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9 Takeaways from BlogWorld NYC

Last week marked the second annual BlogWorld and New Media expo in New York City as bloggers, podcasters and communicators gathered from across the globe.

While it’s impossible to convey the depth and breadth of the content covered across the three days of forums, presentations and keynote addresses, I wanted to share some takeaways from just a few of the sessions I had the opportunity to attend.

I hope these takeaways prove helpful in your blogging, business and social media endeavours.

Thanks to Rick Calvert, Dave Cynkin and all the speakers and attendees for a terrific three days.

1. Optimise – Lee Odden

Lee Odden's Content Marketing Trilogy

When we think optimisation, many of us immediately think of SEO. While SEO is a core component of optimisation, Lee encouraged attendees to think of optimisation as a strategic state of mind to be applied to content marketing in a holistic fashion. That is, understanding your customers and their problems and solutions to strategically plan and implement content for each stage of the buying cycle.

To find out more, you can check out Lee’s new book ‘OPTIMIZE’ here.

2. Blogging Mistakes to Avoid – Marcus Sheridan (aka The Sales Lion)

I’d heard a lot about Marcus Sheridan prior to this conference – and his presentation and thoughts didn’t disappoint. Among the biggest blogging mistakes Marcus encouraged the audience to avoid were: failing to think like your customer/consumer, lack of focus on the key metrics for your brand and business, being afraid to take on the big players, focusing on bragging (as opposed to blogging), favouring witty titles over those that are SEO friendly, using ‘lack of time’ as an excuse, failing to see employees as content producers, and not embracing content as a sales tool.

I also recommend watching Marcus’ story here, where he also offers a free inbound marketing ebook with over 200 pages of practical advice.

3. Three Steps to Great Content – Corbett Barr

At the heart of Corbett’s presentation were these three steps to produce killer content:

  • Cultivate creativity,
  • Experiment, and
  • Remix popular content.

That is, keep doing the work of blogging and embracing your creative side (it often takes years).

Challenge yourself every day to produce different forms of content and learn from others to utilise and work with content forms that resonate with your audience.

To use Corbett’s metaphor of the cinema box office, we all now have the opportunity to create Little Miss Sunshine – a small budget film that, through killer content, took all the big players by surprise at the box office.

Try to map out and experiment with content that will make you the Little Miss Sunshine of your industry.

4. Chris Brogan

Chris’ first practical piece of advice was that blogging is a marathon – learn how to pen your thoughts in short and sharp bursts to maintain focus and manage your blogging time among all your work and life commitments.

Channel your passion and be sure to practice, practice, practice. As Chris said, “practice replaces talent” – and practice is the reward for all your ongoing efforts.

Through all of that, never forget to connect with others and draw them back to you, and try hard to be brave.

It takes a lot to put yourself out there as an individual and/or business – be brave every day.

5. How to attract members to your online community – Scott Fox, Rob Ludlow, David Risley, Lynette Young

There were some great tips out of this panel discussion, including:

  • Always consider what is helpful and remarkable for your consumers, and what will help them and encourage engagement and discussion,
  • Look at your community as a cohesive whole,
  • Show your personality,
  • Content may be King, but trust is the Emperor for online communities,
  • Utilise user-generated content – UGC is a sleeping giant with incredible monetisation and revenue potential,
  • Find the media that works best for your community and speak to them there in their language,
  • Build a database,
  • Blog and engage consistently,
  • Be prepared to fail – it’s how you truly grow and progress,
  • Measure and understand the topics that resonate with your community,
  • Never forget to measure and refine your content and engagement. As the panel said – “Wash, rinse, repeat.”

6. The Future of Content Creation – Andraz Tori and Shane Snow

Four points to consider about the future of content creation from this session:

  • Social content will largely replace advertising on the web,
  • Long form content is making, and will continue to make a comeback,
  • Brands will dominate online publishing, and
  • Freelance creatives and in-house Chief Content Officers will come to the fore as content marketing continues to evolve.

Chuck Martin presents at BlogWorld NYC 2012.

7.  A World Gone Mobile – Chuck Martin

The key takeaway from Chuck’s presentation is that brands need to tailor concise communication for mobile.

