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How to Use Content to Build Your Online Influence

Authors: Jay Baer John Hall
Posted Under: Social Pros Podcast
Content Marketing Awards - 2022 Winner Badge - Best Podcast
Hosted By
Jay Baer

Daniel Lemin

Convince & Convert
About Social Pros Podcast:

Social Pros is one of the longest-running marketing podcasts in existence (10 YEARS and counting), and was recently recognized as the #1 Audio/Podcast Series by the Content Marketing Awards.

Our purpose? Making sure that we speak to real people doing real work in social media.

Listeners get inside stories and behind-the-scenes secrets about how teams at companies like Google, Reddit, Glossier, Zillow, Lyft, Marvel, and dozens more, staff, operate, and measure their social media programs.  With 500+ episodes, the Social Pros Podcast brings the humanity of social media to the forefront, while providing incredibly useful marketing strategies that listeners can immediately implement.

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To inquire about becoming a guest, please email our Executive Producer, Leanna Pham, at

Content Marketing Award 2022 Winner

Apple Podcast Reviews:

The Social Pros podcast has quickly become a favorite in my feed! I'm consistently impressed by the engaging conversations, insightful content, and actionable ideas. I truly learn something every time I listen!

@Arlie K

This is absolutely an awesome listen for anyone in communications or social media!!


This podcast has become one of my staple weekly podcasts for learning about marketing! Love the conversations that they have and it's always enjoyable and educational!


Love the podcast - informative, in depth and spot on for any business size.


John Hall, Author and CEO of Influence & Co., joins the Social Pros Podcast to discuss how to create ambassadors and influence people through content and social.

Relationships MatterRelationships Matter.

Building an influencer or ambassador program has very little to do with your product.
Yes, it needs to be something that people like using and it should be relatively successful with your audience. But getting others to talk about and share your product is less about the product itself and more about relationships.
John understands that, on the surface, we are all in business to convert leads and close deals. However, our true business is the business of relationships.
Cultivating relationships to scale means focusing your content on gaining trust, consistent engagement, and stopping to recognize others. Sometimes it even means ditching profits to help a customer in need. Acts of kindness through recognition or helping a potential client “just because” is what will move your brand from their neutral short-term memory to positive long-term memory. That is what will keep and grow your customer base and build your influence to scale.
At the end of the day, for your brand to be influential it needs to create content that makes it likable, relatable, and top of mind.

In This Episode

  • Why gaining trust means giving good information that improves lives
  • How consistent engagement leads to top-of-mind placement and being first in line
  • Why scaling influence means taking a moment to recognize others that have helped you
  • How ditching profits in a moment of vulnerability leads to a positive spot in long-term memory


Quotes From This Episode

“Future generations that are coming up, there’s this issue of trust. They don’t trust something until they feel a lot more comfortable with it and then they’re able to be sold to a lot easier then.” —@johnhall
“Success in business has a lot of things that factor in, it’s not just hard work, it’s not just your idea, it’s also timing. It’s also certain things happen at a certain time, in addition to certain people you deal with at the right time and the right moment.” —@johnhall
“If you add more value for your customers than anybody else, you’re going to be successful.” —@johnhall
If you're on someone's mind at the right time, you're going to create opportunity. Click To Tweet
“There are all these moments that happen there where you can identify how to help someone, or at least recognize people who are being helpful to you.” —@johnhall
“Business is really never just about business. It’s about the relationships that you have.” —@adamcb
You should be focused on building relationships, no matter what business you're in. Click To Tweet
“That was a moment of vulnerability where I’m absolutely going to remember and they went from my short-term to long-term memory as a trusted person that was there for me.” —@johnhall
“Products are going to change, pricing is going to change, industries are going to change, but if people trust and like your brand, they’re going to go with you.” —@johnhall
“We’re always going to need to engage people, relationships are always going to matter.” —@johnhall
“If you have any form of information that is valuable to another person or an audience and you’re willing to share that to them to help them or their company be better, that’s expertise.” —@johnhall
“There’s one thing that influencers and brand ambassadors love more than money, and that’s influence.” —@johnhall
“Ambassador programs are extremely valuable because people are big on trust and if they trust that ambassador and they can connect with the ambassador, then that passes trust onto your product.” —@johnhall


See you next week!


