My day on a boat at Econsultancy’s Digital Shorts

17Nov11

This week, I was lucky enough to win a ticket to Econsultancy’s Digital Shorts event on the HMS President.

Econsultancy looked after us with lots of free tea and drinks, a tasty lunch and a very nice venue. I was only slightly queasy by the end and decided to end my boat-themed day by catching the Thames Clipper home. in the picture below, you can just about make out the HMS President to the right.

Image of the HMS President at night

The talks I’ll be covering were:

Change – A World In Flux. Will Francis, Social Advertising Consultant at DDB UK, Co-Founder and Director at Harkable
It’s not a numbers game anymore. Community Management. Andrew Davis, Social Media Trainer, The Worst Kept Secret
Leverage your presence on LinkedIn. Roger Jones, Digital Management Consultant, Actionable Insight
Content strategy and storytelling. Tim Tucker, Content Strategist and User Experience Designer

Change – A world in Flux

The first talk of the day was given by Will Francis whose impressive credentials included a role as Editor for MySpace (when it was still popular.)
The crux of Will’s talk was around the fact that the internet is changing. Every second of every day; every time we touch it, the internet changes. You can’t take the net down and every single user is inextricably interconnected.
He shared an impressive stat (which I can’t source I’m afraid) that by 2040, it’s thought that the internet will have the processing power of all the human brains on Earth at that time. Truly terrifying!
He hit on a point I found interesting – that passive viewing on the internet is impossible. Every time you look at something on the internet, your search or your imprint will be telling someone, somewhere what you were looking for, or what you want to look at. Eventually, the web will become so hyper-targeted for each individual using the vast amounts of data that the likes of Google and Facebook are collecting about us, that the internet will become a reflection of ourselves. We’ll merge with the web.
Then Will showed us a clip from Tron, just to demonstrate what could happen – literally.
At this point, Will discussed what Web 3.0 could look like; the “seamless integration of publishing into our lives”. They’ll be a shadow of us on the internet wherever we go as we use apps like 4Square and Instagram all the hours we’re awake to share online. I think he hit the nail on the head here.
The next point covered was about how to keep up with the constantly changing internet. In digital marketing, it’s almost become expected that companies need to break the rules and do something ‘new’ in order to keep fresh. To quote Will directly, “change is good – that’s how we thrive in Digital Media”. At this point, he ran us through his main tips on how to do this successfully.
Know your audience. Don’t try to create communities – only go to where they are. Go to where people are talking about you, your product or service. Identify the conversations that are already taking place.
Who are you? Your tone in social media content cannot be the same as your advertising tone. Be honest and human and remain honest in a crisis. For many companies, social media provides a fantastic chance to be open with its customers.
How can you be relevant? Relevancy is key in content creation – perhaps even above quality. Your content must be useful or entertaining. Ask yourself, “would I like this?”
Do we know the technology? Involve people who deeply understand the technology. Many companies are held back by their incorrect assumptions and expectations of technological platforms.
Do you know your influencers? Find the people who love what you do. Engage with them. Advocacy grows over time.
This brings us to the end of a very interesting talk that held lots of great examples of brilliantly executed marketing campaigns. Once the slides have been posted, I should be able to link to a few of them!

It’s not a numbers game anymore

This next talk was delivered by Andrew Davis who also worked at MySpace during the wonder years, followed by the BBC and now, his own company. Andrew focused on community management and how a great community manager can have a wide-reaching impact in a business.
Andrew started by addressing one of social media’s main issues compared to other types of marketing – and that is the ‘human factor’. There are lots more variables with social media, right down to the time of day you choose to interact with people. He added that, it doesn’t matter how many people are in your community, you have to look after them.
He made an interesting point about looking outside of your industry for inspiration on great marketing ideas – if you take inspiration from someone within your industry, you’ll be accused of copying. But if you take inspiration from those outside your industry and give it a new twist, you can come up with something innovative and new in your sector.
Andrew’s checklist when creating community content boiled down to ‘sharing’, ‘searching’ and ‘discoverability’. Perhaps the hardest part, you need to make content that people will want to share. Then you need to optimise it and seed it to make it discoverable via search and then, you need to make it discoverable via every possible route.
He then covered the finer points of conversation, which occurs in 3 stages. Listening, interpreting and deciding what to say. Most companies focus on what they should say, when really, 80% of the focus should be on listening and understanding. For this – you need the human element. A computer or search algorithm can never give you a true reflection on people’s sentiments on the web.
The most difficult part comes when Andrew ask the question, ‘How do I measure?’ First of all, you need to understand what a normal day looks like so you can compare it to a ‘campaign day’. You need to attach analytics to every possible avenue, learn as much as you can about your audience and then feed those learnings through to your offline campaigns.
A great community manager should go from being a ‘nice to have’ to being ‘indispensable’. If they’re listening all the time, they can give invaluable insights to other areas of the company on who your customers are, what they’re saying, what they want/need and what they’re hungry for.

