It’s been a busy few weeks here at The Tomorrow Lab with events very much taking centre stage of late.  This week Ruth visited London and the popular Heroconf Conference, while last week both Jess and William spent a day in Dublin at one of our personal favourites, Learn Inbound.  Prior to that, we were involved in two digital marketing events in Northern Ireland, hosting our third ‘The Tomorrow Lab Presents’ event of the year, along with speaking at the inaugural Digital Vault in Newry, in association with the Newry Junior Chamber.  The guys will be sharing their top takeaways from both Learn Inbound and Heroconf in the coming weeks, but today I wanted to provide a quick recap on our recent event, ‘Winning With Content Marketing’.

Another full house for The Tomorrow Lab Presents

Our third digital marketing event proved to be another sellout with some 100 people coming along to The Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast to find out about all things content marketing.  Our events have been steadily growing in 2016 and we look forward to welcoming some amazing speakers to the events in 2017, as we continue to bring some of the best minds in the digital industry to Belfast to share their knowledge with local companies.  In our latest event, I had the pleasure of speaking alongside three phenomenal industry speakers, including two guys that I have watched in awe at events in Brighton and Manchester.  Stephen Walsh from Buzzsumo (our go to content marketing tool here at The Tomorrow Lab), Paddy Moogan from Aira in Milton Keynes and Stacey MacNaught from the award winning Tecmark in Manchester.

The guys covered a range of areas in relation to content marketing, and it’s fair to say that those in attendance on the day certainly left with plenty of nuggets of information to take back to the workplace.  The Tomorrow Lab Presents is all about sharing knowledge and providing tips and insight to allow local companies to develop their own digital marketing offering and begin to grow and compete online.  Below are some of the key takeaways from the various talks of our speakers.

Stephen Walsh – B2B Content Marketing Insights – What Does The Data Tell Us?

Elements of viral content:

Stephen began by looking at the type of content that tends to go viral and found there were a number of elements that can influence this.  When it comes to creating viral content there are 5 elements involved – emotion, content form, a topic, a format and a promise.  As the chart below shows, there is no one size fits all to viral content, although if you begin your content creation phase by focusing too much on ‘going viral’, you’re focusing on the wrong metric.

Elements of Viral Content - Winning With Content Marketing - The Tomorrow Lab

Stephen also shared 9 ways to create content that has the potential to go viral, and this include – element of surprise, leveraging a trend, inspiring people, list of pictures, be amusing, be controversial, share secrets, create a quiz, and if all else fails, babies and cut animals can work a treat.

Creating viral headlines:

So much of content marketing is about the headline.  A good headline can often be the difference in a prospective customer reading your content or simply ignoring it.  The master of this is of course Buzzfeed, but it’s important to have all of the core elements from above included in a title.  A good example of this is below.

Creating Viral Headlines - Winning With Content Marketing - The Tomorrow Lab

Social networks for B2B content:

A common question from our B2B clients is “why should I use Facebook, my customers aren’t on there?”.  While this is true to a certain extent, as during the day they might avoid Facebook, but the chances are that in their non-work time they will spend some time here engaging with friends and other content.  Buzzsumo checked the 100 top B2B sites and found that Facebook was the main social channels in terms of average content shares but Twitter and LinkedIn both perform better when median is taken into account.  The key takeaway here, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn should be your go to for social media in a B2B space, although it’s always important to spend time finding out what works best for your company and customers.

Long form content vs short form content:

Another age old battle is long vs short.  What should you do, write more articles with less content or fewer articles with more content.  Well, the answer is both will work, but when it comes to social shares, long form content tends to perform better on average, with articles of 2,000+ words receiving more shares.  There are fewer of these articles being created however, 45 of the top 50 most shared B2B articles measured by Buzzsumo had less than 1,000 words!!  As with before, it’s about finding a balance that works for your company and trying to find a mixed approach here.  Look to produce a real detailed long form piece of content every quarter, and support it with shorter form content on a more regular basis.

Listicles still work:

If someone tells you listicles don’t work in the world of content marketing, you’re probably safer never speaking to that person again :-)  In the research conducted by Buzzsumo and shared with Stephen during his talk, they found that list articles made up 30% of all B2B content with more than 3,000 shares, and lists beginning with 10 and 5 averaged 6,398 and 5,214 shares respectively.  That’s quite a lot of content being shared online.  Odd numbers can also work quite well with lists, and for some strange reason, Stephen and the Buzzsumo team discovered that the number 23 tends to perform really well with listicle content.

What works best on Facebook?

Another common question both in the B2C and B2B space is when is the best time to post on Facebook?  We would always advise to check you Facebook Insights to see when your fans are online, but Buzzsumo studied 1 Billion Facebook posts (that’s right, 1,000,000,000) and found:

  • Best time to post is between 10pm and midnight in your audience’s local time – people browse Facebook in bed
  • Posts with questions and images get the most engagement
  • Best day to post is Sunday – I was as surprised as you probably are reading this
  • Posts to articles with 1,000 – 3,000 words get more interaction
  • Short post descriptions get better interaction
  • Directly embedded videos get 6 times more interaction than YouTube videos – don’t just paste in YouTube link, take time and upload your raw video file
  • Images posted through Instagram get a 23% boost in engagement
  • Posts with hashtags get less interaction than those without – avoid hashtags on Facebook, they never really took off!

Leverage trending content:

A great way to get your content seen by the masses is to look for ways to jump onboard trending content (think the US election at present).  Stephen has released a new tool for this called Anders Pink which allows you to get the content you need when you need it.  Use it to keep yourself and your team up to speed with the latest goings on in your industry.  You can find out more at AndersPink.com.

You can view Stephen’s slides from the talk below:

Nial Toner – 10 Great Content Marketing Examples & What You Can Learn From Them

I had the unenviable task of following Stephen as I looked to take a step back and discuss how to begin creating a content marketing strategy before looking at some content marketing examples from a range of industries that we can all take a little something from.  Below are just some of the key points I discussed with the room on the day.

What is content marketing?

All too often we can get distracted from core objectives when it comes to creating content marketing campaigns.  The content itself can often take over from the end goal, and this shouldn’t be the case.  Content marketing is all about providing valuable, relevant and consistent content to a clearly defined audience with a view to driving a profitable customer action.  The important thing to remember with content marketing is that you need to understand who your target audience is to allow you to be better positioned to begin creating content for them.  Once you know this, content marketing is just an extension of your digital marketing activity, and ultimately must lead to sales or enquiries.

6 Steps to creating a content marketing strategy

Here at The Tomorrow Lab we have a 7 C’s process to creating a digital marketing strategy, and this forms the pillars for any content marketing strategy.  We look at six stages when it comes to creating a content marketing strategy and these are outlined below:

Developing Content Marketing Strategy - The Tomorrow Lab

Before you even begin creating content you need to have clearly defined objectives and begin to research your customers and the market.  What content can you provide to answer their questions and what can you do that your competitors aren’t doing.  From here you begin to generate content ideas, and we recommend a 635 method of creating 100 ideas in 30 minutes (you can read more about that here), before actually beginning to develop your content calendar and creating the content.  From here you need to treat your content like a product and promote it, and finally, measure and review the performance of the content against your objectives.  What worked well, what didn’t work so well, and what can you use going forward.

No idea is a bad idea:

When it comes to creating content, the ideation stage is perhaps the most important of all the steps.  It is at this point where you sit down and begin to plan your content ideas and think about what it is your customers want.  In my experience, no idea is a bad idea, so get all of your ideas on to a sheet of paper or on to a white board, and begin to evaluate their potential.  I’ve seen some really bad initial ideas transform into great pieces of content across both the web and social.

Tools to help your content marketing efforts:

For me, Buzzsumo is a must have for anyone in the content marketing field.  It allows you to look at the content that is popular in your industry and begin to see what customers share and engage with online.  This can really help you shape your content ideas.  There are a mountain of great content marketing tools on the market, both free and paid for, and along with Buzzsumo, I’d suggest using websites like Quora and Answer The Public to generate initial content ideas.

Concentrate on the right customer groups:

There are essentially four types of customer online – those carrying out initial research, those returning to find out more information, those who can influence an audience, and the end buyer.  Far too often companies invest the majority of their resources on the end buyer, without considering how they can help solve customer problems along the way.  This is where content marketing can help.  Don’t solely focus on the end buyer and the action phase.  Be sure to take time and plan out how you will engage with customers carrying out their initial bits of research, whether it’s looking for a loan, planning a holiday or looking for help with their business.  If you can create content to help the different customers at different stages of their journey, you’re off to a great start.

4 Customer Types - The Tomorrow Lab

You can view my slides from the event below, complete with 10 industry examples that can help us all when it comes to generating content marketing ideas and beginning to plan our strategy.

 

Paddy Moogan – My Biggest Content Marketing Mistakes

For those of you who don’t know who Paddy Moogan is, he’s up there with the very best in the industry when it comes to content marketing and linkbuilding.  When it comes to linkbuilding, there’s very little that Paddy doesn’t know.  He wrote the book on linkbuilding, quite literally!  You can access it here.  Paddy’s talk looked at some content marketing mistakes and what he has learned from them.  We work in an industry where sometimes campaign ideas work well and other times they go up in smoke.  It’s always important to learn from those that don’t work, and Paddy shared some great insights with the room.

While I can’t share Paddy slides or talk about the client stories he shared on the day (another reason for getting yourself along to our events), here’s some of the key takeaways from Paddy’s talk.

