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B2B conferences: generating content to maximise ROI

B2B conferences are a fantastic way to connect with colleagues and customers, old and new. But they don’t come cheap. A lot of time, money and stress (!) go into them, so it’s only natural that you’ll want to maximise your return on investment from the conferences you organise. Fortunately, with a little thought and preparation, you can turn your conference into a content marketing machine. Here are some of our favourite ways to generate great conference-inspired content.

1. Video vox pops
Vox pops (vox populi, voice of the people) are informal interviews and a great source of soundbites that you can use on your website. Talk to your customers in coffee breaks or at networking receptions and get their take on the day. They’re really easy to do, too – all you need is a cameraman and an interviewer mingling with the crowd. Don’t forget to ask for permission from the interviewee, though.

2. Promo video
If you’re capturing the talks, atmosphere and highlights from the event, you’ve also got other video options. You could create a short teaser video, inspiring people to attend next year, or a longer summary video so those who couldn’t make it don’t miss out.

3. Blog posts
Every one of your speakers will be talking about a topic relevant to your business – and each session should be viewed as a potential blog post. Sometimes, we’re asked to provide a writer to attend sessions and write them up afterwards. Equally, you could invite each speaker to pen their own post at a later date. It’s a great way to quickly generate a bevy of relevant, topical blog posts that simultaneously position your event as a valuable gathering place for your target market.

4. Live tweeting
Though social posts from a conference have a limited shelf life, they can pay dividends on the day. Create an event hashtag for attendees to use when tweeting about the event before, during and after. Those who can’t make it can also use it to get involved.

5. Surveys
We don’t just mean a satisfaction survey. Asking just a few questions of attendees can give you valuable data about the issues facing your customers, their opinions on current trends or whatever you want to ask them. You can use the data as the basis of an infographic or blog. If you ask enough questions, you could even write a short paper.

Have a plan for your conference-inspired content
However you choose to generate content from your next B2B conference, the most important thing you can do is to plan it well. How will you use each piece? What part will it play in your sales cycle? If you can fit conference-content into your wider content strategy, then you stand to generate some truly impressive ROI from your next event.

Have you held a conference recently? Or are you thinking about holding one? We’d love to hear about your content plans for it. Why not leave a comment, find us on Twitter or drop us a line at LinkedIn?

Listicle or Missticle? How to write engaging listicles

Listicles — bulleted lists of information presented as an article — are a great way to engage today’s time-poor readers. But have you ever stumbled on one that feels like it’s missed the point?

You know the kind: “Top 250 PR stunts” or “61 social media tips you don’t know about”. Listicles are designed to make the information they contain accessible, but there’s a fine line between achieving that and turning your readers off – sometimes before they’ve even clicked the link.

So how can you keep your listicle on the straight and narrow? We’ve come up with a few ideas to help your listicle avoid being a “missticle” (pardon the pun). To help, we’ve even arranged them in a list…

1: Get the numbers right
The best listicles keep to low numbers. Ten would be an absolute maximum, but five or three would be better. Though numbers like 13 or 9 stand out, they do risk giving people the impression you couldn’t decide which ideas to use so just chucked them all in. Even numbers are fine – as this listicle from hubspot shows.

2: Watch your language
If you have 30 points, are they all “top”, “significant” or “best”? It’s important not to over-hype your article. Your readers will see it a mile off and likely vote with their feet. Take this CMI article , for example – no hype; just a promise to list some useful tools that’s then delivered on.

3: Find the thread
This is the one that can make the difference between a good and a great listicle. Even though you’re writing a list, it’s still important to find an arc that draws your reader in and gives them a reason to read the whole thing. In a list of top social media tools, for example, you might start with tools that focus on curation and finding content and move through to those that are more geared towards analytics and review. Or, as we did in this listicle on barriers to social in business, start with a surface issue and then dig deeper with each successive point.

It does take a careful bit of planning to write engaging listicles – short and accessible as they are, they aren’t necessarily quick things to write. But once you’ve got the format working for you, your content will shine.

You’ve probably come across a variety of listicles. Why not share the best – and the worst – in the comments below, LinkedIn or Twitter?

Continuing the cycle: when the buyer’s journey is over

It’s a familiar scenario: someone has bought your product or service and is satisfied. A customer’s completed their buyer’s journey, you’ve made a sale and everyone’s happy.

But what about the next time? How do you ensure that you’re considered in the future? How do you stay at the forefront of your customer’s mind?

In short, the answer is: genuine interaction.

When we say genuine, we’re talking about going beyond product-focussed communications. Remember, your customer hasn’t just bought your services; they’ve bought into your company ethos, your approach to business and your brand personality. In fact, it’s likely that those were the factors that led them to choose you over your competitors. Keeping those aspects of you shining through – rather than what you’re selling – will go a long way towards your customer considering you the next time they have need of your services.

