Liveblogging the 2015 Agents of Change Digital Marketing Conference


As we did back in 2013 and 2014, we will be attending and live-blogging the 2015 Agents of Change Conference.

By the way, we're Knack Factory.

We are a production firm that specializes in commercial, creative and editorial content. We produce video, shoot photo, and develop content strategy.

I'll be this guy:


Dave Kerpen

  • [4:12p] Be Grateful. "I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." Gilbert Chesterton Donor's Choose found hand-written thank-you cards led to a 38% higher likelihood of folks of donating again.
  • [4:09p] Provide value. For free. 10% off: Marketing, 50% off: value, 100%off: Loyal customers for life. If you're in B-to-C space, find something to give away. Cumberland Farms gave away a chill zone after 50K+ followers. Highest selling day in history. People bought stuff while getting their chill zones.
  • [4:05p] Be authentic. Be real. Be yourself online. Got more business when being up front about company difficulties. Authenticity breeds trust and trust breeds business.
  • [3:56p] Tell, don't sell. "Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas in the world today." - Robert McKee Storytelling through social media takes little time and little money. Take picture. Bring story to life. If it doesn't resonat, change it up.
  • [3:53p] Use your unique brand voice. Character/Persona, Tone, Language, Purpose. Determine your brand and bring it to life.
  • [3:50p] "I'm sorry + Thank you" are the most importance in social media.
  • [3:47p] Respond. To Everyone. Swindoll: "Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it." Responsiveness is no longer optional. 60% of brands and businesses do not respond to customers talking about them in social media. Imagine someone calling you on the phone, saying they have a problem, and hanging up on them. Not responding is like hanging up on a customer with thousands of people watching.
  • [3:42p] Listen to your existing customers: Qwikster listened to base and shut down in 24 hours, giving Netflix room to grow and become awesome.
  • [3:39p] Listen and demonstrate empathy: 4 and a half years ago, complained about waiting in like for 45 minutes in line at Aria at Las Vegas. Aria never responded. Rio responded in two minutes. Rio tweeted: Sorry you're having a bad experience, Dave, hope the rest of your time in Vegas goes well. That's where he'd stay later. They didn't make an offer - that would have been creepy. It's also led to him making recommendations on the company's behalf, leading to 20 bookings. One Tweet, one like, tens of thousands in revenue.
  • [3:38p] When people talk, listen completely. Don't wait to talk. Listen. Single most important skill in social media, business and life. If we can master listening and just listening, we'll be ahead of world that doesn't truly listen.
  • [3:37p] Focusing on 7 concepts

Shannon Kinney, Garrett Wilkin, and Jake Emerson [Harnessing the Power of Your Data for Marketing]

  • [3:16p] Blogger's with reactionary language ends up getting more traction, though it's not necessarily something they put front and center as it is not in the "voice" they're trying to promote.
  • [3:14p] Does data have impact on journalism? How do you match up stuff people are reading with content journalists produced? Constantly reviewing. Two teams: Digital focus and print focus. Digital focus is making daily decisions re: which stories to produce. We have content areas at the core.
  • [3:12p] Company invests in data to figure out how to be more and more specific with users and readers.
  • [3:07p] Cluster user with similar behavior. (Did you know that there are users who are super interested in obituaries?)
  • [3:06p] Be helpful, not creepy, especially because a lot of profile identity is assumptive.
  • [3:02p] Q: Why do you not try to associate online data with names it belongs to? BDN Panelists: Because it's creepy. #aoc2015
  • [3:02p] Q: Why do you not try to associate online data with names it belongs to? BDN Panelists: Because it's creepy. #aoc2015
  • [2:58p] What are the ethics of knowing too much about an audience? Want to maintain transparency, anonymity, cookies that can be deleted.
  • [2:51p] Know your target audience. Get specific. In mass media, this is not possible. Online we can get really specific.
  • [2:50p] BDN Maine created data gathering quizzes to help users better understand politics / goings on, but also to gather data on users accordingly?
  • [2:48p] What if we provided an experience people sought out?
  • [2:44p] Internet was wonky. Finally up and running.

Thom Craver [Making SEO Work … No Really!]