Reading material to get you started:

Paddy shared some of his favourite books to help spark creativity, and I have to say I’ve already added them to my reading list.  The five books Paddy recommended are:

  1. Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull
  2. Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath
  3. A Technique For Producing Ideas by James Webb Young
  4. Creative Mischief by Dave Trott
  5. Truth, Lies & Advertising by Jon Steel

Good infographics get links:

A few years back infographics were all the rage and when it came to creating content, it was a go to for most companies.  There was almost a thought that because a piece of data has been put into an infographic it all of a sudden became shareable and linkable.  That isn’t the case, and as Paddy highlighted, good infographics get you links and shares, bad infographics get you nothing!  So when you sit down to plan your next infographic, be sure to have something good to share in it, something unique.

Good feedback is important:

When it comes to creating content and developing ideas, it’s important to encourage feedback from your team.  You must trust each other when it comes to discussing ideas, and most importantly, be honest.  Good internal feedback is crucial in getting ideas up and running.  Three things to consider when deciding whether or not to go with an idea or a piece of content – is it relevant to your audience, does it resonate and is it different?

Key dates and events can work well:

While it’s important not to put all your content eggs in one basket when it comes to key dates and events, if the content is a good fit, you can exploit key dates and events to build links, generate shares and increase awareness of your company online.

Stacey MacNaught – 21 Tools and Tactics to Make a Content Marketer’s Life Easier

Our final speaker was the wonderful Stacey MacNaught from Tecmark, and she discussed some tools and tactics to get more from your content marketing efforts.  Stacey is one of the best speakers I’ve ever seen, and her talks are always full of great information and wonderful insight.  It was a great way to finish the event, and you could tell that those in attendance had left with a wealth of new information and tactics to help improve their content marketing activity.  Below are some of the key takeaways from Stacey’s talk.

SpeakUp:

This is a tool that Stacey highlighted that I’ll be honest, I wasn’t aware off, and it’s something I’m looking to implement with the team here at The Tomorrow Lab.  SpeakUp is a tool that allows you to share ideas with your team members online and get feedback and vote on best / worst ideas.  This saves time in the ideation stage as you can do this remotely without needing everyone in the room at the same time.  Another great tool for generating ideas with your team and clients is Tecmark’s own 635 Brainwriting tool, which can be accessed at 635.tecmark.co.uk.

standup

Data is your friend:

When it comes to creating content is going to earn links (and we should all want our content to be shared and linked to online), data is your friend.  From surveys to existing data, Stacey shared a number of great resources to get you started, no matter what your budget is.  Here are just some of the data sourcing websites that Stacey recommended:

  • OnePoll – allows you to carry out market research and online PR surveys to gain credible data results for your content.  Can be a larger capital investment.  OnePoll also has access to specialist panels including mums, kids, over 50s, students and professionals.
  • Toluna Quick Surveys – a website that allows you to create a quick survey targeting a range of demographics including location, gender, age and income.  Not as expensive as OnePoll and you can get results pretty quick.
  • Google Consumer Surveys – a relatively small investment but the data can be less credible than other sources.  For local companies, you can’t drill down to Northern Ireland only when picking your target audience, and there is no data for Ireland yet, meaning you might have to focus solely on UK data for your research (which might not always be ideal)

Using existing data:

Getting data yourself is never easy, and if you have a limited budget, it can sometimes be a risk.  There are ways of accessing existing data online for free and here are some sites that can point you in the right direction when it comes to getting data to support content marketing efforts.  Here’s a few to consider:

Ask The EU - The Tomorrow Lab

Promoting your content:

We’re very much in agreement with Stacey in that you should treat your content like a product and promote it.  This doesn’t always mean spending cash to promote across paid and social channels (although this will help).  Consider other avenues to get your content in front of your audience, and generate great links in the process.  Two great tips shared by Stacey were using local and regional press, and asking for forward features lists from trade press magazines.

When it comes to local and regional press, if the story is unique and relevant to the area, it will often get coverage (assuming it’s a good story of course).  Some of these journalists will also write for other national titles so this can be a good way of making your content go even further.  Asking for forward features from online publications can often help you shape your content ideas and if you have something coming up that can tie in with a feature, it can be a quick win for promoting your content online.

Some good tools for accessing journalists and media are:

Content marketing is a team game:

Stacey’s last piece of advice is probably the most important to take onboard.  Content marketing is a team game.  There is now greater tool than a determined team, so be sure to involve your team as best you can to get the most from your content marketing efforts.

You can see Stacey’s slides below.

Upcoming Events with The Tomorrow Lab:

To keep up to date with our latest events, visit our Events Page or sign up for our newsletter below to be among the first to hear about our upcoming events.  We’re planning another busy calendar of events in 2017, and we’ll be sharing more information on this in the coming weeks.

We’re also delighted to be holding a workshop at the Digital DNA Travel & Tourism event in Titanic Belfast on 24th November.  If you’re attending the event, be sure to say hello to the team.

Here’s a short video of our latest event, to give you a taste of what to look forward to at future ‘The Tomorrow Lab Presents’ events.  With great speakers, a quirky venue and pizza, what’s not to like :-)