Earned Media, Owned Media, Paid Media, Shared Media, Social Promotion
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The world is tough for the B2B content marketer. While his B2C marketing friend down the hallway is able to use Instagram and Vine to promote a consumer package good (CPG) or fashion product, the B2B is left with finding ways to establish relationships with customers around technology – or worse, a service.

You hear this a lot from B2B marketers today – it’s much harder to create sexy content for decision makers than for the average American. And this perceived hardship is reflected in recent data from Forrester Research, which found that more than three-quarters of B2Bs say they frequently communicate with their customers, but only 5 percent make it a priority.

Can B2B Content Be Eye-Catching?

B2Bs have opted to not create content that their audiences love, focusing on product-driven initiatives and talking only to bottom-of-the-funnel leads. However, the idea that B2B marketers can’t create exciting content and get people talking about it isn’t grounded in any evidence. There are some amazing brands in the marketplace doing cool things with content – check out General Electrics Instagram account.

The first step a B2B must take to creating sexy content is to redefine what they consider sexy. MarketingProf’s Ann Handley sticks to a stellar content creation formula: (useful content) x (empathetic content) x (inspired content) = great content.

You don’t need images to be sexy, but you do need a plan. What many B2Bs fail to consider is that offline events offer viable opportunities to create eye-catching content, so long as an effective plan is in place and supported by other channels.

Creating content in support of your presence at an industry event is common practice. But with everyone writing reviews, tweeting with event hashtags and sharing pictures of presentations, the practice isn’t as effective as it once was. Standing out now requires you to start planning your editorial calendar well in advance, taking amplification into account just as much as the angles you’ll approach with your content.

Your Current Event-Oriented Content Has a Short Shelf-Life

When you attend a conference today, it’s hard not to notice how saturated the social airwaves become around the sponsored hashtag. I recently went to MozCon in Seattle, and while in the conference hall, I created a column in TweetDeck for the “#MozCon” hashtag. I wanted to see how other attendees were reacting to what each speaker presented, but I quickly realized just how impossible of a task that would be. Tweets came in at dozens in just a few seconds. No one was engaging, many were tweeting every single word a speaker said, and others were asking about the WiFi connection.

What once was considered an appropriate channel for making connections with others has now become a place where many people just talk and never listen.

How do you get your content noticed? You have to start creating content well before the event to earn top search spots, develop an experiential marketing plan that draws eyes, and have a newsroom team in place to capitalize on real-time feedback.

Pre-Event Support Plan

If you’re serious about making an impact at an event and generating buzz for your B2B, you’ll want to do your research first. Start by looking at the conference tracks and sessions. You may not know what each talk will cover exactly, but the core themes should be obvious from the titles. These clues serve as guidance on what topics people care about most today within your industry.

Build awareness around your presence at an upcoming conference by creating relevant content in advance that features insights, interviews, and quotes from presenters and keynote speakers. At Skyword, we use a variety of these pre-event strategies to generate buzz for our brand:

  • Connect with a keynote or session speaker prior to the event to write a “what to expect” piece.
  • Create lifestyle content about all the fun things to do in the city or town the conference takes place in.
  • Develop a library of content based on conference tracks. Prepare that content to go live during the event, and support each post with paid social amplification efforts.
  • Hold a Twitter chat prior to the event with attendees and speakers using a separate branded hashtag. This will help you establish connections before the madness begins, and you can set up meetings with people before you even board your flight.

During the Event: It’s Not About The Noise

By now, you’ll have already connected with many attendees and social listeners through the content you’ve created leading up to the event, but you have to keep the momentum going. You must create an experiential campaign that draws these connections toward your booth or speaking panel.

Chaotic Moon Studios, a creative agency, developed a stun gun for SXSW, and the agency zapped an intern to demonstrate the power of drone technology. You can bet that the media picked up this show, amplifying Chaotic Moon’s brand across numerous channels.

IBM told a story about its supercomputer Watson at SXSW, using the technology to create never-before-made dishes using crowd sourced ideas for ingredients. The company then gave out the meals for free at a local food truck.

At Skyword, we throw parties. At Content Marketing World 2013, our team created a rock ‘n roll themed kick-off party where each attendee was given the name of one member of an old-school band. We challenged everyone to try and reunite with the rest of their band members, and the first group to do so would win a prize. This not only got people to network with others and remove the awkwardness that often comes with industry events, but it generated a lot of buzz for our organization. And you can bet we saw direct results from this event as attendees became aware of our brand and went out to amplify and engage our content in the future.

Post-Event: The Fun Doesn’t Stop After the Event

The connections you’ve made at events become the catalysts for effective content amplification strategies. After all, the best way to get your great content in the hands of new audiences is through referrals from friends and colleagues.

Follow up with the connections you’ve made to co-create content that aligns with everyone’s professional goals. Try to get as much face time with speakers and other influential attendees as possible. If you can form a friendship with these people, you can turn to them later for a quote to support an article you’re writing, ask them to participate in a webinar, co-market with them at other events, and share each other’s content on an ongoing basis. Influencer marketing yearns for a personal connection.

What Strategy Do You Have in Place?

Your best content amplification strategy for an event begins months before you step foot in a conference room. Make sure your editorial team is prepared to create, support, make connections, and follow up with readers to see the maximum impact from your campaign.

Many B2Bs think it’s hard to get their content noticed, but it could just be that they are not doing the hard work needed to earn the attention they desire. It’s not enough to write content and wait for people to come; you’ve got to get on the ground and make connections, otherwise, your audience will stick to the colorful photos they’re seeing on Instagram and never look up long enough to notice your product.

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