Friday saw more than 1000 marketers attending the Content Marketing Show in Logan Hall at the Institute of Education in London.
The wifi password was 'going underground' but despite the dearth of natural light in the basement auditorium the unexpectedly clement weather (yeah I know it's the end of May but someone forget to let the weather Gods know) meant all the attendees and speakers had a decidedly sunny outlook.
Suitably caffeinated and netbook battery fully charged I took my place I the auditorium. What follows are my notes from the sessions. Before we jump in I'd like to thank Kelvin Newman, his fantastic team and of course the sponsors for putting on yet another fantastic (and FREE) event - well done guys and girls! Additionally, big love to Cheri who was also there taking notes and came to the rescue when my battery died.
Danny Denhard - Sir Alex Ferguson's Guide to Building the Best Content Team
Qualities – safe hands, attention to detail, great agility
Qualities – agile, strong, athletic, intelligent
Qualities – on field leaders, communicators
Qualities – tenacious, often under-rated, work for the team
Qualities – creative, PR, design/coordination, driving the team forward and assisting others.
Qualities – goal driven, money earners, match winners. You need one striker for every project – they work independently to deliver what’s needed.
Natural born leaders
Beacuse every team needs a true leader.
- Know when to make a sub when it comes to projects
- Make sure your subs are fully-prepped
- Rotate your squad to keep things fresh
- Don’t just strive for links – make the project last until the final whistle – over-achieve
- Some of your best players can and do leave
- So nuture and build everyone on the team
- Always know your goals & concentrate on the right trophies
- Be part of the bigger picture your aim should be to build a brand
Laura Edwards – How to Create Content People Want to Share
Nitter Natter founder Laura Edwards changed things up by presenting with a video running in the background, rather than having a traditional slide deck. Pretty damn cool, huh? The video is embedded above and also includes her audio track so you can essentially see her whole presentation right here.
At the heart of Laura's presentation was getting your content to stand out. After all content is everywhere.
Shareable content requires investment and effort. Make sure your budget and resources are relative to what you want (or need) to deliver.
Laura highlighted a mistake that many companies make - namely having an intern managing the blog, or worse, using services like textbroker to create $5 content. It probably won’t be enough to stand out.
Good content takes effort and coordination. She advcates getting niche and carrying out research to figure out who you’re trying to target. What do they like and share already?
NitterNatter use Radian6 however she also recommends the following other tools if you're on a budget: Addictomatic, Viralheat, PeopleBrowsr, GoogleTrends, Topsy, IceRocket, TrendsMap, TweetReach, SocialMention and TwitterCounter.
Once you've figured out what's already being talked about, you can determine what you can create to add to the conversation.
She warns against being too topical - e.g. creating content for things like Valentine's day can make it difficult to stand out in a sea of similar content.
Finally Laura highlighted that it's really easy to fall at the final hurdle when it comes to sharing mechanisms. For example many brands include twitter or facebook icons on their packaging, but don't actually include their handles or URLs. Additionally they don't give people a reason to follow them via social media. Similarly consider your placement of social buttons on your blog or content areas of your site. Sharing buttons should always be placed near the top rather than at the end of the content. They moved their client's share buttons from the bottom of posts to the top and saw a 40% increase in social shares over a two week period.
Dan Fielder -Developing an Editorial Mindset in a Non-Editorial BusinessDan Fielder works for Sticky Content.
Some of the big consumer brands have budgets and resources e.g. Red Bull. However B2B marketers are often struggling to create and plan content even though the appetite is there.
So how do B2B’s do it?
Dan thinks it's all about finding an appropriate niche. He told a story about a nappy provider who wanted to be the go-to resource for choosing kids schools; noble perhaps but he highlighted that they're probably not qualified to do that.
Instead he prefers to start more simply - answer a question, grow your content. He's frequently met with the argument that a given niche is too boring - to which he responds by highlighting Louis E Page's mesh and fencing blog.
So once you've got some content ideas, you'll need to work your contacts…You need to find a way of selling in the benefits to people who might not want to write - not least because they have a full-time job to do. He highlighted the Indium Corporation who have managed to persuade their engineers to write their content - to date they have 73 posts written by engineers.
Of course you'll need lots of ideas. These should be sourced both internally and externally and you should find a way to reward those who contribute. Underestimate what you can achieve. Even a modest blog is better than none at all.
- Use tried and trusted content types – e.g. how to; FAQ etc.
- Slice, dice and reuse a single asset – e.g. a talk might be a blog post, video etc.
- An attitude of generosity is really important when developing an editorial mindset. Practise random acts of content kindness.
