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.
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.
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.
At the heart of Corbett’s presentation were these three steps to produce killer content:
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.
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.
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 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,
Measure behaviour, and
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?
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.
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.
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 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.
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?
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?
While I’m sure that you’ve all read a number of ‘top tips for social media’, I really like this list presented by Squidoo’s VP of Partnerships, Lauryn Ballesteros, on how to do social media and business well.
Although each individual step/tip involved in the below requires its own planning, research, integration and execution with the others, I think it’s a great list to keep saved and front of mind when planning and evaluating social media and communication activities.
So, without further ado, here are Lauryn’s five ways to do social media well – I hope you find them of great use.
Thanks to Lauryn and the teams at Squidoo and Creative Village NYC for the great event.
1. Be generous.
Provide value to your community on an ongoing basis – not just during a single ‘push’ or campaign.
2. You need to have a story.
Use social platforms to tell your brand’s story. This is the heart and soul of the brand, and what it represents.
3. Be strategic in your use of platforms.
Each channel has its own codes, engagement and audience. Research where your audience is, and the content they are engaging with to develop and execute your social media activities. The platforms you utilise need to have ease of access, use and reach.
4 + 5. Trust and Authenticity (Lauryn grouped these two together)
To succeed in the social space, brands needs to show themselves to be both trustworthy and authentic not only in the content they share, but the manner in which they engage and communicate with the community.
What do you think?
Would you add any tips to the above list for doing social media well (or not so well)?