speakers_2In a panel discussion on the future of social media and its integration with the web, several questions were asked to panel participants from Urban Outfitters, Jetblue, Under Armour and start-up company Reevo.

Panelists described their objective for social media as bringing humanity back, customer support and showing personality of the brand and even personality of the store location. Most of the panelists also used several social channels, namely the usual suspects – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn. One new mention was on Twitter’s shortened video app, Vine.

It was clear from all panelists that each of the channels adds a different purpose and value to their brand. “We use Twitter for a variety of things” Dan Mecchi from UnderArmour said, “We do flash sales through Twitter, every once in a while we turn it over to one of our athletes like Deon Sanders. We wouldn’t have that flexibility on something like Facebook.”

When asked about device integrations and where panelists were seeing value, Steve Hartman of Urban Outfitters responded “With our brand, we have a lot of experience in store… [and we try to mimic the same online] we do some of that with product recommendations.”

The always-popular question that everyone in the audience leaned forward to hear the answer to was “How do you measure ROI with social programs?” Everyone had an indirect response, namely the vendor Reevo “We don’t get paid unless we can provide ROI. Across our customer base, it’s an average of about 18%. [And] if you put social content through to your website, you can increase your SEO” Richard Anson said.

Finally, the panelists were asked how else they drive a line between social and ecommerce. “We’re not a discount brand. But we do use Twitter to do things like flash sales”, Dan said. And as a great example for why most C-levelers don’t see the value of social commerce, Steve chimed in – “It’s no surprise, conversion rates are extremely low. People are generally not cruising Twitter or Facebook thinking what am I going to buy next?”