TECHNOLOGY: Digital + Social Media VM CLICK Conference Focuses on Social Influence By Staff Friday, October 14, 2011 11:00 AM Download the Following CLICK Speaker Presentations: Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD, Bright Eyes Family Vision Care Suzanne Berardi-Gould, Doctors Vision Center Daniel Feldman, DBA Communications Tim Welch, eMarketing/PrizeLogic/Nomadic Tony Hessburg, ELEVEN Greg Hicks, OD, Director Professional Relations, Hoya Free-Form Company Vision Monday has ten exclusive videos from the 2nd Annual CLICK Conference available for view on the new VM Video page. Click here to view the videos. Click here to view a slideshow of the event. LAS VEGAS—Vision Monday held its 2nd Annual CLICK conference, titled “Social Circles,” at the Sands/Venetian Convention Center just prior to the start of International Vision Expo West. The focus of this year’s conference, sponsored by The Hoya Free-Form Company, was the expanding influence of digital media and how social influence is changing brands’ and eyecare businesses’ profiles on the web. After opening remarks from the CEO of Jobson’s Information Services, Marc Ferrara and SVP/editorial director of Vision Monday, Marge Axelrad, nearly 200 attendees were treated to presentations from speakers from within the eyecare professional community who talked about what’s working best for them. “I absolutely hate Vegas, so it takes something really special to get me out here and this event is it,” said speaker Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD of Bright Eyes Tampa. “With 750 million people on Facebook at least some of them are your patients. This is completely mainstream now. It’s organized and there are people to help you. It’s no longer ‘Are you ready for social media?’ It's ‘Social media is ready for you.’ It’s not just the geeky social influencers of a few years ago anymore; it’s moms and dads and grandmas.” Suzanne Berardi-Gould, director of creative services for the 43 location Doctors Vision Center spoke about her organizations four-month old digital media campaign and how they got it started. “We redefined our marketing plan. We wanted to directly engage with our patients but we also had to engage with our doctors and our staff. They were a key ingredient, so we had digital workshops to educate them.” And that education is constant. “One thing we know is that social media moves fast; it’s like a 24-hour network news. We had to try a lot of things. Some work, some don’t, but you have to experiment,” she added. Next, Gregory Hicks, OD, of Family Eye Care Centers and the director of professional affairs for event sponsor, The Hoya Free-Form Company, gave the audience a brief message about the importance of supporting the social media efforts of its customers. “What Hoya is trying to do is provide lots of tools that all provide meaningful content for you to use in your own online tools.” The conference concluded with a panel of web and digital media experts that discussed trends and offer their insights into the opportunities and messages for eyecare and optical retailers’ social media participation. Tony Hessburg, president and strategic director ELEVEN, is a Twin Cities-based company offering strategic branding, marketing and interactive services, spoke about the importance of social media as a marketing tool. “The first step is to understanding that your business is a brand. Social media interactive marketing is a two-way street. At any given time, your audience can opt in or out,” he shared. “Social media is not an advertising channel but a means to forge direct communication with consumers in a personal way.” While Daniel Feldman, CEO of DBA Communications, a Denver-based web design, social networking, advertising, and marketing firm, quantified, “If the average person has 135 friends on Facebook, every time they hit the ‘Like’ button they are telling 135 people that they ‘like’ doing business with you. Social media is a marketing tool and the person you put in charge needs to have a marketing mindset.” “People are gonna say bad things about you,” added Tim Welch, managing partner of eMarketing|PrizeLogic, a series of agencies involved in digital branding, interactive campaigns, online promotions, marketing, website and content management. “But as long as you have enough people saying good things about you, those bad things will get pushed to the bottom and will go away. Allowing people to engage in your brands is very important.” During the panel discussion, Richard Mueller, creative & technical interactive director of ELEVEN, helped wrap up the conference by addressing the topic on many attendees minds—how do you measure it—social media’s efficacy when it comes to your bottom line? “In social media the ROI isn’t so much measured in dollars but in the relationships you build, your ‘army of evangelists’ who believe in your brand. Those genuine interactions are what drive the return on investment.” Look for more coverage of the CLICK conference “Social Circles,” including videos and interviews, in the October editions of the CLICK e-newsletter and online on VisionMonday.com.