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SAScon Day 2!
Despite the general hangover epidemic at day 2 of SAScon (from non-Mancunian agencies mostly), the speakers were at least on top form even if the guests were mentioning ‘Jager-trains’ in hushed tones. Copywriter Chris even left some pastries for all us Friday attendees, which was nice of him.
Keynote Interview – Mike Little, WordPress Founder
‘Who uses WordPress?’ was one of the first questions asked during Mike Little’s interview and like over eager schoolchildren, we all promptly waved our hands in the air. Right now I’m posting this in WordPress and for most of our clients, I’ll be posting in WordPress too. WordPress is quite simply the don of the CMS. We had a pretty good inkling as to why everyone loves WordPress, but Mike summed up the secret to the success in beautiful simplicity.
1. If it’s simple enough for your mum to use, you’re probably onto a winner
2. Open source licence – versatile and non-restrictive, anyone can have a voice
3. Fantastic online support community, with WordPress training for all levels in the pipeline.
Now WordPress might have ‘blogger’ written all over it but that doesn’t stop a little thinking outside the text box. So what actually can we do with WordPress other than post a literary masterpiece we asked? Mike listed a filing system he came across (any explanations as to why would be most appreciated) and a couple of really creative ideas courtesy of the WordPress development team. These include a game called ‘Bendy Words’ (I’ve searched in vain) and an educational tool called ‘I’m A Scientist Get Me Out Of Here’ which allows children to interact live with scientists during their lessons.
Next up Mike was lightly grilled about WordPress for mobile devices, and while WordPress can hold its own on the tiny screen, Mike admitted that there’s room for improvement in terms of display and usability. Then it all went slightly ugly when the dreaded ‘security’ word popped up, but never fear, thousands of hackers try to get past the WordPress golden gates every day and so far, not one of the buggers have succeeded. Like home security, Mike suggested a little bit of diligence will go a long way; WordPress isn’t inherently insecure, but if you don’t keep up with the updates and are less than scrupulous with your themes and plug-ins, that’s when the holes start to appear.
Finally one cheeky SAScon attendee asked Mike what CMS he would be using today if WordPress hadn’t been invented. After a hiss of ‘oooohhs’, Mike sheepishly answered ‘Drupal’.
Content Outreach: Getting it Right – Bas van den Beld, Kevin Gibbons, Lisa Myers
It’s fair to say we’re now all a little sick of that ‘content marketing’ phrase since it gets thrown around more often than a collie’s tennis ball, but it is still one of those buzz phrases that no one quite seems to understand. In this session we partially cut through the CM bulls**t a little and determined that basically, content marketing is overtaking link building in classic quality over quantity style. Oh and good SEOs have been doing it all along (i.e. hiring good copywriters and content creators) so apparently if you’re worth your salt, this concept shouldn’t be that new to you.
The move away from the SEO term was also batted about fairly comprehensively and this was interesting food for thought for our team at Fluid. We offer a very holistic approach to digital marketing, our copywriters demonstrate strong interest in the industries they write for and we’re pretty fluent in social media management too. Not to mention we have an in-house design team on hand to create beautiful infographics, ticking the ‘varied/quality/sharable’ box. Are we therefore doing ourselves a disservice in tainting ourselves with the grimy sheen of SEO? One to think about.
Integrating Search and Social Within the Wider Marketing Mix – Andy Betts, Judith Lewis, Jon Myers and Andrew Warren Payne
Despite being rewarded for our questions with chocolate (there was a bottle of Prosecco kicking around too), we proved that yes, we actually have evolved from the lab rat and we will not be tempted by treats (few put their hands up)! This stand was less impressive when I was later wishing I’d piped up for the Hotel Chocolat, but moving on…
This session essentially focused on going beyond search to create a bigger, more inclusive strategy. 3’s dancing pony was cited as a good example of a campaign that straddles multi-media and if the TV advert wasn’t super-viral purely through quirkiness, then the interactive ‘make your own pony dance’ strategy certainly was. User generated content is big business and if you can conquer social media, YouTube and the ad break in the middle of Corrie, then you’ve hit the marketing jackpot.
