Last Friday Lauren and I were extremely excited to be attending the Content Marketing Show at the Institute of Education in London. Neither of us was quite sure of what to expect as we entered the conference hall filled with a thousand other marketers.

We were both hoping that the speakers would have some interesting stuff lined up for us (flashbacks of some of our most boring uni lectures were entering our minds). As it turns out, the conference was really good and we both left at the end of the day feeling pleased, creative and somewhat enlightened. Okay maybe I’m exaggerating a bit but really the conference was very good!

So without further ado I’m going to go over some of the presentations and points that stood out to me. The further along we got in the day the less notes I took because some of what was being said had been said during other talks. The speakers were all great though and this is in no way a reflection on them, as they say, great minds think alike!

The Sir Alex Ferguson’s Way of Building the Best (Content) Team

First up was Danny Denhard. Danny works at vouchercodes.co.uk and was at the conference to tell us about his marketing team/football team analogy. As a girl who liked to play football but doesn’t care about the “science” of it, and is pretty much only a fan for the big matches, this analogy seemed to be reaching a little bit for me. But I’m sure serious football enthusiasts loved it and he did make some pretty good points.

Check out Danny’s slides to see what the qualities should be for each team member.

My main take aways from Danny’s talk are:

  • Always know your goals.
  • Make the project last until the final whistle.
  • Build the best team for each content project.
  • The best players in the world don’t always work well together!
  • Pick the right attributes however large or small your team is.
  • There always needs to be a leader.
  • Not all players can play every game – rest people wisely.

How to Create Content People Have to Share

Next it was Laura Edwards from Nitter Natter. Laura talked about the importance of making really good content that other people will want to share. When it comes to creating sharable content, Laura says there are two things that are required: investment and effort. She also spoke about the importance of having a great editorial team in place for blog content.

What I liked about Laura’s talk was the questions that we need to ask ourselves when brainstorming ideas for content to share. We must look at our target audience and ask:

  • Where are you hoping for your content to be shared?
  • Who are you hoping for it to be shared by?
  • What are they sharing today?
  • What are they sharing right now?

Instead of the traditional accompanying slideshow, Laura had an excellent video that went with her talk which is online with the audio track of the presentation so great news if you want to see everything that Laura had to say.

How to create content people have to share from NitterNatter on Vimeo.

Developing an Editorial Mindset in a Non-editorial Business

Dan Fielder from Sticky Content was next up with a talk on “Developing an Editorial Mindset in a Non-Editorial Business”. Dan’s talk gave a little more of a light-hearted and humourous approach; he began by telling us about a well-known brand of nappies that wanted to give advice on choosing schools.

He quite rightly pointed out that just because they cater to the needs of babies and parents, it doesn’t really qualify them to give advice on children’s education. So his point was that it’s important to find your niche, to find the “sweet spot” between your domain of expertise and your users’ information needs.

Here are Dan’s slides from the conference:

My take aways:

  • The more niche the better.
  • Have an on-going flow of ideas and bad ideas.
  • Tried and trusted digital genres: FAQ, step-by-step, Q&A, News story, Top 10 etc.
  • Don’t be tempted to think that your niche is too boring. If you’re good at what you do and have an expert knowledge there is always content and information you can provide.
  • Information is what sells online.

Robots, Gumballs and Marxism

Following Dan was Ben Redford from Mint Digital. Ben’s talk was a little different from the rest in that he works in product design but it was one of my favourite of the day. It was mainly Ben’s tone and humourous approach that entertained me but he gave some very good points that we found interesting (he also has a super cool job!).

Ben was given the task of creating something that could be connected to the internet but doesn’t live on-screen. Now although I consider myself to be quite a creative person, when I heard this brief the first phrase that came to mind (in the words of Liz Lemon) was “what the what?”. But as Ben went on to tell us about the product that he created it all became much clearer and I then decided I also wanted to work in product design (seriously, this guy designs twitter connected robots!).

Liz Lemon What the What gif

What Ben and his team invented was Olly, the smelly robot. Olly is a machine that releases a smell of your choice every time you receive a tweet. Unfortunately he didn’t get the backing he needed on Kickstarter but that didn’t deter him! He then came up with Polly, the sweet dispensing companion of Olly.

Although Ben’s creations didn’t get the commercial success they had hoped it would, the amount of attention they got proved that people love real, tangible things and real tangible things that can be connected to the internet they love even more.

Eventually he went on to create Projecteo. Projecteo is a mini instagram projector the size of a matchbox. You order your Instagram photos to be developed on a wheel along with the projector and there you have it, those digital images we are used to only seeing online projected onto whatever you like. Now although I think it’s pretty cool, I’m not sure that Projecteo is something that I would be particularly bothered about owning. That being said, it has been commercially successful and you can now buy your very own.

