This is Episode 8 of the Social Pros Podcast : Real People Doing Real Work in Social Media. This episode features Ian Greenleigh, the Manager of Content and Social Strategy for Bazaarvoice. Read on for insights from Ian,, and Eric’s Social Media Stat of the Week (this week: an UNstat!).
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Social Pros Transcript For Your Reading Enjoyment
Eric: Not too much new. I’m very excited about episode number eight.
Jay: We are back, virtually, on the Social Pros podcast after our live edition last week at soggy South by Southwest.
Thanks as always to our sponsors on Social Pros, Eric’s company Argyle Social, who we use for all of our social media stuff, and Infusionsoft, who we use for all of our email marketing shenanigans, and Jim Kukral from DigitalBookLaunch.com, who also sits it in on the Social Pros podcast from time to time.
I have my weekly rant on social media, my thought of the week, Eric, and it is all about this Kony 2012 video. You saw the video? You saw the crazy, fastest video of all time, the most viral thing ever invented?
Eric: I think I am one of the handful of people that have not seen the video. I know exactly what you’re talking about, though. It was on NPR on my way into Durham this morning.
Jay: Something north of 100 million views now, officially the most viral video ever. Here’s my problem. What everybody’s takeaway is going to be is, “I need to get me some of that viral video.” Everybody’s going to want to do a viral video now. Everybody’s going to want to try and replicate that formula, replicate that success. But here’s the thing, here’s what I will tell you. The video part of Kony 2012 is the least important part of its success.
The video is the container for the true genius of that program, which is all about these things. Number one, it has a story. It’s not just three lines and here we go. There’s a whole backstory. It’s a 30-minute video. It unfolds very slowly. There’s lots of depth to it. There’s character development, etc. There is a story.
The second piece is it’s very human. It’s very personal, not only amongst the narrator and the people involved, but obviously the victims of this injustice, etc. It makes you the star. The whole point of this video is you get involved, and on April 20th we’re going to shock the world.
It makes you, the participant, the star of the show, which far too few content programs attempt to do. It gives to get. If you give us the money, we’re going to give you this awesome kit full of bracelets and stickers and posters and all this kind of stuff.
It’s not just, “Hey, send us some money and you’ll feel good.” It’s, “Send us some money and we’ll give you back some other stuff.” There’s a give-to-get there.
And there are multiple calls to action. The problem that we have a lot in content marketing is that people say, “Okay, we did this thing and then we had a call to action.” Having some call to action is better than having no call to action, but having multiple calls to action is way, way better.
In this case, you can tweet people, as they ask you to do, which drove the virality of this video. You can tweet people, which is a relatively insignificant action. You can go to their website, which is perhaps a little bit more. You can give them money, which is perhaps a little bit more.
They give you several, almost a ladder of participation. That’s absolutely the right way to go. I’m concerned that everybody’s going to say video is what made this, and it’s not video. It’s the fact that it was an integrated program that struck a lot of the right psychological and behavioral chords wrapped up in a very, very well executed 30-minute video.
Eric: I don’t mean to quote Jay Baer to Jay Baer, but I believe you said something to the effect of, “Amazing content well-merchandized will work time and time again.” This sounds like a case study for great content that was really marketed well.
Jay: Yeah, it’s a really good video. But there are other videos that are just as good that nobody’s every heard of. Why? Because they aren’t merchandized as well. There are also things that are very well merchandized that you’ve never heard of because they don’t have the storytelling element. It requires both. When you get both, and it doesn’t happen very often, which is why I still have a job, when you get both it’s a one plus one equals three scenario.
Eric: There are two interesting things, and granted, I still haven’t seen the video. I should warn you that in business school I was the guy who was notorious for showing up to class having not read the case, but still dominating the conversation about the case.
Based on what you just said, what is very cool to hear is a non-profit that gets marketing. We work with a number of non- profits at Argyle, and some of them are really trying hard. Some of them are on the path to getting it, but a lot of small cause based organizations really have a tough time because they’re passionate about what they believe in and they’re passionate about the mission of their organization, but they just don’t have the marketing chops or marketing experience to bundle it all together.
To me, that’s so amazing to hear. It’s a small group of people, right?
Jay: No. It ain’t United Way. That’s for sure.
Eric: That’s really cool. You make a really good point about these calls to action. I can echo that based on our experience at Argyle. We have “download a white paper,” and we have “ask for 30 minutes on the phone,” and we have everything in between.
