You Are The Media 2018

The relentlessly helpful® blog by John Espirian

25 May 2018
You Are The Media 2018 write-up

On 24 May 2018, the first ever You Are The Media conference took place at the Shelley Theatre in Bournemouth. Here’s my write-up of a truly great day.


The day kicked off with an intro from host Mark Masters, the creator of the You Are The Media movement and organiser of the conference.

We were immediately put at ease with a funny and energetic video:

As you’ll see from the content that follows, much of my coverage comes by way of embedded tweets. I cranked out what I could and have included some useful additions by Ben Roberts, who must have had the fastest thumbs in Bournemouth.

Connect with Mark: @markiemasters and @YouAre_TheMedia

Jason Miller, LinkedIn

Jason represents the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions division and talked to us about the value of long content.

He started by throwing cold water on the idea of reduced attention spans (woo!):

LinkedIn are focusing on 3 main types of content:

  1. Power pages
  2. Strong opinions
  3. Research

I was glad to hear Jason talk about the need to slow down and produce less content.

A single blog post per week is enough for a large organisation such as LinkedIn. Slowing down has led to a 6000%+ increase in ROI for LinkedIn.

As ever, it’s all about quality not quantity:

Stats mean a lot when it comes to understanding what content works. Look at this one about the power of including a face in terms of increasing click-through rates:

Jason didn’t seem convinced about the power of influence marketing. I have to agree with him here:

Many points in the presentation were illuminated with references to rock music, as Jason used to work in the music industry and now does some part-time photography of his favourite bands.

Jason kindly made his presentation slides available here: download slides.

I appreciated Jason’s subliminal way of getting us all to think about using LinkedIn a bit more:

Connect with Jason: @JasonMillerCA

Sonja Jefferson, Valuable Content

Sonja talked about valuable content and its transformative power for businesses. She’s teaching the principles of marketing via her Valuable Content pub school in Bristol.

We saw an illustrated look at the way Sonja guides business owners to think about how to produce content and market themselves. The aim was to reach a happy place that she calls ‘Bountiful Bay’.

A quick summary of Sonja’s approach:

  1. Start with positioning and purpose.
  2. Do the audience research.
  3. Create a manifesto of what you believe.
  4. Get your website and newsletter right.
  5. Build a bank of valuable content.
  6. Connect on social media and build a community.

One of Sonja’s main inspirations is Charles Green, whose formula for trust is something she holds dear:

Formula for trust = (credibility + reliability + intimacy)/self-orientation

Sonja shared the top 7 mistakes she sees with people’s efforts at content creation:

As a technical copywriter, I see the same things with many of the clients who approach me.

Point 2 – writing without a person in mind – is a subject particularly close to my heart. I’ve written about this in my pen portraits post.

Connect with Sonja: @ValuableContent and @SonjaJefferson

Rob Belgrave, Wirehive

Rob is a cloud consultant at Wirehive, who are based in Hampshire. We heard about how his organisation celebrate creativity outside London. They came up with a not-for-profit awards ceremony idea (the Wirehive 100) for businesses outside London.

It was a fun way to build brand awareness while doing something sincere.

One of the most interesting points of the whole day came when Rob was talking to Mark about the struggles of getting an event off the ground (remember that this was You Are The Media’s first ever conference).

Rob said that the first year is the hardest. And he reminded us that no one cared about the FA Cup in the first year.

A good learning point: most things have small beginnings but can turn out to be huge institutions. I hope this is the case for this conference, as it’s one I truly enjoyed.

Rob’s advice for others thinking of taking an innovative route like this is to ensure they make an overt link back to their business. For example, it might be arrogant to assume that people will associate the Wirehive 100 awards with their core business, so they needed to be clear about this to capitalise on their own good work.

Another cool bonus was learning that creating the awards has meant that Wirehive can get their logo in many other businesses’ website footers.

How hard would it be to do that otherwise? Almost impossible. Smart marketing here.

Connect with Rob: @RobertBelgrave

Tarryn and Tim Poulton, PCOS Diet Support

Tarryn and Tim are a married couple who talked to us about how they’ve helped others who’ve suffered with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

Tim talked about finding high search volumes for ‘PCOS diet’ but low competition – perfect conditions for cornering your niche. The couple started creating content together and building a lot of traffic in 2013.

They worked hard to create 26 video-based lessons and a load of other support materials (free and paid). The results have been fantastic:

Their key message was music to my ears: ‘offer value before the sale.’ The suggested process is:

  1. Serve first and build trust
  2. Find the gap
  3. Understand your audience
  4. Pivot if needed
  5. Value before sales

Tarryn and Tim shared some of the core beliefs that help them define how their service works. I found this clear and engaging, and it’s something we should all think about more:

  • Why do we have a website anyway?
  • What are we trying to achieve with it?
  • Who are we speaking to?

