Playbook: How Content Marketing World Uses Twitter Chats to Build Community, Promote Show

DANICA TORMOHLEN, EDITOR-AT-LARGE
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Ten weeks before last year’s Content Marketing World, Joe Pulizzi, founder, Content Marketing Institute (CMI), and his team launched a weekly Twitter chat to build community, promote speakers and increase registrations. In 2013, CM World attracted 1,700 attendees, who paid anywhere from $395 to $2,395 to attend the event. Year-over-year, attendance increased 70%, thanks in part to community-building efforts like Twitter chat.

Based on that success, CM World expanded the program and now hosts weekly Twitter chats from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern every Tuesday on a year-round basis. In addition to its annual CM World and CM World Sydney, CMI produces daily online news, weekly e-newsletters, a bi-monthly magazine, weekly podcasts, semi-monthly webinars and several e-books. Content is published on its web site (www.contentmarketingworld.com) and through social media channels like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

“We’ve found that our magic number is four,” said Pulizzi. “Prospective attendees need to be engaged with four different things that we do from a content standpoint before they convert to registrations. Twitter chats give us one more way to engage with our attendees and prospects on a regular basis.” The weekly chats average about 96 users per week, but its Twitter handle (@CMIContent) has more than 75,000 followers.

Using the hashtag #CMWorld, the chats featured industry experts who were speaking at the event. The topics align with the event’s session tracks, such as content strategy, search and social media, and also included industry-specific discussions such as financial content marketing.

Some show organizers may argue that they don’t have the time or resources available to execute a similar program.  “We run lean and mean,” said Pulizzi. CMI has 16 full-time employees and uses part-time contractors to help with special projects.

“Execution is not the hard part,” said Pulizzi. “Actually, it’s the strategy.” Start small, he advised, and take a hard look at everything you are doing to market your show to determine if it’s really the most effective. “Make a commitment and plan it like you would your event,” said Pulizzi.

First, CMI sets up a quarterly editorial calendar to build out their schedule and line up speakers. About a week in advance of each chat, CMI prepares a list of questions to share with that week’s guest and publishes the questions on its LinkedIn Group page.

“Executing these chats was pretty straightforward,” said Cathy McPhillips, marketing director, CMI. “To keep the chat on schedule, I pre-scheduled the tweets using Tweetdeck. It helped us stay on track and also allowed me, as the manager of our @CMIContent account, to welcome and engage with our audience, and still actively participate in the chat.”

CMI uses Hashtracking to record its Twitter chats. Hashtracking offers top-level details, such as top contributors and most retweeted tweets, which helps CMI make note of hot topics or potential questions to be used for future blog posts or Twitter chats.

CMI transcribes each chat and repurposes the content for its blog. McPhillips also highlights some key tweets from each question and creates a Slideshare presentation on a weekly basis.

The company’s Twitter referral traffic is up 20% year-over-year, with a 27% increase in new visitors. “We are able to use Google Analytics to see weekly trending and conversions based on the topics of each track,” said McPhillips. “While tweets and reach are important, it is necessary to align these numbers with conversions so we can see where our audience is taking action.”

CMI also looks for ways to monetize its marketing through sponsorships, said Pulizzi. “First and foremost, it’s a marketing initiative, but it’s also a profit center,” said Pulizzi. “But if we break even or defray some of our marketing costs, it’s worthwhile.”

CM World 2014 will be held September 8-11 in Cleveland.

Reach Joe at 216-941-5842 or joe@contentinstitute.com; Cathy at (888) 554-2014 or cathy@contentinstitute.com