It is an amazing mechanism for getting people over the line in terms of just tiny bits of interaction ultimately leading up to, in our case, becoming a customer, and in this organization’s case, making a donation or soliciting a donation from someone else.
Jay: It’s the hubris of the content marketer to believe that, “Once we’ve consumed this amazing content, we’ll be ready to buy.” It’s always, “Contact a sales rep. Get a demo.” How about dinner and a movie first, right? There’s got to be something between white paper and checkbook. They don’t do that very well.
Eric: The guys as Eloqua, I’ve read some of their content and they do a really good job about that. They’re strategic, too. They talk about white papers at the top of the funnel and then buying guides and RFP guides a little further down the funnel. They’re thinking about content marketing in a buying process context.
Jay: They have an amazing slide share presentation, which we’ll embed in the podcast blog post, which I actually tweeted was one of the best content marketing presentations I’d ever seen. It’s all about that point, mapping content and lead generation to the buyer’s journey, which is really the right way to go.
Eric’s Social Media Stat of the Week: Facebook Insights
Eric: The social media stat of the week for today’s episode is actually not a single statistic. It is instead the swirling statistical data points that collectively make up what you and I and everyone else knows as Facebook Insights.
Over the past few months, Facebook has introduced new metrics, like people talking about us and engaged users and virality, which very few people still understand or are able to put into practice. Just recently, based on an article from Clickz.com and made known to us through our friends at PageLever, Facebook deprecated some pretty important metrics from their Insights API. Metrics like aggregate daily comments and likes per page and per post, and things like that. Facebook Insights, as it is, has improved a lot but it still has a long way to go.
I find that all of these changes are made all the more interesting because it’s happening around the same time that Facebook is making massive changes to its advertising platform. In a sense, it seems like Facebook is asking for more of your advertising budget with one hand, and on the other hand they’re simultaneously making it more complicated for you to measure the performance of your advertising budget.
Jay: So we have the social media lack of statistics of the week.
Eric: Exactly. I’d actually say it’s the overflow of statistics stat of the week.
Jay: Yeah. I’ll tell you, the thing about Facebook is that Facebook appears to believe that everybody in the world cares as much about Facebook as the employees of Facebook, and that is a dangerous game to play. I think that manifests itself most frequently in this nightmare of Facebook Insights, where they just willy-nilly changed the scoreboard that major global companies are using to justify time and expenditure, which I think is sort of silly.
Of course, it’s good business for the folks at PageLever. I’m an investor in that company, just duly noted. It’s great. I’m all for it. The more Facebook makes it impossible to figure out their own metrics, the more you need companies like PageLever to figure out those metrics for you. It’s all good for me, but it’s massively confusing. When you decide to come up with something like People Talking About This, which isn’t really one metric, it’s a ball of yarn, if the yarn was math.
That’s how they have it. It’s comments plus shares plus things that show up in that stream. It was much easier, I thought, when it said, “Here’s how many people clicked on this. Here’s how many people commented on this. Here’s how many people shared this.” That actually is a behavior that I can understand and identify.
Eric: If you want to make a compound metric, you can make your own compound metric.
Jay: Yeah, I have a calculator with a plus button. I can sort that out on my own.
Eric: Exactly. And it probably does division too.
Jay: Exactly. I don’t know. It is just another arrow in the quiver of Facebook craziness that we seem to document on a weekly basis here on Social Pros.
Eric: It’s the lack of the stat of the week that I think makes this a meaningful stat of the week.
Special Guest: Ian Greenleigh, Bazaarvoice
Jay: Absolutely. Let’s bring in our very special guest of the week, our friend Ian Greenleigh from Bazaarvoice. Ian is the Manager of Social Media Strategy and all things content. Ian, my friend, you’re in Austin, I believe, are you not? What’s going on?
(Editor’s Note: Ian is writing a great new book about influence called The Social Side Door, and is releasing weekly excerpts on the official website for the book)
Ian: Yes, both mentally and physically, I am in Austin.
Jay: Thank you for being a part of the Social Pros podcast. It was good to see you very briefly at South by Southwest. I know it’s always weird for you because you live there, and you’re like, “Dude, get out of my town. You’re bugging me.”
Ian: No, I’m from California originally. Unless I’m a self-hating Californian, I don’t think that way.
No, I love to see all the friendly faces and bringing money into our beautiful city. It’s not even really related to South By, but I just love showing people what Austin has to offer, especially people that have never been here before. It’s a lot of fun.