Current exponential growth in mobile and smart-phone adoption is greater than the initial growth of the internet – with mobile technologies evolving to become increasingly consumer centric.

However, while brands need to understand and keep up to date with consumer behaviour across the third screen – the real value is in the content, not the technology.

That is, the technology is only as useful as the content that is able to break through the noise of the mobile space. Oh, and one thing Chuck made clear – an app is not a mobile strategy.

If you’d like to read more of Chuck’s work you can check out and purchase his book here.

8. Four Steps to Editing Your Writing – Ali Luke

Ali presented a practical four-step framework for editing your writing – be it a tweet, blog post, white paper or book.

That is:

  • Read and re-read your work during the writing process,
  • Edit at the macro level to maintain focus on the ‘big picture’ or theme of your piece,
  • Change focus to line edit at the micro level – maintaining consistency and a clear voice, and
  • Format. Use images, audio, shades, block text, indents and bullet points to break up and add variety and white space to your work.
She also offers a number of ebooks to help with your writing here.

9. Must-dos for the Serious Blogger – Jay Baer

One of my favourite blogs is Jay Baer’s Convice & Convert. At BlogWorld, Jay gave the audience a behind-the-scenes overview of the stages of evolution the blog has gone through over the years to get to where it is now, and offered these golden pieces of advice to step-up your blogging:

  • Be patient,
  • Be somebody’s favourite blog,
  • You are a publisher – add value to your audience and have something to say,
  • Embrace variety in the content you create, curate and share,
  • Be a YOUtility in striving to help others,
  • Include calls to action,
  • Optimise,
  • Measure behaviour, and
  • Be shareable.


What do you think?

Did you have the opportunity to attend BlogWorld? What did you take away from the conference?

Did any of the thoughts from the above sessions resonate with your current personal or business activities?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Early Observations of the ‘Can’ Campaign

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia recently launched its new brand position: 'Can'

Despite being half a world away, I’ve been paying attention to the big re-brand of Commonwealth Bank Australia (CBA) that seems to be the talk of the media and communications town in Australia at present – the biggest re-brand in the banking sector since NAB’s ‘Break up’ campaign.

(I recently interviewed former NAB Channel Development Manager Hillan Klein about this campaign that garnered international attention).

Following a teaser campaign around the word ‘Can’t’, the CBA unveiled its new brand position of ‘Can’; a campaign including print and TV advertising, social media across its Facebook and Twitter accounts, a dedicated website, a mobile banking app called ‘Kaching’ (previously launched), and a pretty cool augmented reality app launched in conjunction with News Limited newspapers.

Certainly a busy week for the organisation after last week being named as one of the top 100 global brands in the 2012 Millward Brown BrandZ report.

‘Can’ teaser campaign videos via Mumbrella.

A selection of the new ‘Can’ TV advertisements. The ‘ode to can’ commercial featuring Toni Collette is currently unavailable, but can be viewed on the CBA Facebook page.

While it’s early days for the new brand position and we’re yet to see the results, I was really interested to watch this video interview (not embeddable sadly) that Mumbrella’s Tim Burrowes posted – featuring CBA CMOO Andy Lark, Tom McFarlane (Executive Creative Director, M&C Saatchi), Tony Kendall (News Limited Australia Sales), Scott O’Brien (Explore Engage) and Neil Breen (The Sunday Telegraph).

Given the scope of the re-brand and the allocation of transmedia resources to bring it to life, I believe there are some early observations for marketing and communication professionals from the interview – even at this early stage.

1. ‘Traditional’ media are far from dead.

Yes, we’ve all read the posts from doomsayers claiming that the end is near for our beloved TV and print media. While traditional media are undergoing their own unique evolution and expansion into the social and digital spheres, dollars and creative strategy are still being utilised in the traditional spaces as part of integrated, cross-platform campaigns.

2. Hit all the touch-points.

Connected consumers want to engage in their platform of preference, and on their terms – and brands need to plan and execute their outreach and engagement accordingly. It was great to see CBA CEO Ian Narev blog about the new brand position and share it across the bank’s social channels. Communication is now transmedia – and you don’t have to be a traditional media monolith or gatekeeper to produce stories and play in the space.

