One of the thousands of things we learned at Content Marketing World is that people still want (or you could even say need) in-person events. The event itself took the efforts of 100 people, from the staff to speakers to the event team and sponsors. The response from so many of you on the success of the event has been overwhelming and has prompted many questions on how we managed to put it all together.
One specific question that kept coming up was, “How did you get the word out there?” Well, I can tell you, a great deal of our success can be attributed to the content produced on the Content Marketing Institute, as well as on Joe Pulizzi’s blog, CCO magazine, and on our social media platforms. But the biggest asset we had was recognizing how important it was to leverage our relationships.
What does that mean, really? You need to ask! You may see this a lot on Facebook — a friend asking if any of their friends has something they need, knows some key information or, most importantly, has experience with something they are looking to do. People trust the answers that come from their friends.
Can this be applied to business? Certainly, but only if you are ready to take advantage of it.
Many companies are already doing this. For example, this screen shot from Eloqua shows how they leverage their relationships to search for potential employees:
And here’s a shot from NPR’s request for new content:
And, this picture shows how Junta42 reached out for suggestions for naming the official drink of Content Marketing World 2011:
There are a lot of people producing a lot of content. Over 11 billion web pages currently exist with thousands of new pages of content being created every day. What is as important as producing quality content relevant to your audience is that you engage with your audience to ensure they understand the fundamentals of what you are sharing and want to learn more from you, the expert.
Here are some tips that we use to do this in our regular content efforts, as well as for Content Marketing World:
1. Initiate a conversation by commenting on blogs
There is no better way for people to get to know you and that you are an expert than by commenting on their content. Tell them what you like, what you don’t like, what you learned, what you agree with (or disagree with). Or, you can ask a follow-up question. The choices are endless.
2. Reply to other people’s blog comments
If someone takes the time to comment on your blog, show them your appreciation by thanking them, answering their questions, or sharing an additional insight. So many opportunities exist to build and extend your relationships with fans and followers, so try to take advantage of any opportunity to make an additional connection.
3. Participate in social media
Spend at least five minutes every day commenting on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, About.me, or other relevant social sites. For Content Marketing World, here are the major things we did:
- Members of our team personally reached out to each of their LinkedIn contacts and asked them if they were attending the event. When someone replied for more information it was sent to them or when they replied no, we asked why. Every response gave valuable information for our planning.
- We personally direct messaged (not auto replied) any new followers on Twitter to see if they were planning to attend. As with LinkedIn, any time a follower replied with an answer or a question a follow up direct message was sent.
- We leveraged the networks we already had. Many of our contacts have asked us to promote their great events, which we are always eager to do. In exchange, we asked if they would be willing to help us promote our event. We gave each of these partners a unique coupon code for registration to use with their audience so we could track which of these were most beneficial for us.
4. Engage across multiple platforms
Use whatever media you can to get the word out there. For instance:
- Put your thoughts in print
- Share them on social media sites
- Write regular blog posts
- Create a white paper
- Guest post on other blogs
- Write a book
- Attend events
- Make videos.
Want more ideas? Here are 42 ways you can use content to connect with your audience.
5. Ask your friends and followers when you want information or feedback
If you have a great idea, need a question answered, need some advice… whatever it is, ask. You may never find the answer otherwise, and people like to feel like they are being helpful or influential.
6. Take advantage of in-person events
If you want to host an event, that’s great. For us, the experience of Content Marketing World validated our hopes that our audience wanted to be there. But it’s important to attend events too, and make sure you participate not only in the sessions but also in the networking events. These are priceless opportunities to ask your questions, learn something new, and meet really cool people.
At Content Marketing World, Jim Kukral got on his knees to ask the audience to produce exciting content.
I would like to do the same. I ask you to continue to build amazing relationships, but make sure you leverage those relationships in as many ways as you can.