  • [2:08p]Content is king: Keyword intent and appropriate usage, keep creating good content, use schema markup, Site Speed / Delivery Google PageSpeed tool, check desktop and mobile speeds, work closely with IT and powers that be
  • [2:05p] 27% of mobile sites are ranked lower than they should be because search engines do not recognize the mobile site as related to its desktop.
  • [2:02p] Above the fold isn't changing SEO right now because there are two different indexes now on Google.
  • [1:58p] Augment server response, watch redirect counts, prioritize content above the fold, avoid blocking CSS JavaScript, Optimize JavaScript, Minify Content and/or Use CDN
  • [1:57p] 75% of people will NEVER come back to a site if it is too slow on the first load.
  • [1:57p] 51% of online shoppers claimed if the site is too low, they will not complete purchase.
  • [1:55p] Site Speed is very important. Off the shelf hosting can be a problem. The faster site gets the win on ranking against slower ones. You can run a test on site speed not just for desktop but also for mobile.
  • [1:51p] You want to rank well based on what people are looking for, not generally to the term.
  • [1:47p] Google cares about user experience first and foremost.
  • [1:45p] Google makes 2 or 3 minor changes every day. SEO isn't dead, it's just always changing.
  • [1:41p] Magic formula: What is page about, Where on a page does content appear, How often do certain words appear, How are words emphasized, When was page last updated, Who links to page and how, Social signals, trust factors, clickstream data.
  • [1:41p] It starts with words. Intent matters. Matching words with intent.
  • [1:37p] Meta description is elevator pitch, not used for ranking. Meta keywords not used in years. Content-type, robots, HTTP-Equiv - site directives for control; not used for ranking
  • [1:35p] Myths you need to stop believing: You need to be #1, META tags matter, all about keywords, more links the better, Google won't know if you buy links, content should be X number of words, SEO is dead, social doesn't matter.
  • [1:36p] Stop obsessing because it makes you look like a crazy person.

Heather Jackson [How to Make Email Marketing Work for You]

  • [1:14p] Metrics matter. Don't be romanced by open rate but by click-through rate. Click-through is a form of engagement.
  • [1:12p] Generally, Monday is the best. Tuesday not far behind. Goes down throughout the week. But really, figure out when someone would be in the right mode to take the action. Don't send by date. Look at actual day and time.
  • [1:09p] Send an email at least once a month. Figure out if you're going too frequently by matching against your expectations.
  • [1:05p] Use the "teaser" text to underscore the value of your email / not be a totally boring total turn-off.
  • [1:04p] Quick note on headlines: In my life as a blogger at BDN, we use this beast to test our headlines.
  • [1:02p] Chill with exclamation points, weirdos.
  • [1:00p] Single column, 3 images max, 2 sentences, CTA above the fold [via Karen Schaffer's tweet]
  • [12:55p] How do we get the emails opened and avoid being spam? People make decisions to open in seconds. 1/3 of people make the decision based on a subject line. Holy crap.
  • [12:53p] 60% of emails are opened on mobile device. Use a mobile responsive template.
  • [12:53p] For content, interview your staff. It helps to humanize / get people to trust you.
  • [12:50p] Make sure every image is clickable, minimally back to website, maximally to the page it corresponds with on your site. Keep above scroll line. Maximum three photos.
  • [12:48p] Fewer calls to action get the most clicks. But over 5 links leads to zero clicks.
  • [12:46p] 3 Steps to Easy Content: Find a picture, Write 3 sentences, Create call to action (click to share, sign up, check out blog/link, etc.)
  • [12:46p] Text to join makes signing up by text super easy.
  • [12:44p] Get in the habit of asking for email addresses, but explaining the value of the content you'll be sharing. 57% of people will provide when asked.
  • [12:43p] For new emails from people, send out an initial email that suggests you have great content on your list and give the opportunity to opt in to that.
  • [12:40p] Growing your list: You need permission. There is implicit permission and explicit permission. It's fine to email customers, folks you email regularly, partners. This is implicit. Explicit is people who check a box or give an email list. You don't want to put random business cards in your email list.
  • [12:40p] By law you need at least one unsubscribe button. A program that manages email lists help to do this, format, scheduling, management, create market research, etc.
  • [12:38p] By law you need at least one unsubscribe button. A program that manages email lists help to do this, format, scheduling, management, create market research, etc.
  • [12:38p] 91% of us still check our email daily. It's the only way to have 1-t0-1 conversations.
  • [12:37p] We're trying to get more people to know us. Will what we create make people know, like and trust us more?

