Curated by @SimonCocking

Irish Tech News are delighted Grainne Barron @grabar, CEO & Founder of Viddyad attended Contently’s first West Coast Summit on behalf of Irish Tech News. We first encountered Contently via our review and interview with Shane Snow about his book Smart Cuts. This event was to celebrate the opening of their San Francisco office. We look forward to bringing you more stories from our Irish diaspora around the world.


Great content begins with great food. Contently’s first West Coast Summit started off with a bang on June 9, 2015 at Tank 18 in San Francisco. After a tasty networking lunch, Joe Coleman, CEO and Co-Founder of Contently, opened the conference by discussing the intersection of what’s driving innovation in content marketing.

Coleman suggested that a combination of storytelling and technology is essential in order to create an effective marketing platform. Present marketers can reach consumers relatively easy and inexpensively due to modern technology. Consequently, he stressed the continued importance of storytelling, indicating that it still remains the core of successful content marketing. As Ben Plomion, SVP of Marketing at GumGum, stated, “Your content has to be so good that your competitors share it.”

So what generates great content? Coleman hit the nail on the head: storytelling. Stories are indispensable for brands because they indicate that the product a company builds is working. Successful storytelling is adapting to situations quickly, but not necessarily moving too fast. Moving too fasts results with mistakes made and poor content quality. Allie Townsend, Managing Editor at Facebook, declared, “The best stories are the ones that grab you.” This means taking the time to create interesting content rather than solely focusing on how quickly you can get new content out there. If you have nothing of value to add, don’t – original and personal storytelling beats hasty, irrelevant content.

Unfortunately, not all marketing platforms work no matter how creative the content is. Content marketing is a game of trial and error. Brands learn from their previous marketing strategies, understand where they went wrong, and try again. Deirdre Hussey, Director of Digital Marketing and Communications at Gap Inc., said “If you’re producing content that’s true to your core, you won’t find your brand in the wrong conversation.” Through experimentation and analysis, as well as research and development, brands will find what type of content works for them as long as they keep it original and meaningful.

The summit ended with Ben Parr, Author of Captivology & Co-Founder of DominateFund. Parr was the superstar of the evening and made many insightful points about the convergence of content and marketing. He supported long-form content, reiterating that it’s not just about the quick read. Marketers need to have something interesting to say. Parr also said, “People share content because it validates their identity [and] gives a sense of belonging.” Content that gets shared is fluent, novel and relates to identity. However, he also noted that content isn’t what’s changed – distribution has. Social media sites and other forms of Internet communication have revolutionized the way marketers approach their ad campaigns. As a result, Parr suggested “people should consistently experiment and see what their audience engages with.”

Viddyad CEO Grainne Barron attended the West Coast Summit and enjoyed listening to the refreshing approaches discussed by many of the Contently speakers. She described the summit as a “very lively, meaty and interactive event with great energy… I was very ‘contently’ with it.” The first summit was a great success and we can’t wait to see what’s in store next year.

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