Ben also told us about Stickygram, the service allowing us to turn our Instagrams into magnets. I think the point of this talk, and my take away, is that creativity is not limited. And even in the world of online marketing, people do still love real things and it’s important not to forget that.

Unforunately I can’t find Ben’s slides anywhere online but here are some pics of Olly and Projecteo.

olly twitter activated robot

Olly the smelly robot Image source: http://www.ollyfactory.com/

projecteo instagram projector

Projecteo Image source: http://www.getprojecteo.com/

Great Content Marketing is About Great Storytelling

Tony Samios from Caliber Interactive was next with my favourite talk of the day! A very funny presentation on why great content marketing is about great storytelling. He showed us some excellent examples of great campaigns that brands have developed through story telling. My favourite video of the presentation was the Old Spice Director Wolfdog.

Tony’s point was that if people are going to share content then they need to care about it. It had to touch them emotionally, whether that means making them laugh or cry. Stories provide more of an in depth, emotional connection to a brand or product and can greatly influence the way we see them. A great example of this that came to mind while tony was talking, was the amazing online campaign that Greek confectioners Lacta did. Watch the case study below, I can guarantee you will love it as much as I do.

And this is what they did:

Lacta is the leading chocolate brand in Greece. Continuing its strategy of being a symbol for the sweetness of love, Lacta invited its fans to submit their stories of unfulfilled love, with the promise to give them, the happy end they never had… on the cinema screen!

Three of these stories, formed the basis of a film screenplay, entitled “Love in the end”, to be released on Valentine’s Day, 2013. A transmedia campaign promoting the film, started with an online 20 minute short film, showing the beginning of one of the stories, ending on a cliffhanger. The campaign continued, with an Alternate Reality Game, launched when the heroine of that story supposedly posted a YouTube video, asking Internet users for help! The campaign became a big hit with audiences in Greece. 17% of the Greek Internet Population saw the online short, resulting to 700.000 views and hundreds of rave comments.

Anticipation for the film’s release was very high, evident by the increase of Lacta’s Facebook fans by 100.000, that made it’s page the biggest for any brand in Greece, with 650.000 fans.

Finally, the film had the biggest opening night for any Greek movie in the last 5 years, with more than 75% of the all movie tickets being sold, being for “Love in the end”!

This is honestly one of my all-time favourite online campaigns and it actually converted me to Lacta chocolate. I always avoided it because the name put me off, it sounds like some kind of special chocolate for people that are lactose-intolerant. It’s now one of my favourite Greek chocolates. I got around to trying it because this campaign changed my perception about the brand and product.

Content Strategy > Make Data your Friend!

Okay so back to the Content Marketing Show! Next to talk was Simon Penson from Zazzle Media. His presentation was about using data to develop your content strategy. For me, this presentation was a little harder to swallow. I was concentrating more on listening to what Simon had to say so my notes are a little sparse but the gist of the talk was that we should all be utilising the various tools available to help guide us in the content that we create and share depending on what our audience wants, likes and already shares. Therefore no matter how ‘uncool’ we think data is or how much we dislike it, it’s invaluable and should be utilised as much as possible.

Some data tools that Simon mentioned:

  • Facebook Power Editor
  • CognitiveSEO
  • SEOMoz Fresh Web Index
  • Pinalytics
  • Ad Planner
  • Google’s Public Data Resource
  • Real Time Insights Finder
  • UberSuggest
  • LSI Keywords
  • Zanran

So what I took away from this is that although I’m a creative person and I prefer to stay away from data if I can, it’s incredibly important for crafting a content marketing strategy. Not really a take away but it stayed with me.

Simon’s slides:

What is the Right Mix of Content?

Sarah Howard from Red Rocket Media gave a presentation on getting the right mix of content. She broke this up into 5 steps which made it pretty easy to set out a guideline to follow when it comes to creating content. The presentation touches on different points from across all the speakers:

Step 1: Get to know your audience

Step 2: Give your site a content audit

–          Full content inventory

–          Quality analysis

–          Align Content with business objectives

–          Content to support prospects through the buying cycle

Another important point from this step: Include content to nurture leads for every step in the process from awareness to consideration to purchase.

Step 3: Get analytical

–          Visits, views, bounce rate, time spent on page

–          Conversions (assisted and direct), inbound links, rankings

–          Unique and repeat visits, social shares, comments

Step 4: Try it, refine it

Step 5: Make it a company-wide exercise – Teamwork will lead to great content.
Sarah’s main points and take aways were:

  • Become your audience.
  • Capitalise on what works.
  • Get everyone involved.
  • Adopt a data-led content marketing strategy

Sarah’s slides:

Why Multicultural Content Marketing is Key to Grow Your Business

Eric Ingrand of Enveritas Group was there to talk about “Why Multicultural Content Marketing is Key to Grow Your Business”. This was a lightning talk so not many notes and I feel that this talk was probably more relevant to bigger brands.

