Last Thursday I went to the IHG Buckhead for the Brand Innovators Content Marketing Summit. Some topics discussed included Content Marketing 2.0, Brands as Editors, Building a Content Driven Brand, Learning Content Marketing Basics From the TV Industry, Customer Advocates, and Success in Content Marketing.
The one day event was jam-packed with brands, agencies, and content marketing rockstars. I was able to connect with representatives from Brand Innovators, Whynatte Enterprises, The Coca-Cola Company, Outbrain, AT&T, Herschend Family Entertainment, InterContinental Hotels Group and Cox Communications.
I’d like to start off by saying thank you to the Brand Innovators (Brandon Gutman, Marc Sternberg, Ted Rubin, David Teicher, Alex Kanish, Kodi Foster, and the rest of y’all) for putting this on, and for Jesse Altman and the Whynatte group for these delicious lattes! I’ll definitely be using the Atlanta locator and sipping on these the rest of the summer.
The first panel I’ll discuss was titled, “What Does Success in Content Marketing Look Like?” On this panel was Nick Ayres, Director of Social Marketing at IHG, Jori Mendel, an Associate Director from AT&T, and Adam Naide, Head of Social Media Marketing at Cox Communications. These three were moderated by the infamous John Andrews from Ignite Social Media in North Carolina. (See image below: left to right, John, Adam, Nick, Jori.) The discussion flowed very nicely, with insightful responses from each panelist. When asked about hotel specific content, Nick explained the executive misconception that people really do care about the pictures on your website. You should allocate serious time and resources to make sure your pillows are properly fluffed, and the bed is made perfectly for each picture. Nick went on to say that it is more important to have a presence on the big social sites than to try and create a hub of your own. You have to understand the difficulty of creating a genuine social experience for your audience interactions outside of the existing platforms like Twitter and Facebook. It’s all about share of voice! From AT&T’s perspective, Jori stated that at this point it’s incredibly important for AT&T to be viewed as a thought leader in the home security industry. If your audience doesn’t truly believe that you’re the company to provide home security, they’ll look elsewhere. AT&T have done great work here, from White Papers and Case Studies to blog posts and press releases.
To build on Nick’s discussion points, Adam Naide spoke about content marketing metrics, realizing that the metric comes down to: “Did we drive our business objective?” The panel agreed on this statement, concluding that in social media and content marketing alike, driving business objectives will always be the bottom line. Adam went a step farther, to reiterate: Don’t drive traffic to a boring website with nothing on it! If you really want to be a content marketer, you must create interesting and engaging content! To quote Adam, “Why should the person care?” People don’t like being spammed, so we must work to create appealing content to satisfy our target audience. Context is also important and must always be considered. For example, in the World Cup Cox used the 9-5 working-man’s context to inform people to watch the World Cup on WATCH ESPN on their phones at work, instead of just informing them that this was an option. Being in this industry, however, it’s never difficult to relate to people in good context. From Game of Thrones to the World Cup, I’m listening! In conclusion, Adam pointed out that he was interested in seeing how a site like Tumblr can drive earned media metrics. I have to point out, Adam was extremely generous in his compliments to Jori and AT&T’s digital campaigns — a COMPETITOR to Cox!!
I honestly believe this was the greatest presentation I have seen in my life.
The things Coca-Cola are able to do because of their culture and personality are brilliant. You can see the World Cup trending Brazilian flag utilized throughout their presentation below. Doug is on the left, and Neil on the right. Neil spoke first, followed by Doug, and finally together for questions.
Neil Bedwell, the Global Group Director of Digital Strategy and Content, began with the history of Coca-Cola and general themes that they’re able to play on, and why. He talked about the promotion of happiness and how, to Coke, happiness means creating a social change to better the world. Happiness is derived from a moment of meaning, and is meant to start a conversation. Coca-Cola embraces the worldwide presence they’ve successfully built, and use their platform to be at the forefront of change marketing. This means they are ready to give meaning at any given moment in time (also called “Any Given Tuesday”). For example, Coke ran the small world machines campaign to bring Pakistan and India together in hard times through the use of live video vending machines. These machines allowed you to a new friend from India or Pakistan and work together in order to receive your Coke. It’s brilliant, here’s the video:
Neil finished up by discussing unique experiences and World Cup trends. As a Brit, he stated, “We invented the game, they stole it from us and made it beautiful.” In this way, and as the host country, Brazil was everybody’s 2nd team in the tournament. Coca-Cola used this theory to create the #WorldsCup campaign, exploiting the inequality tension in Brazil. This happens to be their largest marketing campaign of all time, so if you have some free time I highly recommend looking into it! What Coke did was create a life-changing experience for a few people that got to travel to Brazil and take part in the festivities, as well as walk onto the pitch and attend a game. This part of the campaign was about as authentic and genuine as any brand can ever be, hardly ever focusing on the product. Here they were able to take multiple stories, each from different regions of the world, and combine them for a main idea or bigger picture. It was beautifully done, and if you’d like to check out these videos, start here.
Doug Busk, the Director of Global Connections Innovation and pictured below, followed Neil and spoke on more global terms. He began by mentioning that Coca-Cola recruit for strong storytellers. To be able to effectively market a product or idea, you must be able to tell a story; and this concept is especially important in content marketing. Doug went on to discuss how Coke has branded Happiness, athleticism (behind the World Cup) and even Santa Claus around Christmas time! Although Coke is such a widely followed organization, you still have to take a step back sometimes and think about some of their impressive accomplishments. Coca-Cola strives to be at the forefront of EVERYTHING because the moment they stop leading, they become a commodity. This stands true from marketing and advertising, to addressing issues such as obesity and aspartame in their soda.
Doug continued by addressing the importance of having Global strength, awareness, prediction, consistency and standards. With a brand that’s mentioned up to 35 times a minute, it’s clear to see why you would want regulations in place. Regional departments are a must, and local voices and content must be constantly curated. Doug noted that in terms of analytics, they look more often at organic interest and unique impressions. They do a TON of listening, but are constantly analyzing for the correct time to talk, which ends up being when the influencers begin engaging and the conversation is picking up.
P.S. It was also great to see my friend Brian Rudolph at the event representing Coca-Cola!
They went on to discuss the World Cup hub, and their marketing visions behind this benchmark event. From traveling around the world with the trophy, to hiring young photographers for the gig of their lifetime, Coca-Cola ran a hugely successful content marketing campaign throughout the month long event. Being the global organization that they are, they were also able to strategize world-wide launches in a way that content was distributed throughout a 44-hour time span to be released at the optimal time for each area in which they were created. It was such an inspiring presentation that really put to scale the success of Coca-Cola’s marketing efforts; well done Neil and Doug.
The event ended with a cocktail reception at the hotel bar.
Overall, the event was outstanding, and I’ll be on the lookout for another Brand Innovators Content Marketing summit!