Favorite Five (Part 2): Takeaways from IMS San Francisco

by Jenna Sindle

One of the great things about attending a marketing conference is that fellow attendees embrace today’s social platforms and are very engaged in online conversation surrounding the event. It was fascinating to follow along in the online community that the hashtag #IMS13 created for the Inbound Marketing Summit last week.

In fact, looking around the room during any given presentation, almost everyone could be seen looking down at some sort of handheld device or laptop. Traditionally, this could be interpreted as a sign of disengagement and boredom, but in fact it was quite the opposite. The amount of tweets, posts, shares and conversing between attendees (and even non-attendees) provided a real sense of community and even sparked new connections amongst participants. It just goes to show how technology has truly shaped the way we think, react and interact.

In our previous post highlighting the main takeaways from the first day, we discussed the theme of technology and content for audience engagement. Now we would like to share another favorite five takeaways we learned from day two.

  1. “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful of what we pretend to be.” Loie Maxwell, Former VP Global Creative at Starbucks. Honesty and knowing who you are as an organization, including having a consistent voice, is one of the most important things. Whether you’re a large corporation, small business or an individual, you’re your own brand. Create a fully honest point of view about yourself and your brand while also creating an image that has continuity and consistency. Be aware that there’s a varying array of your personality to express that may be different in one channel vs. another, but know your voice and be consistent, honest and authentic.
  2. “Thought leaders have to have thoughts.”Marc Hausman, President and CEO at Strategic Communications Group. If you’re going to be a thought leader, be a thought leader. Don’t be afraid to post opinions and insights, even if others might disagree with you. That is still a great way to spark conversation and engagement. Also, go for the “get.” Secure highly placed executives for interviews and content collaboration; exclusive content drives readership.
  3. “Why are stories important? They are like viruses.” Jason Thibeault, Former Sr. Director of Market Strategy at Limelight Networks. Of course, stories help communicate ideas, but they also help ideas move from one person to the next, and quickly. Putting ideas into a story makes them more understandable and memorable. Stories make us do things and call us to action. However, digital has changed everything. Now the world is drowning in stories. And we’ve stopped listening. In fact, getting people to listen is becoming one of the greatest challenges of our time. Marketers can take advantage of this digital age by expanding the volume and velocity of messaging (strategically, of course). Digital can also allow us to tell richer stories that go beyond just the page by utilizing images, videos, apps, and experiences to create a story environment. It may be overwhelming, but this is what we are facing as marketers, and we must embrace and navigate this digital landscape.
  4. “We are wired to be general, which is like remaining black and white in a colorful world.” Kare Anderson, Forbes and Huffington Post Contributor, and CEO, Say it Better Center. In a nutshell, get specific sooner! It takes 3 seconds for someone to decide if they like you online or not. Provide the detail up front to capture attention; you can’t have a conversation if your audience isn’t paying attention. Make your content actionable (taking one action leads to another and another), interesting (something that might catch your audience by surprise), and relevant. Companies that can provide specific, helpful information will be who people turn to.
  5. “When we write headlines, we believe that if readers have to start thinking, they won’t click.”Dorth Raphaely, Senior Director of Programming at the Bleacher Report. Make things short and sweet. To tease too much with intriguing statements is to lose readership. People want to consume content and ingest it; it’s all about “snackable” content without causing the reader to wonder what the headline is about or what it means. Readers today just want to consume. There are so many links, apps, channels, platforms, etc. to choose from, the content needs to feel like you’re talking to a friend, not just a publication.