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Transcript of Using Technology to Build Connections in the Real World

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John Jantsch: I love technology. I love the fact that we can communicate and work virtually, however there’s no question that these tools and technology have created a sense of isolation for a lot of people in companies, a lot of marketers with their customers. In this episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, we’re going to talk with Dan Schawbel, and we’re going to visit his book called Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation. Check it out.

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Hello, and welcome to another episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. And my guest today is Dan Schawbel. He is a New York Times bestselling author, partner and research director at Future Workplace, and the founder of both Millennial Branding and workplacetrends.com. He’s also the author of Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation. Welcome back, Dan.

Dan Schawbel: So happy to be here. I was thinking this morning. I’m like, “I’m going to talk to John.” And when did I first connect to him? I mean, it’s got to be 2006, 2007 when there was the Ad Age 150. Remember that?

John Jantsch: Yeah, I kind of do. Yeah.

Dan Schawbel: And when it went up I’m like, “Huh. Well, I aspire to be on that list.” And I think strategically it’s probably good to know everyone on there because they all love marketing, and I’m a marketer, even though I’m a marketer in HR now. It’s always my skillset and I always looked up to you. You always provided incredible content consistently. You were passionate. You had a great model. I just really liked it, and I think you do a great job.

John Jantsch:  Well, thank you very much. I guess we’ll pass out compliments here because just in watching what you’ve done over the last decade, a lot of people have jumped on this personal branding thing years ago. And you have done as good a job of building a personal brand as really anyone online. And mainly it’s because you’ve been so consistent.

Dan Schawbel: Thank you. I appreciate it.

John Jantsch: Let’s get into the book. I’m kind of reading this because I want to get it right. But I want to let you unpack this. Back to Human reveals why electronic and virtual communication, though vital and useful, actually contributes to a stronger sense of isolation at work than ever before. I’m guessing that’s the main premise of the book, so unpack that for me.

Dan Schawbel: Absolutely. Technology has created the illusion that we’re so connected, but in reality we feel very disconnected, isolated, lonely, less committed to our teams and organizations over the overuse and misuse of technology. It’s not like technology’s a terrible thing. It’s really about how you use it. And so I interviewed 100 young leaders from 100 of the best companies in the world, so Johnson and Johnson and GE and Uber and Instagram. And everyone described technology as being a double edged sword. It’s done some great things. But at the same time, it’s made us think we have a ton of friends, Facebook friends. And it’s made us think that we are being incredibly collaborative and accomplishing great work, when the reality is we might get some stuff done, but the relationships we have with our coworkers are not as strong. And it’s much easier to leave a team of acquaintances that you sometimes email and work with than a team that feels like a family.

John Jantsch: Yeah. And it’s funny because technology has obviously enabled us to work differently. I have a client in London. I have a client in Toronto. I’ve never sat face to face with either of them. I have employees that are in seven different states, and rarely do we ever see each other. It’s enabled us to work in different ways, but there’s no question there’s a whole new set of practices I think to try to kind of regain some of that humanness, as you talked about in the book. Aren’t there?

Dan Schawbel: Yeah. And it’s interesting because I think especially today when people are working so, so hard, in America the average workweek is 47 hours a week. And not having your phone is the new vacation. We’re always kind of on the hook. We’re always kind of on duty. We feel guilty if we’re not responding to a business email on vacation or after “work hours.” Right? Because of the remote work revolution and the ability to do work using technology and connect wherever and whenever you want to, the downside is that we get burned out. We have weaker connections. We feel stress and anxiety, so it can be bad for our health. And the most fascinating finding, I worked with Virgin Pulse. My company, Future Workplace, and Virgin Pulse partnered in a study of over 2000 managers and employees in 10 countries. And it revealed something really fascinating. If you work remote, you’re much less likely to want to say you want a long-term career at your company.

Working remote has all these positive things that people talk about, having the freedom and flexibility to do work when, where, and how you want. And it lowers commuting costs, of course. But the downside never gets talked about. And that’s isolation, which creates loneliness and then unhappiness. It’s all connected. And so consciously, as someone who’s worked from home for almost eight years, I’m always thinking about: How can I break up my day so I’m meeting people, whether it’s for business or personal? And it’s like when we look at our calendars, our calendars are created for business. Right? And we always say things like, “If it’s not on my calendar, it doesn’t exist.” We let the technology try to do the work for us.

If we’re going to let the technology do the work for us, it should also have aspects of our personal life on our calendar. That’s part of what I’m saying when it comes to work, life integration and being conscious about if you’re working so many hours and you’re kind of always working, how do you break up the day so you’re fully maximizing your time, and you’re fulfilled personally and professionally? And the first chapter is called Focus on Fulfillment. You need to become fulfilled before you can sit down with all of your team members and help them accomplish their goals and service their needs. And the things that remain consistent, as you know, you’re born, you pay taxes, you die. That’s the big joke. Right? Probably through multiple generations.

Well, what about we only have 24 hours in a day? And then our needs in terms of the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs remain the same regardless of how much technology we have. We need food and shelter, and then to be loved and have friendships. Otherwise, we’ll never be self actualized. We’ll never be able to reach our full potential and be the most productive worker imaginable for our company.

John Jantsch: And you know what’s interesting, there’s so many companies today that have distributed workforce. And I find myself falling into this habit. I have our check in meetings, and at the end it’s just like, “Get to it. Work. Work.” It’s like we never have that what we used to call, around the water cooler time, where it’s like, “Hey. How was your weekend?” It’s just like, we’ve got this call, it’s scheduled. It’s for a purpose. It’s like a meeting, so we never have that time to in some ways get to know each other. One of my favorite chapters in the book is this idea of shared learning, where you may be … I think you have to carve out these things. Don’t you?

Dan Schawbel: You know what’s amazing? So many people have said they’ve liked that chapter. And the reality is the reason why I think that chapter is so in the now is because true power, and you’ve done that, we’ve grew up in the world of blogging, so we know this very well, is true power and influence in our society is not the people who hold onto the information. It’s those who distribute it freely. And I think that’s a big shift from maybe 10, 20 years ago versus today.

And we need to share what we know with the people we work with and care about, so all of us can keep up with the speed of business and adopt the changes that are inevitably happening, whether we like it or not. The average relevancy of a learned skill is only five years, so we have to keep on moving. The big skills now are artificial intelligence, machine learning, data scientists. You’ve got to keep going. You’ve got to keep up with what’s changing. And if you don’t, the tasks you did five and 10 years ago are just not going to be as relevant. You’re going to get paid less for them and you’re going to struggle.

And in order to know this information, in order to know the trends that are going on in your industry, learn the new skills, see the latest research study, we have to count on each other because we’re finding more and more information through our network. I mean, that’s the brilliance of Facebook. Right? It’s like, I don’t have to figure out what’s going on in the news. It’s going to come to me based on who I follow and friend.

John Jantsch: Yeah. And I think you could take that a step farther. I know in our organization, what we try to do is almost task people with saying, “Hey. Go find out about that and come back and teach us all.” And I think what it does is, it has the dual effect of, as you said, we get to learn some more. But as you know, nothing makes you learn something better than if you know you’re going to have to teach it to somebody.

Dan Schawbel: Well, actually now that you bring that up, I did a whole presentation on this. Google has a G to G program, where employees teach other employees what they know. And it’s all volunteer basis. But I think people naturally want to be teachers. They might not want to be part of the school system, but they want to share what they know with others because it helps them learn and master it more. And it’s good for your career. Right? You become an expert. You’re sought after. You build a network. It’s really the crux of personal branding, what I did earlier in my career. Right? It’s become the best at what you do for a specific audience, or become really good at multiple things when combined give you a competitive advantage. And then just give freely. I mean, between us, how many pieces of content you think you and I have generated in 10, 20, 10 or 15 years? Like, thousands, right?

John Jantsch: I’ve got 4000 blog posts.

Dan Schawbel:  Yeah. And personalbrandingblog.com, I think we hit 5700. And then if you add LinkedIn, Facebook, all the other networks, writing articles, like we have books. It’s a lot.

John Jantsch: Wouldn’t it be great if in your business, all you had to do was the stuff you love, the reason you started the business, and not all that administrative stuff like payroll and benefits? That stuff’s hard especially when you’re a small business. Now I’ve been delegating my payroll for years to one of those big corporate companies. And I always felt like a little tiny fish. But now there is a much better way. I’ve switched over to Gusto, and it is making payroll and benefits and HR easy for the modern small business. You no longer have to be a big company to get great technology, great benefits, and great service to take care of your team. To help support the show, Gusto is offering our listeners an exclusive limited time deal. If you sign up today, you’ll get three months free once you run your first payroll. Just go to gusto.com/tape.

Another thing I like about your book is that you put a lot of exercises in there so people can try what they kind of have read about. And you’ve even created a test or an assessment, the Work Connectivity Index. Tell us about that.

