Earlier this month, I attended Disney Social Media Moms Celebration On-The-Road, a conference held in Boston and sponsored by Disney, home of Mickey Mouse, Moana, and so much more. I was very excited about this event, as I had heard terrific things about this educational series.
Some background for those who are new to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration (or SMMC): Each year, Disney sponsors a large, invite-only SMMC in Orlando, Florida. Friends who have attended explain that it’s a great way to get an inside peek into the magic that is Disney and to connect with other bloggers and social media influencers. Plus, the gathering includes visits to Disney Parks and learning sessions for those interested in cutting-edge developments in communications, social media, and technology. Since not everyone can attend the Orlando gathering, Disney also sponsors Disney SMMC On-the-Road. During SMMC On-the-Road, Disney shares highlights from its programming to sites around the US, bringing together local bloggers and influencers. At the event I attended in Boston, I was fortunate to see other Boston-area bloggers and to meet influencers from Rhode Island, Maine, and other parts of New England.
The timing for the Boston Disney SMMC was perfect. My family had been to Walt Disney World for vacation about two month before, so I was up to speed on what it is like to visit in “the happiest place on earth.” Additionally, I worked at Walt Disney World during college (best summer job ever!), and was interested in hearing from people who have made a career out of working for the company.
The SMMC On-The-Road I attended was a half-day session and included several speakers who are experienced in social media and work for various parts of Disney. The morning began with an update on Disney Parks, including news about the brand-new Avatar experience in the Animal Kingdom (it opened, of course, right after my family’s vacation there).
We also heard from Jenn Fickley-Baker, editorial manager for the Disney Parks blog (you can find her at @DisneyParksJenn on Twitter), about successful storytelling strategies. Highlights from her talk included:
- Find something you’re passionate about and make that the focus on your writing and/or social media work.
- Where do you show the emotional hook in your storytelling? That hook is where readers will connect with you.
- Be curious – it can make all the difference in the scope of your storytelling.
- Make friends with other storytellers; there is power in collaboration.
- Let your content reflect your personality – be silly, take risks.
- Develop smart time management strategies so you can accomplish your goals.
- Make pushing yourself a priority – hustle!
Alex Ruiz, social media director for Disney (@ruizalex on Twitter), came to the podium next, and he talked about the latest trends in social media. One of the craziest things he said was that a goldfish has a longer average attention span than a human being. Wow, right? He shared this fact to make sure the audience understood how fickle people can be when scrolling through the Internet, especially social media feeds like Instagram and Twitter. Alex’s recommendation, therefore, was to make sure the content you share online is “thumb stopping” – or that it is designed to grab the reader’s attention right away. Bloggers and social media influencers have to “create content that breaks through the noise” of everyday, and to do so, Alex suggested embracing hot strategies like live sessions (think Facebook Live), 360 degree video, and impressive visuals (time to brush up on those photography skills).
One of the other pieces of information Alex shared that I found interesting was that when big companies like Disney look to work with influencers, they look at both those who have big followings and those who have high engagement with their audience. Engagement is increasingly a draw and sometimes even eclipses a large following. In other words, what matters most is the connection you have with your readers and followers—not only the size of that following (think quality over quantity). This creates a space for “micro influencers” to have opportunities to work with top-tier brands. Small can make an impact!
Andrea Roxas of Babble (@BabbleEditors on Twitter) spoke next, and she emphasized the need for mobile-friendly content. Andrea explained that “50% of Babble readers” came to the site via social media and “three out of four” of them read Babble on their phones. Therefore, “micro content,” or content that can be consumed quickly and easily, is a priority for them.
Andrea also spoke about Babble’s recent site overhaul. As part of that process, Babble’s leadership selected four words to describe the site. They chose authentic, inclusive, stimulating, and dynamic, and all of the content on the site must in some way meet this description. Andrea recommended bloggers and social media influencers have a similar process so they have a guiding principle for their work.
One of the other parts of Andrea’s talk that I liked was when she described the many ways Babble repurposes content for its social media streams. They don’t use the same text and photo on Instagram or Pinterest, for example; instead, they create a specific graphic for each medium, which affords Babble the opportunity to apply best practices for each platform.
Next up was Kristyn Merkley, the blogger behind Lil Luna (@LilLunaKristyn on Twitter). “Big things often have small beginnings,” explained Kristyn who started her successful blog as a means to share crafts and family updates and now is a Pinterest power user. “Put your own personal twist on creatives,” she advised, recommending “pretty pictures” to bring in readers and an editorial calendar to make sure you are on track with your planning. Kristyn’s website is filled with recipes and DIY projects, and in her presentation, she shared tips to use Pinterest more effectively, including sharing your content on Pinterest six to eight weeks before you’d like it to show up on the site to comply with Pinterest’s “smart feed” algorithm. She also suggested those looking to have a big presence on Pinterest get a business account and pin regularly.
Paula Faris from ABC News (@paulafaris on Twitter) was the last speaker, and she shared an inside peek on her life as a working mom. The audience was largely filled with parents, so Paula’s tales of making it all work resonated. Plus, Paula was charming and relatable, and people loved her. It was good to have a reminder that no matter how great our content and editorial strategy are we still need to find a way to make our careers and family work together.
The final parts of the event were a Q&A with all of the speakers and a surprise visit from Mickey Mouse (Was it Mickey’s first time in Boston? I wondered).
Disney Social Media Moms Celebration On-The-Road was a fun and informative event, and I was thrilled to be included (Thanks, Disney!). For more information about Disney Social Media Moms, follow @DisneyMoms on Twitter.