In the wake of the phenomenal rise in popularity and success of BrightonSEO, State of Search’s very own Kelvin Newman has invested his fantastic conference organising skills to creating a new conference, The Content Marketing Show. The inaugural event was hosted on the 20th November 2012, in the Conway Hall in central London and promised to bring together 350 representatives from agencies, in-house marketing teams and small business owners with some of the best minds in the content marketing world together under one roof.
The agenda for the day covered a wide variety of topics related to the booming field of content marketing, including:
- Content Strategy
- The importance of conversion optimisation in content marketing
- How to get press coverage and insights into journalists
- Social media monitoring
- How to write great briefs
- And, errr, even a session on how to sell coffee online!
“There’s nothing new about content marketing, it’s been around for years, but it seems over the last six months or so more people from greater variety of backgrounds have started using the term more frequently. And more of us have been getting stuck into the hard work it entails.
So this conference is an opportunity to share the lessons we’ve learned and meet some of those other content marketers plugging away at the coal face.
We’ll explore the junction between social media, online PR, SEO & content strategy.”
The line up of speakers showed a number of familiar faces (at least on the online marketing conference circuit) and, refreshingly others that weren’t so familiar. Overall there was a stella line up of speakers and a great agenda, see for yourself. What’s even better is, like BrightonSEO so famously manages, this was all happening for free.
There was a great line-up of speakers who delivered a vast amount of great information and insight throughout the day. In my opinion there were two main themes for this content:
- The power and culture of influence for content marketing
- Content strategy for content marketing
For each of these I have written up the presentations that fell into these respective categories, below you can find those presentations related to the power and culture of influence for content marketing…
Influence Flows – (Phillip Sheldrake, Euler Partners)
The day kicked off with well-known and much revered author of ‘The Business of Influence‘, Phillip Sheldrake. Below were some of the most interesting points from his presentation:
- Content marketing is 100 years old. Historically people had newspapers and the issue the faced was having to fill it. In Phillip’s own words “the Internet is now so freaking large that we’ll never fill it…”, but we shouldn’t be put off by this, this is a huge opportunity.
- Influence is now not to do with “old interruption advertising” but with content that fits within peoples lives.
- Phillip showed a silent video demonstrating that there was an exponential growth in the mediums in which we can influence others from the 1980’s onwards. Nowadays, we have ‘filter failure’ and are all victims of mass information overload. It was only after the launch of the mobile phone that individuals were able to start taking control of the content they consume again.
- Like with the newspaper examples, historically you used to have to get on someone else’s channel (e.g. BBC1, BBC2…), now you actually ‘own the channel’. This is an example of the mass amount of content on the web, YouTube has 72 hours uploaded to it every minute.
- Apps that have been adopted by the mainstream, including: Flipboard and Pulse, demonstrate where the content world starts to meet the digital world. When creating content you must understand that your content has to be very compelling to humans, and machines! Otherwise it simply won’t get recognised and be in the position to influence others.
- Why develop content? > To communicate. > Why communicate? > To influence. > And to be influenced.
- The wonderful thing about the Internet is that we can engage in dialogue, we can learn and our organisations can become more nimble and agile to what our customers want; this can range from anywhere from what our employees want to work for, and how we wish to run the businesses that our stakeholders will invest in…
- Influenced [dictionary definition]: “You have been influenced when you think in a way you wouldn’t otherwise have thought, or do something you wouldn’t otherwise have done” – How many times have you considered or asked yourself this when writing content?
- Influence is still measured wrong. Accordingly to Phillip, there are some clubs in New York that don’t let you in if you don’t have a high enough Klout score! Also, some firms in America are even filtering applications based on a minimum Klout score. “This is not an accurate way of measuring real business success on content marketing.”
- So then, how do you measure content marketing success? You must look at ‘outcome metrics’ to make business sense of you case for content marketing (as outlined below); no boss is going to ever say “we’ve had a cracking year, we’ve quadrupled retweets!”
- You must use the influence view of content… The ‘paid, owned, earned’ content taxonomy appears to do nothing but reinforece 20th Century silo thinking. Read more from Phillip’s views on experimenting with the influence view of content in this great blog post.
