ImageAt the Social Shake-Up last week, audience members were not looking at the speakers or panelists. It’s not that they were being rude; on the contrary, they were paying close attention and hanging on every word. They were just busy tweeting at the same time, so much so that #SocialShakeUp was a nationally trending hashtag.

In our collective earnestness to capture every sound bite in 140 characters, we must forego traditional learning tactics like note taking. Does this affect the quality of the key takeaways from the conference? I decided to find out. I looked at all of my tweets from the two-day conference and compiled them into 11 key learnings from 11 different experts:

1) From Liza Landsman of E*Trade I learned that companies should avoid “Big Shiny Objects” – technology that is cool but not relevant to their core business (one example cited was Vine). Also, meaningless “likes” from unengaged people are “empty calories” when determining social ROI; they inflate the numbers but aren’t healthy for the brand.

2) From Jay Bartlett of Xerox (@jay_bartlett) I learned that “Twitter makes us move so much faster.” He described a problem that “started with a tweet” and eventually led to more than 1,000 complaints, but Xerox was ready and quickly fixed it. My takeaway: Don’t be afraid of customers tweeting; they might actually help you identify (and solve) problems faster.

3) From Andrew Bowins of MasterCard (@MasterCardAndy) I learned that MasterCard monitors social feedback in 43 countries and 26 languages, constantly monitoring “what’s happening, what’s trending, and how we can earn our way into the conversation.”  Though most companies probably have smaller social spheres, the thoroughness of the monitoring is instructive.

4) From Wendy Lea of Get Satisfaction (@WendySLea), I learned that “controlling the customer is an illusion… you won’t.” Companies need to do a better job of listening. And when they do talk in social, their “language has to be authentic and genuine” and not full of jargon.

5) From Richard Margetic at Dell (@ByJove) I learned that to “harness the passion” of its employees, Dell ranks them as Advocates, Influencers, and Subject Matter Experts and requires at least 8 hours of internal training before they can talk about the brand in social media. This contrasts with many companies that are afraid to have their employees speak out at all in social media.

6) From Susan Emerick of IBM (@sfemerick) I learned that employees “are the only way to scale social engagement.”  IBM’s advice to employees: “Don’t be an echo gecko. ” Employees are encouraged to “make it their own” instead of parroting the brand message. This empowers employees to a whole new level.

7) From Frank Eliason at Citi (@frankeliason) I learned that  “social media is showing companies for what they are” – both good and bad. Companies have to “fix what’s actually broken” lest they simply bring more people to social media to complain.

8) From Brian Solis of Altimeter Group (@briansolis), described as “the original social rock star” by Social Media Today CEO Robin Carey, I learned that a majority of companies that employ a social media strategy do not link it to business objectives. Marketing companies are taking new technology and applying it to what’s familiar, so they are recycling the same old content in just another medium. He added that social media is most often run by marketing, marketing communications, or public relations, and that companies need to ensure that it is integrated with customer service.

9) From Consultant Brian Vellmure (@BrianVellmure) I learned that “when companies do remarkable things, they create advocates”. I also learned that “your audience doesn’t care about you, they care about them” so it is critical to provide them with value.

10) From Author Emily Yellin (@EYellin) I learned that “you have to pay attention to influencers, but don’t do that to the exclusion of everyone else.” For example, everyone deserves a response to their service inquiry.

11) Finally, from Vanessa DiMauro of Leader Networks (@vdimauro) I learned that in social media, “people come for content and stay for community”. In order to build a lasting relationship with customers, companies need to provide both.

So while I may not recall what any of the speakers looked like since my head was buried in my iPad for most of the time, I am pleased to realize that the learnings I took away from the Social Shake-Up are not just Tweetable – they’re also useful, actionable, and memorable.