional.

Today, influencers are some of the most important, if not THE most important people in social media. Not only can they greatly increase a brands reach, but you can never forget the power of testimonial. While not every influencer is impactful to every single person, they’re influencers for a reason. They have a tight-knit pack of followers who are interested in the niche that the influencer is thriving in, so influencer recommendations are starting to trump all form of traditional advertising.

Authenticity and influencer partnerships were the strongest takeaways from SMW, but I’ve only scratched the surface on the learnings of the week and will continue to share takeaways with Buzz Bin readers in future posts!

Are you surprised by anything I’ve recapped above? Does it inspire any new ideas to your clients?