TED Talks are a great way to learn about new developments in your industry and smarter ways of working. I spent 10 hours hunting down the best TED Talks for social media marketers—so you don’t have to.
In this post, you’ll find TED Talks that will teach you how to:
- Make your ideas spread (from one of the world’s best marketers)
- Understand why certain types of video go viral with insights from YouTube’s trends manager, Kevin Allocca
- Find more free time and balance in your schedule with smarter time management
Continue reading for a list of our favorite TED Talks that can make you a better social media marketer.
Strategist and author Tim Leberecht opens his TED Talk with the quote “Your brand is what other people say about you when you aren’t in the room.”
He explains that brands need to come to terms with the fact that they have little power over their own reputation and “if you’re relevant, there’s a constant, free-form conversation happening about you that you have no control over.”
According to Leberecht, there are three ways businesses can positively lose control of their brands and create more meaningful experiences for their customers:
- Give people more control. This means trusting your employees and your customers to collaborate towards better solutions.
- Give people less control (and more meaning.) Trust is earned by predictable behavior, so this is a wonderful way to counter the abundance of choice customers face every day.
- Be transparent. Staying true to the brand’s self is the only true value proposition. As Leberecht says, “Openness is paramount but radical openness is not a solution.” He suggests each brand find the level of transparency that works for them.
Design thinker Tristan Harris wants to figure out how technology can help us avoid distraction and spend our time more efficiently.
Harris shares his ideas surrounding the notion of choice. As he explains, “We want to have a relationship with technology that gives us back choice about how we spend time with it.”
The constant interruptions involved in work and life cause serious harm to attention spans, and Harris wants to show how technology can fix this.
Harris’ theories focus on one core metric: net positive contribution to human life. He calls for a world where all designers are first and foremost asking themselves how their creations will positively impact the lives of real human beings.
Social media marketers need to be constantly thinking about how their content is creating more meaningful interactions and, with Harris’ philosophy, this can become top of mind.
If you’re a social media marketer you might be scoffing and asking, “What free time?” Time management expert Laura Vanderkam has your back. She believes successful time management is not about finding more hours in the day, but about figuring out where your priorities lie.
Her ideas hinge on the importance of work-life balance and helping people find time for what matters most. Vanderkam provides two key steps for figuring out exactly what your priorities are. You can apply this approach to any areas of your life, whether it be your social strategy or your personal growth.
- Pretend you are one year in the future. Write next year’s performance review as if you are looking back on the year. What were the things that made it so amazing? What did you accomplish? When you know what a successful year looks like to you, it’s easier to carve a path in advance.
- Break down your goals into doable steps. Treat these goals as priorities, and put them into your schedule. Make a three category list including career, relationship, and self-improvement goals, and see where you can make time to work on these.
Concentrating on your social media efforts is difficult when you feel strapped for time and under pressure. Apply Vanderkam’s approach to your work and personal life to find “small moments with great power.”
Social media marketers know the importance of writing and editing. One typo can change your content’s meaning and distract from your message. Nobody knows this better than the New Yorker’s copy editor, Mary Norris.
In her TED Talk, Norris explains the level of detail that goes into copy editing and the processes surrounding the art. When this process is rushed or ignored, the copy editor’s work is at the mercy of public critics.
Social media marketers understand this pressure well. With every tweet and Instagram caption you write, there’s always the terrifying possibility of a glaring typo or grammatical error. Explore the ways Norris has made peace with her work—and how you can too.
While the art of storytelling hasn’t wavered, the chosen format has evolved. Hearst Magazine’s chief digital content officer Andrew Fitzgerald (previously Twitter Moments Editor) explores the ways microblogging platforms like Twitter are changing the landscape of media and content sharing.
Fitzgerald is most interested in how “creative people are experimenting with the bounds of what is possible in this medium.” As a social media marketer, telling your brand’s story within the confines of each platform’s limits is a constant challenge.
If you’re tweeting, using Instagram Stories, or posting to Snapchat, real-time storytelling is something you need to consider. Fitzgerald explores the blurring between fact and fiction, real and digital worlds, and the tools we have available to us in our search for creative experimentation. Watch his TED Talk for inspiration and examples surrounding these ideas.
If you want your audience to take action, you need to find a way to get your ideas to spread. Author Seth Godin walks audience members through a series of examples where seemingly simple concepts have spread like wildfire.
According to Godin, brands need to find a group that cares about what they have to say. Talk to them. And then make it easy for them to want to tell their friends.
As Godin says, “It’s really simple—you sell to the people who are listening, and just maybe, those people tell their friends.”
Nobody knows the answer to this better than YouTube’s trends manager, Kevin Allocca. If you’re a social media marketer looking to get your video content in front of a bigger audience, you’ll want to take note of Allocca’s three key reasons a video goes viral:
- The influence of tastemakers—The people who are influencing their audience and seen as authorities in the industry have huge power. For more on influencer marketing, check out our post Influencer Marketing on Social Media: Everything You Need to Know.
- Community participation—It’s key that your content inspires some sort of reaction from your audience. Read more about creating engaging content with our post How to Use Social Media to Engage With Customers and Build Your Brand.
- Unexpectedness—Branded content can get boring fast. Keep your audience engaged and constantly surprised by providing unexpected content on the regular. Learn more with our post How Big Brands Are Using Humor on Social Media (and Why You Should Too).
TED Talks are a great way for any social media marketer to discover new ways of approaching their craft. Take a look at the ones above, and let us know of any others you have found valuable.
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