Content marketing may be as old as the hills, but doing it digitally gives you a great advantage: given the right set of circumstances, you can do it ‘live’.
It’s not uncommon to hear talk of ‘reactive’ content, and live tweeting is a fairly standard procedure. But what if you pulled together a team of creative specialists and created stuff on the fly that you could then curate into a single blog post? What kind of work could you do with that setup? Well, today, we had the chance to find out.
I’ve done plenty of live blogging in the past, but mostly for ‘independent’ media and news sites. In fact, I won an award for the live blogging work I did for Time Out Tokyo (blogging about the 2011 earthquake and tsunami from under a desk during the earthquake), and I live-blogged from a number of red carpet events during my time as editor on Time Out in the Middle East. It’s a really exhilarating experience, because it requires you to perform a number of tasks simultaneously, and there’s not a lot of time for pontificating. You have to be in the moment, and there’s rarely anywhere else I’d rather be.
Today was my first foray into live-blogging as a content marketer, and it was a similarly gratifying experience (made even more exciting by our location – it’s hard to have a dull time at Comic Con London). Our client, Boxman, is one of the UK’s first on-demand storage companies, and the work we do for them runs from content strategy to production, culminating on a blog called the Box Room that seeks to ‘enable better living in small spaces’. The great thing about Boxman is that they’re incredibly enthusiastic about what content marketing can do, so they’re always up for trying something new. The idea of trying a bit of live blogging was right up their street.
The concept was simply to hit Comic Con and find out as much as possible about how collectors and cosplay fans fit their obsessions around their everyday lives (physically speaking, rather than metaphorically), curating our findings as content on a single page. After all, a lot of these people aren’t yet earning the kind of wages that allow them a London pad with a garden shed, an attic or a garage, and yet they have huge collections that require a lot of storage space to keep it all in good nick. As the voxpops we made demonstrate, these people have a need for a lot more space (one of them even lived on a narrow boat!), and the Box Room is there to help them make better use of the area available to them.
In many ways, the experiment was a great success. We pulled together a team of four – Al and Jack from video specialists Creative Cherry, Arena’s Anna Byrne and I on words, Vines and interviews – and we hit the exhibition halls relay-style. Anna and Al would head out and talk to some of the more interesting-looking attendees, which Jack and I stayed up in the press area, editing, blogging and posting whatever they came back with. Whenever they needed a break, I’d go down and grab a few Vines, keeping the content flowing.
As I mentioned above, it’s intense work that requires absolute concentration. We got through a lot of coffee, made a lot of on-the-spot decisions, and ran on adrenaline for the best part of six hours. The time shot by, and we got past the 7pm finishing line fairly exhausted, but with a large stockpile of content assets that Boxman and the Box Room can repurpose in new articles for some time to come. It was hard work, but there was a real sense of satisfaction in sitting back at the end of the day and seeing what we’d managed to pump out.
In truth, there were areas we could improve upon. I’d take a social specialist along with us next time out, to make sure that the online conversation keeps flowing while the creatives are busy at work, and I’d also work closely with the likes of Storystream to try and pull together a less buggy formatting system (WordPress does like to juggle code randomly!). But all in all, it was a fantastic way to get Boxman’s name out into a community that could make real use of their services, in a way that was both sympathetic and supportive of the people we encountered.
For this to work really well, you need to be able to leverage your client’s social communities – the bigger the better, really. Social becomes your main channel for distribution (‘live’ distribution hasn’t been invented yet, as far as I’m aware), so it’s something you have to be really on top of. Contacting relevant blogs beforehand to let them know that they’ll be able to share your assets would also work, so spending time devising a strong outreach strategy would also be valuable.
As a company, Boxman is very new, so at the time of writing they have a small but growing online social presence. I’m pretty convinced that if they keep going with this pioneering attitude, they’ll pick up a bigger following fairly quickly. In the meantime, it’s been a really fulfilling project to work on, and I’m very grateful to them for letting us give it a go.
Here’s to more ‘live content marketing’. ‘Reactive’ is simply too slow!