Brains on Fire President Robbin Phillips has some tough news for brands: “People don’t want to talk about you.” What they want to talk about is their lives. That’s why it’s so important for brands to understand how to fit into customer passions and interests.

In her presentation at’s Brands-Only Summit, Robbin talks about the data-driven mentality that dominates social media marketing. She says that brands are so obsessed with getting on the newest social channels and gaining millions of followers, they forget to prioritize people before numbers. Robbin encourages marketers to focus on customers instead to form deeper connections and spark meaningful engagement.

Here are three key takeaways from her presentation:

  • Focus on the people, not the product. When scissors manufacturer Fiskars complained to Robbin about the lack of ways to brand their ordinary merchandise, the team at Brains on Fire encouraged them to think beyond the product.
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For Debbie Curtis-Magley, Director of SAP Cross-Cloud Social and Community at Ariba, social channels are great tools for handling company crises. While most brands define social media ROI as “return on investment,” some see it as “rescue of image.”

In her presentation at’s Brands-Only Summit, Debbie discusses three different crisis management scenarios in which social media can help.

Here is a quick breakdown:

  • Critical crises: Debbie explains that the social media team will most likely be the first to see an issue come up. It’s their job to alert PR, who will act as the company’s main voice.
  • Employee misbehavior: Debbie shares the steps for using social to handle these situations: Team members acknowledge the issue, provide the relevant contact information, and listen to feedback.
  • Customer chaos: When customer emotions run high, it’s best to prevent any kind of engagement that could tip them overboard. Debbie warns to avoid humor and stay clear of trolls.
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“The world doesn’t need more content,” says Kevin Hunt, corporate social media manager for General Mills. “It needs more interesting content.” But, as he admits, social media content strategy is a bit more complex than that.

In his presentation at’s Brands-Only Summit, Kevin gives a quick lesson on the fundamentals of managing a social media content strategy. He discusses General Mills’ methods for sourcing great content, choosing social platforms and developing a program calendar. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Use your employees. Sometimes, the best content comes from internal divisions and brands. Kevin suggests identifying employees who can serve as inspiration or contributors for posts.
  • Look to the marketplace. Kevin encourages social media managers to brainstorm with client-side departments, like consumer services or sales, for ideas. These people are interacting with customers every day and understand the kind of content they want to see.
  • Ask your audience. Don’t know what your customers want to read?
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It’s hard out there in social media for regulated industries like healthcare. UnitedHealth Group for example, has to carefully craft their responses to customers in social media to comply with legal requirements.

According to Rachel Medina, their senior communications specialist, they’re making progress with reaching customers despite these strict rules. In her presentation at‘s BlogWell conference, she explains it’s all a part of following HIPAA regulations while trying to do more for their customers in social media.

Here are three key points from her presentation:

  • Members come first, and social comes second. Rachel admits that healthcare in social media isn’t sexy. But to UnitedHealth Group, it’s not about having the most innovative campaign or making a viral video. It’s about meeting their customers where they want to interact with the company.
  • Create a pilot program to help with executive buy-in. Rachel explains that by reallocating a few employees from the call center and keeping costs low, they were able to make the case for social media while leaving room to make mistakes.
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Since the FTC updated their social media guidelines last year, a lot of social marketers have a lot of questions about staying legal. The bottom line: It all comes down to proper disclosure.

In his presentation at‘s BlogWell conference, Andy Sernovitz explains why paying for social media coverage makes a sticky situation that requires the right kind of disclosure. But he also shares why doing disclosure right is easy.

Here are three ways you can make a habit of staying ethical in social media:

  • Use these 10 magic words: “I work for (company) and this is my personal opinion.” When you’re open and honest about who you are, it not only keeps you out of legal trouble, but can also help your credibility.
  • Make it clear and conspicuous: The FTC doesn’t give social media marketers a script to follow. Instead, they require marketers to just be upfront about disclosure in a way that’s easy to understand and easy to see.
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