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SES London 2014, 1st day: “Being human is crucial”


“Being human is crucial.” These were the words of the conference’s first keynote speaker, Bruce Daisley, UK Management Director at Twitter. Only minutes into my first session at the first day of SES, I realised that his statement was a common thread I might be able to trace in the sessions I went to. After all, the market you operate in – whether you call them audience, readers, users, consumers, buyers, partners or customers – is made up of unique individuals, and in a time when personalisation rules, they all expect to be treated as such.

Whether the speakers addressed how companies or machines behave in an anthropomorphic manner, how Google affects the human mind, how we maintain our relationships or the basic human need for storytelling, they all tapped into ways in which “being human” can inform our marketing, content production and more importantly, our conversions.

The human brain

Judith Lewis and Krista LaRiviere on how to build a social media cohesive strategy:

  • Create a consistent and single identity for your business. Users, customers or partners look for consistency between communication platforms and channels in the same way human beings look for consistency in the people they meet. If your information on Twitter differs from what you present on your Facebook page, you are sending mixed messages.
  • Be social and collect social data. The overlap between search and social requires you to find ways and metrics by which social can be observed and measured.
  • Create smart content that is tuned in on the user and base your content on user behaviour. Ask yourself the following question: What stage of the sales funnel is the content produced for?

Brendan Almanack and Alan Coleman on the rapidly changing face of Google:

  • Personalisation is the key difference between digital marketing and traditional marketing. Understanding how each user acts differently is an important factor for success.
  • Do not forget how the human mind reads and processes information and remember that Google has changed our thought patterns. Ask yourself how this may play to your strengths.
  • Listen to the people at Google and get on board with their game. Reading between the lines or looking at statements that are not necessarily explicitly about SEO and “not provided” may actually answer some of the questions you have.
  • Google is increasingly focused on user action. With the “amazonfication” of Google the user is presented to seller ratings, product information and reviews without even leaving the SERPs.

content collaboration

Lee Odden on the magic of co-created social content:

  • Content should be understood as anything that adds value to the reader’s life and anything that inspires action. How your content answers the reader’s question “what’s in it for me?” decides the success rate for that piece of content. Anticipate!
  • Remember how important influence and association is for human behaviour. Get thought leaders on board with the content you are producing and build affinity between brands and intellectual authority.
  • Being empathetic, genuine and enthusiastic makes all the difference. By building relationships and maintaining them, you will eventually have a large network that potentially can be decisive for your content or brand – or both.

Cheri Percy and Jon Mowat on how to unlock the secrets of mobile video:

  • Embrace people’s urges for content wherever they are. If consumption and sharing of content are becoming basic human needs in the western world, you have a great opportunity to build your brand.
  • Stories are at the heart of human behaviour and narratives inform the way we think of and perceive the world. With the introduction of omniscreen, however, the linear narrative is dead. Build your stories as snippets that can be watched in any order on any device.
  • The key ingredient? Emotion. The persuasive element? Logic. The decisive combination? Narrative beats made up of emotion, logic and emotion.

Logic in decision making

In my opinion, and for my line work, the most important message of the day was the emphasis on getting involved with what the users actually want. As Luke Smith predicted, “2014 will be the year of the audience.” Also, digital marketing is embracing the benefits of honest approaches and sees the potential in combining strong values with quality content that is mutually beneficial. After all, online publishing is a collaborative act where writers and readers – or marketers and users, if you will – interact and co-create value.

From now on I will try to combine what I know about interpersonal relationships with commercial concerns and ideas when I write my pieces. The objective? Collaborating on the creation of content. And regardless of it being a collaboration with other bloggers, lay people or industry authorities, it will be a sound foundation for quality content and an advantage for both parties.


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