What Eric said, however, was interesting and the main point of the talk, which I completely agree with, is that your content can’t just be translated. It needs to be culturally relevant and created by a local person. I can’t find the slides for this presentation, which is unfortunate as I would have also liked to go through them again myself!

Selling the Content Marketing Story

After lunch it was Pak Hou Cheung from BlueGlass UK with a talk on “Selling the Content Marketing Story”. This talk made us all think about why we all need to focus more on content marketing. Maybe some SEO’s are trying not to think about the fact that we keep being bombarded with updates that undo all of our hard work and we have to start moving in another direction: content!

As mentioned in other talks it’s super, super important to define a goal and think about how content marketing will help you achieve it. And Just like Sarah Howard mentioned, valuable content is important at all stages from awareness > consideration > purchase > retain/upsell. Check out Pak’s slides below to learn more about this.

Putting the Conversion into Content

Justin Taylor from Graphitas spoke to us about “Putting Conversion into Content”. He talked about the relevance of social likes and shares. Sure they are great and they make us feel loved but if they aren’t converting then what’s the point?

He gave us 10 tips in 10 minutes for “Putting Conversion into Content”.

  • Define your objectives: Focus on where you want to be, not where you are.
  • Understand your audience: Do research, create personas, talk to people, hang out in forums.
  • Use their language: Use jargon for the “tech savvy” audience, use aspirational language and create the “want factor” for fashion and use seductive language for luxury holidays.
  • Concentrate on headlines.
  • Anchor products into content: If someone is interested enough to read about something they will be interested enough to buy it.
  • Calls to action and triggers.
  • Visual impact.
  • Add value.
  • Never stop testing: Testing encourages innovation.
  • Play to win.

Justin’s slides:

7 Content Marketing tips for Ecommerce

Another lightening talk, this time from Ed Bussey of Quill. He gave us 7 quick content marketing tips for online retailers:

  • Value your content.
  • Define your objectives (the most important tip of the day!)
  • Customers first, SEO second: what customers want, not what Google wants (I love this!).
  • Be consistently on-brand.
  • Measure and optimise.
  • Don’t translate…localise (just like Eric Ingrand said).
  • Use solutions that scale.

Advanced Content Promotion Strategies and Tactics

Co-founder of Buzzstream, Paul May, came along to talk to us about Advanced Content Promotion and Outreach.

Paul talked about the fact that for most of us, simply publishing your content isn’t going to get you a huge amount (if any) links. There was a great quote in his slideshow from Hannah Smith of Distilled: “…if you spend 40 hours creating a piece you should spend 40 hours outreaching/seeding/promoting”. Paul suggested that the key to success is to “develop a system that allows you to scale outreach without sacrificing the personalisation needed to succeed.”

Some key points for me:

  • Think big, start small.
  • Commit to relationship building prior to outreach.
  • Identify target segments > Plan your engagement > Build lists > Execute campaign > Measure and adapt > Start process again.
  • 4 elements of a great outreach email:

–          Personalised

–          Positioned

–          Persuasive

–          Calling to action (aka make the ask)

Check out Paul’s presentation in more detail below!

If I Had a Planner – Content Planning 101

During the first half of the conference I was sat behind Jo Kerr from VInspired and had no idea who she was until she jumped up on stage towards the end of the day and started launching sweets into the audience (I didn’t get any *sad face*).

She gave a great presentation and I loved her process of developing a content strategy – meeting face to face and using hand-written post-it notes instead of skyping each other and making notes online, who’d of thought?

She gave us her 5 tips for content planning:

  • Meet face-to-face: Have plans with you, have the right people with you and bring a calendar!
  • Align content with business aims: Look at the bigger picture; it’s not just about likes!
  • Trust your editor.
  • Plan ahead AND be spontaneous: A bit of an oxymoron but she ensured us that it is possible!
  • Celebrate success and keep learning

How to Grow Social Media Communities

Luke Lewis from BuzzFeed provided us with our final talk. Luke spoke to us about “How to Grow Social Media Communities”.

I really liked Luke’s examples of content they had created, particularly the “planned spontaneity”. He told us about the Spotify playlists that they created as the Olympic opening ceremony was happening (which I loved!) and also creating different versions of content before events happen to align with the end results.

Luke’s 6 tips for Twitter:

  • Be relentless
  • Use photos
  • If it worked once, tweet it again
  • Tweet your greatest hits
  • Use analytics
  • Be geeky

Other tips:

  • Exploit big events and react in real-time.
  • Use planned spontaneity.
  • Tap into people’s passions.

So there you go! It was a great day and both Lauren and I were extremely pleased to have had to opportunity to attend. We got some great tips and ideas for content marketing moving forward and can’t wait to start using them!