Last week, members of USGBC’s public relations team attended a content marketing conference in Washington, D.C. The second annual Spark 2016 by TrackMaven did not disappoint. Incredible keynotes included Brandon Stanton, of the popular Humans of New York; Shane Snow, from Contently; Stephanie Hay, from Capital One, and of course, TrackMaven CEO Allen Gannett.
I first learned about TrackMaven when I attended Spark last year. As an all-in-one marketing analytics platform, their mission is simple: to “make marketers more effective through data that is understandable and actionable.” TrackMaven has given our organization tools to first understand our data and turn those numbers into a visual narrative that conveys the USGBC brands’ social media progress and patterns.
The Spark conference reiterates the mission of TrackMaven by ultimately creating a celebration of content and data in digital, highlighting the many intersections in marketing where art and science meet.
Our team is diverse; so, in addition to my own insight, I wanted each of them to weigh in on the experiences that were most impactful to them during the one-day conference.
Amanda Sawit, Content Specialist
Know where, when and how to reach your audience. Answering the question, “What do they want to hear from us?” can vary depending on your audience demographics, location, platform usage and consumption rates. Much of the challenge in audience targeting lies in the fact that many people are multi-channel, and have different habits and usage times for each. On top of that, each channel has a different a user experience. The most successful content is optimized for the particular platform through which it is distributed—right down to the message.
Tap into a larger, humanistic perspective. Digital overload isn’t necessarily a digital problem, and doesn’t strictly require a digital solution (although you do want to optimize content for various digital platforms). Generating interest hinges on how people relate to your content—the more your message resonates on a personal level, the better. Consider broadening your target audience to anyone who has the challenge or problem that your organization exists to solve. Define the challenge in a bigger context and use their native language (i.e., the words they use to talk about the problem) to drive your content strategy.
Ali Peterson, Communications Manager
Let your brand be the background of the story. In an age where content is everywhere, stop trying to become the story that interrupts what your audience is doing and turns their attention away from the ongoing happenings of their lives. Instead, become part of that flow and let your brand support an engagement strategy that meets people where they are. For instance, if you are marketing a restaurant or food item, connect with your consumers around all of the reasons they interact with food—family, friends, nourishment, escape, travel and more. Become a part of existing conversations or stories around these themes, and let your brand play second fiddle.
Become a student of humanity. Above all, seek to understand before you strive to be understood. To reach people, you need to dig deep into their motivations and journeys. Read up on psychology, sociology, anthropology and more—look for trends in behaviors and interactions, and work toward a deeper and more meaningful understanding of your target audience as humans with multiple interests and drivers.
Manage your priorities, not your time. On hectic days when it seems like there aren’t enough hours to go around, organize your workload by priorities and balance your time based on what is most important. This approach will give you the freedom to put “urgent” matters that are not a priority to the side in favor of advancing or completing work that will drive your team or your business forward.
Marisa Long, PR and Communications Director
Leverage your key audiences. USGBC is committed to engaging our audiences and telling their stories. Including your stakeholders at the beginning of a campaign or as part of a pitch, collateral, article, report, etc., will make them more committed to sharing what you are hoping to communicate and amplify your message to a much wider-reaching audience while building additional credibility for your brand. There is power in working together.
Experiment with headline testing. Your online content should engage your audiences. You can choose one platform to leverage social media advertising to test different headlines and messages to see what resonates, and then amplify the headlines that perform better on the rest of your channels. This practice is an inexpensive but powerful way to make sure you are giving your readers the content they want.
Know your worth. With media, you should only be pitching content that you really believe is worthy of coverage and pitching it to the right reporters. If you are doing this, it is a misconception to think that the reporter is always doing you/your organization the favor by covering it. If you have a powerful story to tell and can provide thoughtful, specific and detailed information and examples, you are helping the reporter and providing their readers with something of interest to them.
Julia Pergolini, Social Media Specialist
Make the “conversation” a priority. Engagement is all about the two-way dialogue. Even on the days where I’m inundated with content for promotion, it’s pivotal to always be connecting the appropriate people with messaging that provokes conversation. A retweet is great, but think multiple steps into the future: How do I want people to interact with this content? What kind of conversations would I like to see it drive? On what page do I ultimately want to see the audience end up browsing? A conversation around “audience goals” should be had at the conception of an idea. Every post should have its own identity, its own journey, in this way.
