Social Matters 2014: Highlights from Day 1

This post was written by Candace Ngok, Regional Digital Strategist in Hong Kong.

#HongKong trending on the global stage seems to be a frequent occurrence as of late – and you might’ve noticed a new topic burst onto the scene since yesterday, #SocialMatters.

As the 3rd annual Social Matters kicked off yesterday, one of the biggest questions of content creation was tackled head on in our Day 1 sessions. Our global Managing Director Thomas Crampton, began by asking each of the guests for a rant: Reha Alev (Content Factory & Digital Communications Manager of Ford) called brand newsrooms ‘an overblown fad’; Alex Light (VICE Australia’s Head of Content) called traditional advertising ‘annoying’ and said ‘there is no place for it in the world today’; Fergus Hay (Managing Director of Social @ Ogilvy’s in APAC) took aim at the industry’s use of ‘content’ as an ill-defined buzzword; Maria Rondon of Associated Press lamented that there was simply too much of the stuff, now that everyone with a smartphone is now a content producer.

Which is interesting, because each of the panelists appeared to be arguing against their own jobs. They moved quickly (and at Crampton’s urging) to arguing amongst themselves, showing that the lines between brands, audiences and journalists are not so much blurred, as they are falling-down drunk.

Light maintained that the separation of (editorial) church and sales (state) was key to maintaining the publisher’s credibility and authenticity. Hay put forth the argument that brands are too fixed on their own story to be truly engaging (he also said that agencies are too fixed on their own in-house talent pool to respond quickly enough to a changing audience landscape). Rondon positioned AP as a ‘content shop’, with stories and topics available for purchase by agencies and brands to re-purpose as they see fit.

The disagree-athon came to a screeching halt, however, when a member of the audience asked where the audience (yes, it got a bit meta) sits in these different content-creation models. The answer, to a man (and a woman) was: the audience comes first.

For more insights from Social Matters on content creation, how about a secret-formula from Zach King, our expert panelists on Day 1 and king of Vine: