I learned a ton at Blog Indiana. Instead of reviewing individual sessions and transcribing gems from speakers, I brought back a single theme from the entire event: To succeed online, think and measure like a content consumer.
Every seminar I attended seemed to harp on this theme (even the one I gave on remaining productive while using social media). Jay Baer, the Thursday keynote, begged us not to bother with social media unless we had something meaningful to measure about everday users. Erik Deckers, the Friday keynote, repeatedly said that good writing is plain and clear. His t-shirt said something like “eschew obfuscated phraseology.” We even got a nice visual of the content consumer on a title slide from DK New Media:
Who is the content consumer? It’s most of us, most of the time. We’re rapidly thumbing through the web looking for anything interesting. That’s why Vince Robisch, whose program was called This Session Speaker Smells Fantastic, was the sleeper hit of the conference. Guess what? We all love catchy headlines. Vince’s tips were, in retrospect, embarrassingly obvious. You think you’d never bother with a headline like 6 Daily Habits for Facebook Marketing Success, but I know you just hovered over that and maybe even tried to click on it! We are voracious content consumers. Vince’s headline formula is so obvious that he had to beat it over our heads for an hour before we figured it out.
Likewise, Rocky Walls (of local video marketing fame) talked about the fear people have of making videos that are not sufficiently professional. “Don’t worry about it!” he implores. “Have a plan for what you are going to say, but don’t write a script. Viewers like when you are real.”
What else? Jenn Lisak explained The Art of the Infographic. I didn’t see it, but I overheard the message: text can be more fun if it’s trimmed down and balanced against attractive visuals. Kirsten Shaw expressed the not-entirely-surprising but entirely-entertaining view that shocking audiences is a great way to build an audience. (If you dare: the blog of the Results Not Typical Girl). Peter Dunn (aka Pete the Planner gave advice on how to become known as an expert. Mainly: confidently insist to everyone that you know that you are an expert. Content consumers eat that stuff up. (Here’s Pete. Believable, eh?)
The message of Blog Indiana is not that we don’t need to take social media seriously. Online marketing and community building is hard, complicated work that requires constant assessment and reinvention. Rather, we need to remember that it’s about getting the attention of a somewhat simplistic animal: the content consumer. That’s not a rare species—it’s us.
When you flip channels, comb through search results, scan through news feeds, read gossip columns or other online habits that don’t represent the pinnacle of your educational advancement: you’re a content consumer. That’s the person most of us are most of the time. It’s who we should target. It’s the person who will become our clients, customers and advocates.