I still wish I’d asked a question for chocolate though…
As Chris regaled you with lunch, here’s the deliciousness from day 2: Spanish meatballs with patatas bravas, crusty bread, salad and fruit kebabs for dessert (The tickets paid for themselves, they really did).
Keynote: Jeff Coglan – Matmi
Almost as exciting as a trip on the Smiler (but not quite, obviously), Jeff Coglan brought a little theme park amusement to an otherwise educational line-up. It seems cruel to say that every other session was pretty naff compared to Jeff’s so I’m not going to say that. But it’s fair to say that in terms of pure fun, Jeff had everyone eating out the palm of his hand with lots of cool grown-up stuff, like rollercoasters and monkeys.
Matmi specialises in digital production so we were expecting some pretty exciting apps and game showcases. Jeff and co. certainly didn’t disappoint and even riddled with flu, he put on a pretty good show. If it wasn’t for the meagre battery on my phone, we’d now all be feasting on a nifty video of one of Matmi’s designers controlling a monkey (later an army of monkeys) just with his movements. It was a little sketchy, but they knocked it up in two days so credit where it’s due. Aside from the dancing monkeys, we were also treated to an insight into the promo work behind Alton Tower’s latest white knuckler the ‘Smiler’. Luckily the Smiler game is on YouTube, so here’s a SAScon sample:
Delivering Insights From Social Media: Kristal Ireland & Sean Walsh
Everyone loves a freebie and answering the prayers of numerous freelancers (and tight bosses) around the room, Sean Walsh unearthed his top pick of the free and easy social media measuring tools. So, how can we find and display ‘insight on a budget?’ Here’s Sean’s top finds:
Simply Measured – Beautifully usable, Simply Measured allows you to create Excel-based and web reports across all of your social media channels (with more coming soon).
Social Bro – Exclusively for Twitter, Social Bro is designed to give you an insight into the quality of your Twitter followers, not just the cold hard numbers.
Topsy – Type in a name (yes any name, the first that comes up is Justin Bieber) and all will be revealed across news sites and social media.
Penguin 2: Experts Assessment
Why did some spammy sites soar in Google and quality sites get pushed right back as Penguin 2.0 waddled in? Who the hell knows, Google certainly doesn’t seem to. But in all seriousness, Penguin 2 was less the wipe-out of Penguin 1 and more a bit of a flop that seems to pick and choose who to penalise depending on how it’s feeling that day. Who was negatively affected the speakers asked? Aside from a few hands, the rest of us pretty much sat there wondering when the real ‘slappening’ would start.
The last debate of the day understandably got rather heated with attendees asking the panel why a site with 90% of its links disavowed got brutally hit during P2 when some super spammers are still riding high. In all honesty, I think the expert panel were as bewildered as the audience in some respects (just to reiterate; the internet didn’t die after Penguin 2) but the dangers of sites going down and then popping back on the scene (complete with your old links) was highlighted for those suddenly being penalised for 2009 links. We also learnt that brand does seem to be taken into account by Google, as illustrated by sites that really should have gone down but managed to stay in the top spots.
It’s fair to say I left SAScon stuffed with pastries and some serious new perspective on how I view our field. In essence I’ve been left chewing over the role of SEOs, i.e. should full service agencies be giving themselves more credit instead of being tarnished with a brush that’s been sullied by too many black-hatters? I’ve also become a little more despondent with Google. I used to believe that little could get past anything Google decided to unleash, until we hashed out the ‘impact’ of wet squib P2 that is. SEOs were quaking for weeks and that’s all we got? After sitting in a very big room with scores of people (who are still employed I might add) and hearing that yes, some felt the sting, but lots didn’t, next time the wrath of the big G looms I’m sure we won’t all be getting so worked up.
Unless that’s their plan…