Jay: Very cool. Tell the folks who are listening or reading about Bazaarvoice and the kind of work that you do. I know your new mantra is taking social data and turning it into action. Explain that to folks.
Ian: Sure. We’re asking our clients to move beyond listening. We think it’s really great to listen to your customers. Of course, who wouldn’t recommend that?
Where social data really becomes valuable, like any other data, is when you act on it. To bridge those two things is pretty difficult for a lot of companies. So we help companies collect and analyze, but then figure out how to act on that data. Then, they can really do better by their customers, learn more about them, make better products, all sorts of things with it.
Eric: What kind of customers would use your Bazaarvoice platform, which collects reviews and customer stories and things of that nature?
Ian: It runs the gamut. We work with a lot of Fortune 500 companies, Inc 500 companies, manufacturers; the list goes on and on. Any company that has a need to learn more about their customers or interact with those customers in a meaningful way would want to approach us. Likely, we’re already talking to them, actually. We’ve grown quite a bit in the last few years, so that’s probably the case.
Jay: You have a lot of different elements to your offering for a lot of different circumstances. Because you have a fairly broad set of use cases that you can handle for people, how does that change the way you do social media and content marketing?
Ian: Are you asking how I personally do it for Bazaarvoice?
Jay: Yeah. You have so many things. The company does a lot of stuff. Do you say, “Okay, we need a content plan and sort of a social media editorial calendar for reviews,” versus the other things that you do? Or do you say, “Hey, let’s talk about Bazaarvoice and we’ll let the product attributes sort themselves out?”
Ian: Actually, it’s more the former. I will say that I’ve been a big advocate of not talking about yourself too much. In fact, I believe I wrote a guest post for your blog on that very subject.
Jay: Never heard of it
Ian: I think effective content strategy is talking about yourself without making it so apparent and sales-y that people just tune out. The way to do that is by talking about the value that you bring to the space and for customers. For instance, if we really wanted to share some of the success we’ve been having, we would definitely talk about a customer that was a part of that success and do something like a case study.
Really, I think people count on us to be some of the leaders in social and let them know what we’re thinking about certain trends in the space. Our blog, which is the central hub of our social media strategy, is really where we talk about those trends. We help identify some of the things that our clients and prospects, and really anyone, should be looking at.
It’s not just all about us. In fact, although we’ll talk about reviews and stories and our other offerings, we usually just do that from a data perspective. We’ve got so many data points. Releasing at the end of this month we actually have a Conversation Index, which is our quarterly report. I believe it’s something like 6 million data points we’re looking at, flowing through our system. To not use that data and share it with the world, the insights we can get, would be a tremendous waste. We’re doing that, and it’s really becoming the central part of our content strategy.
Jay: It’s really commendable. I was looking at your blog. I look at it on occasion, anyway, but I went through the archives a little bit this week in preparation for the show today. It was really amazing to me how little you do talk about the company in the blog posts. It really is the definition of that thought leadership, humanization blog, where you’re talking about what’s going on out there. If people understand eventually that that leads them to your door, fantastic, but there’s not a lot of, “Use this discount code to buy Bazaarvoice,” kind of shenanigans going on, which is refreshing.
Ian: It’s pretty foreign to a lot of people, internally and externally. They’re equally surprised, but usually delighted by that.
What I like to say about it is if it worked to talk about ourselves all day, then I would do it in a heartbeat. Everyone loves talking about themselves. It doesn’t work. You can look at any major blog’s analysis of their Google Analytics data or whatever, and whenever you start getting sales-y, that’s when people tune out. You can look at the time on site, for instance, for those posts, and people don’t care. If they cared, I’d do it. It’s as simple as that.
Eric: Kudos to you, Ian, for saying that.
Jay: Yeah, that’s nice honesty.
Eric: Tell us a little bit about your team.
Ian: Sure. I’m on the team that does PR, internal communications and external communications. It sits within marketing. I report to Lisa Pearson who’s VP of Brand and Communications. Right now it’s a four-person team. Our marketing team, I believe, is about 60 people. It’s growing tremendously at a breakneck speed since I arrived in March of 2010. We’re getting some of the best in class talent and we’re definitely making some waves which, I believe, is why we’re talking right now.
