What makes the SOCAP conference so unique? Well, SOCAP is one of the few conferences that brings together brands from a multitude of industries in hopes of improving customer care and developing stronger customer relationships. 

Last week, I was given the opportunity from Marjorie Bynum and Matthew D'Uva to attend the annual SOCAP Conference. In addition to an informative conference, attendees were treated to some great networking events, including the Telerex party and the closing SOCAP party. 

What is SOCAP?

SOCAP or Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals in Business is an organization focused on educating companies on customer care and relationships. Although social media is a hot topic for most organizations, it can get a bit draining and overwhelming to attend yet another social media conference. 

SOCAP is not yet another social media conference, but a customer strategy conference with members ranging from Sara Lee to Crayola, Dole to Johnson and Johnson, Enerigizer to General Mills and pretty much any other brand you can think of.

Keys from the Keynotes

The event opened with a keynote from Charlene Li of Altimeter Group who highlighted the three key areas where organizations need to focus for success -- leadership, strategy and preparedness.

Throughout the conference, a number of people spoke. Donald Knauss, the CEO of Clorox, announced that the most helpful thing for the C-suite, when it comes to social and traditional media, is to have a dashboard that provides weekly feedback on various channels that allow them to gain a sense of how the company is performing.

Dan Roam, author of Back of the Napkin, took the audience on an exciting journey through visualizing information with one message -- “he who draws the best pictures wins." In other words, if you can explain and clarify your points better than anybody else, people will work with you.

One presentation that stood out was led by Rob Michalak of Ben and Jerry's and Sue Holden of Seventh Generation who discussed building loyalty through sustainable customer engagement. Both Rob and Sue showed how their companies are having candid conversations with customers, not just around company and customer issues, but around world, political, and local issues. 

Finally, John Gerzema, the chief insights officer of Young & Rubicam, explained how small farmers and business owners were helping each other when starting new business throughout the country during tough economic times. 

A Shifting and Growing Landscape

Most of the attendees were not from marketing, PR or social media departments -- instead they were from customer care or call center departments and were all interested in social media and how it pertains to what they do. Quite an interesting shift since, quite often, it's the PR and marketing people found at these conferences.

As beneficial as the conference was, the concept of Social CRM or social business was not mentioned. Most of the companies were looking at "social" in terms of specific channels and were quite lax when it came to metrics. In fact, 20% of all SOCAP members were not monitoring social media in any way shape or form and 63% of the members defined social media simply as a community that allows audience input and contribution. 

After attending the SOCAP conference, I highly recommend you encourage your organization to look at joining the SOCAP community.