This year Brighton saw its first content marketing show, after a change in venue from the usual London location. I’ve put together some of the top takeaways from the event, which includes the first eight talks.
Mark Johnstone – What content marketers can learn from advertising
Mark Johnstone from Distilled kicked off the conference with his talk about how to come up with content ideas.
What are the elements of a good idea? How do you connect them?
“An idea is a novel combination of previously unconnected elements that add value.“
Mark’s top tips included:
- Understanding the three elements required for content creation:
- Customer Insight – identifying the need (e.g. kids needing internet to access information and learn)
Product Truth – linking the product to the need (e.g. broadband gives to fast access to a wealth of info)
- Competitor Insight – finding something that hasn’t already been done, or looking for a different angle to make it unique (e.g. best price and best coverage for broadband service)
- Map out your ideas and find the connections – use tree diagrams to build out your ideas and think outside of the box. Don’t discount any ideas, as long as you can see the association
- Mine the web for insight – Search Google and social media channels to find out what your target audience are interested in
5 steps for generating content:
- Information gathering – expanding around finding all elements (consumer insights, competitor etc.)
- Saturation – get all of your ideas down onto paper to free up your mind allowing you to focus on finding the connections. Put your ideas onto post-it notes and map them all out (you may hit the wall and feel you can’t progress – keep going until you hit it again!)
- Incubation – Once you reach saturation, step away and put your focus elsewhere, sleep on it. Actively disengage – remove yourself from the process
- Illumination – write down what the question you’re trying to solve – then brain dump around 20 answers
- Verification – test it out. Go for a beer with a friend and drop your ideas in the conversation to gauge their reaction
Max Wilson – Why People Favourite Things – Tweet usefulness, style, and favouriting behaviour
Max, a lecturer in the School of Computer Science at the University of Nottingham, based his talk on a piece of research that he worked on, which looked at the reasoning behind why people engage with tweets.
Max’s top tips included:
- People who gain followers more quickly are the informers
- Tweets with exclamation marks at the end are less likely to be retweeted than those that use question marks
- A tweet is less likely to be retweeted if it includes no real info – is too introspective e.g. the “tiles in this restaurant remind me of my grandma’s house”
- Tweets that are more likely to be favourited include useful info, personal experiences, recommendations, specific facts and things that people have figured out
- Tweets that are less likely to be favourited don’t include relevant info, e.g. use $ instead of £, and are too subjective
Why people favourite tweets
- Tweeted by friends/family
- Relates to their ego – they were mentioned in the tweet
- Used as a form of bookmarking to keep a to-do list
- Fishing for engagement from your audience can be risky
- #McFail – McDonalds sent out a tweet asking people to speak about their experiences, which resulted in negative comments, including one customer who allegedly found a finger nail in a burger
- #myNYPD – A social media campaign was launched by the NYPD to encourage twitter users to post pictures of themselves with local police officers, but this backfired when people started tweeting pictures of police officers being aggressive, appearing to use unnecessary force
Emma Dunn – How to ideate like a boss
Slides not available
Emma Dunn, a content strategist at Caliber, talked about looking at creativity from a scientific point of view, to give us some useful advice for coming up with great ideas.
Emma’s top tips included:
- Ideas in response to relevant topics do well, for example, Kit-Kat’s campaign after to the bendy iPhone 6 scandal – “KitKat, ‘We don’t bend, we #break’”
- Try Joy Paul Guilford’s theory distinction between divergent and convergent production – coming up with lots of ideas to solve the same problem, rather than convergent thinking: whittling down to one black and white answer
- Brainstorming can work, but it’s not as effective as you might think – Some people are introverted, others are loud, and some sit and listen but don’t contribute
Emma’s solution: Start by outlining the objectives, then allow those taking part to brainstorm alone – this will prevent some ideas from being fixated. Once you’ve thought of all the ideas, bring them back to the group – now you can hash them out with others
- A messy desk is better for creativity – keep it tidy when elaborating ideas
- What’s the best time to be creative? Many say getting up early is better, but now researchers say choose a time that suits you. As Emma puts it, “whatever rocks your socks”
- Creative routines – find one that works for you and listen to your own body
- Exercise is good for creative thinking – Lorenza Colzato says that exercising 4 times a week will help with creative thinking
- Put pen to paper – the process of writing makes a stronger connection with the ideas in your head and helps your memory
Hannah Warder – How to guarantee a 0% response rate from blogger outreach
Checkout the slides here
Next up was White.net’s very own Hannah Warder, a digital marketing specialist and part time food blogger, here to tell us how to master blogger outreach.