The problem with people trying to measure influence, is that everyone seems to be looking for the one ‘god’ metric, one magic number. However, it’s just not that simple, there is no one universal metric. Think if your organisation is truly unique, the way you are pursuing your strategy is unique, then surely it’s not difficult to appreciate that this one metric that you are seeking must be unique too. AVE is an example of how people used to search for one figure to measure everything, this figure is openly discredited nowadays due to it’s entirely misleading nature.
Digital Storytelling: The Power of Content Marketing – (Ian Humphreys, Caliber)
Ian introduced his talk by explaining that he was here to talk about narrative and it’s place in content marketing. The term ‘Narrative’ was purposefully used in place of ‘story’ in this presentation for a reason: it implies structure for content that everyone is familiar with, a beginning, a middle, and an end. It also ties disparate events into a logical order, unlike stories, we must understand that narratives are comfortable. If you look at how people review events, it’s often always a narrative, rarely a story.
We must make sure as content marketers that when thinking about creating a narrative that you include both the brand and the customers story. Everybody likes talking about themselves. However the issue is that you need to resonate with your customers and how you can influence their lifestyle. A lot of brands are doing this lately, just consider mobile phones as a case study: many of them have very similar features, to communicate these through advertising you step up to the next level, by communicating how it will influence and enrich the customers lives.
Ian used the example of the Chevy True Stories My Dad’s Car Extended Chevrolet (shown below). Ian stated how this was a very powerful advert because it used a great narrative.
So the why is this a great narrative?
- Personal Element: This story isn’t about the car, it’s about families – something that individuals can relate with.
Narrative + Content marketing: We have the opportunity to drive a narrative driven conversation between customers and brands. By creating ads like Chevrolet, it allows us to ask for our customers to tell their stories that relate to that. The best way to approach this is to:
- Set a narrative
- Populate content
- Encourage customers to share
Ian spoke about the ‘The Art of the Trench‘ by Burberry as a great example of this too. Not only did they have a great idea but they opened it up to the customer too, allowing them to tell their story.
We must remain aware that when approaching content marketing that by getting your customers to tell your story for you; they may see this coming and make fun of you, you may get trolled. The best way to avoid this happening is to understand how this campaign will be perceived. Consider even approaching this in a traditional marketing sense; run test groups and ask your target market question to understand how this content will be perceived.
However, the REALLY scary part is that you’ll create a campaign and “no one will come to the party”. Every marketing campaigns do have failures, you will experience this… When this happens, try to deconstruct this and understand why you failed, this can become a very positive thing when applying this to future campaigns.
How To Win At Pooh Sticks – (Tom Ewing, BrainJuicer)
- Tom’s talk was geared towards how content lives within the context of ‘the stream’.
- Tom capitalised that within the ‘online world’ there has been a shift on the Internet; the dominant metaphor for the Internet used to be the ‘page’ (a fixed asset), this has changed to the ‘stream’ (an ever changing, flow of information).
- Involving oneself within this ‘stream’ is very similar to a game; people actively invest themselves into this game and do criticise themselves with ‘game-like mechanics’, communication in the stream can become competitive. The players of this game are also looking for something to take out of this game, that is why people are social online – people are looking for something to gain.
- In Bill Wasick’s book ‘And then there’s this…’ He refers to ‘nanostories’ that occur in this stream, and the culture that works in the stream is a ‘nanoculture’. Think about looking at your stream for a day, assess: what you interacted with, what channels you used, who you communicated with.
- Also, invest in Robin Sloan’s notion of ‘stock and flow’:
- Consider the investment in ‘stock’ that you’re providing for the stream. The problem with this is: whether your stock sticks, whether you can get this into your customers stream.
- Mimi Ito’s ‘Friendship networks and interest networks’ also allows you to understand online culture better, it’s essentially the “people you went to school with… versus people you wish you went to school with”
- The difference nowadays is that the culture has changed. Culture is now the big differentiator – Quora, Svbtle, Reblog are all examples of this, stating their bold cultural identity to visitors of the site and contributors to the site.
A good way of understanding online culture is through 3 types of activity:
- Creation – Think Tumblr
- Replication – Think Pinterest
- Mutation – Think YouTube
- Remember that “Marketing is the art of behaviour change.”
- There are many different roles a brand can play: Entertainer, Friend, Servant, Patron, Ring-leader. Which are you planning on doing for your brand?
