Last week, I had the pleasure of attending FP Reach at the Vancouver Convention Centre. FP Reach — one of the many Social Media Week Vancouver events — is a three-city tour that connects small and medium businesses, marketing experts, and successful entrepreneurs sharing the latest marketing trends, business strategies, and best practices. The event brought out some of Vancouver’s (and North America’s) leading thought leaders in media, both traditional and digital.
The highlight was the energetic keynote delivered by author and social media marketer Gary Varnerchuk. My notes are below, but here are some high-level key takeaways:
- Content is still king, and you are probably not creating enough quality content. Bottom line: Create remarkable content, and do it consistently and frequently.
- While advertising still can play a role in the marketing cycle, earned media and public relations are powerful tools that can help your business get to the next level.
- Authenticity isn’t just a buzz word — it’s something you need to strive for in your content, in social media, and when talking to journalists.
- Traditional media isn’t dead, and ignoring them is a short-sighted strategy. While the industry is currently experiencing many changes, they are quickly adapting and experimenting.
Here are some more specific notes from the different FPReach sessions.
Session 1: Entrepreneurs Leveraging Media
Panelists: Jeff Quipp of Search Engine People, Inc.; Cybele Negris of Webnames.ca; and Ranjith Kumaran of YouSendIt.com
- Develop relationships with media — Be objective; don’t sell to them all the time.
- Be friendly with media. For example, offer exclusive stories.
- Outsource PR after you figure out your positioning, image, etc — i.e. not before. PR will not fix your positioning issue.
- Publish your own content. Content is big in “pulling people in”.
- Keep in mind that different media serve different purposes in the buying cycle. Social media might be good for brand awareness, but not necessarily for conversion.
- Be aware that most people are starting to tune out advertising. “Advertising is a tax for being unremarkable.”
- Focus on earned media.
- Strive to be authentic.
- Don’t force charity work — don’t do it just for the purposes of PR; support the causes that you’re truly passionate about.
- Don’t try to copy others and don’t attempt to be a brand that you are not.
- Keep a company blog – they’re good for inbound marketing.
- Do “social media optimization” — that is, always have a call to action in your blog posts.
- Get people to subscribe to your email database, like your Facebook page, follow you on Twitter, etc.
- Be remarkable.
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to marketing.
Session 2: Inside a Modern Media Company
Panelists: Duncan Clark of Postmedia, Inc.; Sheldon Sawchuk of the National Post; Gillian Shaw of the Vancouver Sun
- Have a compelling story.
- Put yourself in the readers’ shoes. Determine what is compelling to them.
- Be aware that the media landscape is under endless changes. For example, mobile is changing the way people access their news. Media institutions such as Postmedia are catching up but are working on some innovative projects. Keep these projects in mind.
- Add value to the conversation.
- Don’t forget that credibility and independence are important to journalists. Don’t trick them.
- Think in multimedia. Does your story have potential in video, photo or survey, for example?
- If you must send a media release, consider a social media release instead of a traditional press release.
- Know everyone’s deadlines.
- Offer your expertise as the media is always looking for quotes and for multiple sources.
- Interact with journalists on social media.
- Keep in mind their ‘beats’.
- Note their personal passions. Which causes do they care about?
Session #3: Content is King
Panelists: Jeff Quipp of Search Engine People; Bosco Anthony, Business Growth Strategist, Internet Marketing and Social Media Management professional; Ranjith Kumaran of YouSendIt.com
- Focus on producing quality content. If you have good content, you may not need advertising.
- Think keywords — popular (more general) keywords might give you more traffic, but long tail keywords (those that are more specific) might direct more quality traffic to your content. Both are important.
- Make sure your content is optimized for social media.
- Have at least two call to actions: get people to subscribe to your blog or follow you on social networks, and get readers to share your content.
- Develop a content/editorial calendar.
- Be consistent and focus on quality.
- Create content that “fits with the rhythm of your business”. Another way of saying you should keep your business cycle in mind when creating your content calendar.
- Consider content creation as “wealth building” for your community — but also for your business.
- Create content that lasts. Answer frequently asked questions, for instance, via blog posts.
- When thinking about content, consider demaind (what’s not working for customers), rules (guidelines for readers), and content style (interviews, how controversial you’d like to be, etc.)
- Think of social media as a part of your marketing suite. Say no to silos!
- Strive to be a “multimedia company”.
Session #4: I had to step out a little bit after lunch to catch up with some urgent work. I missed this session, but please leave a comment below if you had some takeaways from here!
Keynote: Gary Vaynerchuk
- Traditional marketing methods — outdoor, direct mail, TV ads etc. — are no longer as effective as before.
- What may seem dumb on social media (e.g. “I like cats”) actually provide context. These posts are not as irrelevant as they seem.
- Word of mouth scales because of technology.
- Who ever “cares the most” and scales wins.
- Convenience wins, but emotional context trumps convenience. Social media allows companies to provide context.
- Visit http://www.twitter.com/search — it’s the most important page on the Internet.
- Engage and “don’t close the door” too quickly. In other words, don’t sell at the first opportunity. Provide value; answer questions.
Note: Many takeaways from Gary’s talk impossible to capture in text. His speech below is similar to what he delivered at FP Reach, so listen/watch for more info.
Were you at FPReach in Vancouver? What are some of your biggest takeaways?