For consumption while you consume, here are 4 interesting facts about lunch:

Rich Brooks [Digital Marketing in An Hour a Day]

  • [11:28a] What's the overlap between Rich's podcast audience and blog audience? No answer. Admits he should do a survey. Typically, podcast audience smaller but much more interested. Literally getting inside their head (by way of ear buds). (Not Air Buds.)
  • [11:28a] Blogging on Medium or LinkedIn? If just getting started, those can give you bigger platforms. Perhaps do your own post, but then tweak the post for those platforms / avenues.
  • [11:28a] Measuring tools: Using the GoogleURL builder, which is free and ports information to Google Analytics.
  • [11:27a] Take aways: Find audience, Create irresistible content, maximize reach, determine whether or not advertising makes sense (create experiments to test) and measure to make sure your campaigns are working accordingly.
  • [11:24a] Measure. If you want to conserve time, measure your impact. Create specific URLs specific to the campaign so you can track analytics on which campaign URL converted the most action.
  • [11:23a] Advertising: Pay Per Click, Social Ads, Retargeting
  • [11:21a] Have you ever seen Rich Brooks' shirt... ON WEED?
  • [11:21a] Offer free downloads and resources. People give emails in exchange. Add to email list.
  • [11:20a] Facebook resonance goes down even further when you use a third party scheduler.
  • [11:17a] Have sharing buttons! Don't have ones that show numbers of shares.
  • [11:16a] Alternatively, there are people who have huge audiences and they never create any content. They aggregate. You can build an audience by sharing the best of the best. Feedly can help you filter accordingly. Same with HootSuite Suggests.
  • [11:14a] Schedule Tweets to re-introduce old blog posts. De-emphasize the date so they feel more evergreen. People will see the date and think it can be out of date and pass it up.
  • [11:13a] You don't even have to create something new. Sometimes old things work too. Often, great blog posts can get lost in the ether. Change out the title text to accommodate SEO needs. Replace the images. Get new, non-crappy images in there.
  • [11:09a] Interviews are a great way to generate content, as you can pick the brains of people who know what they're talking about.
  • [11:07a] Megan Fox is in the top 5 searches of nearly anything I’ve looked up.
  • [11:06a] Use a keyword planner as a means of figuring out which terms to use - ones getting more search traction should be used over the ones you might intuitively use. Use the words your audience is using.
  • [11:04a] Research, and polish. You never got an A on a rough draft in college. Have someone read over what you've created. If you don't have that person, wait a day. Make it valuable. Embed quality content. Promote it. A piece of content that falls in the forest with on one around to hear it does not get read.
  • [11:02a] You can't beat the Internet on volume, but clarity, quality and perspective.
  • [11:01a] Your customers read blogs. Do they Google shit? If they Google shit, they read blogs." If you don't have a blog, they're reading your competitor's blog.
  • [11:00a]Internet meltdown. We're back.
  • [10:50a] Starts of by talking about Native Americans used all of the Buffalo, including the wings. I hope there are no vegetarians in the audience.
  • [10:49a] Rich has a superhero posse when nighttime rolls around.

Susan B. Zimmerman [How To Use the Instagram Explore Features to Do Market Research and Grow Your Audience]

