7 Takeaways & Action Items from Upstate Social 2019

Me & Elise Miklich before our presentation: “Make Your Content Work for You: 10 Tips for Overwhelmed Small Business Owners”

Me & Elise Miklich before our presentation: “Make Your Content Work for You: 10 Tips for Overwhelmed Small Business Owners”

Last week in Rochester, social media beginners, fanatics, and experts alike gathered at the Temple Building downtown for the 5th annual Upstate Social Sessions, the largest social media conference in New York State outside of New York City. It’s jointly founded and run by two badass women, Danielle Raymo and Leah Stacy. This year was the first time the event spanned two full days, and it was jam-packed with great #content. Seriously, the word content was said so many times I started to forget what it means.

It’s easy to attend a conference, walk away with a head full of ideas, and head back to work inspired, but lacking time to implement it. So here’s a list for you of 7 key takeaways from the event and 7 action items you can tackle to start putting that knowledge to work!

Takeaway 1: It’s about conversation, not content.

It’s important to make your followers feel valued and like the brand cares about them. Be active when they’re active. Have conversations with them. As the human behind the CornNuts Twitter says, “People want to feel seen and rewarded.”

Action Item:

Take a step back and try to reframe your approach to social media. It’s not about pushing out endless content that promotes your brand. Instead, it’s about starting conversations with an audience who is genuinely interested in the same things as you. Take one social post you’d already planned for this week, and make it more conversational. Does the tone need to be tweaked? Can you ask your followers a question? How can you make it more about conversation than content?

→ Takeaway 2: Tailor your voice across each platform based on the demographics of your audience.

As we learned from Bon Appetit’s social media editor, you’ll want to adjust your brand voice slightly from platform to platform to cater to the audience that’s there. On their Facebook page, they are a bit more straightforward, catering to the 50-something crowd. Their Twitter feed has a more jokey feel, while Instagram is more playful due to the younger audience there.

Action Item:

Step back and do a quick audit of your voice across social platforms. How do you sound on Facebook? What demographic are you reaching there. How about Twitter? Instagram? If it’s exactly the same on all three, but you’re reaching a different demographic in each place, start brainstorming how you can adjust the voice in small ways that will resonate more with each segment of your audience. Does it need more humor somewhere? Should it be more concise and direct? Experiment and see what works.

No matter the industry, we’re all bound to run into some hissing & scratching online.

No matter the industry, we’re all bound to run into some hissing & scratching online.

→ Takeaway 3: Use facts and empathy when dealing with negative comments.

Paige Doerner of Lollypop Farm reminds us that we share common ground with negative commenters: we’re both passionate about our cause! Keep that in mind while you’re drafting your response, and remember that your dedicated community is watching too.

Action Item:

Respond to one troll this week (or month) using facts and empathy. Even though comments may feel personal when they come in, step back and remember they aren’t. Prepare a thoughtful response based on the facts and show empathy for the commenter. Try starting with “Thank you for your concern” to demonstrate that you appreciate their passion for your cause.

→ Takeaway 4: Be human and be vulnerable.

This theme came up during multiple sessions. People are looking for authentic connection online, far more so than curated content, so give the people what they want!

Action Item:

Take a moment to write down what being vulnerable means for you. It’s not going to look the same for everyone. How can you be authentic as an individual? As a brand? Find a way to be true to yourself online, whatever that looks like. Maybe it’s as simple as being open and frank when connecting with another business owner, sharing your struggles and learning from each other, as my co-presenter Elise Miklich encouraged folks to do!

→ Takeaway 5: Be proactive. 

Plan out your social media posts well in advance, and utilize a scheduling tool so you can manage your time more efficiently.

Action Item:

Put an hour on your calendar this week to plan your social media posts and schedule them. If you don’t use a scheduling tool already, use that time to research your options and pick one out! Check out some options here.

Creativity is key.

Creativity is key.

→ Takeaway 6: Creativity gets a product in front of consumers.

Famous TikTokker Chaz Bruce showed us all how his creative and fun ideas gathered tons of attention from followers and brands alike. It may be challenging to make creative content consistently, but it’s worth it!

Action Item:

Get your creative juices flowing. Walk away from your desk and go to a yoga class, take a walk, listen to music, or chat with an old friend. Anything that stimulates your brain is a great option! Breaking free from your routine may help you develop a fresh new approach.

Yes, please to humor!

Yes, please to humor!

→ Takeaway 7: Don’t be afraid to use humor in your social media.

Humor was mentioned in several sessions. It goes hand in hand with being human and tailoring your voice! Social media is meant to be social, so it’s definitely okay to have fun 😊

Action Item:

Take one social post you already have planned for the week, and find a way to put a funny spin on it. You’re not trying to get your own Netflix comedy special, so don’t feel like you have to try too hard. Just draft something witty and run with it. Make sure to review how the post performs and assess whether that type of humor resonated with your audience or not! From there, you can keep on making adjustments and trying new things to better cater to your audience.


I hope you found these takeaways and action items useful. What did you learn at Upstate Social that you’ll be implementing soon? I’d love to hear! Tweet me at @servemethesky.