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It Wasn’t Just SEO and Social Media at ionSearch…
Black Hat SEO Panel: Many thanks to CST Photography for supplying the image.
While as a conference novice I didn’t quite know exactly what to expect from ionSearch, I can confidently say that some of the big questions in life were answered during the various talks I attended on the day. Namely, iPhones have killed table manners, Man U aren’t on Twitter so possibly shouldn’t be trusted and really, who actually gives a shit?
Before I portray ionSearch as a mass breakdown of SEOs and Social Media-ites, let me explain. We are creatives, you understand, and as creatives sometimes we need to cut through the floweriness to get to the point. So yes, when creating content and devising social media strategies, sometimes we need to take a step back and ask what are we actually trying to achieve?
So if your boss was too tight to shell out or you did attend and fell asleep/played on your iPhone/pretended to be working on your tablet (I saw you) come hither and drink from my cup of ionSearch knowledge.
How Social Media is Revolutionising Sports and Entertainment
Sean Walsh from Blueclaw kicked off the day with what can only be described as the tonic a trainee social media ‘whizz’ like me most craved, as we dissected the good, the bad and the downright genius strategies of various brands. Sean’s passions are sports and entertainment so naturally these were the industries under the spotlight, with a focus on brands with seriously creative content.
Sean discussed the monumental impact social media has had on the sport and entertainment industries and how brand interaction with fans has evolved. Successful online campaigns were outlined such as ibelieveinharveydent.com, a micro site that truly integrated the user in the plot of the (then) soon-to-be-released Batman film ‘The Dark Knight’ by redirecting visitors to a ‘Joker’ page shortly before the film hit cinemas. Unique audience experiences were also highlighted in sport with Fox’s ‘Ref Cam’ and second screen ‘extras’ praised for their creative engagement strategies.
So, how is social media revolutionising in sport and entertainment? It’s everywhere, so be warned, if your strategy is 9-5, straight away you’ll be missing your target audience. The viral nature of social media drives real-time emotional excitement too, so if some serious shockers go down in Made in Chelsea, you can be sure an online conversation is afoot. You can check out Sean’s social media winners and losers at Social Slurp.
Social Business – How much is a Fan Worth?
To be perfectly honest I’m still seething with slight awe (and jealousy…so very jealous) that Jeremy Waite got sent a personalised Marmite bike on Valentine’s Day AND his very own Lego figure made by his adoring (and seriously big named) clients. Well, I suppose he is the Head of Strategy at Adobe… but enough about that, back to the knowledge teet.
Jeremy shook the very foundations of social media popular belief with the bold statement that the value of a fan can actually be determined, and determined down to the cent. I’ll give you a second to digest that. It’s complicated though and in Jeremy’s quick rundown of the Angry Birds Facebook fan value, I failed to pick up any big secrets (although I think that was the point).
But before Jeremy goes and unleashes all your social media clients on you with pitchforks, while there is convoluted methods to devising just how much each minion is worth, Jeremy warns that doesn’t mean that you should. Take a look at the figures for yourselves on the presentation slides.
86 Billion* Free SEO Tools: Why Your Brain is The Best Tool of All
The award for ‘most food for thought’ at ionSearch should undoubtedly go to Mike Essex from Koozai for an original take on how a lack of creative thinking is making us, well, pretty easily replaceable actually. Mike focused on how the range of SEO tools at our arsenal simply can’t compete with those 86 billion neurons in our own loaves and highlighted how tools can simply skim over damaging links (and ignore positive elements).
Quite simply we need the human element to really excel in our field, not only for coming up with truly creative strategies, but even completing the most essential tasks. If the ‘robot curve’ is new to you in all its terrifying glory, then here it is, the short journey between the innovative human being and the software-pushing monkey.
Creative work – Skilled – Rote – Robotic Work
I won’t go into the robot curve too much, because that’s a different blog for a different day, but it illustrated Mike’s point well with just a hint of scare tactics. Productivity and making time for creative thinking followed, with tips to maximise your time and block out the little distractions that hinder creative thinking. Aside from finding a quiet room and threatening to maim any co-workers who bother you, some top tips for optimising your time and maintaining focus included the Pomodoro Technique and Inbox Zero.
For those of you who haven’t tried the Pomodoro Technique it’s basically like watching multiple episodes of Friends but in work terms. Work for 25 minutes, then take a 3-5 minute break (during this time you can focus on your usual distraction i.e. Twitter) repeat four times and then take a well earned 15 minute break. As for Inbox Zero? Apparently it’ll change your life. It’s an email service with a difference and allows recipients to categorise their mail according to priority. It’s basically trailblazing the way to making sure we check our emails the same number of times a day as we urinate. (That’s once every two hours, in case you were wondering).
How to Get The Best Out Of Your SEO Using Effective PR and Content Marketing
Dave Naylor (Bronco) and Andy Barr (10 Yetis) took the ‘dynamic duo’ tag to whole new levels in a session focusing essentially on ‘content is king’ or more accurately, quality, well thought-out content is king. Dave is an SEO, Andy’s a PR company co-founder, and working collaboratively has allowed the team to merge SEO and content marketing to ensure brands are being heard, not just found on keyword searches.
‘Death of fag-packet planning’ was the main theme of the presentation with carefully planned and multi-platform content paving the way for future content marketing. Infographics, white papers (including their own on how Gangnam Style went viral), responsive design and viral content were all discussed along with the power of the controversial (highlighted by the ASOS yellow dress Ebay picture (you know the one) still riding high in the search engines). In the quest for ‘meaty content’ Dave and Andy predicted more industry partnerships to emerge in the future as Google demands more brand focused rankings.
The 10 Key Steps To An Audience Building Content Strategy
What James Carson doesn’t know about quality content isn’t worth knowing, and in this session he draws on the tried and tested methods he’s applied during his time at Bauer Media to make content sparkle (including a few ‘rescue missions’ along the way). James’ simple steps were an actionable combination of handy tools and top tips with carefully thought-out content being flaunted yet again.
James opened by suggesting content should roughly be split into 3 categories by volume:
· Low risk ‘bread and butter’ content (70%)
· Content that innovates off what is proven to work (20%)
· High risk ideas involving developers and designers (10%)
The focus was then shifted to creating good headlines, which according to James should either invoke ‘self-interest’, ‘curiosity’ or be based on current news (your own spin if you’re blogging about a hot topic). Formatting was covered in surprising depth, and I’m sensing James has a gripe with bad layout, but some great HTML tips were shared along with some of the best photo editing and poll tools around. Here’s some I’ll be looking into:
· imovie – iPhone app for creating HD films
· Polldaddy – a website designed for creating polls and quizzes
· Visual.ly – allows you to customise infographics
Black Hat SEO and Link Spam
As the conference wound down for the day, things all got a little sinister with a sobering panel focusing on domain thefts, sinking your enemy and ranking those ‘typical’ spammy companies using ‘clean methods’. With Dave Naylor, Paul Reilly and Martin MacDonald on the panel, the focus became a technical Q&A of black hat tactics, with Dave Naylor advising ‘spammy’ brands would have to dig deep to start to rank cleanly.
So, it’s fair to say I learnt a lot about going the extra mile with content, picked up some great tools and apps and fundamentally, learnt why in SEO and social media, we should all give a shit (to quote Mr Walsh…)