Picture this, 25 degrees centigrade, clear blue skies, a cool breeze blowing in from the Pacific, pretzel and lemonade stands, fire hydrants and a plethora of dog walkers and joggers. Welcome to San Diego, California, but I’m not here for pleasure, well…sort of. I’m here for Social Media Marketing World 2016, the number one social media marketing conference in the world! Created and hosted by Social Media Examiner, this conference sees 3,000 marketers descend on the San Diego Convention Centre for 3 days of networking, discovery and fun.
This conference is mind blowing! Not only do you get to participate in workshops and sessions with some of the world’s most respected and influential digital marketers, you can network with your peers and attend some pretty awesome parties on decommissioned aircraft carriers and at the spacious bay side Marriot Marquis.
I must be honest, this is a tiring event. In addition to recovering from jet lag (I hate not being able to sleep on 10 hour flights!), your mind is racing and buzzing from all the knowledge you are gaining. So what did I learn?
The world of social media is ever changing, and fast paced. More and more people are using social media meaning more and more content is created and published. Social media channels are getting noisier and the battle for attention on line has intensified. Businesses and brands now have to raise their game when it comes to social media and content marketing. No longer can we expect to create generic content. How do you rise above the noise? The power of story.
I attended a Sunday workshop titled ‘Business of Story: How to Craft and Tell Compelling Brand Stories That Sell’ delivered by Park Howell, a brand strategist with 30 years experience under his belt. I discovered that in order to captivate the attention of your audience and prospects, you have to use a great story filled with urgency, novelty and surprise. Humans reflect on their world through symbolic stories and we can trace this back to ancient myths and legends. Hollywood screenwriters do this all the time; however, they change the protagonist, plot and setting whilst using a fundamental story structure.
It is this ability to tell an amazing story that social media and content marketers must grasp. It gives the opportunity to create emotional connections with your audience, maximising the likelihood of engagement meaning your content is rewarded, not only with higher performance, it is rewarded with trust. This trust established with your audience is crucial to succeeding in any business and the content you create fostered on great story telling is the best way this can happen.
Here are my top three quotes from Park’s insightful and well delivered workshop:
“Story is as important to our brains as oxygen is to our lungs”.
“We have to embrace and rejoice the conflict in our stories. The more conflict we can instil in our story, the more we can connect with our audiences.”
“The best stories are inspired by actual events, whether they happened or not.”
Let’s look at another lesson given by Marcus Sheridan, keynote speaker, consultant and creator of the well known and respected content and inbound marketing blog, ‘The Sales Lion’. Marcus crafted his content marketing skills selling swimming pools. Marcus explained that he regularly sells swimming pools without even visiting the client’s home. The reason is trust. His content is so well created and relevant, people feel they can trust him and place and order knowing that they are in good hands. Marcus spoke about how instead of posting ‘the top 5 pool games to play this summer’, he would post ‘how much does a fibre-glass swimming pool cost?’. Marcus complimented this with a story about a friend who sells private jets and is successful because they talk about the costs of flying more so than focusing on the features of the planes. As he frankly said to me “Don’t get too Kumbaya with your content”.
Here are my top 3 quotes from Marcus’ high energy and passionate session:
“It is essential all businesses now employ a content manager.”
“If you’re obsessed with truly listening and understanding your customers, you’ll never run out of great content.”
“Consumer ignorance is no longer a viable marketing and sales strategy.”
These two perspectives on content marketing certainly have weight; however, it is crucial that a balance be achieved. The bullseye is content that:
- Tells a well created story that is not afraid to contain conflicting issues. The story is told using a varied mixture of visually appealing media published at the right time, on the right platform.
- Is highly relevant to your audience as a whole or segments because it has answered their questions probably before they have even thought of them.
The frequency of social media posts are also affected by the above. Throwing out too much curated content to fill the gaps is no longer an effective option. The reason being is people are too used to it. The longer we use social media, the more desensitised we become. The latest tactics and behaviours end up becoming natural to us similar to watching a horror film for third time, you know when the killer is going to jump out with a knife. By all means, if you have the budget to consistently and regularly create amazing content, then you can look towards posting to Facebook and Instagram daily. If not (like with many SMEs), then consider posting less frequently and use the time you would spend on curating the same old content to listening to your audience and prospects. Listen for those conversations and join in, develop those relationships, nurture them and turn it into a bridge built on trust.
The biggest takeaway of all from Social Media Marketing World 2016 is this… many marketers are not using social media effectively because they play it too safe.
By Adam Šapić, Digital Marketing Strategist at Yogurt Top Marketing.