Dan Schawbel: Yeah. I always wanted to do an assessment for my book. I saw what Sally Hogshead did with Fascinate and what Gallup did, and Tom Rath with Strength Finder. And I was very inspired by them. I’m like, “Huh. I’d love to do it someday.” And on this book I had the idea. If I’m studying work connectivity, what about having an assessment to tell people how strong of connectivity they have within their organizations? Right? And so you get low connectivity score versus high connectivity score. And people are all in the middle of that. And so I reached out to seven professors. It was like first come, first served. The first one who was really excited about working with me got it, so it was Kevin Rockman, a professor at George Mason University helped me create the assessment. It’s on workconnectivityindex.com. When you take it, you’ll get a score. And of course, if you have a low score it means that you’re not getting enough face time and you’re not building the type of relationships that are required to be happy and fulfilled and successful in today’s working world.

John Jantsch: You’ve also created a LinkedIn learning course, which I think is awesome. I’ve done about, I think I’m up to about seven courses with them. They’re great people to work with.

Dan Schawbel: Wow. You win.

John Jantsch: You know what it is, you go out there and they go, “This guy’s easy to work with and he gets done fast. Let’s give him another one.”

Dan Schawbel: Especially when, I know this probably true to you as well, I finished I think three hours ahead of time, and they love that because the beach is right there.

John Jantsch: Exactly. I love going to Santa Barbara. But they told me they had one person come in and it took them four days to do a course. I was like, “Wow. I would shoot myself.” One of the things that you are so good at, and I think a lot of people neglect this today in the online world, is you have done a great job at attracting mainstream media. Obviously, you’ve picked some hot topics, and that’s one of the ways to get attention. But I’ll ask this question really for business owners, but other authors out there. What’s been your secret to get so much pub? You get as much as anybody in the mainstream, I think.

Dan Schawbel: Yeah. I think I’ve generated, it’s definitely thousands of media impressions at this point, or media hits, I would say. And you know what, it’s a cross between right topic, right time, trying to be original, staying in my lane. Any time I venture out of my lane, things don’t work out well. I’ve done a whole research campaign on politics that failed. Anything that’s outside of my domain, it typically doesn’t do well because you have to be seen as the expert in what you’re publishing, or publish what you want to be an expert in. And if you aren’t doing that, you’re not going to be seen as a credible source no matter what you’re putting out there. Focus on your strengths. Stay in your lane. Double down.

And think of something original. For me, I’ve led 45 research studies surveying about 90,000 people in 20 countries in six years, so I’ve been all in with research because it allows me to create something new, find something and share and disseminate and distribute those findings through books and speeches and media and various forms. I think you need a good network. I have an advantage being in New York because the media’s here, clearly. That has helped. I won’t deny that. Second, I think you need to figure out what makes you unique. Right? What topics do you think that you have something to say about? If you have nothing to say, and so in interviews, that interview’s not going to go well, and you won’t be invited back.

The other thing is start small. Back in the day, I was doing local TV, radio, some of the smaller outlets, which prepared me for the bigger outlets. If my first interview was on the Today Show, I would’ve bombed it because I didn’t have the experience. So I bombed a local ABC affiliate. I didn’t bomb it, I just didn’t perform at my best. But that was good because it was a learning experience. And then I knew that even if they give me the questions, that they might not ask the questions. They might do a trick question, so it’s being prepared for everything. And then I think it’s just being easy to work with, like what you’re saying. It’s like being very responsive. For me, I’m very responsive. I get immediate inquiry, boom, I just go for it.

Back then, I’ll tell you, phase one in my career with personal branding, it was my only goal was to own the search results for personal branding in Google. That was the only strategy I had, but of course that connects to doing a lot of other things right. And that got me almost all my original media that allowed me to build my platform. And then I think phase two has been more on the research, so it’s harder to get press now, so I need to create news instead of hoping that I can fit into the news that’s currently happening.

John Jantsch: And the media loves statistics, [inaudible 00:16:56].

Dan Schawbel: Yeah.

John Jantsch:  It’s something that can be simplified into one sound bite. And unfortunately, that sometimes is what it takes.

Dan Schawbel: And I think phase three, the way I’m seeing it now is really building your own platform. I just started my own podcast. It’s called Five Questions with Dan Schawbel, really active on Instagram, two posts a day, seven days a week. Instagram is my new blog. It’s exactly what I did. How I’m operating Instagram is exactly what I did in the early blog days. Back then, I posted twice a day. And it was longer form with blogging. And I commented on every Instagram, or blog profile, or blog website, sorry, that mentioned personal branding. Today, I’ve chose maybe six or seven profiles and I’m always commenting. And between commenting and posting every day, I’ve gone from four to 26,000 followers organically in a little less than four months. That’s it. That’s all I’ve done.

