Orbit Media’s Andy Crestodina leads an SEO / Content Marketing pre-Jam masterclass Wednesday, August 3. (Photo taken by Orbit Media Studios.)

Content Jam: Bigger, Louder, Twitter Trendsetter

CHICAGO, IL — Inspiration. A sax intro. Legit use of the word “dongle” without fits of laughter. Military-approved push-ups. An impromptu party, complete with soundtrack by Garbage and Daft Punk. If you’re thinking these are the ingredients to Old Spice’s next marketing campaign, you’re wrong. These are exactly what could be found Wednesday, August 3 and Thursday, August 4 when a community of 350+ like minds converged at the Gleacher Center for Content Jam — Chicago’s largest annual content marketing conference.

The event showcased 14 content marketing experts during two days of insights into content strategy, promotion, conversion and analytics.

The Orbit Media Studios community — largely comprised of the firm’s ever-burgeoning client base, trusted partners, as well as a reasonable group of content subscribers and aspiring onlookers — are advertisers, persuasive speakers, creators, and the like, all with foundations in corporate, television, as well as other media. These are individuals who share a goal of agreeing with what makes good content and how to create and then share it.

A great take-away from this event — which cracks Twitter’s top 5 Chicago trends during both days [1] [2] each year — wasn’t so much the content but the inspiration transferred from the presenters to the attendees. If marketing was a house, relationships are the foundation, data is the structure, best practices are the roof and window dressings, with the Welcome mat as the call-to-action.

Nothin’ but a Good Time

Attendees are ready to get their little content marketing worlds rocked on Day 2 of Content Jam. (Photo taken by @.l.interpretations with permission.)

Inspiration, best practices, research, good will and then some were all shared throughout the two-day event. The presenters shared their valuable knowledge-base and eventually became students themselves, sitting in on the content-rich sessions, all of which were separated into the following subject matter tracks:

Strategy: research, positioning, personas and strategic best practices.

Creation: writing, visuals, storytelling, etc.

Promotion: relevant cross-platform tactics to drive traffic.

  • Measurement: learning how to use analytics for improved strategy and greater impact.

(Some of) the Players

(L-R): Robert Rose, Andy Crestodina, James Ellis, Nick Westergaard and Jay Acunzo. (Photo taken by Orbit Media Studios.)

Andy Crestodina is co-founder and Strategic Director of Orbit Media Studios, an award-winning 38-person web design company in Chicago, as well as best-selling author of Content Chemistry: The Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing. Andy was Content Marketing World 2015’s highest-rated breakout session speaker and will return to Content Marketing World 2016, where he’ll take the main stage.

Crestodina led a half-day pre-Jam mastermind on Wednesday, delving into analytics and SEO, Analytics and Optimization: How Writers Can Use Data to Research and Rank.

From the front-end (“64% of all web visits start with search”) to the back-end (although Alt tags are fine for images, they’re not considered enough content, according to Google web crawls), Crestodina shared online resources ranging from Moz (web page rank) to KeywordTool.io and Google Trends (topic search).

Crestodina’s presentations usually leave attendees with books’ worth of copious notes (and a couple hours’ worth of carpal tunnel syndrome). The upside is you actually get to bear witness to increased traffic and engagement of your content, should you follow Crestodina’s teachings to the letter.

Andy Crestodina with Jessica Best. (Photo taken by @.l.interpretations with permission.)

Jessica Best, leading e-mail content marketer and Director of Data-Driven Marketing for Barkley — an independent creative and innovation branding services company — led the second pre-Jam mastermind that showcased how to optimize e-mail marketing lists; the common mistakes encountered by even the savviest e-mail marketers, as well shared relevant industry best practices.

Well, someone had coffee: Andrew Davis gets funky during Content Jam. (Footage shot by @.l.interpretations with permission.)

Best-selling author and internationally acclaimed keynote speaker Andrew Davis kicked-off Day 2 of Content Jam, delivering the keynote presentation, Killer Content: How Brilliant Brands Create Less Content and Deliver Bigger Success.