Jay: Welcome everybody to Social Pros, the podcast for real people doing real work in social media IM. As always, Jay Baer from Convince and Convert, joined per usual by my special Texas friend. He is the Executive Strategist of Salesforce Marketing Cloud from the great city of Austin, Texas. Please put your hands together, unless you’re driving, for the one, the only, Mr. Adam Brown.
Adam: That’s right. Keep your hands at 10 and 2, if you are driving. And if you’re commuting, good job, kudos to you for helping the environment. Jay, how are you today?
Jay: I’m pretty good. As we mentioned pre-show, my daughter officially graduated from high school this weekend, which is a big milestone for her mother and myself. First one headed out of the house, so yeah, kind of a wistful, interesting, exhausting experience. So yeah now, let’s go. I feel pretty good about myself.
Adam: Congratulations on that. You have one more, right?
Jay: Yes, indeed. One more to come in a couple years. We’ll be back talking about that for Social Pros 2019.
Adam: That’s right, we’ll be talking about empty nest in a social world in 2019.
Jay: Yeah, we’ll be doing the show from a beach in the Bahamas.
Adam: That’s right.
Jay: Empty nest. Yeah, we need to get some guests on the show who run a resort in the Caribbean. If anybody out there listening runs a resort in the Caribbean, we’d love to have you on the show. Please let us know.
Adam: Yeah, I’m a few years behind you, Jay, so I’ll probably be doing the show while you drink adult beverages involving tequila on a beach somewhere.
Jay: I’ll give you all the tips. You know who’s gonna be on a beach someday drinking tequila is our guest on the program today, an extremely smart and very successful gentleman who I have had the pleasure to know for quite some time. He is a giver. And now he’s giving in a new format. He is the author of the new book Top of Mind, use content to unleash your influence and engage those who matter to you. It is John Hall, who’s the co-founder and CEO of Influence and Co. My man, welcome to Social Pros.
John: Hey, thanks for having me. I mean, how did you know I wasn’t on a beach drinking tequila right now?
Jay: Well, because I know you’re actually out there trying to promote a book, which, since I’ve done that five times, it’s not really … It’s a funny story though. When I published Youtility, which is, I don’t know, three or four years ago, I made the colossal mistake, and I tell all my author friends to avoid this, I went on vacation two days after the book launched and that was not a very relaxing vacation, I can tell you that. Don’t make that mistake in the future, ladies and gentlemen out there.
John, tell us a little bit about, I know Influence and Co. well, I’m actually a customer of Influence and Co. They help me put together guest articles for publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Fortune, and and stuff like that. Fantastic company, really well-managed by John and his team. But can you kind of describe how it works for folks out there who may not be as familiar?
John: Yeah, I mean, we’re about a five year old company and it was started on this premise of a, well Kelsey, my co-founder, Brit and I, we got together and we knew that the industry, not just the market industry, but the communication industry in general was going toward this need for trust and authentic content. Something that’s more educational, because there was this kind of age that I grew up on, which I call me marketing or me sales, where it’s all about how I can sell you. Or even I remember selling just bull crap products door-to-door.
Jay: Oh man, what’d you sell door-to-door?
John: Sausage, popcorn, magazines, oh man, I sold everything.
Jay: Those are all things that I love though. That’s not bull crap products. Sausage, popcorn and magazines, you have to come to my house. Come on by.
John: You wouldn’t love if I came to your house and was like, hey Jay there’s $15 popcorn that I’ve got, that you got to buy. You might be like oh, John, I love you buddy, but we’re going to hold up and just wait to the store.
Jay: That’s a lot for popcorn, but if you had $15 sausage you probably barking up the wrong tree. The right tree, in that case.
John: That is true. But, I mean I guess you could say the quality wasn’t there and it was all about sales and it was all about how much I could sell rather than the customer. And that’s where I think that in this last, and I think it’s there’s a blend between now there’s so much content out there to educate people, so that people know that there’s information out there. So they need that a lot of times to make a decision or to feel more connected to a brand. And also I think future generations that are coming up, there’s this issue of trust, that they don’t trust something until they feel a lot more comfortable with it and then they’re able to be sold to a lot easier then.