Jay: Because you’re reporting into the marketing team or the marketing side of the house, do you measure the social and content contribution to lead flow? Is that ultimately how your results are evaluated, or do you look at customer retention or customer cross-sell/up-sell? How do they determine whether Ian’s doing a good job?
Ian: We’re going to look at the extent to which social is affecting all sorts of things. It’s not all about leads all the time, but we certainly do look at that. I’m more interested in awareness, actually. Because we’re a white label company and a B2B company, awareness is tough sometimes. Everyone listening to this has used our products, whether they know it or not, but we don’t have our logos on our products. They’re on third-party websites.
What ends up happening is it’s one of those where you’ve used our products but you don’t even know it. That’s really where thought leadership comes in. We really want messages to spread far and wide. Recently, actually, we’ve been experimenting with opening up our content. You mentioned Eloqua at the beginning of the call. They’re one of the pioneers in doing this. I studied them pretty closely on that, how much of the content they open up. By that, I mean not doing a lead gate so so that you capture all information.
It’s been really great for us because we’re spreading awareness further. It doesn’t necessarily matter that someone is a CMO or Fortune 500 exec that’s reading our blog. That’s an incredible thing. If anyone in their decision-making ecosystem is reading it and spreading it, we count that as a win. So awareness metrics are my focus right now personally, and my team’s focus.
Jay: Is that judged by surveys or social mentions, or how do you gauge that awareness level?
Ian: We’re going to look at general engagement data. You mentioned Facebook metrics at the beginning of the call. We’re taking in things like that, actual interactions. The problem with a lot of unstructured social data is that there are a lot of non-human entities out there. For instance, whenever we release a press release, or any company, you’ll see a bunch of tweets that are automatically spitting out that press release because it’s going into some RSS feed.
We really are looking for the human element in all of our data. That’s difficult to do with some of the Twitter, Facebook data a lot. But inasmuch as we can do that, if more people are talking about what we do, and of course it’s shedding a positive light on us, metrics that go into that, it doesn’t really matter. As long as you’re determining that aspect of it, you’re determining awareness.
Of course, we do want to quantify the extent to which thought leadership and social is contributing to the funnel. That’s actually a ‘set it and forget it’ thing. Once you set it up, whatever vendor you’re working with you can really get some good data, but it’s just a very small part of the picture if you’re trying to drive awareness and consideration.
Jay: Tell us a little bit more about that conversation index. I know that’s a big, central content marketing thing that you do on a quarterly basis, I believe. You don’t lead gate that, right? You just let anybody who wants that data have it. Is that correct?
Ian: Yeah. This was the testing ground of that major shift, I believe, the first one we released. We’re about to release our third one. The first one we released was gated. What we noticed on the second one, when we ungated it, is that compared to the first one, we actually got more leads in general during that period. It’s very hard to directly quantify this sometimes with open content.
I think the reason is that the message and the data were just spreading farther and wider. When you ask someone to tweet something, or you’ve even got that Twitter button on a page, I believe, and I should probably look into this from a data perspective, but I believe they’re a lot more likely to tweet it if that content is open and accessible to all the people that follow them.
If you have a “tweet this” button on a gated page, what value is that person really offering to their community by tweeting it? Very little. I think the easier you make it for information to spread far and wide, the better in most cases. I think there are some things that are very tactical, product- focused for instance, that doesn’t really add a lot of value to have people look at that aren’t current customers. That’s something we would want to know who’s looking at it, so we can follow up with them, make sure they understood it and things like that.
I don’t think it’s ever a black-and-white thing. It’s not really a dichotomy; either do it or don’t. Most companies should probably land somewhere in the middle and determine that for themselves, depending on their priorities. Right now, we’re really working on awareness. That’s something you just have to do if that’s what you’re trying to do.
Eric: Yeah. By definition, the priority that you described earlier about driving consideration and awareness, you absolutely should not gate your content. It’s really cool to see the alignment.
Jay: Joe Chernov from Eloqua said to me when I interviewed him for a Webinar I did once, he said the lead form is the enemy of spread, and he’s exactly right. By definition, you kill your virality when you require people to provide their own personal information to digest what it is you have to say. That doesn’t mean that isn’t a good approach. It can be. But I think, as Eric articulated, given the goals that you’ve stated it makes perfect sense for what you’re doing.
Jay: You mentioned to me, Ian, that you, as part of this notion of getting the word out there about Bazaarvoice, that you engage in some influencer outreach type programs. Can you talk a little bit about that and how that works, and how you find those people and what you want them to do on your behalf?