3. Tell a story (or multiple stories).

Again, we’ve all read the posts about the importance of storytelling. It’s nice to see a brand the size of CBA come out and put “lifestage stories being told through Facebook” (Mumbrella quote) as part of its strategy. In a recent episode of his Six Pixels of Separation podcast, Mitch Joel interviewed Jonathan Salem Baskin about the importance of truth in marketing. In short, people relate to people – and I hope the CBA takes the opportunity to tell some real stories that add to the TV commercials that outline the products, services and calls to action that encompass ‘Can’.

4. Don’t be afraid to innovate (and measure).

While not all businesses will have the budget of CBA, the CBA/News Limited/Explore Engage collaboration is an interesting example of exploring new media innovation in the context of current media trends (in this case, second screen experiences) to reinforce and drive home a brand message and integrate with the traditional, social and mobile marketing and communication strategy and tactics.

That is, CBA ‘Can’ bring the newspaper to life, literally! More than that, it can measure just how much its consumers use this piece of innovation. As Scott mentions in the interview – hardcore innovation and ROI is no longer a gimmick – it has arrived.

Again, while we’re yet to see the figures and results of this piece of innovation, it’s worth observing how this progresses, and thinking about how your own brand can leverage innovation and trends to communicate your story and message, and measure accordingly.


So, while it’s still early days for Commonwealth Bank and ‘Can’, there’s plenty for marketers and communicators to keep their collective eyes on as this brand positioning evolves and the results start to come through.

I look forward to seeing the team at CBA prove to Australia that they ‘Can’.

What do you think?

Have you been paying attention to the launch of ‘Can’? If so, what do you think of CBA’s efforts to date? What have you taken from the positioning so far?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Image credit: Ariaski, via Flickr CC 2.0.




My Content & Community Dilemma

Is it enough to simply broadcast branded content?

I was reading through Kathi Kruse’s post on 10 surefire ways to fail at Twitter this week when I found myself faced with the great dilemma: to continue following or unfollow?

Allow me to elaborate.

I’m a HUGE fan of a particular consumer brand’s content marketing. It produces exceptional content that is entertaining and continually resonates with the audience – I find it captivating, even mesmerising at times.

It also does a great job of sourcing content from its community and incorporating it within its efforts, and invests a great deal in getting out and about on the road with its consumers.

So, why would I press the unfollow button?

In the years that I’ve followed, mentioned, tweeted and blogged about the brand, I’ve not received one reply. In fact, the only reply I received was from a local store that stocks the brand after I posted about it (an excellent piece of real-time marketing and communication – hat tip David Meerman Scott).

I don’t know if I’m being over-sensitive or expecting too much of the brand here, but after all the mentions and shout-outs, it makes me wonder how much they care.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

As Laurel Papworth discussed in this great post, online communities have their own unique relationship to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (check out the great table comparing needs of online and offline communities in Laurel’s post).

In this case, my contributions would relate directly to ‘social’ and ‘self-esteem’ needs. That is, belonging to a community and being recognized accordingly for those contributions.

The strange thing is, even if I do unfollow the brand on Twitter, I can’t bring myself to unlike it on facebook; such is the quality of its content and posts in this space. Even if the posting is more representative of a straight broadcast model of content distribution without replies or discussion, I find myself unable to turn away.

Does that make me a social media hypocrite? Can I continue to advocate for community but still like a brand that hasn’t responded to my calls for engagement and fulfilled my hierarchy of needs?

More importantly, what does that say about the relationship between content and community?

In an ideal scenario, I believe in the power of content and community to work together to achieve business and communication objectives. With regard to social tools, these can range from driving sales to servicing and supporting clients with questions and issues that may arise before, during and after the purchase process or product development.

Now I’m not privy to this particular brand’s marketing plan and KPIs, but it may just be that broadcasting posts across facebook, email and including strong calls to action in both is driving more traffic and sales than it planned for, and that its in-person events are a spectacular success.

However I can’t help but see this as a missed opportunity for the brand (and others who employ the same strategy) – an opportunity to build an organic community of connected bloggers, evangelists and consumers willing to help spark that next rave about the brand, and to support it through the good times and the bad.