And of course, people I’ve met have read the book, so I get some followers just based on reputation. But most of it’s earned, and it’s just a lot of work. And people don’t want to hear that it takes time. I think phase three is you’ve really got to double down on your own platform because the probability of getting seen in traditional media is declining significantly. I used to do campaign. My first campaign, John, was in 2012. Literally went viral. I analyzed four million millennial Facebook profiles, Today Show, CNN. It was everywhere, 70 national media outlets, so people saw it.

Now it’s like maybe you get 10 at most. And I’ve been doing this for six years consistently. In one year, I did nine studies. And I’m telling you, now if you do something like that, it’s much harder to break through. Books, it’s harder to break through. So that tells me, that to me is feedback that, okay, I need to double down on social media and building my own platform and leveraging everything I’ve done to do that because the future could be grim. I think a lot more of these media companies are going to go under, and new media’s going to be rising. I think you’ve got to shift strategies as this is happening. And that’s the call I made, is I’m moving my efforts.

John Jantsch: Perfect segue to the last question I wanted to talk about. We’ve been talking about social media here for a minute. And there’s a lot of people that would claim social media has actually made us less human, probably one of the biggest culprits of making us less human. How do you, in the vein of how great leaders create connection in the age of isolation, how do you do that with the realization the social media is an important channel?

Dan Schawbel: Great question. The motto for the book is to let technology be a bridge to human connection and not a barrier. Use the technology to schedule a podcast interview. But when you’re in the interview, hopefully it’s audio or maybe video, and so you’re getting to know the person. Use it to connect with others to get them to go to a meeting, or a networking event, or an office birthday party. And by the way, found through the book that the number one thing that leaders should do is create more social events and company outings because that is what employees really are looking for right now, is to build relationships in that respect. And it’s lacking. Only 20% of companies have those type of social events, and that’s kind of broken.

I think, let technology lead you to the human interactions instead of just relying on it as crutch, thinking that technology’s going to do all the work for you. Use it in order to make those initial connections. And what you’ve been so good at this too is in the early days, you would connect with so many bloggers. But then there would be blogger meetups. And you’d meet them in person. For me, as an introvert, it’s much easier to reach out via email or text, and then actually meet in person. I feel more comfortable because I feel like I already know you. I think when and when not to use technology is what we have to think about.

John Jantsch: Awesome. Speaking with New York Times bestselling author Dan Schawbel. We’re talking about Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation. We’re going to have links, of course. We always do, to everything we talked about, like the assessment and the book itself, of course, and even the LinkedIn course. But Dan, tell people where they can reach out and connect with you.

Dan Schawbel: Absolutely. You can go to danschawbel.com. That’s S-C-H-A-W-B-E-L.com. And you can go on Amazon or your local book retailer and pick up Back to Human, and then listen to the podcast, Five Questions with Dan Schawbel. Thank you.

John Jantsch: Thanks Dan. It’s always great to catch up with you. Hopefully we’ll run into you out there on the road.

Dan Schawbel: You got it, my friend.

How to Use Technology to Create Real-World Connections

Using Technology to Build Connections in the Real World

Marketing Podcast with Dan Schawbel
Podcast Transcript

Dan SchawbelThis week on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I chat with Dan Schawbel. He is a New York Times bestselling author, partner and research director at Future Workplace, and founder of both WorkplaceTrends.com and Millennial Branding. His forthcoming book, Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation, is about how technology that seems to bring us together has actually left workers feeling more isolated, and what leaders can do to re-engage and re-energize their teams. It’s the content from this book that we discuss on the podcast.

Schawbel’s writing has been featured in numerous publications including Forbes, TIME, The Economist, The Harvard Business Review, and The Guardian.

He has been recognized on both Forbes‘ and Inc.‘s “30 Under 30” lists, as well as Business Insider‘s “40 Under 40,” and was one of BusinessWeek‘s “20 Entrepreneurs You Should Follow.”

Questions I ask Dan Schawbel:

  • How do you carve out the time for shared learning?
  • What is the Work Connectivity Index?
  • What’s the secret to generating publicity for your work?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • What the unseen downside of remote work is, and why it can make employees less committed
  • How turning your employees into teachers can help create a sense of community
  • Why using social media and building your own platform is the best way to get your voice out there

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Dan Schawbel:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

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To help support the show, Gusto is offering our listeners an exclusive, limited-time deal. Sign up today, and you’ll get 3 months free once you run your first payroll. Just go to Gusto.com/TAPE.

18 Why You Must Change Your Content Marketing Approach

Now that pretty much everyone on the planet gets the importance of content marketing it’s time to throw a wrench in the works. To remain effective with your content marketing efforts you must constantly evaluate, change and evolve!