Hannah started off by taking us through the steps of how not to do blogger outreach, which include a list of techniques that people still use:
- Send emails to anyone and everyone
- Write the email without giving it much thought, and don’t address the recipient by name
- Tell the blogger to jump through hoops without much of an incentive
- Write it in a way that is likely to cause offence
- Ask bloggers to place your content and be sure to specify the link that you require them to add, along with your non-brand keyword for the anchor text
Following these steps will help you to waste your client’s budget, waste your time and have a negative impact on their brand.
If you don’t like the sound of this (hard to imagine right?), then you may want to try to do it properly, considering the following steps:
- Identify your goals
- Make sure blogger outreach is right for your business – e.g. may not be appropriate for a company that sells computer cable
- Carry out research to understand who the influencers are in your space and think about what would incentivise them to engage with you – for example, inviting food bloggers to a food & cocktail event at your restaurant
- Make sure your email is relevant and include the recipient’s name, as well as any other information that shows you’ve done your research and you’re writing to them personally
- Bloggers know about link building, so avoid being blatant and asking for a link. If they’re happy to engage then they will probably link to you
- Be helpful & friendly – don’t underestimate the admin required, e.g. giving them directions to your event, sorting out tickets etc
- Bloggers want to be loved so give them attention and always follow up with an email/call/tweet
- Ask bloggers that responded well to your campaign if they know of others that may be interested in getting involved
- Add people that comment on your posts to your list of contacts
You can read Hannah’s full post on this here
Mindy Gofton – Rich content for the cash-strapped
Slides not available
Mindy’s talk was based around how to get great results on a small budget of around 20-25 hours per month.
Mindy’s top tips included:
- Think simple – answer pain points of customers/influencers then reach out to these to grow brand awareness
- Set expectations – educate the client to help them understand what they can expect to achieve and why the tasks are important
- Get the client to help you out by sharing useful contacts
- Get your client to manage their own social media accounts – this is far more efficient as they know more about their business that you do so are better equipped when dealing with their customers. Set up a workshop and show them how, rather than using their budget up to do it yourself
- Agree how you will measure success, e.g. number of searches/followers/revenue/leads. Make sure the metrics are clear and that the client understands them, this way nobody will get any surprises
- Understand your audience – identify who you want to target and what they like to share/what they’re talking about
- Engage with social media influencers and build lists. Call/email them and ask (hypothetically) if they would cover your content in a newspaper and be happy to share it – they will give valuable feedback and may be able to provide ideas to improve it
- Always have a strategic plan in place – schedule all tasks in a calendar to understand the project as a whole and where the tasks/those responsible for delivering fit together within the budget. This will also help to give the client an overview of the project
- If you realise you can’t meet the client’s expectations within the budget, find another way to do things. For example, the timescales required mean that you will miss a seasonal high
- Keep it simple. For example, creating blog posts that answer questions that are being asked by your audience, with solutions to pain points
- Make sure you have a buy in – ensure the client fully understands the purpose of the project and are happy with the ideas behind it
Laura Crimmons – How to implement an audience engagement strategy using content
Branded3’s Social & PR Manager Laura Crimmons centred her talk on putting together a strategy to ensure that your content deserves engagement from your audience.
Laura’s top tips included:
- Ensuring you audience is at the centre of your campaign – don’t just focus on links, but serve the audience to encourage engagement, however they decide to engage, whether it’s a review, tweet or indeed a link
- Understand who your online audience is – the online audience is generally younger, with more females
- Find out where your audience hangs out – which social sites, forums etc. and look at how they engage with your brand within these channels
- Consider where else can you target your audience and find out what they’re reading
- Create online personas to gain an understanding of what your audience looks like
- Use social listening tools so that you don’t miss any brand mentions
- Find out who’s visiting your site, who’s talking about you and who’s actually buying. Are people talking about you but not liking you? Why?
- Check out your social platform analytics – find out who’s on your social channels and why – how does this differ to your site visitors?