An opportunity to connect even deeper with the people behind the brand and extend the experience more than before, and to grow product use, knowledge and sales further.

The problem is, while tools exist to monitor and evaluate leads, calls to action and sales for this marketing content, it’s harder to measure the value of missed opportunities.

Then again, when it has fans like me willing to subscribe to its feed and purchase its products despite the lack of response and community engagement (yes, I’ve tried a purchase boycott but failed dismally), perhaps it doesn’t factor into the strategy and resources.

Only time will tell whether this is a sustainable strategy for the brand.

Should I press the unfollow button? 


What do you think?

Is content alone a sustainable marketing and communication strategy for ongoing growth without community?

Am I being a social media hypocrite by championing community but supporting and subscribing to a brand that doesn’t actively respond to or acknowledge me? 

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Satellite image credit: matthew.devalle, via Flickr CC 2.0.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs image credit: BetterWorks, via Flickr, CC 2.0.


Highlights from Ad Age’s Inaugural Social Engagement / Social TV Conference

The opening panel gets underway at the inaugural Advertising Age Social Engagement / Social TV conference

It’s been almost two weeks since I had the opportunity to attend Advertising Age’s inaugural Social TV conference in New York – and my head’s still spinning.

As is often the case with these conferences, it’s hard to describe the depth of each session, but for those who couldn’t attend, and who have an interest in this space, I wanted to put together an overview of the main sessions and big points that I took from each (you can also find a Storify of the event by Mo Krochmal over here).

I’ve also included a few best practices for Social TV campaigns at the end of the post that were shared at last week’s Digital Flash NYC Social TV event for Internet Week New York (featuring Sabrina Caluori, David Berkowitz, Mark Ghuneim and Chris Stephenson).

So, without further ado, below are my take-outs from what were two excellent events, and an exciting multi-media space that continues to innovate and evolve.

It will be interesting to consider how these are applied to the social/digital/mobile spaces by other forms of media moving forward.

From the discussions surrounding Social TV, the primary points I took included:

  • It’s all about enhancing the user and viewer experience,
  • Create and sustain partnerships,
  • Engage fans before, during (real-time) and after broadcast to extend the story,
  • Invest in considering how you can scale projects and experiences, and
  • Curate to win and provide value.

If you attended either event, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the content and presentations, and the overriding themes and points you took from the discussions.


1. Inside Coca-Cola’s Polar Bowl   

Jennifer Healan, Integrated Marketing Content, Coca-Cola.

This was a particularly informative keynote covering everything from planning to execution and the stunning results for Coca-Cola (you can watch one of the commercials below).

One of the featured Polar Bowl commercials from Coca-Cola

Some key learnings from Coca-Cola’s approach to this campaign included:

  • Be nimble and able to react in real-time,
  • Incorporate research before, during and after to gauge viewers’ use of multiple screens, devices and platforms,
  • Be prepared and rehearse for multiple scenarios and levels of engagement,
  • Resource accordingly with both technology and personnel to meet the needs of all scenarios,
  • Be additive to the viewing experience – don’t detract from the program or event, and
  • Build anticipation for the second-screen viewing engagement and experience.

2Social TV to Better TV: Will The ‘Second Screen’ Deliver for Networks, Brands and Users?

Panel discussion featuring: Aaron Lilly, Media and Branded Entertainment, Bing, Chris Stephenson, President, Viggle, Lisa Hsia, Executive VP – Digital Media, Bravo Media, Mike Darne, Senior Director, Social Media & Mobile Marketing, Capital One. Moderator: Mark Ghuneim, CEO/Co-Founder, Trendrr.

The importance of being real-time and incorporating research were reinforced in this panel discussion, particularly in relation to brand advertising in the Social TV and application space.

That is, brands need to understand that the use of Social TV applicationss is on the rise, with real-time engagement an opportunity to drive interaction and business. This requires an understanding of how your target market is searching for and talking about your brand.

For production houses (and networks), Social TV is already being thought of at the production level – something that the panel believed will only increase moving forward, to the point where Social TV will (if it already doesn’t) require its own programming strategy. Will we see Social as another integrated component of the production houses’ and networks’ annual up-front presentations?