I know you may not want to hear that, but content only provides value when it’s useful and the consumer always determines what useful looks like. As more and more content marketers experiment with content form, length, frequency, mode, delivery, and style the consumer pallet for content continues to mature and evolve and you must do so with it. content marketing

I’ve been participating in content marketing for about fifteen years now, long before we called it that, but I’ve always tried to stay in touch with the wants and needs of the reader.

My first efforts were articles placed in directories and shared in an ezine. (How’s that for some nostalgia) In 2003 I started blogging here and that’s driven a great deal of my growth for over a decade.

Over the years my email newsletter has become more of a place to filter, aggregate and share other people’s content in snack sized versions. I produced my first eBook in 2004 or so and now feature ten, including some I’ve licensed from other writers.

We now feature guest blog post two and sometimes three times a week and I contribute blog style articles to about a dozen publications on a regular basis. Social media has obviously opened new doors in terms of sharing and generating new forms of content.

I believe the future of content marketing, however, rests in our ability to evolve to a more personalized form of creation and delivery where the end reader participates in the curation and creation of the content they request from marketers.

This next step will require even more from content marketers if they are to continue to deliver value in an saturated field of more and more content. I reached out to some well-known content marketers and asked them to share how their content marketing thoughts had evolved over the last few years.

Their responses are both fascinating and informative.

Enjoy!

Online content strategy has changed over the last couple of years. The focus is still on providing value, but this has been honed even further. I see businesses being more strategic about the type of content they publish online, to build the communities they want. There’s more long term strategy in the content they produce. I see businesses blogging less often but with deeper content to create strong evergreen content relevant to their business. I see others sharing more thoughtful pieces of content to connect with the right people. A few years ago providing value might have been enough to get traction to impact your business, but it’s also very important to create the type of coherent online visibility you need to establish relationships. Combining the two is essential today. There’s just too much noise, too many people publishing the same thing. And of course you need a visual marketing strategy to go hand in hand with your written content if you want to really take advantage of social media reach today.

Cindy King
Director of Editorial
Social Media Examiner

Different people in your target audience (whomever that audience may be) have varying preferences for content format, platform, approach, etc. I always knew this to be true, but in the past two years I’ve really embraced the concept that there is no such thing as all-powerful content. No magic bullet. No reliable home runs. Consequently, I’m striving to create more and more content types native to more and more content platforms, so that there is something from me in the style and format that’s preferable to each person in my tribe. That’s why I’m doing more podcasting, videos, ebooks, slideshare and just about everything else. Instead of trying to do one thing extraordinarily well, I’m trying to do many things very good. It’s not easy, but content can’t fully succeed as the tip of the spear – you need the whole spear.

Jay Baer
Convince and Convert

In the last two years, I have changed my ideas about blogging. I used to do more video posts with tutorials but I’ve switched to posting very long text posts with a lot of screenshots as my primary blog post and then occasionally add in video posts. I’ve found that having a lot of screenshots is great for people who are scanners. Even though my video posts were usually around 3-5 minutes in length, not everyone wants to sit through them. My blog posts are typically between 1000-2000 words which is much longer than I used to write when I had written posts. I’m also focusing this year on posting 2-3 times per week on my blog rather than just 1 time per week. It doesn’t always happen but I do like when I can post more often because it allows me to post a little more variety of content. I can post one in-depth technical post about Facebook or social media, and then also post something slightly different about business motivation or more general marketing or even something more personal about my journey. I’ve found that people have really responded to my personal posts – they don’t always get the biggest amount of traffic but they definitely get the most comments and I think they are great for connecting with your readers.

Andrea Vahl

Over the last two years, I’ve attempted to add more contrast to my content. It has often been said that content is king. However, with so much content out there it can all start to blend together so I’ve been focusing on making contrast king. This way, my readers look forward to what’s coming next. There’s more anticipation and surprise and, as a result, more attention and conversation is produced.

Michael Port
Book Yourself Solid

1. Publishing on weekends – CMI now publishes posts on Saturday and Sunday, as we’ve noticed that the posts get a bit more attention with less competition on those days. 2. Audio/Podcasts – Last year, we launched our first podcast and have seen amazing results. In the anticipation of more opportunities to get access to iTunes (ala Apple CarPlay), we are in the process of launching a podcast network as part of our core content offerings. 3. More In-Person Events – A decade ago, we were under the impression that social media might lead to people less likely to travel to events. Actually, the opposite has happened. With more networking going on via the Internet, people are actually craving more in-person, face-to-face time. So over the past two years we’ve added an event in Asia Pacific, as well as five additional events in North America.