Connect with Tarryn and Tim: @PCOSDietSupport

Jon Burkhart, content strategist

I wasn’t prepared for this one, though I should have expected something zany based on my brief meeting with Jon the night before the conference.

I’d love to explain more about the meaning behind this tweet. Perhaps the emojis will give you the idea …

When Jon talked about being curious and asking questions just like a child, he really meant it.

See that scooter in the background below? It was used during the presentation.

The content was too funny to be restricted to standard tweets, so I took to Periscope to share the majority of Jon’s presentation on being constantly curious. This is one you don’t want to miss:

Colgate beef lasagne
Video of Jon Burkhart’s presentation

Connect with Jon: @jonburkhart

Chris Marr, Content Marketing Academy

Chris talked about the power of online learning communities, and we learned about the Zone of Proximal Development:

Chris’s points about the value of community rang true for me. I’m a member of his CMA organisation and also the ATOMIC community. Each has helped me improve my business in different ways. Find out more in my write-up here:

How marketing communities can help businesses grow
Marketing communities

Each talk ended with a quick Q&A session, where Mark would invite participation from the audience:

Connect with Chris: @chrismarr101

Simon Swan, The Met Office

Simon talked about content marketing in The Met Office. It’s a trading fund so has to make money to survive (it’s not simply funded by the government).

Interestingly, The Met Office is still the only government organisation that runs advertising and sponsorship.

Content marketing is relevant for The Met Office because of the competition from other weather news providers. They’ve adapted by producing engaging content that the public is likely to care about, and they now even provide a weekly weather Moment to Twitter.

The rise of Google’s featured snippets impacted click-through rates because of weather data appearing directly in search results, and this has meant a need to change the thinking.

The Met Office has taken a ‘Blue Ocean’ approach to finding uncontested spaces to fill. This has given rise to things such as the pollen forecast and storytelling about weather.

Simon gave examples of other smart marketing to show that you don’t have to restrict your thinking to your core business alone. Think about how Michelin – a tyre company – started reviewing restaurants, for example.

The message was to use content to differentiate yourself. The Met Office is now writing content that appears in rich snippets and voice search.

How does snow fall? Google featured snippet from The Met Office
Google featured snippet from The Met Office

More about The Met Office’s content-led approach

Simon realised the opportunity for The Met Office was to drive buy in by educating and upskilling the wider organisation by introducing a digital academy.

Academy sessions are voluntary and now attract 60–70 people across the organisation, all eager to learn how digital skills can not only upskill but also drive collaboration.

More: Lessons from the Met Office’s change journey

Connect with Simon: @Swanny_s

Mark Schaefer, author and marketing consultant

Mark was the headline act of the day and one of the main reasons that I hauled myself from South Wales to Bournemouth for this conference.

He talked about our increasing distrust of brands and how people much prefer to connect with and trust other people.

Still think you can get Facebook success for free? Think again. This chart says it all:

(I’ve all but abandoned Facebook. For me, LinkedIn is undoubtedly the place to be, especially if you work in B2B.)

One slide summed up the approach set out in Mark’s most successful book, KNOWN:

If you haven’t read KNOWN, I’d strongly recommend you take a look – and not just because I’m mentioned in it

The principles and approach in the book have helped me find my place and space, and my business has benefited hugely as a result.

Clearly, Mark’s talk had a great impact on at least one other person. Check out this incredible feedback:

Connect with Mark: @markwschaefer

Audience polls

A few live polls (powered by doopoll) were running throughout the day. Here’s what the audience said:

Audience feedback from doopoll vote

Audience feedback from doopoll vote

Audience feedback from doopoll vote

Let’s wrap up

Group photo at You Are The Media 2018
Left to right: Jason Miller, Tarryn & Tim Poulton (& daughter!), John Espirian, Mark Masters, Chris Marr, Kerrie Reeves, Mark Schaefer, Simon Swan. Photo by Zelda de Hollander of Studio Shotz.

If you want to see other tweets from the day, check out the Twitter hashtag #YATM2018.

Can’t wait to be back in Bournemouth for You Are The Media 2019!

Finally, here’s a lovely video summary of the day:

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John Espirian

I’m the relentlessly helpful®️ LinkedIn nerd and author of Content DNA

I teach business owners how to be noticed, remembered and preferred.

Espresso+ is a safe space to learn how to ethically promote your business online and get better results on LinkedIn.

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