Conferences are a hit and miss affair in my experience, but I wanted to give a thumbs up to the Nottingham Digital Summit last week. I already thought this was a win, given all the ticket price went to the Nottingham Samaritans. And at £50 per person, it was accessible to many. And raised a significant sum for the Samaritans.
But don’t let the price make you think this was a poor line up, as nothing could be further from the truth. With three venues, there was a huge variety of speakers, covering many different aspects of the “digital” world.
Sitting through 8 or so presentations, I kept coming back to one common theme, one thing we all needed to do:
Be More Human
Don’t get me wrong, no one actually had this as a title to their presentation. I’m not even sure if anyone actually said it, but it was definitely there in the majority as a theme. Apart from Google’s. But that’s probably no surprise.
But here’s how it did turn up from other speakers
People are not data points
This was from Billy Williams, talking about story-telling and the digital customer experience. He talked about the focus for the future being on emotionally-led, emotive design. And then gave us this quote:
“The thing I have noticed is when the anecdotes and the data disagree, the anecdotes are usually right.”
Know who said it?
The man at the helm of one of the great data driven businesses of our times. And what are anecdotes but stories? My take from that is listen to the stories your customers are telling about you, good and bad. There’s gold in those stories.
Get ready for voice
Look, I’ll be honest. I have no idea how we get ready for voice search. All I know is we have to be ready.
50% of searches on Android next year will be voice.
Thanks to Julio Taylor and Ben Wood of Hallam of putting that challenge out there. I’m off to learn more. But it was such a striking thing, to think about content when there are no screens involved. Think about it, you’ll have fewer opportunities to impress on traditional formats.
And my word, when people do get to those formats, they really will have to be impressive.
Customers are the thing
Barry Adams from Polemic Digital gave a very amusing, but smart talk. The title was “We have ruined the web. Let’s try to save it.”
How do we save it?
By treating our customers as precious. Not as data points. Back to Jeff Bezos then.
Be more human.
Plan short and fast
Do you have an annual business plan? Do you look at it?
In corporate life, there was always the annual plan, which was pretty much out of date by the time it got agreed. Robert Craven spoke about what he’d learned working with Google, one of which was the 12 week business plan.
Made perfect sense in terms of momentum. I’m adding “The 12 Week Year” to my reading list, and also wondering how to apply it to content planning. Most people I know, particularly in smaller businesses, find it difficult to plan that far out. 12 weeks is perhaps more feasible.
Half of what you publish is useless
You probably know the quote “Half of the money I spend on advertising is wasted; I just don’t know which half“. And the thing is, half of the content published in the world today is wasted.
According to Susan Moeller from BuzzSumo, 50% of content has less than 4 shares, and zero backlinks. Nada.
The difference now from when John Wanamaker was wondering about his ad spend is that you know exactly which bits of what you do are working. Know that, know your audience, and do more of what they want.
Be human. Show empathy.
Just because the data shows you where to direct your empathy doesn’t make you any less empathetic, as long as you do it in an authentic way. I loved Susan’s talk, she had the best GIFs and also made a fabulous Beauty & the Beast analogy. So good I got lost in the story and forgot to write it down!
Good just gets you in the game
What’s your reputation? And do you spend time on it?
Rob Brown would argue that you you have to be more intentional than ever about creating and managing your reputation in the digital world.
Because in pretty much every sector, good is not enough, it’s a qualifier for being there. But if you want to be more than a commodity then you have to show people why you are more than just good.
Yes, we have to sell ourselves. Which I know makes many of us uncomfortable. But maybe take comfort from the greatest.
“It ain’t bragging if you’ve done it.”
Channel a bit more Ali into your thinking. And maybe try Rob’s book Build Your Reputation for more inspiration on the steps to take. Which ultimately will come down to telling the story of you, as a human. And only you can do you.
All about the humans
If you take nothing else from these, then remember you are a human, creating stuff for other humans. Done that way, even Google will end up being your friend. Turns out even AI likes humans.
Need some help sounding human again in your content? Give me a shout and let’s talk about getting your proper human voice back into what you do.