Last week, Carolyn and I headed over to SAScon Mini – a search, analytics and social media conference taking place in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. A spin-off from the original SAScon, the one-day event keeps the digital and marketing community topped up with debate and discussion ahead of the main event taking place in June.
Now in its fifth year, the event no longer seems quite so ‘mini’ with 230 attendees at last week’s event. The theme for this year was the ‘convergence of social, PR and search, exploring innovation in search and social media’ – no ‘mini’ topic by any means. Despite feeling a bit dazed when rifling through the delegate list, SAScon Mini really is relaxed with each session lasting roughly an hour or less. The presentations themselves are quite mixed too, from the more straight-forward key-note speakers to the varied, audience-involved panel discussions.
One of the most interesting talks during the day was from Dominic Burch, Head of Social at Asda, who discussed why content and context are the key to making meaningful social connections. You may have a huge following but it doesn’t mean anything if your followers – whether on Twitter, Facebook, etc – aren’t relevant. It’s far better to have a niche circle that is interested in what you have to say and that you can communicate appropriate information to, eliciting a response and some form of interaction.
Another one of the presentations was from Tom New at The E Word who chatted through the trials and tribulations of online and ecommerce forms. Everybody in the room had a frustrating experience to recount, whether it was confusing CAPTCHA (the obscured text websites ask you to type in to prove you aren’t a robot), returning to the form after several minutes to find all the information deleted, or having to give away personal details for no explained reason. Given this, it’s no surprise that some 70% of forms are abandoned before completion.
Lastly, one of the most awaited topics from the day was the much discussed role of PR versus SEO and how, as these two worlds come closer together, we can make them work more harmoniously. Increasingly, PRs need to become a little more SEO savvy but it was interesting to hear that equally, those working in SEO are becoming more aware of the story and how to pitch in to journalists. It might be a couple more years before we get there but discussions like these definitely show progress as SEO and PR become increasingly related.
Of course no conference would be complete without a social and it was great to catch up with so many familiar faces over a pint afterwards. Looking forward to seeing you all at SAScon in June!
Lizzie is an Associate Director in the Manchester team