Social Media Week LA brought together dozens of industry experts to talk discuss content trends and strategy, and we’ve noted some of our key takeaways below.

Social Listening to Define Content and Strategy

Social listening – taking stock of what people are saying about your brand, competitors, a topic or industry on social media – continues to be a goldmine of information for brands. It’s a way for you to not only glean insights about your existing audience, but also to identify ways to learn about new audiences, spark new campaign ideas and get ahead of potential crises.

Stephanie Nordstrom with Fender explained that, by implementing social listening and better understanding their audience, they grew their fans by 28 percent and added more than one million new fans across social media platforms.

Mitchell Pavao with Leaf Group shared that when his team started focusing on conversations, they gathered insights that ultimately led them to create a new online property to focus on a specific niche – in this case, adorable pet content on Cuteness.com. He explained that making this move ultimately helped them improve Facebook reach, too.

Compelling Social Videos + Defining Your Visual Voice

Video continues to be a hot topic, and brands and content creators are showing no signs of slowing down when it comes to producing videos. Multiple experts discussed how mobile and social video have disrupted traditional television, and it’s no surprise: viewers want to tune in on-the-go, plus we have the ability to watch content across devices at all hours of the day (versus one specific time and on one channel).

When it comes to creating quality video content, a few speakers offered a reminder to start by figuring out who your audience is. Understand their interests and consumption habits, and determine how your brand would fit in.

Chief Creative Officer of Brit + Co Anjelika Temple also explained that it’s important to define your visual voice. How can you do that? She suggested creating physical and digital mood boards, adding images that speak to you and your brand – and getting input from a variety of people in your organization.

The beauty of social media is that it invites dialogue and input from your audience. Joe Perez, the co-founder of Tastemade, explained that receiving community-provided input is key when it comes to creating a “modern media company.” (SoulPancake CEO Shabnam Mogharabi suggests even tapping these potential brand evangelists to be the subject of your video content.)

Perez also underscored that the length and format of videos must be platform-specific; what works on one channel doesn’t necessarily translate to another. For instance, Facebook’s autoplay feature calls for standout images and compelling visuals that make sense without sound.

Content Distribution + Storytelling

With a video uploaded to YouTube every .001 seconds, content distribution is just as important as creating the perfect video. Mogharabi explained: “It doesn’t matter how good the content is if no one sees it.”

Mogharabi tells her staff to “strive to be a virus, not viral,” explaining that virality is great, but once your content peaks, engagement falls off because viewers have nowhere to go from there. How can you avoid being a one-hit wonder? Create a steady drumbeat of content to give viewers something to come back to after a big moment.

She also advised that if you do focus on a hero piece of content and strive for a viral moment, then you must have hero distribution to go along with it. That means pulling out all the stops to leverage the moment: support it with media buys, PR, Facebook boosted posts and influencer distribution.

Pavao also encouraged brands to self-reflect when it comes to creating content and storytelling: What differentiates your brand from others? How are you better than other brands? How do you tell your story to your audience – are you snarky, funny, providing news or something else? Once you have those insights, you can refine your message and determine how to execute.

Thanks to the organizers of Social Media Week for putting on another great event where we learned valuable insights from industry leaders!