- Think like a horoscope. Horoscope’s are clever because they narratise the day, posting time is a great weapon in a brands arsenal – you have the ability to influence the way people think based on the time that you communicate with them.
- Emotion is where you should be putting your effort, “if you’ve got something that makes people feel good, then that’s where we should be investing our time”
And after all that, how do you win at pooh sticks (and win in the stream)?
Using Content to get Press Coverage – (Stephen Pavlovich, Wish.co.uk)
Stephen’s talk was simple, he was going to talk about ‘how to multiply the impact of PR for as cheap as possible.’
4 Ingredients for Successful PR:
- Topical – be able to respond as quickly as possible, make sure your structure team allows you to do this.
- Sexual – If you can leverage sex, then do, people always pick up on sexy content
- Controversial – Don’t be afraid to be controversial, it makes better news.
- Celebrity – Where possible, incorporate content about celebrities – journalists love this.
Creating Valentine’s day PR on the cheap…
- ‘Romantic break for 3’
- Cost: Free!
- Effort: Minimal
- Benefit: links from mentioned in the BBC, The Sun, The Metro…
“80% of the success is showing up” (Woody Allen)
- What would it take to get a mention from @Strephenfry?
- 10 Downing Street Experience
- Email Stephen Fry
- Get mentioned
- Profit (incorrect), traffic!
Great written copy really helps content marketing and PR – invest in getting copy written to a high standard
Seed. Leverage. Be everywhere.
- The simpler the better, ‘zombie shopping mall’, ‘romantic weekend for three’ – you know what you’re going to get.
- If you create and seed content well enough, it will get to a point where it starts driving itself…
How to Sell Cups of Coffee Online – (Stephen Leighton, Has Bean Coffee)
Stephen’s talk was very refreshing, he has been invited as it was someone who Kelvin Newman buys from, based on the great content he creates.
Steve, who was a prison officer. Has a passion for coffee, so he started his own coffee shop in Stafford. He had no budget from starting his business, however he knew that if he can get the people who love coffee, talking about his coffee, then surely he can make a success…?
Created ‘In my mug‘ video blog where people will sit down with him and have a coffee, while he explains all about the coffee he is drinking; how it was brewed and where it comes from. “people can taste that coffee with him”
- He’ll tell them how it was brewed and where it comes from
- Offers coffee on a subscription basis
To create the best content he stuck to simple rules:
- He’s gonna be open and genuine (on Twitter)
- He’s gonna be nice
- He knows that “he is the best person at playing Steve Leighton, theres no-one else better at playing than him.”
- It’s all about being honest, open and having a very clear message.
- Give coffee away to baristas who are competing in competitions
- Give it away to people who are influential, people who talk about it online
- Participate in the cup of excellence (competition)
It must be working because Hasbean now has some 30,000 order a year, great work Stephen!
The Great Content Robery – (Simon Penson, Zazzle)
Unfortunately I missed this talk, but luckily Simon has written a great write up over on Zazzle Media.
Writing Content that Resonates with Influencers – (Matt Roberts, Linkdex)
The final talk of the day was a great one by Lindex’s very own Matt Roberts.
- The key to influencing someone is you must have changed their behaviour and perspective.
- If we’re going to reach out and influence/resonate with someone, who are we trying to get to? Matt said that his bubble has been burst recently, because the ideals that he understood from the Tribes and The Tipping Point might not be true. Read, instead the Business of Influence and Grouped.
- The key to success is resonating with someone by being human. What a lot of businesses find when looking to influencers are often their customers and their friends, go to these first!
- Having good ideas and great content is what you need to do, because no matter how good your circle is, how well you’re connected is, you still need really good content.
- Invest in the best content – just consider the acqusition of MoneySavingExpert by MoneySupermarket, for £87 million…
- Recognise that there is an unexpected bonus when investing in people, they bring their network with them.
- Ensure that you focus on maintaining deep relationships.
- Resonate in the right place “you’d be amazing how much PR is done in a restaurant or a coffee shop, not on the phone” (read Resonate by Nancy Duarte)
- If you want to truly influence someone then you can actually spoonfeed them the content that you want them to syndicate – it actually works.
- Remember that news is dynamic and moves fast.
- Monitor the news agenda – not only do you stay on top, you also understand supplemental news; things that relate to the story and you can get under the skin of what journalists want. This allows you to drive the agenda.