Davis’ TED talk-worthy presentation — complete with a saxophone intro set to the tune of Beastie Boys’ Girls, showed a few case studies on how everyday people shared their passions on social media and the multi-million-dollar-earning empires that were the end result.

Davis is an animated showman who believes in the power of sharing what you love because you never know who’s watching.

Factoid: Fish television is a monetized concept. Yes, there are people who pay to watch the raucous adventures of your standard, run-of-the-mill fish aquarium. Second to the Pet Rock concept, fish TV serves as a delicate reminder of the dangers associated with desiring a career that actually requires thought.

Jill Pollack’s Content Marketing Trifecta workshop during Content Jam. (Photo taken by @.l.interpretations with permission.)

Jill Pollack, founder and director of StoryStudio Chicago — a writing-intensive training center for creative writers and business professionals — led the hands-on workshop, The Content Marketing Trifecta: Emotion, Thought and Action. Participants delved into those three key story elements necessary for relevant storytelling, as well as the importance of implementing neuroscience to cement reader interest and engagement.

Ian Lurie of Portent ( www.portent.com )

Ian Lurie — CEO and Founder of Portent [2] — a full-service digital agency that specializes in marketing strategy, history and search — led the presentation, Making it Great: Tactics for Great Content. This session was dedicated to online formatting resources like Hemingway, Grammarly, Markdown and Dillinger.io that improve writing.

Lurie offered resources like Unsplash and Comic Life to improve website cosmetic appeal and ImageOptim (Mac), Caesium (PC) and Pablo was offered to improve website user experience.

Coincidentally, this session was held in Room 404 of the Gleacher Center. See what they did there?

Angie Schottmuller — a Growth Marketing Advisor and CRO Expert who was one of Forbes’ Top 10 Online Marketing Expert to Follow in 2015 — delivered the notable presentation Persuasive Power of Proof, in which the only content that truly matters is what the customer or end user has to say.

Schottmuller’s seven pillars of social proof equation quality were as follows:

  1. Credible
  2. Relevant
  3. Attractive
  4. Visual
  5. Enumerated
  6. Nearby
  7. Specific

“Social proof should always answer questions, not create them,” Schottmuller added.

Jay Acunzo — VP of Marketing for NextView — delivered the presentation, Unthinkable: How the World’s Most Creative Content Marketers Do What Others Wouldn’t Dare. Like Andrew Davis, Acunzo shared remarkable case studies of more everyday people leaving their respective marks on the world.

From suicide to hope; from a four-legged holy terror to the winner who found a forever home, Acunzo shared the dangers of overlooking the little things each of us should consider to make the world a better place.

Mission accomplished.

Closing Keynote Speaker Robert Rose — a self-professed accelerator, collaborator and conspirator of business success — is the Chief Strategy Officer for the Content Marketing Institute and a senior contributing consultant for Digital Clarity Group. Rose’s presentation, The Great Content Marketing Re-boot, showed the dangers of equating quantity of content to quality.

“Content marketing is not campaign marketing,” Rose said, adding the odds of engagement would greatly improve only when content marketers consider, “creating a vision for what would be worth subscribing to.”

Friendship: the New Network

Andy Crestodina (2nd from Right), Mary Beth Huffman (far Right) of Impact! Marketing and Public Relations ( www.impactmarketingpr.com ) and John R. (far Left) chill out with friends and attendees following Day 2 of Content Jam. (Photo taken by @.l.interpretations with permission.)

Great levels of respect and trust have been clearly built and nurtured amongst Content Jam speakers and attendees. Jam is not Orbit’s (or Andy’s) kingdom, as everyone is an equal partner, not lowly subjects. This is a group that has — over time — flourished into a principled and giving community of experts whose actions are reminiscent of Zig Ziegler’s, “I’ll get what I want when I help you get what you want” methodology.

“If you’re not making friends, you’re doing it wrong.” ~ Andy Crestodina, Orbit Media

At any rate, re-live the experience (or get over the FOMO) by joining the conversation on Twitter by visiting: http://bit.ly/Content_Jam.

Join the Orbit community and get your Olympic content training on for Content Jam 2017 by visiting www.orbitmedia.com/blog.