Ben Redford - Robots, Gumballs and MarxismAgain, no slides published at the time of writing #sadface. This was definitely my favourite talk of the day Ben Redford works for Mint Digital as a product designer.
His first project brief was to connect something to the internet that doesn’t live on a screen. He started in build a bear (the shop, not the online store), he views build a bear as essentially being UGC in the physical world – people are creating their own content.
As an extension to the brief of connecting something to the internet that doesn't live on a screen he wanted to reward people for what they do online in the real world. But what? He decided to build something which would give a real world reward whenever you were tweeted online.
Initially thought beer would be the reward for the tweet. Then he figured that might be dangerous.
Instead he made Olly – web connected smelly robot. Every time you get a tweet it releases a smell. Sadly, Olly failed on kickstarter. (I do not understand this at all. I want one. The internet is stupid.)
So he made Polly. She turns tweets into sweets. (I want one of these too).
Incidentally in the break Stacey Cavanagh came up with another alternative 'Jolly' - Jolly would blow bubbles when you got a tweet. I really want this to be a thing too.
Despite the lack of commercial success for both Olly and Polly, the Ideal Home Show decided that they were the young inventors of the year. They went on Sunday Brunch to demo Polly, and created a hastag #pollybrunch. They expected 4 tweets, but it actually ended up trending worldwide. That's a lot of gumballs.
From this Ben learned that talking about things connected to the web is very powerful. People like the web, but they *love* real things.
With all of these experiences under his belt he moved on to the next project - Projecteo – the mini instagram projector. He put it on kickstarter and got funding.
(This kinda tickled me - instagram is just pictures of feet and burgers, no? I'm imagining a slideshow that goes a little something like - "Here is a burger that I ate in Shoreditch; here is a burger that I ate in Hoxton; here is a burger that I ate in Clerkenwell, here's my feet on a beach..." Whatever. I still want one.)
My takeaway from this is that whilst it's really easy to forget about the real world with so much of what we do being focused online - that's a mistake, I love the idea of including real, tangible assets as part of digital campaigns.
Will Koch - How to used LinkedIn for Content MarketingWill Koch works for LinkedIN. Unfortunately I've been unable to locate his slides online either :(
This was a lightning talk wherein he covered how LinkedIN can be particularly powerful for B2B brands who want to distribute their content. He highlighted that the B2B buying process is very complex and that it's often self-guided. As such individuals will typically do lots of research prior to enquiring.
I have to confess that I got a little bit lost during this talk. If concrete suggestions of how to share and leverage your content were included I missed them - I'm sorry, I'm a terrible blogger and also a hopeless caffeine addict - by this point there was entirely too much blood in my caffeine stream.
Tony Samios – Great Content Marketing is about Great StorytellingTony Samios is COO of Caliber Interactive - again I've been unable to find his slides online, so you'll have to settle for my notes.
Storytelling is as old as time itself. With the rise of social media there’s the opportunity for customers to tell their own stories, and also for customers to find out what other individuals are saying about brands.
If you want people to share something your brand has created you'll need to make them care – emotionally. Great stories take the audience on a journey and can change their perceptions of a brand.
Tony shared a bunch of fantastic examples of brands who've successfully been able to tell stroies via their content - some of the examples are below:
Simon Penson – Content Strategy > Make Data your FriendSimon Penson is the owner of Zazzle Media.
Data’s not ‘cool’ – but it is useful :)
How can data help shape content strategy? No more guessing. You can let the data lead you.
Look at search first, Simon also recommends these tools
- Google Ad Planner
- Google consumer surveys
- Google public data engine
- Zanran for public data.
- Google real time insights finder
The future lives in social data.
Facebook power editor enables you to understand what your audience like. Plus we can use social data to see if what you’re doing is working.
Using these tools you should have plenty of data to help with idea generation.
You can also read a full transcript over on the Zazzle Media blog.
Sarah Howard – What is the Right Mix of Content?Sarah Howard is head of content at Red Rocket Media.
Sarah highlights that when it comes to content, one size does not fit all. However there are 5 steps you can go through to figure out what you should create:
1) Get to know your audience – which social channels do they use? What content do they like to share?
2) Give your site a content audit. Make an inventory, and analyse quality. Make sure it's aligned with business objectives, and ensure that there's content to support prospects through the buying cycle – from awareness – to consideration – and finally, purchase.
3) Get analytical. Look at views, visits, conversions; but also social shares and comments
4) Test and refine constantly.
5) Make it a company-wide exercise. Get everyone involved - it shouldn't just be the marketing team that are coming up with ideas and creating the content.