- Spot trends in GA demographics and dig into behaviour on the site – your audience might be visiting your site but are they converting as you would expect?
- Compare genders, e.g. pets very popular for the females but not so much with the males
- Look at the top review sites to find which your audience are using – maybe your competitors are being reviewed somewhere that you’re not
- Once you know who they are, where they are and what they are viewing /sharing – think about why they might not be engaging with your brand
- An integrated marketing strategy is imperative –be consistent by keeping the same message through all channels – online and offline
Stephen Masters – Storytelling tips for you to ‘remember remember’
Stephen Masters from Red Rocket Media did his talk around considering storytelling when attempting to make a memorable piece of content, using the familiar “remember, remember, the 5th of November” as an example of a short rhyme that we all associate with the story behind Guy Fawkes and the gunpowder plot.
Stephen’s top tips included:
- Use Catchphrases, memorable slogans and symbols to help people to remember. For example, the poppy is a symbol that reminds us all of those that lost their lives in war, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields” which was based on events in World War I, or simply ‘Movember’ – sometimes a single word is enough
- Lines from movies: life is like a box of chocolates – we hear it and we know what it represents, which gets us thinking about the story behind it
- Use memorable titles/cultural references or puns – twist memorable quotes to fit your slogan
- Repeat slogans – “a memorable rhyme stands the test of time”. For example, when we see “have a break”, we all think “have a KitKat”
- Highjack competitor slogans or use topical events to inform your campaigns. For example, Lidl’s “Every Lidl Helps” which is very similar to Tesco’s slogan, or KitKat’s ‘We don’t bend, we #break’ in response to the bendy iPhone 6 stories
- Use notable & quotable content, such as summarised facts and stats, making it easy for others to use and share your story
- Consider episodic memory. We remember specific events – part of this is that we associate them with emotions and feeling. Images statements and smells trigger memories
- Hooked on a feeling – we get hooked on emotion or arousal which creates a deep routed memory
- Hindsight bias – we rewrite previous judgements based on new information. For example, somebody does something wrong – you may say I never liked him”, or I knew that was going to happen” – did you? People change their views based on events
- Trigger recognition by being consistent with imagery
- Use cliff-hangers to leave people wanting more – the Zeigarnik Effect states that you’re more likely to remember incomplete tasks than completed tasks. For example, – waiters are known to be able to remember all orders, until they are paid, then the task has been completed so they forget them. Unfinished tasks are more likely to stick in your memory, so a cliff-hanger can leave your story incomplete and therefore stay in people’s minds
- Make them want more – push emotional buttons and leave things open-ended
Tom Bailey – Digital Video – Getting your hands dirty and avoiding newbie mistakes
Checkout the slides here
Tom Bailey is a creative producer from Shy Camera, who came to tell us about video content and why it’s a big deal.
He began by talking about how fast technology is moving, making video content accessible to all, with a smaller price-tag than ever before.
The effects of this digital revolution mean that you no longer need to go to a fancy agency to get great results. This has given us an increase in ‘bang for your buck’, making the big projects cheaper than you would think, but making the smaller tasks within reach of smaller budgets, such as conference filming, interviews, demos, blogs, instructions etc.
Tom’s top tips included:
- Don’t be scared to replicate – a lot of smaller videos have standard formats that people expect and feel comfortable in. Find some video content that you like, pull it apart and make your own version – look at YouTube for inspiration, such as guides
- Sound REALLY matters – it’s easy to get a clean crisp image, but sound can be easily messed up. Microphones aren’t expensive, so don’t rely on the built in mic that comes with your camera
- Plan, Plan & Plan – write up on paper/post-it notes and plan it to death – be clear about exactly what it is that you want to capture
- Screen test your people and keep an open mind – you may have a clear idea of who is going to play the parts, but people are different on camera so screen everyone you can and vote the best ones in
- Help your editor. Editing isn’t seen as the fun part – with your planning, the editor should be very clear of what you want, but help out by guiding them through it
- Always remember lighting – natural light is not a film makers’ friend. In an ideal world, you will have a blacked out room to give you total control over the lighting. This is because natural light changes throughout the day, which can lead to over-exposure
So there we have it, a long list of takeaways that will hopefully translate to some actionable tasks across your content marketing campaigns. If you have anything to add, please feel free to include your comments below.