“We wrote our first blog post before we wrote our first line of code.”
- Jon Miller, founder, Marketo

Blogging is important for every business. So we don’t just offer ghostwriting services for others. We blog for ourselves. Why? To discuss big issues such as content strategy, commissioning and ROI, as well as tactics for effective copy creation or editing, not to mention news about Collective Content.

Remember, over a third of marketers say blogs are the most valuable content type. Let us know what you’d like to read about here.


4 lessons panel-based events give native advertising

Just over a decade ago I was editing a business technology publication aimed at chief information officers (CIOs) when our publisher bought an events business.

One thing bothered me. There was an assumption that we would run panels and put together conference programmes where companies would pay to have a say. In fact, that was a large part of the business model. It didn’t feel right. It would be cats sleeping with dogs.

Why is that relevant now? Native advertising relies heavily on a very similar dynamic. Companies – often those critically covered by a publication’s editorial team – are the next moment sitting side by side with independent sources and journalists creating content.

But I think some of the fear is similarly unfounded. Let me explain how things panned out and some key lessons.

  1. Most of my team never got to speak to the event sponsors. Sure, my guys would give keynotes, create supporting content and even share a stage (though usually to quiz everyone evenly). As the senior editorial team member, I sometimes discussed the playing field with these paying clients and we had one other person whose role was to handle these relationships. Lesson: Top native advertising set-ups today such as BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post talk about their content teams that work with clients. But these are usually staffers who don’t produce the day-to-day copy. Walls still exist.
  1. Sponsors shouldn’t unbalance a panel. Getting the balance of regular panellists to sponsors right is a must. There are nuances to this but sometimes it was about rejecting the flat-out inappropriate requests such as a marketing director presenting a standard PowerPoint deck halfway through a debate or more than one exec from a sponsor appearing. Lesson: Any kind of native content – whether articles in an editorial stream or a sponsor’s speakers at an event – should be both sign-posted and in proportion to the overall aims.
  1. Seek out the best examples in your industry. Over time, we found out some of the most successful business media brands had long been working this way – in fact some were about to double down on this kind of line of business, something we’ve seen in the past decade. The last few years have seen events businesses often proving more successful than advertising and subscriptions. Lesson: Benchmark how you operate against other providers.
  1. Sponsors chose how they spoke just as carefully as they chose who would be on stage. For some, especially smaller or medium-sized players, we usually got a CEO. But for larger companies we’d stress someone who could contribute substance, such as an engineering lead rather than a pure marketing or sales person. Whoever we had, the most important thing was that they didn’t use their time to sell. In fact this proved easier than in written content – when you see an audience turn off or walk out because you’re talking about yourself, you tend to gravitate towards real, useful conversations in front of them. Lesson: This is rule number one for all content marketing, including native advertising and events: Don’t talk about yourself. First, be useful.

The bottom line lesson from events, which I believe applies just as much to native and other types of content marketing now, is that how you integrate sponsor messages with what you do is the key thing. To come to any conclusion that misses that or dismisses involvement by a sponsor entirely is probably unworkable for most events or media companies. Though that mindset would possibly make me feel 10 years younger.

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

Need to know about events? Buy the e-book, Everything In Moderation: How to chair, moderate and otherwise lead events, by Collective Content (UK) founder Tony Hallett

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Bespoke content for Brain Awareness Week explains tailored-tech message

The Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability (RHN) has taken a unique approach to fundraising for this year’s global Brain Awareness Week – it stands out because it is both tech- and content-savvy.

The brain injury charity has released a first-person video – putting the viewer in the place of a severely physically disabled person – which changes it’s ending depending on the device you use to view it.

RHN pic1By the end of the clip, the patient is using your type of device – including popular versions of smart-phones, tablets and laptops – which also gets a mention in the accompanying voiceover.

The theme of #TechnologyMeans will be heavily supported this week over social media, for example with that hashtag on Twitter. One idea is that as the week goes on, the RHN will create content influenced by the data it captures.

