Tuesday, 24 May 2011

AOP Social Media Event - Building Smart Communities

A recent census by the Association of Online Publishers found 63% of members see social media as a key area of growth/investment. Which begs the question, where do the other 37% see the opportunities for growth and investments? And the question which I think the recent AOP event: Building Smarter Communities was trying to answer: what are the opportunities within social media?

I like AOP events, I like the tea and biscuits and cakes and free beer. I also like the way they set up their panels, with a mixture of thought leaders from within the industry; usually an agency evangelist and then someone slightly left of field to give the "outsiders perspective."

So what were some of the key take-homes from the event? Well, that's what is so fascinating about social media, there often isn't a list of key messages at the end of a social media event, because if you ask four different people you'll get four different opinions! I liken it to Doctor Who explaining something to his companion using a simple analogy (a bubble on the outside of a bubble) and then once they get the concept saying quietly: "well it's nothing like that." Oh I am pleased to have got a Doctor Who reference into my blog, first of many?!

Actually there were some key take-homes: some fantastic analogies and case studies. And being a journalist I like a good story.

Amy Kean, from Havas Media gave us such a great analogy about social media, so great I've already used it about 10 times since! A brand that is properly engaged in social media is like the glow stick seller at a festival or a gig. Dancing amongst the crowd, adding to the atmosphere and the experience, enjoying the music, and if someone wants a glow stick they’ll sell them one. A brand that’s not engaged is the member of staff hired to sell programmes, stood on the sidelines shouting to attract people’s attention.

Justine Roberts, CEO of Mumsnet gave the example of a Mum who commented on one of the Mumsnet forums that she had used Waitrose baby bottom butter on her face (I assume when she ran out of moisturiser…?!) and she had noticed a visible reduction in her wrinkles. Women were commenting and liking and tweeting and telling their friends… and sales doubled!

On the flip-side, Justine gave an example of Haliborange who felt the wrath of angry mumsnetters, when they decided the company had paid people to comment about the benefits of their products.

Justine also introduced me to this great quote from Avinash Kaushik, an Analytics Evangelist for Google: “The greatest gift you can be given from the Internet is to be proven wrong fast”

And in a stroke of excellent timing all of these quotes and stories provided brilliant fodder for my speech at the Big Social Media Debate at County Hall organised by the LinkedIn ecommerce UK group, which will have to form the basis of my next blog post.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Content Strategy, Recommended Reading

When I was putting together my presentation on Developing a Content Strategy for Internet World 2011, I ran it past a colleague of mine.  She was very kind and enthusiastic and at the end she requested some recommended reading.  She is studying for a marketing qualification, so I guess she's used to being given reading at the end of a lecture?!  Just thought, I really hope my style is more engaging presentation, rather than lecture.  Anyway, here is my recommended reading:

These websites have a wealth of information about content strategy:


These books on content strategy have all been recommended to me in recent weeks/months, though I must confess to not having read any of them:

  • Clout: The Art and Science of Influential Web Content, Colleen Jones
  • The Elements of Content Strategy, Erin Kissane
  • Get Customers Get Content, Joe Pulizzi
  • Content Rules, Ann Handley and CC Chapman

I'd recommend getting to know your away around a few Google tools to learn more about your clients search behaviour, in particular:

  • Google Wonder Wheel
  • Google Trends
  • Google Insight

And finally, some great bedtime reading: Google's search engine optimisation starter guide.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Developing A Content Strategy, Internet World

On Wednesday 11th May 2011, I gave a presentation entitled: developing a content strategy, at Internet World.  It is always difficult to know where to pitch a presentation to a large group of random people.  Afterwards a few people asked for my slides.  So I thought I'd attempt to summarise my presentation into a blog post for those who are interested.

The most important thing when first starting to develop a content strategy is: what is your overall business goal?  Your content strategy needs to be integrated with your marketing, sales and customer service strategy – you need a holistic approach.

As well as ensuring your content strategy is integrated into your overall business strategy, there are some other considerations.

9 key things to consider when developing a content strategy
  1. Audience: Do you have a particular type of client/customer with a particular knowledge or expertise level.  What is their motivation?
  2. Competitors: Analyse what they’re doing.
  3. Exclusions: Any particular subjects to steer clear of?  Are there particular guidelines you need to adhere to? For example, FSA regulated.  Or any companies you don’t want to mention.
  4. Keywords: It is good to know what your clients are searching for. There are a number of tools you can use: Google wonderwheel, Google Insights and Google Trends.
  5. Analytics/KPIs: You’d be amazed how few companies measure their analytics or set out clear KPIs before they start an online project. But if you don't know what success looks like, how will know when you get there?
  6. Tone/Style: Do you have a house style? Do you need to create one?
  7. Social Media: Where is your audience engaging? You must include social media within your content strategy.  It is important to understand where your audience are and why you’re engaging with them.
  8. IT: What are the technical limitations, what can you do and can’t you do with your CMS?
  9. Workflow Who is actually going to produce the content? One option is to make content production part of peoples job descriptions, so you don’t hire someone who’s job it is to produce content, but you actually work it into everyone’s KPIs.

So what about the different types of content?

Deciding what content to produce comes after all the other considerations. You can only decide what you want to create once you know who it’s aimed at. Just because you can produce a certain type of content doesn’t mean you should. Start small, measure it, when you see successes expand. Don’t start something you can’t maintain.

So in summary: You need to develop a content strategy which is integrated into your overall business strategy and you have your 9 things to consider while doing this.  My final advice would be to give it go! Start small and measurable, but you won’t know what you and your team are capable and what the benefits might be unless you try.

I also gave some recommended reading around content strategy, I'll turn that into another blog post when I have slightly more time.