I attended Marketed Live on the 25 September 2018 in Nottingham. It’s the 2nd time the conference has run, and I was expecting a modestly interesting day for the modest price I paid of £135 (I early bird-ed).

What I got was a night out with Robin Hood, a vegan breakfast in what can only be described as a Shoreditch style hotel, an intense day of thoughts being provoked and some wonderfully life-affirming In Real Life (IRL) meet ups.

A week has passed and I’m still at this stage of gush. Or it was when I wrote this. But I’ve decided to publish this on the 4 month anniversary of this tremendous conference – in a belated celebration!

I think the reason this conference was so good was that it was so unexpectedly good.  For £135 and a day running from 9.30-5 I wasn’t expecting knowledge that is going to improve the service – and outcomes – that I deliver to my clients.

How did the organisers pull this off?  I’ve been thinking about this all week and I’m putting it down to attention to detail. The speakers dove-tailed beautifully with each other, referencing each other’s ideas and building on them. There wasn’t any repetition, selling from the stage, or explanation of how things work which drives me insane as GOOGLE PEOPLE. And I think the magic, the feel-good, came from a conference culture that made it seem to me at least that it was a room of equals. A room where information was shared, not a room where egos were massaged and the plebs at the tables were told by professional speakers who don’t have clients to buy a specific advert combination to “win” and “crush”.

This was clear from Biz Paul’s opening keynote where he called the industry on it’s bad behaviour. This wasn’t a guru on the circuit. This was Biz Paul smacking us all across the face to be better.

I am having a physical reaction to praising Paul this much, as we mostly communicate in gifs and disagree nicely about very geeky digital marketing nuance in 280 characters. So I’m going to stop the gush and share with you the 3 ideas I took from the day and am putting into play in my business.

1. Context is everything.

My favourite speaker was Timothy Armoo, CEO of Fanbytes. He made me sit up and think that the content – both paid and organic – that I plan so carefully for my clients means squiggly-squat if it’s skipped. And it will be skipped, scrolled past and ad blocked.

If you want attention in a landscape of constantly decreasing attention, think about the context of your content.

He is so obviously right, and I guess it was on the outside circuit of my brain, but now context is taking prime real estate in my strategies for my clients. His company is so focused on context that the campaigns they deliver get an influencer to share the ad at a relevant time so both the influencer and their audience will be in the optimum mindset to be open to considering the advert. It doesn’t get much more targeted. A campaign for Debut (a recruitment app for graduates) got a 10.7% CTR using an influencer on her graduation day sharing the advert for the app.

This point was backed up by Emma Leech – who I had never heard speak before and was absolutely brilliant and needs booking a lot more – Director of Marketing for Loughborough University, who shared a campaign based entirely around context. They sent their university offers on golden tickets playing on the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory idea. Getting into Loughborough is aspirational. This campaign thought about the context of their audience receiving the offer letter, who want to share their big moment. By providing a physical ticket, they gave their future students a better selfie and they also ensured the brand was visible.

Helping their customers make better content for themselves was an interesting by-product of campaigns that are designed around the context of their audience.

2. Produce content that influences

Chris Marr, Founder of the Content Marketing Academy, spoke about obsessing about content, but there was a higher call to action throughout the day. To simply produce content will no longer be enough for either our social media businesses or our clients. It needs to influence.

To succeed in 2018 and beyond, we need to be the industry experts of our fields.

Hannah McCreesh, Head of Content at Podcast Websites, continued this theme. She told the room that being a podcaster wasn’t enough. You need to attain audio influence. Before you come out in hives at the revival of the idea that buying followers is coming back, stop! Hannah shared a great example of Carman Capriotto who is a niche podcaster in classic cars. He only gets 300 downloads of a new episode in it’s first week, yet is highly sponsored.

To produce content that influences you have to be a credible, consistent voice to a niche audience. You have to be humble and not care about the clicks, the views and the downloads. It’s the 1 > 0 Gary Vee idea (1 view is greater than 0) in reverse, where 100 absent-minded in-scroll-mode views are traded knowingly for the 1 engaged view that is genuinely interested in what you have to share.

This is something I realise I have put into practice in my personal Facebook community. I haven’t pushed people to tag friends or any of the other “group growth hacks” because I didn’t really want it to grow into something that was no longer useful.  500 people who actually want to come to my events or watch my lives or read my content is much better than a group of 5,000 that scroll past.  The content from the speakers crystallised this gut instinct, and I’m excited about putting this into practice with my clients.

I currently work with my clients to explain why I don’t chase follower numbers and now I want to work with them to become experts in their fields with credibility and influence as the end goals rather than more general brand awareness metrics. An impression is become less and less valuable. It’s about the comments, the shares and increasingly the unsolicited mentions.

3. Voice-proof your business

One of the great joys of working in the social media industry is the fact that we are working during the technological revolution. And although I take Chris Marr’s point that the future of is happening today and we can’t control tomorrow so we shouldn’t sweat it, I do love a futuristic talk! And Marketed Live didn’t disappoint, and even managed to give us the future without the cliche VR demo.

The amount of time we spend on voice-calling in the UK from our mobile devices decreases every month said Howard Jones, Head of Comms at EE.

The use of voice instruction is increasing every month.

The future is without doubt voice controlled devices, and with a sprinkling of machine learning, the illusion of a personalisation from brands will be able to be achieved.

I liked the description from Howard that the black slate will still exist in our near futures, but will become less prevalent as we wear connected but more discreet devices that free us from our reliance on our phones.

This was neatly followed up by Ross Davies, Managing Director for Strafe Creative, who made an interesting point about whether businesses deliver a web experience for their customers or provide a transactional service.

If you fall in the transactional space and haven’t listed your business on Google My Business you are going to be left behind, as this is how digital voice assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, or Apple’s Siri find you. However if you offer an experience for your customers on the web, voice instruction will make less of an impact on your business.

I will be listing all clients on Google My Business from today onwards as a matter of on-boarding, and I’ll also be thinking about this distinction between transactional and experience based business and therefore how to best develop the best strategy for them going forward.

The extras

There was so much more – but I don’t want to try and summarise everything that was said on the day. For me, and hopefully for you as a freelance social media manager reading this, these are 3 things that you can action in your business.

As with all conferences it was great to meet my industry colleagues IRL. There is never enough time, and I missed a lot of photo ops as I was so busy chatting,  but luckily there was the classic group photo. I give you the class of 2018!

Marketed Live Attendees 2018 in Nottingham
Class of 2018

I’ve already booked my tickets to 2019 – you can too if you click here! Not affiliated, just a fan.











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