Joe Pulizzi
Content Marketing Institute

We’ve not really changed much at all with regard to our content during the course of the last couple of years. Since launching our corporate blog, we’ve always focused on just one thing: our audience. We try to write content for the blog that is informative, educational and which can help marketers (our audience) do what they do more efficiently, effectively and with fewer headaches. We try to stay on top of trends, tools, and must-know, must-consider things as marketers develop and execute their integrated marketing strategies. Much like you, we understand that relationships today are built with information, and by giving it away (information), people come to trust and rely on us as a go-to source for whatever it is they need. I use just one phrase as a barometer (and I use this when I’m on the road speaking as well): How do you know if you’re doing it right? Ask yourself just one questions: Is it good for people. If so, then you’re doing it right. I believe that applies to every facet of your content marketing and lead gen initiatives: website, landing page campaigns, blog, social, email, and is applicable both online and off.

Shelly Kramer
V3 Integrated Marketing

“At Social Media Examiner our approach to content has not fundamentally changed in the last five years with two exceptions. We still publish 1000+ word articles that are extensively edited by a team of at least 6 editors. However, the first major change is the use of images. We custom design Facebook open graph and Twitter card images for our high profile articles to help them appear better in social. This means we have a designer create a nice image with words that will compel more clicks and shares. Secondly, we have upped the frequency of our original content from six times a week to ten. This means publishing two articles per day on most days.”

Mike Stelzner
Social Media Examiner

The last two years have been a time when we’ve experimented a fair bit with our content on numerous fronts including: 1. we’ve seen our longer form content do very well so have experimented with what we internally refer to as ‘mega-posts’ that are more comprehensive guides to larger topics. These posts are generally 2000+ words (and have gone as high as over 5000 words). While this isn’t what we publish every day we’ve tried to throw them into the mix ever few weeks and have been rewarded with great sharing, traffic and comments. 2. I’ve experimented increasingly with repurposing posts in different mediums. This has included using content previously published on the blog as slideshares and republishing older posts on LinkedIn and Google+ (usually with updates). I’ve also done it around the other way by publishing content that was still in a ‘first draft’ format to LinkedIn to get reader reactions before publishing it to the blog. 3. On ProBlogger we’ve also slowed our frequency down slightly and have been experimenting with ‘themed weeks’ where we tackle a larger topic over a series of posts over 5-6 days. This means we’ve been able to dig deeper into topics and build momentum. These theme weeks have been very well received. 4. The other major change for me has been the way I’m sharing content. I’ve put a huge effort into Facebook (on Digital Photography School) where we’ve gone from auto-posing new posts to 5-6 manual updates every day. The results of this have been amazing for us – while others are seeing reduced results with Facebook we’ve seen significant improvements in our organic reach, engagement and traffic driven from Facebook.

Darren Rowse
ProBlogger

I’ve become even more convinced of the power of brevity.

Dan Pink
To Sell Is Human

I just made a change… this week! After 5+ years of writing two posts a week, I’m now publishing content every day. It wasn’t so much that I thought “more is better” — the old way was good for a while, too. But then it became stale and I felt like I wasn’t challenging myself. Just as important, I felt like I wasn’t serving my readers well. The new blog has a lot of more frequent, shorter content, as well as a new series of Reader Stories and Profiles to highlight some of the great people in the community. So far, I’m very happy with the change and I think the readers are too.

Chris Guillebeau
The Art of Non-Conformity

I tend to go to longer content in social media and shorter content in blogs and direct response. I’m not sure why other than I use stories in social media and those tend to go longer. I don’t know that I’m using content for just education about ‘how to’ — but education about who I am and how I serve, how I live and how I see the world.

Carrie Wilkerson
Barefoot Executive

I stopped sending newsletters monthly that were long and had multiple subjects to it. I found that they were not getting read. Now I send brief single subject emails weekly with very enticing titles to get open, click thrus and shares. This has resulted in much better open rates and easier content generation.