And so, we were looking at things like that and one of the challenges that Kelsey and myself had as young entrepreneurs is that we said that we’d go into a room and there’d be a trust barrier, that it’d be tough to go over just because of our age. And I was doing tax returns where the average age was double my age. And so we said okay, well what’s the best way that companies and people like us can build trust with audiences? And we truly said the number one way is to educate, is to truly get them good information, so that they trust you from an aspect of you’ve made their life better because you gave them information, you helped advise them.
And so, when we looked at the most trusted people out there, they’re coaches, they’re advisors, they’re parents, they’re people that helped educate you. So we became obsessed with this idea behind how companies can educate audiences coming from the key employees. So like you said is that, you’re a smart guy, you have a lot of experiences, a lot of great things about you, not just in knowledge, but also anecdotes and fun things that kind of come from that brain of yours.
And so we love working with people and companies like that. Whether they’re an individual that’s a 10 person company, or it’s a company as big as we’ve worked AIG and American Airlines, some of the largest ones out there. So, the idea is extracting knowledge from those key employees managing it, putting it in a place that’s centralized that the company can use and then distributing them all the places where people are reading content. So, we have a lot of data and information on what content’s engaging to people and third party publications and blogs in places where people can consume content.
So, yeah, that’s kind of the quick, two or three minute story that we went through and now we’re one of the largest creators and distributors of expert content in media right now. So, it puts us in a situation where we get to deal with a lot of smart people and we get to help educate a lot. So it’s a pretty happy job for me.
Jay: Do you think that if you started the company today, instead of five years ago, it would be easier or harder to break through?
John: Harder, absolutely. Oh my gosh, yeah, completely harder. I don’t know if I would start it right now.
Jay: Interesting. Is it because there is so much more competition out there and so many more people creating content?
John: Yeah, in ways, but honestly, one of the reasons why, people like to give success to okay well I did this or I did this and I was amazing in this or my team was amazing. I would agree that I do have an amazing team, but one of the biggest factors was the timing of why we grew so fast and why we were so successful, because five years ago was a perfect time where publications and media were shifting. And there was places like LinkedIn, was developing their contributor and influencer program, which we were able to help with at that time. Which was great for credibility, great for data and learning at that time.
In addition to Forbes’ expanding their contributor platform, there was other ones that we’re looking all at once as what are we doing for editorial strategy and we were able to come in and be so trusted at the right time to these editors. In addition, there were so many companies that were really really struggling, and there wasn’t really any resource out there that had a very systemized process, and had the resources that we put towards this one specialty. And so because of that, it singled us out as this leader in the space of thought leadership and creating content from key employees.
Now, if right now we did that, there’s enough people and larger companies that are kind of doing it, where we wouldn’t be able to be singled out as much. But, now we’ve built up a brand where we’re known for that. And so I’m just pretty honest with people and I go guys, success in business has a lot of things that factor in, it’s not just hard work, it’s not just your idea, it’s also timing, it’s also certain things happen at a certain time, in addition to certain people you deal with at the right time and the right moment.
So I would say that we got lucky on time and fortunately we had some really good team members that helped us get there. So yeah, I don’t know if I would start it now, but I’d definitely say we were there at the perfect time and now we have an advantage because we have more resources than anybody.
Jay: Sure, and known to be good at it. One of the things I think is fascinating, John, is that your company helps people, like me, take their ideas and their content and put it out there in a broader ecosystem. But yet, you just wrote a book, Top of Mind, that essentially tells everybody how to do just that. And not only do I think that’s really remarkable from sort of a Youtility standpoint, but I think it’s a testament to kind of your philosophy on business. Can you talk about that a little bit? Because I think it’s counterintuitive in some ways for you to say, okay let me write a book that shows you how to do exactly the same things that I charge money for.