But how do you do that? At HN, we’ve been helping businesses continue conversations with existing customers for a while and we’ve seen the following examples have great success.

  • A quarterly update email lets everyone know what your company’s been up to. Perhaps you’ve announced a new partnership, or attended a recent industry event. Even if there’s nothing like that going on, you could always share your company’s latest blog post (if you haven’t got a company blog, then you’re missing out!)
  • Build an online community, be it a LinkedIn or Facebook group or a technical forum, and get discussions going among your customers. In doing so, you’ll create multiple opportunities to engage directly with your customers – showing your knowledge and passion for the issues that affect them. You never know, you might even learn a thing or two from them!
  • Organise a customer event where you can discuss issues and upcoming developments that you know they’ll be interested in. It doesn’t have to be a Gartner Symposium-sized event; even an informal get-together gives you a chance to interact on a personal level with your customers and plenty of opportunities to discuss further business opportunities if the time is right. And, anyway, nothing says thank you like free food.
  • Interact on social media by responding to mentions and posts or even reaching out to influential customers or industry figures. When done right, you can start and maintain conversations on key topics facing your customers, just as in a forum or at an event.

Have you tried any of these for your  sales cycle? If you already do these things regularly, how do they work for you? Let us know your experience by leaving a comment, or getting in touch via Twitter or LinkedIn.

Campaign hashtags: use your own or someone else’s?

It’s a simple enough question, and one that most of us have probably pondered as we’ve sat, pen poised, over a blank piece of paper entitled ‘Social media campaign’.

Should the hashtags you use already exist on the internet – say, #UX if you’re creating a campaign around user experience – or be totally new – for instance, #HNMarketingrocks? (Let’s get it trending!)

Something new, something borrowed…

The honest answer is that you want a mix of both, because each hashtag serves a slightly different purpose. Hashtags are what people use to search through content on social media. By using other people’s hashtags, your tweets stand a better chance of being seen by the masses.

At the same time, creating your own catchy campaign hashtags that your community are keen to share can help make your content stickier by generating interest as it spreads through your social communities.

Both of those functions are important for a campaign, so both need doing. In essence, the way it works is that hashtags borrowed from other sources will draw traffic to your social media profiles, where you can then share your custom hashtag with the world.

Once your community starts sharing your campaign hashtags, you can use them to monitor interest in your content. If your campaign hashtags are good enough, they should also start to generate interest in the content itself.

Less is more

Don’t go hashtag-crazy, though. Creating a variety of tweets, pins, or Facebook posts using different hashtags will ensure that your audience will see them all in due course. So, it’s best not to cram them all into every post (and don’t try to use hashtags on LinkedIn – they don’t work there).

It might take some practice, but, once you’ve got the hang of it, you will find that the right combination of original and borrowed hashtags gives your content’s reach a considerable boost.

One last thing

If you’re looking at the likes of Amnesty International’s #GayTurtle or Doritos’ #CrashTheSuperBowl campaigns and thinking, ‘my custom hashtag will never be successful’, then remember: your hashtag dosen’t need 80,000 shares.

Even the largest of B2B audiences is relatively small when compared with the kinds of audiences the aforementioned B2C companies are targeting. Your campaign hashtag doesn’t need to trend worldwide to be a success – it just needs to be trending amongst your audience.

So don’t be scared – get out there and start hashtagging!

Which kind of hashtags do you tend to use most? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Using customers’ language to grow your brand

Should organisations use their customers’ language? Get it right and you will reap the rewards — increased coverage, followers and retweets — get it wrong though, and your legal team could be calling.

One of the UK’s largest retailers, Argos, is a company that understands the importance of solidifying customer relationships through online engagements. Recently, its customer service team replied to a tweet from a potential customer who was complaining about the availability of the PS4 in his local store:

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To which @ArgosHelpers replied (presumably after consulting their teenage children):

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The result? issue dealt with, an extra 1,500 followers (in one day) and a happy customer:

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Apart from the baffling language that sent even us running for the Urban Dictionary, Argos showed how the combination of humour, content and medium can be combined to solve customers’ problems, communicate clearly and promote their business to new audiences. By matching the tone of the original tweet, the company generated a positive response from a complaint, without being offensive — a perfect example of peer language adoption.

Even if Argos’s use of slang is too ‘left field’ for your organisation right now, there are still lessons to be learnt here. The importance of knowing and applying your customers’ preferred language, whether they spend their day thinking about cloud architecture or PS4 availability, is something every organisation needs to acknowledge — y’get me?