Barry Moltz
barrymoltz.com

More Long Form Content We are gravitating away from shorter more informal “blog” posts and are investing much more in creating lengthier, more authoritative articles. There’s a glut of blog content of the short style, and while it may be shared on social media widely, it also tends to have a short shelf life. Longer, more in-depth pieces on evergreen topics tend to deliver a better ROI on the investment (time or money) in an article. In other words, if you’re going to write an article, you might as well make the extra effort to make it rich in detail and fantastic! It’s not unusual for Small Business Trends to publish pieces I’ve personally written or we’ve commissioned from others, at 1,500 – 2,000 words each, several times per week. (We publish around 50 articles per week, since we are an online magazine.) We don’t have a steady diet of long pieces, but we do a greater percentage of them today than two years ago. Here is why we do more long-form content. We find that people AND search engines tend to favor well-written, in-depth pieces. For instance, Google recognizes Schema markup for in-depth articles. But even if you don’t know what Schema markup is or don’t want to bother with it, you may just find that longer content helps your site’s engagement because (a) people tend to spend more time on your site reading longer pieces stuffed with useful information; and (b) they are more likely to explore the rest of your site, not just consume a short snack and immediately go away. Also, a page with a lot of quality content on a specific topic tends to naturally rank well in search because of the sheer quantity of information for the search engine spiders. That means more people may find your article — and your site — via search. And perhaps hire you or buy from you. However, everybody has their own style, and every site is different. There’s no one-size-fits-all. I recommend that people experiment. See if long-form content works for you.

Anita Campbell
CEO and Publisher
Small Business Trends

My approach is much different now than in years past. When I first started out with my blog in 2006, I posted ten to twelve times per week, then a few years later, I brought on contributors in order to scale the blog, while I focused on writing for business media outlets. Now, I rarely publish on social networks and only write articles six times each year when I have new research I want to push out to the marketplace. Part of this is because I believe the marketplace is changing and part of this is because I burned out from posting so much. I have so much going on now that I would rather focus my content production when I need to get something out there rather than random articles.

Dan Schawbel
Author of Promote Yourself

The biggest change for me has been that there are more outlets to share my content on. Specifically I think of Instagram. In the past the only way to share what I was seeing out in the world was in a blog post. Flickr has always been around as someplace to upload photos, but that is where it ended. There was no real community. But, using Instagram I can take a photo, tag the location and then write as little or much as I want and share it out to all other channels. I love having that flexibility and functionality right in my pocket anywhere in the world. I no longer have to take out my laptop to create and share.

C.C. Chapman

“Social media has changed the way I approach the content I create. Twitter, Facebook, et al have reduced our attention spans and at the same time increased the amount of “noise” we have to wade through, in order to get to the “signal.” As a result, I am creating more visuals and making any written content more succinct. I’m using images to gain attention, graphics to convey my message, and even my new book, Repped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation, is just 194 pages, spread out over 30+ concise chapters. In short, less truly is more.”

Andy Beal
CEO of Trackur

I’ve changed it all. I write once a week or so for chrisbrogan.com, instead of once or twice a day. Instead, I write my newsletter once a week, and write for private communities multiple times a day. I’m sharing a peek from outside, but only the faithful gets the payload.

Chris Brogan
Publisher of Owner Magazine

So, if you’ve made it to this point why not share thoughts on how your content marketing is evolving!

Who Should You Hire?

Marketing podcast with Dan Schawbel

When it comes to hiring business owners want to find people with the skills they need to do the job.

In that regard there are many positions where a set of predetermined skills are generally accepted as the “natural fit.”

Hiring

photo credit: reutC via photopin cc

If you need a technical position filled you look for someone with coding or math. If you need a sales person you look for that outgoing type and so on.

While an aptitude for the job is an obvious consideration, there are so many other harder to find skills that are perhaps more important.

I had a coworker years ago that was painfully shy, very quite and almost non existent in many discussions. But then, towards the end of a long, drawn out meeting she would say something and the entire room would change.

She would usually start off with, “I don’t know, but seems like we should just . . . ” More times than not, it was the profound solution to what we had all been wrestling with.

On the surface this individual seemed to lack some of the skills many people look for, but what she possessed was an incredible knack of leadership and strategic thinking. These are skills that are hard to teach and even harder to find.

These, what some might call soft skills, are what makes an employee valuable to your organization and they are the skills you need to look for in those you hire.

In Re-Imagine, Tom Peters famously coined the term “hire freaks” to highlight the notion of finding people with the kind of innate skills that bring much more to a situation than the traditional profile of, say, a salesperson or customer service person.

My coworker certainly fit the notion of freak – she was socially awkward, seemingly misplaced and completely full of the kind of insight sorely lacking in most organizations.

You need leaders, people who can make the right decisions on their own, people who can communicate complex ideas in simple ways and people who can build relationships.

For this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast I visited with Dan Schawbel, author of Promote Yourself, The New Rules For Career Success. Dan has made a name for himself helping his generation (Gen Y) understand how to get ahead in their careers.

At the same time he’s established himself as an expert on the generation for those business leaders seeking to understand how to work with and retain workers under 30. In Promote Yourself, he spends a great deal of time outlining the virtues of soft skills for those who want to get noticed and promoted.