  • [10:26a] Sue showed two of her favorite IG pages, and both had food/ drink in the photos. I think this means that food posts are definitely the most popular. Next to cats, of course.
  • [10:20a] It's all about the money. To make money with IG you need to use a call to action. Use these to direct them to the profit areas of your business. Don't be too salesy, be casual. "Act like you're talking to a 10 year old", because I think most people deserve to be treated like a 10 year old.
  • [10:16a] If there are trending places in the area you do business in, use the geotag to connect with events/ places close to you.
  • [10:12a] An emoji keyboard is a real thing. I'm not sure exactly what that is, but I think I want one. The most creative post with #suemademedoit wins one.
  • [10:07a] Hashtags are your friends. Use relevant words, but not overly popular ones. The #iwokeuplikethis might be too full and go too fast for people to see your posts. Sorry, Bey.
  • [10:02a] Focus on "when is the right time to share?", as well as cross promotion. PRO TIP: Take screenshot of Instagram bio w first 3 photos and post to other social media channels, with link to profile. Guaranteed 10 followers, or my name isn't Billy Mays
  • [10:00a] Sue's daughter's Instagram is only 7k followers behind her own. I sense a Highlander situation approaching soon.
  • [9:56a] Make people feel that they are experiencing the photo with you. ESPECIALLY pictures of your cat.
  • [9:53a] Nail the basics. Bio, avatar, and visual posts. The more you engage, the more people will engage with you, and this is how you organically earn followers. Apparently, buying followers on IG is the same as buying friends in the Myspace days.
  • [9:50a] IG takes a lot more creativity and a lot more work, but works well to engage customers. Focus on your niche. Having multiple accounts allows you to focus on certain subjects and acquire more followers for specific things that people care about. Rather than forcing someone who follows you to look at all the pictures of your cat that you post.
  • [9:42a] Empower your employees. Employees can use their own social media accounts and skills to further your business. Though most of that time will probably be spent making emoji art while texting.
  • [9:40a] Sue had her first business at 13, and was the director of a women's entrepreneurial group. She is now an "Instagram expert", and teaches other business owners to use this social platform to increase sales. 
  • [9:37a] If you tap on the last photo Sue took on her personal Instagram, you can find all of the other speakers Instagram accounts for the event. She has 8 Instagram account. That sounds very stressful.
  • [9:35a] Lots of "woo"-ing and picture taking before the presentation starts. Makes sense, because that's what I assume most people do whilst using Instagram.

Marcus Sheridan [The Digital Consumer: How Today’s Buyer Has Changed and What Your Business Must Do About It]

  • [9:23a] Self-deprecation of ones weight receives big audience laughs.
  • [9:20a] The Grizzard family is exclusively a Yahoo! search engine family. And their love for researching pools allows minimal sales pitches when it comes to selling a product
  • [9:16a] If someone views 30 or more pages before the sales appointment, they would buy 80% of the time. Honest and transparent content is the greatest sales and trust building tool in the world.
  • [9:10a] An honest company is a company that people will gravitate to. When writing an article about your competitors, aren't you afraid introducing your customers to the competition will lose you business? No, because they can find thee companies in under a minute on heir own. Consumer ignorance is no longer a viable sales and marketing strategy.
  • [9:02a] Feeling "honored" to be talking to a "pool guy". Marcus states that writing an article can save your business. Writing one about a frequently asked question brings the people who type that question in to google to your website and, ultimately, your business. This single article Marcus' business wrote about how much a fiberglass pool costs earned the company $3 Million from sales appointments booked after being brought to their website.
  • [8:52a] Marcus states that if someone asks you a question, you have an "obligation" to answer that question on your website. Otherwise a competing business will answer that question for you. What if it's wondering what my favorite N*Sync member is? How would my competitors know that? How have they received this intel?
  • [8:50a] Marcus asks the question "what makes a great website?" and the audience answers user-friendly. What does that actually mean? He answers "I can find what I want, I can find it fast". That may be one of the most important things about someones website, next to the pretty colors.
  • [8:45a] I feel like there was a missed opportunity on a song for Marcus to walk on stage to. The silence could've been filled by "Money" by Pink Floyd. I think it really conveys what everyone in this room is interested in making.

It begins:

  • [8:42a] Marcus Sheridan loves ketchup.
  • [8:37a] If you're number 1 on the leaderboard with the hashtag #AOC2015 by the end of today, you get a free ticket to next years event. 2nd and 3rd get Maine Brew Bus Tour tickets. Wondering if people would rather have beer or knowledge.
  • [8:36a] Rich made a Patriots joke that no one could hear due to microphone issues, so he repeated it.
  • [8:34a] The song Rich walked on stage to was by Fun. No Backstreet Boys, unfortunately.


  • [8:32a] The room is starting to fill up now that people have gotten their fill of sandwiches from the lobby.
  • [8:28a] Great to see Chris from Bullmoose in the audience. It was great to collaborate with them on this spot last year.
  • [8:19a] I wonder if I will ever get the smell of breakfast sandwiches out of my hair.
  • [7:01a] Curious about what song Rich will walk on stage to. Bootylicious? Quit Playing Games With My Heart? Shout at the Devil?
  • [6:26a] Let's do this.