What makes a story worth sharing? How can brands learn to create stories worth sharing on social media? And how can they learn to interpret the stories being shaped by the steady stream of live customer data flowing out of social media sites?

The Social Media Influence 2011 conference may not have yielded conclusive answers to these questions. But it did showcase the variety of ways brands are wrestling with such dilemmas.

Warc will shortly publish a brief summary of key themes from the event's morning sessions. For Twitterati, here's the condensed version:

  1. Review whether you need a discrete social media team. Most presenters argued that companies needed to incorporate social media elements into all their activities, not into a specialist unit. "If a story is worth sharing, that is a social media campaign", said Benjamin Faes, head of YouTube and Google EMEA and the opening keynote speaker. The speaker from Sony, however, argued that she still needed a specialist social media agency to deliver parts of Sony's Open Planet Ideas, an open innovation project to encourage sustainable ideas.
  2. There is a lengthening list of mainstream brands that have benefited from shareable branding campaigns. But according to Faes, "the competition is not that big yet". As examples of campaigns built for social media sharing, he referenced campaigns such as Old Spice's The Man Your Man Could Smell Like, Perrier's Can you handle the heat? and Volkswagen's The Force.
  3. Brands should think like modern media companies: offer authentic stories, place these stories where audiences naturally consume content and talk to people continually.
  4. Mobile has added a different element to social media. Twitter is optimised for mobile, Facebook is not and neither are many leading websites. However, some brands are already spurning apps because of the development overheads and Apple royalty costs involved in apps, preferring to optimise their existing websites for mobile use.
  5. S-CRM (Social Customer Relationship Management) is the new buzzword for combining soft social media metrics with more conventional customer records and sales data. But no-one really knows how to do this well in practice yet. Or even what it is.
  6. Let lots of people in your company look at and respond to social media data. Your goal should not be solely to use feedback on Twitter and Facebook to improve your customer service but to exploit it to change the internal culture of your company.

Look out for a fuller report from Social Media Influence 2011 in our Conference Reports section. In the meantime, you can also follow the debate around the conference on Twitter here at #SMI11