Leverage your presence on LinkedIn

Roger Jones, an obvious fan of LinkedIn, gave this interesting presentation that covered all the brilliant features the business networking site has that many people don’t know about.

LinkedIn define themselves as an ‘information and sharing space’. It’s still the business network of choice with 2-3 million new users signing up every month across 180 countries. It’s not just used for recruitment – it serves 50m searches per week and the UK is taking it on far more than the rest of Europe.

Roger’s talk was brilliant but largely covered the cool functions that LinkedIn has – so I’ll run through a list of those here quickly:

  • Advanced search – an extremely powerful and granular search tool
  • LinkedIn skills – tag your skills to make yourself easier to find
  • Apps – use LinkedIn’s multiple apps to help syndicate your content
  • LinkedIn Labs – LinkedIn have many experimental features here you can help them trial, with successful tests often being integrated into the site full-time
  • Groups – use groups to become an influencer in your industry
  • Job seeker accounts – upgrade to a job seeker account if you’re looking for a job – you’ll be prioritised in searches for example
  • Integrate your LinkedIn with Outlook to get additional insights on your contacts before you get i touch
  • LinkedIn app for smartphones – take LinkedIn with you wherever you go – share a virtual business card with other LinkedIn users
  • LinkedIn resume builder – does what it says on the tin! Handy if you’re in a rush.
  • LinkedIn Today will provide you with a newsfeed that shows you what all your friends are looking at.

Roger added an interesting statistic that for every 1 thing a person posts, 9 people interact with it and 90 more get to see it. He added that getting people to interact with your brand can be liked ‘pulling teeth’, stating that “nobody talks about something that’s not worth talking about”.

Content strategy and storytelling

This talk was probably the most inspiring of the day for me (although they were all brilliant) and came from Tim Tucker; content strategist, user experience expert and all round digital expert.

Tim approached the idea of content from a ‘storytelling’ or narrative point of view. He said that, instead of interrupting people with our TV advertising and getting in the way of what they want to be doing – we should create engaging content that they are seeking out.

Then Tim covered the ‘science of stories’. It is scientifically proven that, as human beings, we used narrative to make sense of a world chock-full of attacks on our senses at every moment of the day. Our memories are interwoven in such a way that forming them into narratives makes memory recollection far quicker and more powerful. In short – narrative appeals to our human nature.

Successful brands are stories that resonate with their customers’ world view. We don’t have the time or power to change people’s stories – we need to understand people and their stories to understand them. 

Try to listen to your customers and find out their stories by keeping your eye on the places where they interact. Create personas who represent those users and further to that, create scenarios that represent the average user experience with your company. Then, when you undertake your marketing, aim it at those personas specifically – it will help you to keep a tight focus.

Good stories should:

  • Communicate your message
  • Establish relationships
  • Demonstrate your expertise and thought leadership
  • Persuade your audience to take action.

People themselves are engaging subjects for content – tell your cusotmers’ stories, tell your employees’ stories – feed all of this into your content. Project your personality. Use your copywriting to ‘show’, not tell.

Tim added that there are three vital elements to a successful story:

It must be memorable. Make it simple, unexpected, concrete, credible and emotional.

A good story is authentic. Embrace your own story – live the story you’re telling.

A good story evokes emotion. We buy based on emotions. A good story is human.

I really enjoyed Tim’s approach to content as it gave me an interesting new perspective on how readers digest content and what my company could potentially do to stand out. It simply made very good sense.

So I’d like to thank Econsultancy for a brilliant, insightful day and all the interesting and friendly people I met in between seminars.

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