At the end of every conference comes the onslaught of obligatory summary posts of the top takeaways from the day. You can learn about all the best speakers, who had the most creative slides and catch some great summaries of the more intricate details of the presentations. But this time I thought I’d write something ...
And now it's on to the second session of the day at the Content Marketing Show. I've taken the top takeaways from these four great sessions to provide you with a short summary of everything you need to know about content marketing.
We all know that people share content; after all that’s the point of social media. When you stumble across a really interesting blog post on D-Type, for example, one about a round-up of a session at the Content Marketing Show and it’s not only interesting but funny, engaging, creative… what’s the first thing you do? Share it. But why?
Emma covered her top reasons why people share content, and therefore, how you can target your content to be something that instantly attracts shares.
- Social Currency: Sharing content that’s cool will make you look cool. Simple.
- Unexpected: If something shocks you (Emma’s example was to think Susan Boyle) then you want to share it, as they think other people will be surprised too.
- Emotions: Content that has a reaction like contentedness or sadness won’t be shared much- but emotions that cause your heart rate to rise will be shared more. Get your audience excited or scared if you want your content to spread.
- Usefulness: Content that is actually useful to a niche in your audience and answers a need will be shared. People will share it to their colleagues or friends who have the same needs. By sharing specifically to someone they think will find it useful means not only do you get shares but also engaged followers.
- Identity: Imagine each individual has their own online brand, people want to share things that tell the world about themselves. By focusing on one specific identity or common group the share rate will go up as you connect more with the audience.
- Stories: People love to share good stories, it’s got to be interesting and engaging with a compelling narrative.
Why Thinking Like a Poker Player will Make You A Better Content Marketer - Andrew Tipp (Suffolk County Council)
Poker players are not instinctual, they don’t just guess. It’s all about strategy, which is what your content marketing needs to be. Take the analytical approach of poker players and adopt that into strategy design for your content - you need to listen to your data.
Everything should begin and end with data.
Whilst everyone has creative backgrounds in content marketing, you still need to pay attention to the analytics.
Poker means making decisions when you don’t have all the information, it’s a harder game to play as you can’t access all the information. In content marketing you will never have all the information you need about your audience but you still need to make decisions. Andrew shows us that you need to take the information you have and work from that.
No one has all the information on Google’s algorithm that they’ll ever need. But will spending time trying to mathematically calculate it help your content? Probably not. Instead look at hints and tells of Google and reputable blogs and just do the best you can with what you have.
Use expected value to make a decision. Calculate what could happen in your campaigns, by looking at the likelihood of success and how large a success or failure there could be. This can help assess what risks you should take.
Sometimes you get outplayed. Everyone knows that sometimes you won’t win over every competitor in your industry but instead of just panicking and giving up, learn from their successes and failures and apply to your business.
Look at the types of players in your game of content marketing. This means you need to adapt. If you always use the same style campaigns for your clients they become predictable and easy to defeat.
Everyone loves to win but the highest risk plays have the biggest fall outs. Don’t throw all your chips in and risk losing it all and ruining your brand, it’s harder to build back up. Smallball content should take up 70% of your production which should gain you small wins without the high risks.
Test your content in this way to see how you think your audience will react before implementing and wasting your money. It’s better to test even if it seems as though the answer’s obvious as the results can surprise them.
How a Journalistic Approach and a Magazine Mindset Improves Brand Content - Stephen Masters (Red Rocket Media)
Stephen Masters is a self-proclaimed journalist; the magazine mindset is just a way to describing a collection of things. Take a common idea or interest and base your content around this theme but include variety as people have a wide range of interests that you can appeal to.
An interview helps add that human touch to a piece of content. As great as it is to create content that relates to your Google ranking, you should also factor in what people want to read. A tagline or a quote from a person might not maximise your keywords but if it’s interesting your click through will benefit instead.
Add value with colour and detail and expert thought, by referencing multiple people and finding the debate in the issue you bring a new dimension to an article.
1. Stalk before you talk
You need to do your research before you hunt out quotes and interviews. You need to know the story you want to write and take control, get the person to talk about their passions.
2. Ask before you task
People are nervous, even experienced interviewees can get worried and might not bring the best answers if they’re not warned in advance. Don’t give them what questions you’re going to ask but it can be helpful to provide a rough outline of the topics you want to discuss so they can prepare.
3. Your place or mine?
Not words you ever want to hear at an SEO conference… but Stephen brings a good point on location here. Pick a time and place where they’ll be relaxed and happy to talk, but without being distracted.
4. Check your tech
Everyone knows that tech can be unreliable, so prepare in advance. Charge your devices, practice using them, clear their memories first and take a back-up solution of a pen and paper just in case.
5. Business and pleasure
People like to talk about themselves so play to their ego, a rapport that shows how much you value their input and the shared interests you have will help them to relax and help provide you with the great insights you need.
6. Conversation is key
You don’t want your interview to sound like an inquisition. Whilst a Q&A is good, the feeling and emotions that come forward in a piece and make for a good read comes from having a conversation and descriptive work.
7. Listen for Sound bites
People don’t naturally talk in sound bites so be prepared to pick out the key points and focus on drawing out a sound bite from them that can give you the perfect headline, quote and tweet.
8. Manners cost nothing
Being polite and grateful for the help of interviewees means that you can build a relationship and use the source again and again. This means you’ll be first for an exclusive quote, and they’ll utilise their social networks to help you too.
9. Check your facts
You might not realise the risk of offending people if you take a quote out of context, so send a draft before you publish to ensure that you keep a friendly relationship with your contacts.
10. Get it up, get it out
Unseen content is useless, you need to account for spending the same time promoting your content as producing it. Use Emma’s tips from earlier on what makes something shareable and your great content will spread quickly and gain momentum from your promotion.
How Do You Measure Content Marketing? The $44bn Question - Andrew Davies (Idio)
Proving Value Demands Maturity
Content marketers need to develop and grow alongside the industry. Utilise the four step value chain for content creation, audience building, relationship management and value optimisation. If you want to be a leader you need to measure the value of your work more and inspect in order to expect more.
A data-driven content strategy can be proven to be more successful, but also enables you to constantly monitor your work. A strong sustainable system in place will add value to your work.
You are what you read. Social media is a tiny element of what your customer is actually like; 18.2 articles online are read by each consumer before they make their final decision in their purchasing path. Look at these 18.2 articles to assess what it is your audience needs to read before they make their decision; once you understand the persona of your audience you'll be able to evolve with them when creating your content.
The individual is just as important as your general audience so specific segments that focus on groups will be beneficial to targeting your content.
Whilst content is in your job description, it is also important to look at the business drivers for the client you are creating content for. If you know their aims and objectives, as well as your boss' targets, you can understand what your content needs to do. It needs to bridge the gap between your audience and your client; this can be done through building a profile of both your customer and your client.
As content marketing grows there is a greater demand for content intelligence; you need to empower your content with data and gain engaged audience.