With advertisers now demanding full integration across social activity leading up to and during broadcasts, the answer may very well be yes.

As for users and viewers, the panel believed that co-creation was the next evolution in this space – although scaling this kind of production will be a challenge to make this a reality.

3. Presentation

Kay Madati, Head of Entertainment and Media, Global Marketing Solutions, Facebook.

Kay gave a great presentation entailing the move of the (social) web from following the wisdom of crowds to the wisdom of friends – claiming that friend to friend discovery on social networks drives more value than your average campaign.

Facebook has its own Social TV Opportunity Activation

Or, to use Mark Zuckerberg’s words – people (the audience) are the most powerful media.

With that in mind, he encouraged networks and production companies to give due consideration, and leverage the opportunity to use social and digital assets not only during broadcast, but before and after programming – citing the upcoming series return of Dallas as a great example to extend the viewing experience (the show’s Facebook page already has 665,000 fans before the return on June 13).

He reinforced the idea that Social TV deserves its own individual programming strategy where the content is king – something Facebook is paying particular attention to with its Social TV Opportunity Activation (where facebook + content = Social TV). A great example of this was the partnership between Facebook and Pepsi at the recent Cricket World Cup in India.

The next trend/challenge to watch out for? Marketers utilising engagement and insights from Social TV to begin to inform the programming narrative and direction.

4. NewFront Panel: Social’s Role in TV Buying

David Cohen, Chief Media Officer, Universal McCann, Joel Lunenfeld, VP Global Brand Strategy, Twitter, Marc DeBevoise, SVP and GM, CBSi Entertainment. Moderator: Jordan Bitterman, SVP, Social Marketing Director, Digitas.

Right from the start, the panel highlighted that social buzz about television is now pulling audiences to television from their second screens – with spoilers a particularly effective tool driving live viewing as opposed to time-shifted consumption.

In the case of CBS, they are seeing 15 percent of their web traffic derived from social platforms – a statistic that contributes to views, advertising and money.

Screen shot of the CBS Connect page

More than that, the network has launched CBS Connect, a hub for conversation surrounding viewers’ favourite CBS shows.

From the agency perspective, David noted that only 10 percent of his clients are currently buying space in social and Social TV (apps, pages etc) –  a statistic he expects to increase.

The challenge ahead? To begin to measure and investigate the relationship between Social TV and ratings. That is, does correlation equal causation with regard to social buzz and viewers? And how does time-shifted viewing then factor into this equation?

I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

5. Leveraging Social Media to Connect Talent, Fans and Brands

Kristin Frank, SVP-Digital, MTV and VH1 and Drita D’AvanzoMob Wives star.

MTV and VH1 are two networks that have adopted the ‘storytelling without borders’ approach – planning shows with social engagement factored into every step of the process, and continuing the storyline between seasons and episodes.

As Kristin described it, they are a 24/7 media company.

The networks have introduced a social media education program for their talent (something I think we’ll see more and more of) with great results.

Mob Wives star Drita D’Avanzo was one of the first to partake in the program, and has launched herself into the social space, and at the time of writing has more than 317,000 followers.

With its talent as trans-media storytellers, the network is now taking the opportunity to break the confines of individual program episodes to simultaneously tell and extend multiple stories at one time.

As Kristin put it, they’re employing social media and technology to make good content great.

6. Transforming the TV Experience with Social Engagement

Bonin Bough, Vice President of Global Digital and Consumer Engagement, Kraft Foods and Amanda Richman, President of Digital, MediaVest.

Bonin and Amanda shared a great example of partnership and integration in the Social TV space, with Kraft’s Wheat Thins executing a highly unconventional (but exceptionally entertaining) integration with The Colbert Report. For an excellent clip and interview with Amanda discussing the campaign check out this video from Beet TV (embedding disabled).

So, what are Bonin and Amanda’s tips for Social TV and social business success?

  • Be agile & responsive,
  • Innovate with new technologies, and
  • Partner to create great content.

7. Special Presentation

Ryan Osborn, Senior Director, Digital Media, NBC News. 

Ryan underlined that although there are a number of skeptics in the Social TV space, the area will continue to grow and thrive.

