Feeding the beast: Speak Media’s 8 favourite bits of content-based content from the 2012 CMA Content Summit

537069645Wednesday’s Content Marketing Association Summit in London – the first we’ve attended – was full of interesting insights from a very wide ranging set of speakers. There was far too much content to capture in a single blog post, but this eight-point summary of our personal highlights should be enough to give you a flavour of proceedings if you missed it… and a useful reminder for those who attended. Enjoy & please leave a comment with your thoughts.

1. Be different – and stop pissing away (clients’) money

If the producers of Mad Men ever need to add a cockney to their cast, then straight-talking, old-school London ad legend Dave Trott is the man for the role. Armed with nothing but a flip chart, pithy anecdotes and sweary wisdom, DT gave the audience a fascinating primer on ‘applied creativity’, dropping insights along the way on the philosophy, psychology, and history of advertising.

His key message: if you want to make an impact on your consumer, being different counts for a lot more than being better. It’s binary logic you see – and the human brain basically goes about the business of sorting things in a binary way – so in a sea of Xs, your brand or message must be an O if it’s going to embed itself in anyone’s noggin. First understand the context, and then apply your creativity to standing out from the crowd – rather than trying to out-creative every other agency in the business. That way, presumably, you’ll avoid your work ending up in the 89% of campaigns that leave absolutely no impression on consumers. To use Dave’s memorable phrase, “that’s £16bn pissed away by experts” every year. Your clients deserve better. Or rather, different.

2. Be lucky (but first, market your content hard)

Matthew Guest from Deloitte, who was suitably numbers-focused yet surprisingly entertaining for an accountant (we jest – he’s actually a senior strategy manager at the corporate finance firm’s digital arm) gave us his four rules of content marketing success:

  1. Make it Useful
  2. Make it Fun
  3. Market it Hard
  4. Get Lucky

The final one, not surprisingly, was given short thrift by an audience member who wanted to know exactly how the speaker was proposing to solve the problem of bad luck (fixing broken mirrors, perhaps?). Matthew (who, with his background in computer science, might’ve actually given us some convincing probability-based formulas) pointed out that this rather light-hearted directive was intended to highlight the fact that however well we do in the strategy and execution of brand content, none of us know if something will go viral or go unnoticed until we unleash it into the world. However, to some extent (i.e. by doing well on points 1-3), we can make our own luck.

3. Be platform-agnostic

Bit of a buzzword (or phrase) this – but something we at Speak believe wholeheartedly so we’re glad it was brought into focus by Arjun Basu of Spafax (an agency whose name we can’t help feeling would be better used by a Russian company specialising in the manufacture of Jacuzzis with built-in office peripherals – but then who are we to talk).

In a nutshell, marketers and creatives need to stop being so hung up on the next big thing when it comes to platforms and technology, and to focus instead creating or re-purposing content for the right channel at the right time (right for the consumer, that is). “We need to be platform agnostic because customers are – they just want content that works and they want it now,” he told us. Hear, hear.

4. Be local

With brands and media publishing ‘five times as much content in 2012 compared to 2011’, according to Jan Rezab of Socialbakers, it’s getting harder and harder to make your voice heard above the content clamour. If you want to stand out, you need to publish ‘unique, localised’ content – much like Starbucks have done since they launched regional profiles that tie in to store activity such as promotions and special events. All but one of those ‘local’ profiles (just to put that into perspective, local for Starbucks means the UK, not Croydon) is scoring much higher on social engagement than the main corporate feed.

This cultural and linguistic localisation also helps when it comes to the customer service element of social media – Jan gave us the impressive example of KLM, whose 50-strong, multilingual team responds to 97% of customer tweets within 20 minutes.

5. ‘Feed the beast’ – keep Google stuffed with your content for SEO success

The luxuriantly coiffed Brice Bay (of content marketing giant EnVeritas Group) stated the SEO case for content in rousing style, telling us of the need for brands to ‘feed the beast’ that is Google with fresh, local (that word again) content. He also stressed the importance of multicultural SEO to penetrate global audiences – including regionally tailored keyword research and metadata creation – in order for brands to ‘keep search engines believing you’re a true publisher’, managing an eco-system of content.

6. Drive your content engine – what it takes for a brand to become a ‘true publisher’

A major content strategy case study from Sofitel brilliantly captured the lengths that brands who ‘get’ the business value of content will go to, in order to get it right.

Geoffray Maugin, the luxury hotel group’s VP of global marketing, explained how Sofitel’s corporate team has embedded content marketing in their ‘360-degree integrated marketing’ approach, with what resembles an international newsgathering operation.

Their new content-rich site, which features locally sourced travel guide-style content for each of their 120 hotels in 40 countries, is managed by the global team but it relies on local teams around the world to act as the content ‘engines’. Echoing Jan Rezab, Geoffray said: “In order for content to be relevant, it has to be sourced locally.’

The key point, however, was that the whole company has to understand what it means when a brand becomes a ‘true publisher’ – from planning and sourcing stories to recruiting talented writers and editing for a multi-channel audience – and that involves daily contact between the central content team and its international pool of content correspondents, motivating the hotels to keep ‘sucking up’ content.

7. Get to grips with micro-content

A lot of what we hear and see at conferences (sorry, summits) such as these is, naturally, big picture stuff. So it was refreshing when Catherine Toole of Sticky Content took centre-stage and focused instead on the ‘little fixes’ that can make an instant impact to the effectiveness of your content. Using examples from whichtestwon.com, she showed the importance of paying attention to the ‘micro-content’ around your site – all those CTAs that get forgotten about when copywriters are busy polishing headlines, product copy, blogs and other such front-of-house digital content.

The lesson: look for word choices that ‘model an outcome’ (for instance, ‘contribute’ rather than ‘donate’) – or, as any good copywriter will tell you, remember that every individual is motivated by ‘what’s in it for me’ so spell out the benefits of any action with psychological nudges.

Just like the Barbican Arts Centre does with its email sign-up CTA: “Find out before they sell out.”

And Spotify with its registration CTA: ‘You’re only 90 seconds away from a world of music.”

8. Find a content gap – then fill it

The ideal content is, of course, unique content that’s relevant to your brand and your consumer. So the Met Office (the UK weather forecaster) struck gold when it discovered that there was nowhere near enough digital content about ‘pollen’ to satisfy the search volume.

Toby Guiducci, Digital Sales Manager, explained how his team developed a strategy to fill that gap online – creating dedicated areas on their website (with lots of opportunities for monetisation including sponsored slots and banner ads), YouTube videos, a pollen calendar, external branded content (Benadryl Social Pollen Count)and an iPhone/Android app that’s been downloaded more than 4 million times (in itself opening up a big route to market for advertising). Message to brands: if you haven’t found your content gap yet, start looking. And when you’ve found it, speak to a platform-agnostic content agency to help you fill it.

Author: George Wright Theohari

Branding | Content | Design. We develop and deliver beautifully effective communications across print, digital and film. enquiries@speakmedia.co.uk http://www.speakmedia.co.uk

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