If you’re looking to revive your content strategy, or get your next big campaign off the ground, industry inspiration can help take your ideas from point A to point B. I recently attended Skyword’s Forward Conference in Boston, where content managers and marketing leaders came together to discuss their challenges and triumphs. Here are a few takeaways to help you dodge any barbs that may prevent your brand from reaching its goals.
Looking for ways to refresh your content strategy? An industry conference can be a great source of inspiration.
1. Slow down your storytelling.
Through a tale of two zoos, Ann Hanley, author of bestseller Everybody Writes, illustrates the power of drawing out a narrative over time. The Bronx Zoo, one of the largest and best-known U.S. zoos, has achieved viral success with a clever social campaign every Valentine’s Day since 2011. The zoo asks followers to name one of its Madagascar hissing cockroaches after a loved one.
Riffing off this idea, the El Paso Zoo prompted visitors to name a cockroach after an ex, which would then become a meal for the zoo’s meerkats. But before the El Paso Zoo aired the main event live on Facebook to an audience of 6,000 viewers, it spent weeks teasing out the spectacle with a multitude of social posts. With only limited resources, the smaller zoo was also able to leave an international footprint.
2. Deliver solutions, not products.
“No one wakes up in the morning and says, ‘I wish someone would sell me a financial product,’” said Allison Baird, Boston Private’s SVP of Products & Solutions. We do however lose sleep over our families or whether we can save enough money to take a trip to Africa in a year, she said. These are the kinds of conversations marketers should strive to have through their content.
Baird says marketing professionals have the unique challenge of anticipating customers’ needs and goals in order to drive innovation. Years ago we never knew to ask for a phone that takes pictures, but today “we all walk around taking pictures all over the place,” she said.
3. Find influencers who inspire FOMO.
Seventy percent of advertisers hire influencers as part of their social media strategy, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. But as anyone who understands social media can tell you, it pays to find the right ones. “We could not do this without influencers,” said Beverly Jackson, VP of Social Portfolio Strategy at MGM Resorts International, whose team fields 1,700 requests from content creators angling for a free trip to Las Vegas daily. Those who make the cut create original content that makes millennial travelers feel a sense of urgency. MGM then takes the influencer-created content and targets it, putting more spend behind the posts with the highest conversions.
4. Use social media to adapt quickly.
Under Jackson’s leadership, MGM has leveraged several strategies to excel in the fast-paced social media landscape:
- Instagram Stories and timeline as separate channels: “Bifurcating that strategy has made all the difference and has ensured that we get funding for our initiatives,” Jackson said.
- Social-first focus: Put people in place that not only know the categories but know how to navigate their assigned platforms and channels. Define responsibilities, so everyone accounts for their own lane and knows how to measure success.
- Go Live: “There is no better way to create FOMO than covering a live event,” Jackson said. Having a social media manager embedded within the team allows quick action when new event coverage opportunities arise.
5. Stop sounding like a marketer.
Just like a Vegas act, “All great writing has a tell,” Handley explained in her closing keynote at Forward. “What is your tell as a writer? I think the more specific our writing is, the stronger the tell, the stronger the voice.”
Take Warren Buffett’s annual newsletter, for example. Though sent to tens of thousands of Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, Buffett keeps one person, his sister Doris, in mind when writing, Handley said. This explains the letter’s simple, accessible and playful tone. “You may have different segments and different personas on your list. You may have different people in your world, but each piece of content should be written to just one person,” she said. “Who’s the one person you have in mind, who’s the one person who [your content is]designed to help?”
This article first appeared in www.forbes.com
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