The Season for Marketers
This time of year, end of summer and early fall, is apparently the season for marketers. Between the Digital Summit Series, Content Marketing World, Inbound and the MN Marketing Summit, it sure is the prime time to invest in a pair of comfortable shoes and buy a pass to one or a couple of these great events! Not only are they great for marketing professionals to catch up on new marketing trends, but to network and build relationships with potential brands and clients, as well. It is also super awesome to be surrounded by people who do similar things to what you do and experience challenges the same way you do.
The Season of Firsts
To continue on a trend of many “firsts” for me, this year was my first year to Content Marketing World, as well as my first time to Ohio. Going into the event, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect since I had colleagues who had been to the event before. Attending my very first marketing conference, the Digital Summit in Chicago, the week before also prepped me for these types of events, as well. A couple of takeaways I brought with me to Content Marketing World were:
- Be active and interactive on social media while at the event. It is a great way to interact with others who are also there.
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Carry business cards at all times because you never know when you might need one.
- Use a backpack to hold of all your stuff.
- Take advantage of all of the free swag.
- Bring a laptop to take notes on (because who can read their own handwriting?).
Before the event, the other Brandpoint attendees and I used the Content Marketing World app to map out the sessions we were interested in attending. With my interests and job duties being related to social media, employee advocacy, design, creativity and general marketing, I decided that I wanted to focus on sessions related to those topics! Luckily, there was no shortage of sessions.
Here are summaries and recaps of some of the sessions that I attended at Content Marketing World!
Utilizing Instagram to Not-So-Accidentally Grow Your Brand
Wally Koval from Content Marketing Institute, more famously known as @AccidentallyWesAnderson, had a super entertaining presentation on how to use Instagram to build your brand. Wally started an Instagram account that has gone from a small project to a media powerhouse with around 800k followers, and he shared his journey with us! He also shared why using Instagram is beneficial, key learnings from his experience using the platform and 9 tips for building your brand on this social media network.
Instagram is a treasure trove of information. The visual aspect is great. You can tag different locations, people and places. The platform also allows for different perspectives. The best part about the platform is that you can give context to your images via hashtags and captions. This is where Wally really realized the potential of his ideas. He took a platform full of pictures, and turned them into mini stories.
- No followers, no worries: Experiment, figure out what the content looks like and how you feel about it. Don’t start following people until you have content to show.
- Build as you go: Learn as you go, use different tools, experiment, follow along.
- Ride the algorithm wave: Don’t use more than 5 or so hashtags. Include 2 or 3 that you always use.
- Instagram is your frenemy: They are in the business of making money, but Instagram is still a great platform to create content.
Creativity Impossible: How To Avoid Stagnation And Consistently Exceed Expectations
One of the very first breakout sessions I attended was by Jay Acunzo from Marketing Showrunners about how to make creativity consistent and how to constantly exceed expectations.
“Innovation isn’t a single event, it’s a byproduct of constant discovery.”
As marketers, we all know it can be hard to come up with super cool, yet unique content that is going to amaze your audience 24/7. We also know that it isn’t necessarily realistic to go viral from a single piece of content. While at the same time, going viral isn’t exactly what we are aiming for, because for the most part it’s random.
Although going viral would be awesome in the moment, being creative isn’t about creating one-off spikes, it’s about being consistently creative. One-off spikes will eventually result in stagnation and your audience will lose interest. At that point in time, it will be hard to recover.
Consistency on the other hand, is sexy and sustainable. As marketers, we have to continuously innovate our brands because something that once was refreshing to our audience will get old after a while. We have to keep exceeding expectations of our audience, even when things are working!
Random acts of creativity are not the answer to successful brands. The key to creative consistency is small and refreshing changes. This requires a sense of momentum. It’s about finding small ways to keep pushing forward.
“Creativity doesn’t mean big.” It also doesn’t mean going viral. It’s about consistently creating memorable content.
The Great Merge: Where Design and Content Strategy Collide – How a Cohesive Design and Content Strategy Leads to a Real Competitive Advantage
With my interests in graphic design and marketing, I was instantly drawn to this session by Monique Ritter from ScratchDeck. Throughout the session, she discussed the importance of design, how merging it with content marketing can leap you ahead of your competitors and strategies for tackling everyday projects.
At most companies, design and content are disconnected, “But, at companies with superior business performance, established design operations–paired with a content strategy–lead to growth rates and shareholder returns that are two times that of competitors.”
Many companies are starting to realize the importance of design and why it should go hand-in-hand with their content strategy. “Design is no longer a ‘nice to have,’ it’s a proven value driver for business growth.” Millennials and Gen Z make up a huge percent of the market and they are the ones that demand good design. In this day and age, it’s imperative to deliver quality design that these generations are looking for.