Eric Ingrand – Why Multicultural Content Marketing is Key to Grow your BusinessThe final session before lunch was a lightning talk from Eric Ingrand VP of Content Marketing for Enveritas Group.
Yet again there's no slides online right now, but here are the key takeaways:
- It's not enough to translate your content.
- You need to make sure it's culturally relevant and appropriate. You need to use someone local to create your content in order to do this well.
- In some countries the majority of people access the internet via mobile – is your site mobile ready? Don't forget about feature phones - not all countries have transitioned over to smartphones yet.
Pak Hou Cheung – Selling the Content Marketing StoryUp first post my meatball and mozzarella panini lunch was Pak Hou Cheung, a Content Strategist at BlueGlass UK.
So clearly content marketing is nothing new, but it has recently gained traction.
Why? Because it’s better than continually chasing the algorithm.
First step – figure out what your goal is and then figure out how / if content marketing will help you achieve this goal. This is really important - don't just go out there and blindly start creating content.
In particular think about how whatever you're creating relates to your brand - is it a good fit? If not don't create it. Pak Hou then went on to highlight some nice examples of content for each stage of the buying process.
Here customer stories / testimonials work well. FreshBooks have done a fantastic job of creating customer video stories on their blog.
Crazy Egg offer a free trial, but if you elect not to sign up, they'll offer you 40% off your subscription.
Retain & Upsell
Here he highlighted ASOS' product pages as being fantastic at cross-selling to customers - with their 'complete the look' sidebar.
- Content is crucial in all stages of the sales cycle
- You need patience - content takes time to create, time to leverage and it takes time to see the effects.
Amanda Poole-Connor – Making Video Work for your BrandAmanda Poole-Connor is MD of TNR. Again - no slide deck as yet - but my notes are below:
Video should engage, entertain, compel, and inform.
You need to figure out:
- What do you want to say?
- Who do you want to say it to?
- How do you want to say it?
- What do you want them to do about it?
Justin Taylor – Putting Conversion into ContentJustin Taylor is the MD of Graphitas.
Justin kicked off by asking how you're measuring the success of your content marketing campaigns. he gave an example of a piece of content which had received a decent number of social shares, and so on paper might be considered as successful.
But you can’t pay your mortgage with social shares…What about direct revenue?
He then shared an example with significantly fewer social shares but which delivered £7k in revenue. He then moved on to give us 10 conversion tips:
- Define your objectives.
- What is it for? What do you want to achieve? Where do you want to be?
- Understand your audience
- Do your research, create personas, talk to people
- Use their language.
- Tech audience? Can use jargon. Luxury holidays? Your copy might be more evocative.
- Concentrate on headlines
- 5 times as many people read them than body copy.
- Anchor products into content.
- If someone is willing to read about something, they may want to buy it. He gave an example from Currys who had created a great piece of content about a particular model of a laptop, but hadn't included a link to buy the product.
- CTAs, triggers and trust signals.
- Identify which offers / triggers really matter – e.g. free shipping and returns etc.
- Ensure your content has visual impact.
- Add value.
- Gave an example of fashion sites which offer the opportunity to ‘buy the look’.
- Never stop testing.
- Play to win. Do the very best you can. Hold yourself to a high standard.
Matt Roberts – Raising the Quality Bar using the Smarter Content FrameworkMatt Roberts is the co-founder of Linkdex.
Sadly, again I've been unable to locate Matt's slide deck, I'll embed it here once it's live.
He kicked off by reminding us of a Honda advert from back in 2002 - the ad featured a factory where drone-like workers produce the word "OK" - over and over and over again. The voiceover, tells us that "not everyone believes OK is OK." and asks "What would the world be like if its favourite word wasn’t ok?"
In short, OK is not OK.
Matt went on to talk about smarter content - he's adapted the 'SMART' acronym for content:
- S - Specific, significant, shareable
- M - Measureable, meaningful, memorable
- A - Appropriate, ambitious, aligned
- R - Relevant, results-driven, resonant
- T - Timely, targeted, trackable
- E - Engaging, enjoyable, evergreen
- R - Rewarding, reaching
Ed Bussey– 7 content marketing tips for online retailersEd Bussey is the founder of Quill - he brought us the final lightning talk of the day.
Again, sadly I've not been able to locate Ed's slides, but here are Ed's tips:
- Value your content – it’s the lifeblood of your website
- Define your objectives
- Customers first, SEO second
- I think Ed's referring to old-school keyword-stuffed content here.