Ian: Sure. Influencer outreach is this term that’s bandied about, so I don’t even really like to use it, but it has to have some label if we’re going to talk about it.
I really think that the more you operationalize it and systematize influence or outreach, the less effective it’s going to be. People don’t usually expect me to say that. I will make it a part of what we do for every campaign, but I’m not going to reach out to the same people. I don’t have a list of people I reach out to as if I was NPR and I had a top 100 list.
The reason being is that I think social in general, and especially influencer relations management, is all about genuine relationships. That’s my approach to it. If I know, Jay, that you are particularly interested in learnings from the Conversation Index, then sure, I’m going to reach out to you, because you’ve expressed that before or you’ve written about it before.
If I happen to know that it’s just not a fit, I’m not going to do this spray and pray mentality that a lot of companies do with everything, including emails. I’m not one of these people that really try to micromanage the data around influence or management. I’m not looking at Klout scores. I’m looking at the people that can really speak about the data we’re putting out there in a way that I think is going to drive awareness.
It all relates back to what your goals are at the time. Like I said earlier a few times, awareness is really what I’m looking for right now. If I think that you can generate awareness for us on a particular subject, and if I think you’re going to be interested in talking about it, then I’m going to reach out to you. It’s not something that’s a static list. It’s not something that I’m going to automate, ever, because people are hip to that. They will smell it, and it’s just like PR in that regard, which is becoming less and less effective if you use only traditional automation means.
Eric: I had a conversation with Jim Tobin, who runs Ignite Social Media, about this exact topic. He effectively described what you just described, that it is a one at a time, slow, slow process to build relationships with influencers.
Ian: Exactly. I was reading Jay’s blog before I worked here and in a sense that was, whether you knew about me or not, I don’t think you did before I worked here, I was making the effort to build a relationship just by getting to know people that I was interested in learning more about and engaging with. I think that some of the smaller things that you can do mean a lot. If you talk to, I’m sure they exist, some influencer relations guru, which I’m sure if you type it in, do a bio search of Twitter you’d find 8 million of them, they might not tell you that. This all comes with practical experience. It’s the small things.
If I was an influencer, and I knew that someone had never even visited my blog, and they’d never left a comment, and they’d never approached me about anything else or given me information that I found a value in, and they approached me out of the blue, unless it was a gold mine of information or super-exclusive for some reason, I probably wouldn’t care. I think that’s the mentality that most influencers, who are busy people that have a lot of input and a lot of people approaching them, have to bring to the table. They have to establish their own filters. Building those relationships, the name in the “From” field, I like to say, is just as important as the content of the email.
Jay: As somebody who gets approached a fair amount, I can tell you it’s vastly more important. Vastly.
Ian: Elaborate on that. I’d like to hear what you think about that.
Jay: A lot of times those approaches literally come in through some sort of inbox, whether it’s email or Twitter or sometimes Facebook or LinkedIn. If you don’t recognize the source, the reality is many times it doesn’t get opened at all. It’s just like politics. I was in politics long before I was in marketing. The reason people donate to political campaigns is not to necessarily influence policy, but it’s to at least get into the metaphorical inbox. It’s the same thing with social media. It’s the same thing with public relations. It’s all about that personal relationship first, and then if you have something to say, great. The fastest way to burn those relationships is to use personal familiarity and then try to push crap content or a crap opportunity because then it’s like, “I thought Ian was an honest broker, but now he’s asking me to write about something that is not really that fantastic.”
The next time you get something from that person, you start to look at it through a different lens or through a different prism. As long as you are not going to that well too many times, as you mentioned, it’s all about the personal relationship. 100%, for me at least.
Ian: Exactly. I would say another element besides relationships, and it’s very much related, is selectivity, just making sure that you’re approaching the right people for things. It’s interesting, the overlap between PR and this. I haven’t worked in PR, but as I mentioned, people who do work in PR are on my team. I’ve just had a crash course on it in the last two years. Some of these things have always worked. It has always been about relationships. You can’t cold call reporters, for instance, unless you have a bombshell. It’s about the relationships you build before that call that make them want to pick up the phone. The same is true of social media. It’s just different tools that we’re using today.
Ian: Yeah, definitely.
Jay: Next edition. I think that’ll do it for this episode of Social Pros. Ian, you were fantastic. Thanks very much.
Ian: Thanks for having me.
We will be back next week with more fun. See you then.