I attended last week's Content Marketing World event in Cleveland, and I learned so much about content marketing, the convergence of content and social, and next-gen tools and tactics that I'll probably be thinking about them until Content Marketing World 2014.
Until then, here are a few of the biggest takeaways and bottom-line learnings that I gleaned from this event featuring leaders like Jay Baer, Joe Pulizzi, Ann Handley, our own Jeff Rohrs, and many more.
1. Appealing visuals are crucial to both B2B and B2C marketing. Even B2B marketers have to be entertaining. If you don't have many of your own visual assets, you can curate great-looking visual hooks on Tumblr and Pinterest. (Inspired by Todd Wheatland.)
2. Most viral videos paid to go viral. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Just know that you may have to seed your content first with a budget to get the visibility that will ultimately lead to voluntary sharing. (Inspired by Todd Wheatland.)
3. Sponsored content needs to be clearly labeled. Sponsored content isn't going away, so publishers and consumers alike need to push for stringent, standardized practices that reduce confusion and ethical concerns. (Inspired by Jeff Rohrs' panel.)
4. Jeff Rohrs has a new book coming out. Yes, ExactTarget's own Jeff Rohrs was spotted at CMW promoting his upcoming book. Ann Handley writes about AUDIENCE: "This is the book I've been waiting for, because it ignites a conversation that businesses desperately need to have." The buzz about the book was already alive at CMW, and you can preorder it now.
5. Be proud of your infographics, or don't publish them. When a room full of marketers in Todd Wheatland's presentation was asked if they'd made an infographic, almost everyone raised a hand. When asked if they were proud of that infographic, only a few raised a hand. When publishing an infographic, make sure you'd be able to confidently raise your hand to that second question.
6. William Shatner soundchecks. Okay, maybe this isn't a content marketing learning, but I secured a sneak peek at Shatner soundchecking with an empty CMW audience. That tiny, tiny dot? Shatner himself!
7. Your videos should be shorter. 60-90 seconds is an advisable length for video content, but your content might need to be even shorter. Track abandonment rate analytics on your videos to see where people are dropping off for even more indication on how long they should be. (Inspired by Todd Wheatland.)
8. Tumblr is an excellent tool for "corporate blogging light." Offer people a behind-the-scenes look at your company with Tumblr. It's easy to set up a Tumblr account and create a great-looking page that functions as a sort of content marketing for your own company culture. (Inspired by Todd Wheatland.)
9. Atomize your content. In the dictionary, atomize means convert (a substance) into very fine particles or droplets. Translate that to your content, and you've got excellent spin-off pieces based on an original, larger whole. (Inspired by Todd Wheatland.)
10. Views aren't as important as clicks. If someone sees your content, all you know is that you wrote a good headline. What stories are the most emailed, clicked, and shared? This is a true testament to how your audience liked it.
11. Content marketers will hit the dance floor if '80s music is involved. The CMW event team threw a fun party at Cleveland's House of Blues. The Mega '80s band performed a slew of '80s favorites. As seen here: searchsmiths and content wizards by day, dancing fools by night.
12.Content is not objects; it's storytelling. Content marketing isn't videos, blogs, or whitepapers. It's your whole approach to storytelling. Define that, and you've got a content strategy. (Inspired by Lee Odden.)
13. Every day, 16% of search queries have never been seen before. Don't give up on SEO just because the practice is changing. Consider how a piece fits into your search strategy every time you publish. (Inspired by Lee Odden.)
14. 78% of CMOs think custom media is the future of content. Custom content is the future of your content. Start thinking about how you'll approach that from a data standpoint now. (Inspired by Lee Odden.)
15. The future of content marketing: compete with traditional media. Lee Odden asserted that content marketing will begin to syndicate and run ads just like traditional media, spurring an increase in brands competing with media for audience attention.
16. Tie thought leadership to timely events. It's not enough to post on your blog about a recent happening. Get the opinion of a true thought leader within your organization for a better piece of content. (Inspired by Sarah Skerik.)
17. Pardot (a Salesforce company) had the snazziest booth chairs of any Content Marketing World sponsors. See for yourself.
18. Nationalize a local story or localize a national story. These two PR tips work for any organization. (Inspired by Sarah Skerik.)
19. If you publish it, will they
convert even see the thing? This question posed by Sarah Skerik encourages content marketers to get to the roots of content discovery before heading even further down the funnel to conversion. Get your content discovered first; worry about conversion later.
This is just the very beginning of what I learned at #CMWorld. From the sessions to the keynotes to the networking opportunities, I think all 1700 of the content marketers who attended left inspired anew. And if you see sudden industry-wide spikes in perfectly themed infographics and expertly optimized whitepapers, you'll know what conference to thank.