If iOS users are seen to be donating more than those who use Android or Windows devices, for example, then campaigners at the hospital may well add a bit of competitive spirit to their fundraising drive.

Sarah Myers Cornaby, director of fundraising at the RHN, which has 220 patients, said: “Disabilities are completely different. Everyone has bespoke needs and so this year we’re recognising that with our bespoke fundraising.”

The RHN worked with agency Reason Digital, a social enterprise, on this year’s campaign.

The Assistive Technology team at the RHN adapts iPads, smart-phones and laptops to give independence back to patients for whom technology is life-changing.

Brain Awareness Week runs 10-17 March this year. The RHN is encouraging everyone to explain over social media the importance of tech in their lives – thus #technologymeans – and then to consider what it means to patients.

More on BAW and the RHN campaign, including the first-person video(s) and the chance to donate at www.rhncharity.org.uk  .

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

Like this type of thing? So sign up to the Collective Content newsletter for a regular digest of posts like this.

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20 top Collective Content Monday Tips from 2012

We’ve had fewer than six months of Monday Tips on the Collective Content Facebook page (because the page is only that old). That said, there have been some good ones.

Here are some with links, some without (because they didn’t need them). Some are curated, some directly from Collective Content, because that’s one of the things we do.  

1. Adjusting your content for every individual is hard but adjusting for each social distribution channel isn’t. Don’t cut and paste the same posts to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest etc. – tweak for each audience.

2. Make your written style consistent if not correct on the internet. (Or should that be Internet?)

3. Animated GIFs are all the rage. If you have a short video clip, this service does the rest for you.

4. Try to view your content as others see it eg open an Incognito Window in Chrome, use View Profile in LinkedIn, try the browsers/apps on all the devices you can lay your hands on.

5. Try to synchronise what you do over social media. And we really like this line: “…contact people on their own ground, via their favourite network, you stand a better chance of hitting your message home.”

6. We recently blogged about those who try to shamelessly tie exploit trending subjects. Here’s how to avoid crass ‘news-jacking’.

7. “Hardly any news-led content is economically viable” – UBM CEO David Levin speaking at #aopsummit earlier this month. Whatever kind of publisher you are, you can provide news, only be aware of the costs.

8. Nearly all screen sizes, pixel x pixel, on this page of Wikipedia?

9. Readability tests – the Ultimate List (a good resource if you don’t know it already). Bonus: Great Gatsby photo!

10. More on times to share over social channels but this time with a handy B2B and B2C breakdown.

11. Life is too short to write with an uncomfortable pen. (What? We never said all the Monday tips were digital and cutting edge.)

12. Twitter shortcuts you say? Here’s some expert advice…

13. Be smart about your blogging. Here are 22 tools for that can help, each recommended by an expert.

14. For presentations, website design, blog posts and social media (see our header on this page) we’re big advocates of Wordle.

15. Events are an important content platform. Here’s how to put questions to those on stage.

16. When you scan down a column of tweets which pics/logos stand out? Now consider what yours looks like. Is it distinctive? Can someone find it in a hurry?

17. This week’s is all about sweating your ass(ets). Or, rather more straightforwardly, getting the most out of content that already exists.

18. Sometimes, always, never – not the buttons on a three-button jacket but whether to run two, one or more than two accounts on a single social network. More than two and you’ll go crazy.

19. Use namechk.com for simultaneously checking availability of names across various social channels. Or you could just use it to see how many social sites are out there that you don’t know about.


20. Never, ever assume you can just copy something from the web.

*photo credit: Ksayer1 via photopin cc

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

Like this type of thing? So sign up to the Collective Content newsletter for a regular digest of posts like this.

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Contact us

Contact us to find out how we can help you:

Email:  tony.hallett@collectivecontent.co.uk

Twitter:  @ColContent

Facebook: facebook.com/CollectiveContent

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/collective-content

Phone:  0800 292 2826