Obviously the book is written for the person looking to boost their career, but employers would be wise to read it for the lessons it contains in hiring people with the right stuff.

Non-traditional behavior of freaks

Want to hire someone with the skills needed to add value in today’s business world. Look for individuals who:

  • Come with customer service backgrounds and a demonstrated desire to create better customer experiences
  • Come with social media strategy backgrounds and get how to engage customers with content
  • Come with an analytics background and revel in the role of playing mad scientist with the reams of data every business can produce and uncover

You must look for, test for and screen for these natural behaviors in the quest to find your best salespeople, service people and project people no matter if you are hiring consultants or plumbers.

8 Build Your Brand So People Will Refer You

This post is a special Make a Referral Week guest post featuring education on the subject of referrals and word of mouth marketing and making 1000 referrals to 1000 small businesses – check it out at Make a Referral Week 2010

As part of John Jantsch’s Referral Week, I’d like to focus on personal branding, as a way to become someone that people want to refer to others. I agree with John that the best way to grow a business is to get referrals because of how powerful word-of-mouth is. These days, it’s become more and more obvious that referrals can help you substantially build your brand presence, your web properties and your cash flow. The reason is because of the viral nature of the web, and how one video review of your service can morph into seven blog posts, six hundred tweets and a front page story on BusinessWeek.com within twenty-four hours. Five years ago, this line of events was impossible, but today it happens all of the time.

Here are some ways to become a brand that people want to refer:

Be interesting: People, who are interested in you, as a person, are more inclined to connect with you, do business with you and refer you to their own personal network. Your personal brand is not only defined by your job or company, but also by the activities you participate outside of the office and your hobbies. It might be hard to connect with someone on a professional level, but you might be able to bridge the relationship by talking about your golf game or the last season of Lost.

Be valuable: There’s no question that experts are judged based on hard and soft results. It’s not just being valuable though, because all of your competitors can do that. You need to be unique and offer something your competitors don’t and compete on prestige and quality, rather than price. Online, if you’re seen as a valuable resource, the press will call on you, customers will be to work with you, and when all is said and done, and people will refer you to even their third degree network.

Be generous: It’s rare that people share others products and services before they receive a sample for free. “Free” builds trust, authority and generates attention. If you want to be referred by others, then you’re going to have to give before you receive. The more generous you are with your network, by providing them with resources, helpful links, reports and advice, the more you will get back in return.

Be enabled: How are people going to refer you to their network, unless you enable them to do so. By providing your email address on your web page and by allowing people to share your content through Facebook, Digg, Twitter, Google Buzz and others, people can find you. If you don’t enable your network and empower them to refer you, without much effort, then you won’t get as many referrals.

Be networking: The more people you meet, the larger network you have and thus, the more people that can refer you to others. Meeting people is quite easy now due to the connectivity of the internet. Try and locate people that you’re actually interested in and can benefit from your services, instead of someone random you see on Twitter.

Dan Schawbel is the bestselling author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, an award winning blogger at Personal Branding Blog, the publisher of Personal Branding Magazine, a national speaker and consultant on branding and a BusinessWeek columnist. He’s been called a “Personal Branding Guru” by The New York Times and has been featured in over 150 media outlets.

9 Personal brand

Thoughts on Personal Branding

Marketing podcast with Dan Schawbel (Click to listen, right click and Save As to download – subscribe now via iTunes

Dan Schawbel has turned himself into the leading voice on personal branding for Gen-Y. Want to know how a guy, while at the time still in college, took on and seemingly won such an important marketing niche? (Think there aren’t lots of brands that want to own some 20 something mind share?) He did it with, duh, personal branding, and a ton of persistence and willingness to work his tail off. The guy gets what is to me the supreme compliment a marketer can receive – “I see him everywhere.” But, it’s not just being there, it’s being there on message, on brand, day in and day out. Anyone wanting to understand how to build a brand, personal or otherwise, could learn a thing of two from Dan.

For this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, Dan joins me to talk about Personal Branding and his very successful book – Me 2.0.

In this podcast we cover:

  • What personal branding is
  • Important elements for personal branding
  • Ways to differentiate yourself
  • Who needs Personal Branding
  • If your business brand can be too personal?
  • Social media and personal branding
  • Steps to implement personal branding

I’ve expressed some of my own opinions about personal brand vs. business brand in the past, (business isn’t personal) and while I fall towards more of the business brand as a long term entrepreneurial play, there is no question that you can more easily achieve many of your personal and professional objectives by focusing on building a strong personal brand.