If your company is new to design, it can be difficult to know how to make it work in today’s world.
Monique gave us six strategies for tackling everyday design:
- Assess your needs: Visualize your business design needs with the Design Pyramid.
- Build a flexible brand system: For example, make sure logos of different sizes, colors and shapes are available for different uses.
- Create better collaboration between design and content: As a designer, it’s hard to know how or what to design if you’re not given context on the actual content. On the flip side, the creator or writer of the content might already have ideas of what the final product could look like for an eBook or infographic!
- Have clear goals and metrics: Setting combined goals with strategy, content and design teams will help you put an emphasis on tasks and projects that matter.
- Make design accessible to everyone at the company: This will make everyone’s job easier. Give everyone access to design assets like logos, iconography, etc. Or does your sales team need a consistent slide deck for proposals? Make sure the designed template is available to the whole team!
- Build a system that scales: Take care that the systems you are using now will still work as your company grows. With more projects, more clients and more needs for design, you want to be able to rely on the processes that worked when you were working on a smaller scale.
The Power of an Employee Content Experience
This session was ran by Gordon Bass and Gordon Locke from Pace and was about how brands can harness the voice of their employees for rich, authentic storytelling. They discussed how brands can use employee content to lift overall brand perception, engage employee sentiment and attract the best talent.
“Your employees are an audience with a poignant voice.”
Humanizing your brand is especially important for Millennials and Generation Z and is the best way to build your brand’s personality. Using employee advocates can help accomplish this because they will help to build brand authenticity. You have to shoot for authenticity over perfection.
How do you encourage and guide employees to post content reflecting your brand?
Give them what they need:
- Show them what good looks like.
- Give them enough to get started.
- Provide loosely-defined perimeters.
- Offer activations.
And of course, celebrate and recognize them!
How To Build A Mega Personal Brand On LinkedIn On A Mini Budget
This session was by Michaela Alexis and was about building your personal brand on LinkedIn with only $20. She started off the session by sharing her own story about how in less than a year, she went from being laid off to launching her ideal job, creating her own company and travelling internationally, all thanks to LinkedIn. Sounds easy, right? All you need is a tripod, notebook and whiteboard. Well… and a few other things.
Personal branding on LinkedIn can help you accomplish so much, whether it’s getting new business, finding your dream job or launching a new product or service, but it can be difficult to know where to start. Since LinkedIn is a business-focused platform, many people are unsure about what type of content to post. Throughout the session, Michaela offered up many tips and tricks for building your personal brand on LinkedIn.
“Creating a mega personal brand requires that we show up as ourselves.”
Be yourself, be authentic and follow these 8 lessons:
#1: Tell people what to do. Add a call to action to your posts.
#2: Find something that your audience can associate and identify you by.
#3: Don’t make it all about you – help your audience.
#4: Talk to your people and make your content digestible for them.
#5: Don’t flop on the follow up – it’s not about going viral, it’s about being consistent.
#6: Find your tribe – find people that help you grow.
#7: Let go of “supposed to.”
#8: Get over your damn self! Don’t be afraid of what people are going to think of you.
A Whole New World – Reanimating Your Desiccated Company Page on LinkedIn: Building Your Brand, Encouraging Employee Advocacy and Inviting Engagement with LinkedIn Pages
Viveka von Rosen, Chief Visibility Officer from Vengreso, talked about the basics of creating a visually stimulating LinkedIn account, the best types of content for your page, and sharing and curation strategies during this session about LinkedIn.
Create a Visually Stimulating Page by Including:
- Your logo
- Tagline and About
The Best Content for Your Page:
- Long form posts: 700 characters, hashtags, emojis and @mentions.
- Native video: Upload natively for more visibility.
- Native documents: LinkedIn’s newest toys are PDFs and PPTs.
- Pinning: Change it up, no one likes to see pinned content from 18 months ago.
- Content suggestions: Be strategic and discerning.
Curation and Sharing Strategies
- Content sharing prompts: Keep an eye on LinkedIn suggests your page to respond to.
- Hashtags: One unique and two popular.
- Employee advocacy: Use your page as a content hub!
- Commenting: Tag your own company in the comment to drive visibility.
- Sponsored content
Other Highlights from Content Marketing World
- Meeting Ann Handley, a.k.a. #thequeenofcontent
- Hearing Mindy Kaling’s keynote! As you would expect, she’s hilarious.
- All of the awesome swag! Sloths, ice cream, cold press Starbucks coffee, t-shirts and more.
- Boxed water (yay Content Marketing World for going green!)