- Be consistently on-brand
- Measure and optimise
- Don’t translate, localise
- Use solutions that scale
Paul May – Advanced Content Promotion Strategies & TacticsPaul May is the co-founder of Buzzstream.
Paul highlighted, that whilst for some people like Rand Fishkin who only need to hit publish to get links, for the average Joe you’ll need to invest time and energy into outreach.
The old model of building a big ass list, email everyone, and pray – just doesn’t work anymore.
He shared his system that allows you to scale outreach without sacrificing the personalisation needed to succeed.
Start by segmenting your content market. Leverage the easier to acquire mentions and links first, this will help get the more difficult ones.
He also highlighted that you should commit to relationship building prior to outreach. Ideally you should be giving something before you expect to get something.
Finally he recommends that you automate low value tasks, but don’t automate any actual contact.
Example – Content Promotion for Orbit - a sprinkler system design tool.
First you need to understand the asset and why it’s valuable. Then start with obvious segments that might like this tool – landscaping, gardening, DIY.
He then shared his system for 'chunking up' and chunking down' to find other segments that might be interested:
- Chunking up
- What is this an example / type of?
- What is this part of?
- What it the intention/purpose?
- Chunking down
- What’s an example / type of this?
- What is a component of this?
- Use Google trends for ideas / Dewey decimal classifications
- This content might also be interesting for other niches like:
- Chunking up - e.g. Home improvement
- Chunking down e.g. organic gardening, sustainable landscaping
- Harvesting – link reclamation / unlinked mentions
- These are 'warm' leads and should be relatively easy wins
- Resource pages / broken links
- These are people who have already linked to something similar but don't link to you
- Big content prospects
- These are likely 'cold' leads - they may not know about you or your content so you'll need to spend significant time and effort crafting your outreach. These links are much harder to secure but are really valuable
Great emails are personalised, positioned, persuasive, call to action. Why should they care? How will it help them, not just you? Start with a small ask like a tweet rather than jumping straight in to asking for a link.
Jo Kerr – If I had a Planner - Content Planning 101The penultimate talk of the day came from Jo Kerr, digital manager for VInspired - she also brought sweets which was an excellent move.
She gave an excellent talk sharing both the lessons she wishes she’d learned running a student newspaper and how they relate to her role today.
First up, she recommends we all read this: The Elements of Content Strategy – Erin Kissane, she then went on to share her five tips:
1) Meet face to face to decide editorial themes / ideas for features etc.
However, beforehand make sure you have your marketing and business plans with you. Also have people give this some thought beforehand so they are prepared. Finally make sure you bring a calendar for public holidays etc and you'll also need to know key dates for your industry.
2) Align your content with business aims.
3) Trust your editor.
4) Plan ahead AND be spontaneous.
This is really key - it's of course important to have a plan, but you'll also need to be able to move quickly as and when other opportunities unexpectedly arise. Speaking of which please go and vote for Task Squad – it's a VInspired project that has been nominated for the Google Global Impact Challenge - they could recieve a lovely chunk of much need charitable funding, so please go and vote here.
5) Celebrate successes and keep learning.
Luke Lewis – How to Grow Social Media CommunitiesThe final talk of the day came from Luke Lewis, UK editor of BuzzFeed, and who previously edited NME
Luke kicked off by talking a little about BuzzFeed. Essentially they want to create content you want to share. Started in 2006.
They deem something has gone viral based on the velocity of shares via social platforms. For example, 21 pictures that will restore your faith in humanity received 41 times the amount of traffic from social than via the homepage.
BuzzFeed make their money via sponsored content – they have a mantra – advertising that doesn’t suck. Examples include their partnership with GE.
The key takeaway for me, was Luke highlighting that of all of the emotional triggers, he's found that nostalgia is the most powerful when it comes to social sharing. – e.g. 19 things Northerners Miss when they move to London
He then went on to share his tips for building communities:
- Choose your platform (consider focusing all of your attention on just one) – Luke likes Twitter.
- Twitter tips:
- Be relentless
- Use photos
- If something’s gone well tweet it again
- Tweet your greatest hits
- Exploit real events and react in real time
Finally he also shared his thoughts on making reader comments and social interactions become editorial - I particularly appreciated this sentiment given some jounalists' somewhat disdainful view of the 'bottom half of the internet'.
He gave some great examples of content that he'd created back at the NME around the hashtags songsthatchangedmylife and goosebumpmoments - their readers actually contributed directly to those articles and they still continue with the format today.
And so dear reader, that concludes the round up. Luke's inspired me to share a little nostalgic song that 'changed my life' well, kinda. Whatever, enjoy :)