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?
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?
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).
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.
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.
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
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 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?
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).
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.
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)?
Although I never studied CSR as a discipline, it’s an area that captured my attention since I began living with my brother during his time as a student in Property and Sustainable Development.
In particular, I became interested in how organisations incorporate and communicate CSR and sustainability to their stakeholders (I was lucky enough to write a research paper on it during my Masters study).
One point the panel agreed upon is that CSR needs to, and is slowly being incorporated across every component of business – from community engagement to supply chain management.
Interestingly, moderator Johan Havens likened it to the ongoing evolution and integration of social media in businesses – a point that really got me wondering – what are the parallels between the integration of sustainability and social media within business?
Taking a few of the key points made during the panel discussion, here’s some similarities I came across.
1. CSR Benchmarking is critical for each sector and niche of business to compare performance and strive for improvement.
The same can be said for social media and communication. As new channels, media, campaigns and community management efforts evolve, businesses and communicators need to learn how to measure their efforts. While a universal benchmark for sectors may not be possible given business’ individual objectives, it is only through setting and measuring results that organisations will achieve goals and further develop their efforts.
2. CSR performance is a continuum, with new innovation driving products, processes and engagement that redefines the standard.
I would argue that trail-blazers in social media marketing and communications are doing the same. Every day there are new case studies as brands and organisations develop ways to combine and utilise the spectrum of available media and technology to re-define what is achievable and push other communicators to grow and meet their individual business objectives.
3. CSR needs to find ways to contribute and tie itself to the wider business objectives of the whole company. That is, connect the dots between where the company is going (or wishes to go), and what CSR can achieve as part of that vision.
As the concepts of the connected consumer and social business come to the fore, social media too must break out of the silo and tie itself to the objectives of the organisation, and establish itself as capable of transforming and improving business processes and results both internally and externally to meet a wider vision.
We are at an exciting time for both fields as they integrate further within business – and that’s without even discussing the intersection of CSR, Sustainability and social media (we’ll save that for another time).