Silicon Beach: Social Media Club South Florida, October Edition

This month's Social Media Club South Florida (SMCSF) was held October 13 at City Year headquarters in downtown Miami, followed by some socializing at Tobacco Road.

A panel of advertising, public relations, and marketing specialists led the discussion on "Who Owns Social Media?" Moderated by Angie Moncada (@angiemoncada), the panel included Michelle Catin, digital media manager for RBB Public Relations; Alberto Padron, director of integrated marketing for Zubi Advertising; Jacques Hart, CEO at Roar Media; Andrea Davidowitz, community manager for Citrix; and Britt Peemoller, account manager for PorterNovelli.

This was the first time SMCSF used a projector to display live tweets. Audience members participated in the panel by posting questions or comments to Twitter followed by the hashtag #wosm. Those who didn't make it to the meeting could also follow online.

This edition of SMCSF was shop talk for anyone who wants to sell anything using social media, but it definitely wasn't a panel for newbies. Everyone agreed that advertising, public relations, and marketing pros can no longer ignore social media. "It's professional suicide for any marketer to not get their arms around this," said Hart of Roar Media. "There has been a paradigm shift. Today you can cut out the middleman and reach consumers directly."

Reputation management also came up, using the now-infamous Domino's Pizza incident when a YouTube video of an employee sneezing on and then serving a pizza went viral. Domino's did issue public apologies but took too long. Everyone concurred that companies need to listen to all the chatter out there. It's dangerous for companies not to listen, and even more dangerous for them not to engage their social media audiences.

"Social media grows. It's a big monster," said Padron of Zubi. "It's nothing like direct marketing. Things can morph."

Hart agreed. "Social media has just eclipsed porn as top activity online," he said. "In Florida alone, there are about 1 million Facebook users."

Although each panelist had his or her own thoughts about who owns social media from a professional perspective -- be it the PR account exec, the marketing ace, or the ad agency -- it was Hart from Roar who gave the most democratic example by citing the Time magazine cover in which YOU were the person of the year. Yours truly couldn't agree more.

Anyone who wants to get any kind of message out can no longer live in a vacuum and ignore the vast machinery of social online communication. You don't need to be a PR pro to know that.

Social media is owned by no one and everyone.

To check out some of the conversation, do a Twitter search for #wosm and #smcsfl.

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