In particular, he described filtering as the future – with smart players in the space such as Breakingnews.com already paying attention to as they curate content of value (a point also highlighted by Steve Rubel in his inaugural Clip Report covering the evolving mediascape).

8. Creating Social Engagement Around Live Sports

Bob Bowman, CEO, MLB Advanced Media, John Kosner, EVP-Digital and Print Media, ESPN, Jason Hoch, SVP-Digital, WWE. Moderator: Christian Waitzinger, Executive Creative Director, SapientNitro.

This final panel echoed Ryan’s sentiment and called for brands to provide value by cutting through the noise with curation and information.

For younger audiences, they will grow up demanding, and indeed already demand connectivity and the extended social viewing experience, and will migrate to the largest screen available. In that regard, the meaning and definition of the second screen is still a work in progress.

At the heart of this is the viewer experience. Pro-wrestler Zack Ryder’s organic communication with fans was cited as an example of engagement that talent and networks should look to emulate.

With regard to advertisers and partnerships, it’s about scaling these kinds of experiences in a bid to establish and maintain partnerships and drive even more value from Social TV initiatives (an example being the original programming partnership between the WWE and YouTube).

Some best practices for Social TV campaigns from Digital Flash NYC…

  • Give people a creative call to action. When managing a campaign, you’re like the DJ at a party – it’s your job to direct and fuel the party with music,
  • Set realistic expectations. Do your homework up-front and manage expectations accordingly, and
  • Find ways to channel the passion of fans and demonstrate that you ‘get it’. If you do, they’ll give you the right to follow through and interact with the campaign and program.


Thanks to Advertising Age and Digital Flash NYC for putting on these events, and to all the speakers for their insights and time.

What are your thoughts on Social TV?






Community Consultation – Offline & Online

Communities exist offline and online.

Like most Liverpool Football Club fans around the world, I watched eagerly last week as the club unveiled its new jersey for the 2012-2013 season.

Thoughts on the design aside, what followed for the club serves as an important reminder for communicators and community managers about the importance and power of connecting with and acknowledging your community offline.

One of the most noticeable changes to the jersey was the switch of logo to the Liver Bird that adorned the jersey back in the club’s glory days of the 70s and 80s – omitting the twin flames of the previous logo which represent the memorial that burns in honour of those 96 fans that lost their lives in the Hillsborough tragedy of 1989 – one of the darkest days in the club’s history.

These flames and the number 96 have been moved to the back of the jersey for next season’s kit.

While the club promoted and followed buzz surrounding the jersey among the online community using the #LFCkit hashtag, it was the reaction of the families of the Hillsborough disaster that sparked anger offline, and threatened to envelop the club in a PR disaster.

It was claimed in this BBC piece that while the Hillsborough Family Support Group were consulted about the proposed changes to the jersey, no individual family members of those who lost their lives at Hillsborough were consulted, and neither were members of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign – who claimed the actions of the club to be “insensitive, divisive and deplorable.”

Although the club moved promptly and with transparency to defend its consultation process and reinforce its respect for the 96 who lost their lives and their families, the incident highlighted an important lesson for communicators.

That is, in a world of increased connectivity where we are all networked, it is just as important to pay attention to, and consult the community offline, as well as online.

In a panel discussion at Blogworld New York 2011, Gary Vaynerchuk called on brands and attendees to wholeheartedly embrace the feedback and voice of the online community. After all, if someone is saying something about you, wouldn’t you like to know, and wouldn’t you like the opportunity to address their concerns?

While I agree one hundred percent, this example serves as a reminder that brands need to remember and acknowledge that their communities exist in real life (IRL), as well as virtually.

Moreover, there are some scenarios in which consultation IRL is the appropriate way to communicate – and that failing to do so threatens to damage the reputation of the organisation in the domain of traditional and social media, with each potentially feeding the other.

Yes, brands and organisations now have the gift of community that comes with utilising the plethora of social and connected platforms available, but these communities and methods of communicating should not be at the expense of in-person communication and the maintenance and consultation of a physical community IRL.

Communities exist offline and online.

What do you think?

How do you balance connecting your community virtually and IRL? Are there any other case studies you feel add to this area and are worth acknowledging?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Image credit: Brisbane City Council, via Flickr CC 2.0