When people ask me what is the most effective form of marketing, I have no hesitation in saying it's valuable content. Whether that be in the form of comments and dialogue, or blog posts, slides, and images, content that will help us do our job better, learn something useful, and be entertained wins our attention.
That's why participating to the Inbound Marketing Summit was a tremendous experience. In addition to the many case studies - Southwest, Kodak, Humana, and more - I got to talk about Italian football in the House of Brady. I was touched by Chris Brogan's kind introduction and the many conversations that my presentation prompted with other practitioners.
A few other things I learned during the conference:
1. Everyone is a blogger – what happens offline is just as important as what happens online – Tim Hayden (@GamePlanHayden)
2. Every business is reactionary – brands talk about two-way conversations, but they don’t really engage – Gary Vaynerchuk (@GaryVee)
3. What will work in the future is what worked in the past – strategy trumps tactics – Rich Ullman (Ripple6)
4. We’re in social media because we do crave contact with other people – we’re inherently social John Jantsch (@DuctTape)
5. Your Web site is not a brochure anymore; it’s a living and breathing thing, refresh it frequently and people will come back – Jason Falls (@JasonFalls)
6. The function of social is bottom up, it’s not about top down control, so there is a natural tension – Greg Matthews (Humana)
7. Trust in mainstream media is eroding – the media organization that survives will be much smaller than what we used to have as a model. This is becoming a market of small, engaged, and trusted entities and communities. Paul Gillin (@PGillin)
8. Social media was made for Southwest Airlines – the company has always focused on customer communications – Paula Berg (@PaulaBerg). Southwest handpicked 30 employees, uses the blog as the anchor of their social media activities.
9. Every industry has a difficult time justifying ROI. There’s a lot of fear about doing social media and so people are using ROI to push back – Brian Solis (@briansolis)
10. We need to get over what we were taught in school. Look at Google, everything is always in beta – Paul Gillin (@PGillin)
11. Businesses that are in a multi people sale and complex industries still love content that will make them smarter – Chris Brogan (@ChrisBrogan)
12. Give your community something to do – a company that has already 150,000 fans on Facebook, for example, needs either educational or entertaining (ask them) content – C.C. Chapman (@CC_Chapman)
Some unstructured thoughts
Know your stuff – that is what is going to take the fear out of not being in control. When you socialize content, you have a tremendous opportunity to educate customers about what you do and why you do it in a certain way. This is especially true in B2B. We call that thought leadership and it’s very powerful – if you can find a way to "talk with" (hint: it includes lots of listening) instead of talking at. Language needs to change, too.
Putting together a killer content strategy is very important. However, the devil is in the details. Sweat every detail – the online form, the layout and design, the content organization. Think like a host; don’t walk away after you’ve put the content out. You're part of the engagement.
Do stop and think about the most vital part of all of this – the organization and the people inside it.
[image of the Awareness panel - from left to right Jason Falls, Paul Gillin, C.C. Chapman, Chris Brogan, Brian Solis]