Know when to pay to play. Know when it’s worth the paid promotion of content. Often, competitors are only beating you in the game because they’ve paid to boost posts. Additionally, do the research to attract a well-targeted audience. It’s not worth the cost if you aren’t doing your due diligence in captivating the attention of new audiences and relevant competitor audiences.
Take risks. In a constantly changing digital medium, most moves are chance. Don’t be afraid to experiment—there are no failures, just learning experiences. The data will report our successes and shortcomings, and we will adjust our goals and our planning boards accordingly.
For just a taste of what went down at Spark, presentation slide decks are now available.
Over the last couple of years, in an effort to strengthen our community and increase our impact, USGBC has been working to build an integrated network out of our local chapters. This exciting network evolution pilots a new model for local market engagement—one that allows USGBC National to provide better support so that our regional communities can focus on the mission-driven work that matters.
I have enjoyed this transition, because it has given me the opportunity to meet and work alongside many new individuals from across the country—all committed to advancing the green building movement at large. Together, we have developed great strategies to step up their social media game to better amplify their work, mission and message.
Over the last few months, these communities have truly pounded the pavement on social media. If you’re not following your local community, you should be! It’s your best resource for all the up-to-the-minute information on USGBC activity in your region. Here are some great highlights from east to west.
I enjoy being able to teach others about social media strategy and execution. During that process, I am reminded of how important it is to listen to a brand’s specific and unique needs in order to support its strengths. That’s good marketing. Here’s to a growing green building social community!
In the wake of International Women’s Day on March 8, we noticed a resurgence of the #ILookLikeAnEngineer campaign across Twitter. In fact, two USGBC Platinum member companies, Lendlease and Autodesk, took the opportunity to feature their women engineers across the company.
— Lendlease (@LendLeaseGroup) March 17, 2016
— Impact Design Hub (@ImpactDesignHub) March 18, 2016
You may recall that in fall 2015, this campaign was somewhat accidentally created by Isis Wenger to raise awareness and break the gender stereotypes of the tech industry.
Early last year, Wenger appeared in an advertisement for her San Francisco-based employer, OneLogin. The backlash she experienced in public commentary for her physical appearance was alarming. “But she doesn’t ‘look like’ an engineer,” was the overwhelming consensus.
In an article for Medium, she chronicled her experience and challenged the public to fight the stigma associated with women in tech:
“This is what an engineer looks like…” She writes. “Do you feel passionately about helping spread awareness and increase tech diversity? Do you not fit the ‘cookie-cutter mold’ of what people believe engineers ‘should’ look like? If you answered yes to any of these questions, I invite you to help spread the word and help us redefine ‘what an engineer should look like’.”#iLookLikeAnEngineer
Since her August 2015 post, thousands of individuals, corporations and organizations, both nonprofit and for-profit, have participated in #ILookLikeAnEngineer. A group of female engineers were even able to crowdfund $50,000 to erect billboards in the Bay Area, like these:
Learn more about the movement and keep spreading the passionate work of those standing up against the social stigma of women in technology.
What’s on your desk directly influences your work habits and creativity. What does your workspace look like? Are you neat or are you messy?
For someone who pretty much lives on social media, thinking 10 steps into the future, it can take some work to create environments where I can get grounded and focused on the present. Like most Leos, I take serious pride in my den—workspace included!
Meaningful prints: I am always on the lookout for striking prints. Sometimes they come right out of a magazine I picked up on my way home. They make amazingly easy, colorful, inspirational additions to my work and home spaces.
Sayings to live by: I am a writer by trade. I’ve taken a lot of funky routes since I graduated with that degree in hand, but I am constantly finding ways to express myself creatively through writing. Content creation is still the crux of what I do—even when I’m cramming it into 140 characters or less!
DC pride: I’ve got lots of bits of past-lives pride at my desk. “Home” is Washington, D.C., at the moment—a place packed with cultural diversity where I have found many parts of myself. It’s no Philadelphia (hometown glory), but this city will always have a special place in my heart. This little sticker is also a big reminder to buy and vend locally. It comes from Compass Coffee in the Shaw neighborhood of D.C. The local roasters serve up a life-changing cup of iced coffee!
Pin art: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful,” said William Morris. This handcrafted flower fills some of my “just decor” quota.
Clever and quotable magnets: I have been collecting magnets for a long time. Many of them remind me to make mindfulness a natural part of my day. It’s especially necessary for the workplace—focusing my thoughts on how I communicate, approach my work and positively contribute to this purposeful, mission-driven team.
Are there things you keep on your desk to help make your workflow successful? Tell us about them!