AKHIA attended the 9th annual YouToo Social Media Conference this month, and as in years past, the day-long session offered valuable insight into the current state of social: what’s working, what isn’t, and how brands, journalists, advertisers and marketers can all be using the power of social to their advantage.

A few themes seemed to carry throughout the day—that authenticity should be the driving ethos behind all social endeavors, and that the days when “social media” was a single person’s job are long behind us.

In that spirit, AKHIA’s Lukas Treu, Mary Flenner and Samantha Tuly—from AKHIA’s Optimization, Creative and Account Service teams respectively—attended the event. Here are their takeaways:


Mary Flenner
Senior Copywriter

YouToo 2016 offered plenty to take in. My overall reaction? Inspiring speakers and plenty of good advice, from specific social tips and suggestions to overall career advice.

I think everyone in the room was very impressed with keynote speaker Scott Monty, who focused a lot on understanding the way people think and act and linking marketing to the human condition.  “In every marketer and communicator there needs to be a deep understanding of human nature and what drives us,” he said. “Social media and digital may have made leaps in the last 10 years, but we’re still the same humans we’ve been for thousands of years.” The two biggest things a person can give you are their full attention and trust, he added—and in the social space, we can’t afford to betray either of those things.

Kyle Michael Miller, who runs social for the Today Show, shared some practical tips on how to make your social content stand out and succeed:

  • Social content should be two things: shareable and digestible
  • It’s all about a good tease image—it’ll make your post stand out in a feed. Miller specifically noted that radical transformations and extreme reactions are two things that many people can’t get enough of.
  • Analytics should drive
  • Be an expert for your brand




Lukas Treu
Lead, Content Strategy

The most valuable stuff we heard at YouToo can be grouped into three categories: Analytics, Consistency, and Internal Communications.

Analytics. I appreciated a focus on analytics at the conference, as I think that is sometimes overlooked in the social media realm as we get obsessed with vanity metrics (Likes, followers, etc.) and ill-defined “engagement.” Marketers should constantly be consulting analytics and targeting messages based on results. There was even a whole session by Dr. Kathleen Stansberry of Cleveland State University that talked about social media analytics tools for PR pros. She had a great handout that listed platform-specific analytics programs, UX tools, social listening platforms, influence identification tools, online network analysis tools and mobile tracking software. I love a useful handout, so I was pumped! The bottom line of all of this? You can’t be satisfied with just collecting data and never analyzing it… if it isn’t driving decisions, it is useless.

Consistency. Scott Monty was indeed fabulous, and had the entire room riveted. He talked a lot about the value of trust and attention, and how they are scarce resources among audiences. Brand communicators need to remember this, and never take either for granted. Also, Scott pointed out that, though we get excited about one-off message successes (see: Oreo’s “you can still dunk in the dark” tweet), people miss the fact that Oreo had built up a strong team, a consistent track record of timely social media successes and was generally successful because of a long-term commitment to creative content, not a “lucky” success. A good strategy for success is always better than hoping for a lucky jackpot.

Internal Communications. Amy Dolzine of Ernst & Young presented on social media use for internal communications, which I think is a very timely topic. I was asked the day before the conference by a client what one major trend for 2016 is for marketers, and I said, “A focus on getting internal communications right.” It’s a discussion we’re having with numerous clients right now, and many are looking to programs like Slack, Yammer, Trello and others to streamline discussions across large, spread-out groups of coworkers. In a global economy, it’s essential… and it is important to remember to tailor communication tool choices to suit all users, remembering that we don’t all have the same sorts of jobs or working environments even within the same company. Amy talked about how Ernst & Young had become the second biggest user of Yammer (a Microsoft internal social communication tool) in the country, and it is making a great positive impact on collaboration due to dedicated usage and good moderation by community managers.



Samantha Tuly
Assistant Account Executive

Echoing Mary’s sentiments, authenticity was a major theme at the conference. Both Kyle Michael Miller and Scott Monty spoke about the necessity of being likeable when speaking to an audience. A brand must be relatable in order to capture hearts. Miller’s main cases for authenticity lied in Today show clips that contained unplanned emotion—these, he said, were by far the more favored of users. In order to elicit a desired response for your audience, Monty preached a need for authentic, responsive and compelling content.

Keynote speaker Scott Monty also stressed the need to make our content not only digestible, but relevant to our audiences. He noted that year-to-year, there is 41 percent growth in ad-blocking—a statistic he attributes to failure to engage an audience. What we might view as content, our targets too often view as spam. Making concise, interesting content that provides value leads to stronger ties with your brand.

And as Lukas pointed out, we need to start saying no to likes and shares. The conference brought an obvious, but at times unavoidable, classic mistake for PR practitioners to the forefront: Likes and Shares aren’t real data. Scott Monty says that likes are the ‘grunt’ of social media—asking consumers to put in the least amount of effort possible. It’s essential to stop looking at these faux-analytics and delve into the real stuff. Kathleen Stansberry urged attendees to do more than collect data, and to put effort into understanding what these numbers actually mean. She also shared a ton of wonderful sites to start poking into analytics; see the bottom of this post to find them.




Conversation mapping: