Sam’s top takeaways from Content Marketing World 2018

Last week I had the pleasure of attending #CMWorld in Cleveland where I got to meet new friends, tear up at Dewitt Jones’ keynote, and cram my head with more information than I could contain. Needlessly to say, it was an insightful, inspiring week in Cleveland. People say, “Cleveland Rocks!”, I’m not so sure about that but I had a good time in the city.

From listening to Tina Fey talk about how she gets past writer’s block to being educated on the need for more engaging long-form content, Content Marketing World was full of information and ideas. Here are a few of my top takeaways:

Long-form is still a thing! People have been saying that our audience has the attention span of a goldfish but during @Drewdavisishere’s keynote on Wednesday, we talked about how in order to keep our audiences engaged we need to make sure they stay curious throughout the content we are delivering. Long-form content doesn’t have to be boring long e-books but instead can be a series of insights compiled together in an engaging infographic e-book. You just have to keep your readers interested. A few notes on that:

  • Create a curiosity gap = Make a gap between what your audience knows and what they are seeking to know.
  • Add payoff or value to your content = This is a given but make the tension proportional to the pay off. (Same goes for giveaways)
  • Tease and threaten = Tease your audience with what they want to know and then ‘threaten’ to take it away in order to capture and hold attention.
  • Make it matter = Make sure your readers know what you are trying to accomplish with your piece of content upfront.

Use your customers to help create content. During @jaybaer’s “Talk Triggers: How killer content create conversations and clone customers” he discussed ways to create a conversation around your brand and this session really stuck out to me. I can’t wait for this book to come in the mail! Here are a few highlights from this session:

  • The best stories are about what you do and not what you have to say.
  • Give your customers a story to tell them remember it, promote it, repeat it.
  • The 4 requirements of engaging content: Remarkable, Repeatable, Reasonable, Relevant.

Documenting your strategy goes a long way. I know this one seems pretty second nature but when we talked about documenting it, we dug into who needed to have visibility in the strategy documentation and how other teams in the company benefit from knowing the strategy. When your organization is empowered to live and breathe the strategy, it makes buy-in from their teams so much easier and allows the content to feel connected to every one involved. 

Learned so much more than just these key takeaways and I’ll be following up with some additional blogs about some of my learning from the conference from my perspective. Stay tuned for more to come. 

Party on. Ambushed.

cmworld-ambushed-view

 

Women in Digital : Community connection that helped for better conference experience

I attended Content Marketing World #CMWorld and to say that I was nervous about attending alone was an understatement. I prepped with business cards, my elevator pitch for myself but also for the questions around, “What is Pacejet? Did you say PAY JETS?” While creating an elevator pitch for your everyday work life is easy, coming up with topics to have on the ready when attending an opening event for a conference that has 4,000 people registered, NOT SO EASY! Queue in anxiety and mild panic!

I’ve been a founding member of Women In Digital in Columbus, Ohio for over 2 years and I’ll never forget the first meet up I attended at The Vue in Columbus. I was inspired by the creativity in the room and the way that women were all standing up to say that equal pay was important, promotions are possible, and that women who are strong in their business acumen aren’t always bitches. This organization is something I can totally stand behind but let’s get to the point of my ramblings.

Attending Content Marketing World as a individual Content Manager from a software company was scary enough. Conferences are so much more fun with your friends but I wanted/needed to go to this conference. I’ve been in content strategy/social/digital for 4 years now and design/content for 6 but I had no LinkedIn friends going, no ex-co workers going so naturally, I took to my community within Women In Digital.

 

cmw

I asked my favorite channel, #content-marketing, if anyone was going. Trying to not be too desperate, I reached out and got a great response. A woman I connected with last year at the Women In Digital Annual Conference in Columbus is now on the board of the Cleveland chapter and she worked to get a happy hour scheduled that would connect us all together on the first night. After a few back and forth posts, we decided to meet at Nuevo, right next to the opening night networking/party event. 

Women in Digital made it possible for me to connect with 3 other ladies attending the conference and because of that connection, I formed new friends, enjoyed the parties and events, didn’t eat dinner alone, and wasn’t forced to insert myself every second of the conference. As a extrovert, normally this isn’t an issue. Networking is something I enjoy but being able to turn that off and have casual conversations with people who had not only my industry in common but also were apart of the same organization, made it seamless to be myself, to learn, to enjoy, and to grow at Content Marketing World.

I will forever be an advocate of women bringing other women up in the workplace and in the industry. I live for moments where the two of those connect! 

I’m in Women In Digital for the community and meeting up with some of them through the Cleveland chapter’s efforts made it even easier for me to tap into this national community. Find your community, people. It makes things way more enjoyable! 

 

Party on. Ambushed.

2017 for Social : The Year of All the Updates!

I don’t know about you but my 2017 was pretty rough, for reasons far and wide but when it comes to the social media strategist in me, 2017 ROCKED! So many awesome updates and changes to my favorite platforms. Too many to even count but I wanted to highlight some of my favorite updates as well as some of the most important.

 

Facebook 2017:

1- Stories for Pages

2- Pages Allowed to Use VIDEOS for Their Cover Photos

3- Facebook Polls

4- New Metrics for Pages and Ad Insights – ALL THE SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER, GIVE ME A HELL YAHHH!

 

Twitter 2017:

1- Video Count Views

2- 280 Character Count!

3- Happening Now Tab — Let’s get the news rolling!

4- Explore Tab

 

Instagram 2017:

1- Photo Albums (Multiple Images and Video Posts)

2- Hashtag Following

3- Saved Posts/Collections

4- Shopify Integration – This is HUGE! All the retail brands are hyped!

 

LinkedIn 2017:

1- Native Videos – You’ve noticed because people in your feed are already abusing it!

2- Desktop Redesign

3- Career Advice Feature

 

There you have it folks. Some of my favorite updates to social media platforms.

Party on. Ambushed.

“What even is Content Strategy?”

I mean honestly. Does anyone actually know what they mean when they say it? From a client to a content strategist — everyone has a different idea on what it means. When dealing with clients, sometimes I find that they think it’s social media posts and blogs only or it’s just ads on social but it can be so much more than that.

Content strategy is all about creating a common thread to carry out through your channels. I’m talking your social media channels, your website, your ads, your TV spots, your radio ads and your overall advertising strategy. Content marketing focuses on the planning, creation, execution and optimization of content. While content strategy is the guideline and vision for the content for your brand/business. Creating a content strategy is all about ensuring that you have useful and usable content, that is well structured, and easily found that tells a story or speaks to your audiences. It’s a vital part in user experience.

A content strategy is the high-level vision that guides future content development to deliver against a specific business objective. It’s a piece of your overall marketing plan that helps your brand create content – written, visual, downloadable, etc. – that ladders up to a larger business goal or objective. I’ve been in the practice of creating audience personas and content pillars for a few years now to help define the audiences for brands and then the best style/theme of content to reach them but also to lead them through the path to conversion (whatever that may be).

Why’s it so important? 

Content creation without a strategy, plan or pillar behind it can often lead to confusing your target audience and negatively impact your brand. More than that, a lack of strategy can lead to generic content without purpose or a clear CTA. Generic content doesn’t get shared and doesn’t engage people making it unlikely to deliver against your wider marketing objectives. If you skip the strategy and head straight to delivery you’re in danger of creating content which could either confuse or alienate your audience, or fail to reach them at all.

Here are some top-line steps on how to create a content strategy for your brand or business:

1- Define your goal or goals. (see Smart Goals post)

2- Conduct persona/audience research. (Because what good is a strategy that doesn’t actually meet your true audience?)

3- Run a content audit. (What are your competitors doing? Where are you posting? What have you been creating in the way of content lately?)

4- Brainstorm content ideas! (Content strategy isn’t a one person show! Involve the larger team on ideas of what themes or “pillars” you want to create content under.)

5- Determine the style of content you want to create. (Blogs? Social posts? Ads? Ebooks? Whitepapers? Infographics? Templates? Videos? Podcasts? External content? The possibilities are endless!)

6-Create and Execute!

7- Publish and manage your content. (Make sure you are keep track of cadence, who’s engaging and trends in your analytics to improve future content decisions.)

8- Report! (KNOW WHAT IS PERFORMING!!!! – This is often a big miss for alot of brands.)

 

Note that when creating and using a content strategy for your brand or business, make sure that you have a business case for what you are creating. Make sure your content is well researched, your audiences are well defined and you have a goal at the backbone of all of your content creation.

And because I’m a visual person, this breaks down the difference between Content Strategy and Content Marketing, from Moz.

Content.JPG

As always…

 

Party on. Ambushed.

How to set S.M.A.R.T. goals for Social Media

Social Media goals are a must have for content marketers. You can’t start creating content, putting together campaigns or publishing ads without knowing what the brand needs/wants are. It’s like starting to drive a car without having a destination.

When trying to determine social goals, keep this in mind and it will make things easier.

S.M.A.R.T. = Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound.

Step one in any social media marketing strategy is to establish the objectives and goals for your strategy. Having these objectives will allow you to quickly react when social media campaigns are not meeting your expectations. (Adaptability) Without goals, you have no way of gauging success or proving your social media return on investment.

When creating your social media goals make sure that they align with your overall marketing strategy and drive your business goals. This will totally help when trying to get executive buy-in and investment into social as a part of the digital strategy.

While some clients really like to see that they have 100,000 fans on Facebook, Fan Growth isn’t the best goal to have in most cases. While it’s easy to measure, it’s not specifically tied to increasing sales. It’s a great goal to add into the mix but shouldn’t be the only goal of being active on social media.

 

Here’s the S.M.A.R.T. goals method =

Specific: If you can answer – Who, What, Where,Why and Which – then you can really determine the specific goals.

Measurable: Is there a metric from insights that we can pull to support this goal and speak to it working or not working for the client?

Attainable: Is it possible? Can it happen with what we’ve got and what we can do?

Relevant: For businesses, a relevant goal means that it has the potential to impact your business objectives, vision, or values.

Time-Bound: Let’s give it a deadline.

 

Examples:

  • Client says, “I want more likes on our Facebook page because my competitors have more than me and no one really knows us. We are too new and aren’t sure why people aren’t just liking the page”.
    • Goal: “We will increase fan base by using targeted boosts and ads to audiences of your competitors and get in front of new potential buyers with the option to like the page as well as learn about the brand. We will increase fan base by 35% by the March 2018.”
  • Client says, “We just created a new line of insurance that we are offering. Since it’s boating season, we made a boating coverage policy that users only need to have valid for 3 months but we aren’t sure how to get it out in front of people more.”
    • Goal: “Our agency will help facilitate and create web copy around this new policy by July 1st and have it set live to the site. Then we will create an audience on Facebook who your business could possibly sell to that also have an interest or need. We will then serve ads on Facebook and Instagram to users within this audience and gain some clicks to the website and drive traffic to that product page.”

 

Some things to consider/ more information to nerd out with:

-Go beyond vanity metrics such as retweets and Likes. Focus on advanced metrics such as leads generated, web referrals, and conversion rate.

-This Social Media Metric is my life as a social media manager. Simply Measured did an awesome job putting this together and I live and die by it. All my sales co-workers have this ingrained into their brains.

 

 

 

Party on. Ambushed.

Business Benefits of Social Media

  1. Customer Insights In Plain View: The amount of data that comes from social media metrics is extensive. Social media metrics can showcase information about your audience in reference to –who they are, what they like and how they even feel about your brand. After gaining these insights, your brand can use that information to reformat your content, campaigns and strategy to better fit your audience or target audience.
  2. Increase Brand Awareness, Loyalty and Advocacy: When your business is active on social media, you can engage with your audience right in the platform they already are in. Connecting with your customers on social enhances retention and awareness because of the presence and recurring placement of your business content instream.
  3. Social Media Helps Your Business Deliver Better Customer Service: Twitter has become the first place that users are turning to engage with a brand if something is happening (good or bad) with a product. Use that to your advantage.
  4. Ability to Manage Your Brand’s Reputation Online: By being active in the communities on social channels with your users, audiences and customers, your business can control the persona of your brand. Within the platforms you can reply to reviews, retweet and reply back to comments and meet your audience where they are. Community management is key to your business reputation online.
  5. Ad Targeting: Social ads are an inexpensive way to promote your business and distribute content. These ads can allow you to target users on the platform by if they follow your business, if their friends follow your business as well as by geo-location, demographics, interests, connections and behaviors.
  6. Generate Higher Converting Leads: Social media can increase sales and customer retention through regular interaction, consistent content and timely customer service.
  7. Give Your Brand Voice The Light of Day: Social Media is great place to showcase your brand voice and show some personality which allows your users to connect with you at a new level. Since the content is dispersed within the stream of content that includes friends and family stories, it’s trusted, natural and more intimate.
  8. Provide Visual Customer Experience and Story: Some social channel are completely geared towards visual storytelling. Use them to your advantage. Give a personality to your brand by using image and video content to speak of your brand, products or services.
  9. Increase Website Traffic and Search Ranking Placement: You can create content that links directly back to your businesses website for new products, services or blog articles to drive some more web interactions. Not only does social media help you direct people to your website, but the more social media shares you receive, the higher your search ranking will be.
  10. Scope What Your Competitors are Doing: You can watch pages of your biggest competition to see how they engage with their audience, what kind of content they are creating and if they are getting any interactions.

I’ve been asked a few times lately as to why a business should be on social and what the benefits are. I figured, what better way to talk about it than bring the blog back!

Party on. Ambushed.

2017 Social Predictions

Really if you are a brand and you aren’t doing video, you need to get with the program. Talking about the state of marketing with some coworkers today got me kind of riled up. Trying to talk through dark social and live video gets my blood pumping. These are a few of my favorite things right now. I can’t wait to see what happens with digital marketing in 2017. Some of my predictions:

 

-Chatbots for customer service will be the new norm. Dark social has just started to be thought about and with that comes alot of next steps before any of that is tractable.

-Wearable video tech – Snapchat Spectacles is just the beginning.

-Disappearing content – on all channels. Snapchat and Instagram already are leading that space but I’m willing to bet that Facebook and other platforms are going to jump on that train. (Facebook is in process of testing an AI for this already)

-Transparency will be critical to a brand sticking around. Up front customer service and even witty customer care – Wendy’s tweets being the example here. Users are begging for honesty from brands and without it, those users will go elsewhere. It’s the “invest in me” mentality.

-Mobile first – user interface will all be geared to mobile visibility. I mean who uses a computer anymore? Am I right?!

-More and more Pokemon Go/Augmented Reality! Immersive marketing is on the rise and I’m ready for it to hit it’s peak.

-Pinterest – when is this platform going to start making some money? Are they going to think about going public? Maybe 2017? Alot of industry folks seem to think so. We’ll see.

 

Just some thoughts from me. Who knows, what will happen but to say I’m excited, is an understatement.

 

Party on. Ambushed.

Video: Social in 2017

It’s no secret that video has been on the verge of taking over social throughout 2016 but 2017 is where it’s all going to come to a head. Whether it’s native Facebook videos, Instagram Stories or Snapchat, video marketing is about to change dramatically.

Here’s why/how:

Snapchat Spectacles: These are already released to the public in a few pop up areas but in 2017, they are going to be more readily available. I’ve read a bunch of reviews on the spectacles and overall the consensus is that they are giving you back your hands. You are still able to share content but no longer are bound by holding your phone/device. It’s wearable video equipment. I can only imagine what comes after this sort of tech.

Instagram Stories: Instagram grew to be apart of the game in mid 2016 by updating the video length and capabilities for instream videos but they are really stepping up to MATCH the competitors by adding these features. I’m not a huge fan of Instagram stories personally but for businesses, I think it’s an easy way to humanize your brand with quick, easy, relatable content.

Instagram Live: Seems to be going over well already. They launched this across the channel this week. I’ve only seen a few brands using it. Anyone have a brand who is utilizing this update?

So what’s next? More video capabilities across channels. While Vine couldn’t survive 2016, I’m confident that Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat will be changing the way video content works, is used and is viewed. No doubt about that. Is anyone else stoked about this?

 

Party on. Ambushed.

 

Competitive Tracking : Part 2

About 6 months ago I published a blog on tracking your competition and I feel like it needs to be addressed again. I’ve got some of clients who are afraid of what their competition is doing but rather than being afraid, they should be thrilled. They should be picking up where their competitors left off and running with it. That’s where my job comes in I guess.

My original post was more about following what they are doing and getting your own business page in order but what I want to talk about is how to get use your competitors content to your advantage.

Once you’ve identified your competitors on Facebook, add them to your “Pages to Watch” under insights, if it’s on Linkedin, Twitter or Instagram – Follow them! By being connected to their profiles, it will help you gain an understanding of what they are doing on social as a whole so that you have a well rounded social strategy. By watching them on social, you can identify part of your target audience that maybe you haven’t thought about before. Who’s engaging in your competitions posts? Who is retweeting their content? And on the other side of that, study how your competition engages with customers. Are they quick to response? Do they like the comments or retweet them? That’s something that you can use in your plans for community management going forward. If your competitors are fast responders and you aren’t, they might just snag the next sale.

When it comes to social, CONTENT IS EVERYTHING! As a brand you are responsible for getting your name out into the interwebs but it’s more than that. As a business, you want to connect with your audience by creating and promoting content that is engaging and conversational. You want to share snackable content that resinates with your fans/followers or prospects. Study what your competition is doing. Pay attention to the promotions they are running. Mimic what’s working but also, put your original spin on it. In the words of Picasso, “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal;” and this totally applies. Steal the ideas that are working but then add something that makes it your own. By watching your competitions content on social you can also pick up what’s not working. Maybe your brands target audience doesn’t do Twitter well. Maybe they just don’t search for your brand/talk about your brand on Twitter and that’s okay but don’t force a budget there because you see your competitors doing it. That’s not a good enough reason to spend money on content for a platform that’s not working. This is a valuable lesson that I have to give about every other client pitch. Twitter is required for every brand! – ok, end rant.

But really, use your competition to your advantage. Learn from what they are doing and then do it better. Step it up. Create content that engages your users.

Party on. Ambushed.