John: Yeah, and I’m all about helping and educating and thought leadership. So I’d be full of crap if I didn’t do that, and give information out and try and educate. And this was something, honestly for me Jay, it’s been in my personal life one of the most beneficial things that I’ve learned this idea behind top of mind engagement. I used to be very very, I guess you could say, egotistical, cared about myself a lot, didn’t care about others as I should of and over time what I’ve learned is that the best way a lot of times to have success is to really really care about the people that matter most.
So for example, I truly believe if you add more value for your customers than anybody else, you’re going to be successful. If you treat people that you care about in your personal life very well and care about them a lot, you’re going to be successful. Those people are going to come back and you’re going to benefit from it.
And so this idea behind top of mind engagement, it started a couple years ago, where I always heard the idea, top of mind. People would say, oh well just stay top of mind and I’ll help you out, or if you do this, I just want to make sure you stay top of mind, so just shoot me an email here or remind here.
And so, I heard it so much and then I was introduced at a, actually ironically, I met you four or five years ago at BOLO, you were a keynote, you were great and something that I really liked about you that I always took away is that you stuck around and hung out with the people that hired you to speak and you stayed before and after.
Jay: Yeah no, I think there was an open bar. So I just want to make sure that who people don’t realize, yeah no, there’s criteria.
John: Yeah no honestly though, there’s a lot of speakers I know that the open bar it wasn’t enough. It was for you, and I appreciate that because we got to hang out. And so, I did the same thing, I remember speaking at BOLO when I was introduced in one of the keynotes and I remembered that moment. And so, thanks for that Jay, because it got me to stick around. I met a couple really good connections sticking around as well.
But, at that event, I was introduced by Tyler Farnsworth and the way he introduced me is he goes, man I haven’t talked to this guy in probably a year, but he stays on my mind all the time. And he said it in this really, it was funny, he said it in kind of a creepy funny way, like he’s been dreaming about me every week and we laughed. I laughed when I got up there, but when I was up there it was kind of interesting how the way I got booked for that speaking engagement was because he felt that he was connected and that I was on top of his mind at the right time, and the opportunity came where he wanted the speaker, he thought of me.
And so, I used that example when I was up there, about how important it is to engage people consistently and keep on building trust touch points with them. And with Tyler, the trust touch point was that he was that he was reading my content once a week for a year. And content was able to, the type of content, what I was talking about, was able to engage him. And so, for that standpoint, and then I went down and after I spoke, Rohit Bhargava, who I think you know Jay, wrote Likeonomics and Non-obvious.
Jay: Yes, distinguished fellow, absolutely.
John: Yeah, and he came up and he goes, “man,” he goes, “that was really engaging, that part when you were talking about short-term to long-term memory and how there’s so many things you can do with trust to move from short-term to long-term memory.”
And so this idea came from leading up to there and then afterwards. Once I kind of got open to and I was thinking about doing this book, everybody in an everyday case says, oh they think about doing things that they can remain top of mind because ultimately if you’re on someone’s mind at the right time, you’re going to create opportunity.
And that’s where, for people like you, over the years you’ve stayed on top of my mind in different ways. Whether it be to help me out in a way or to advocate or with one of your pieces of content. So you’re an example of somebody who does this really well.
But, what I wanted to do, is I wanted to teach people that aren’t the most well known influencers out there, on how they can do that. And so that’s been my goal this last year. How I can educate people, so they can do that in communication and through content. And if I do that, I can honestly make their lives a lot easier. And that’s what made me to kind of jump into this full stream.
Jay: Well it’s definitely worked and the book is fantastic. I loved reading the preview of it, when you sent it to me early before it came out on the streets. It’s called Top of Mind: Use Content To Unleash Your Influence and Engage Those Who Matter To You. You can get it anywhere that books are sold.
This whole idea of kind of giving back and thanking people who have helped you and making those connections is also appropriate for how you’re marketing the book. You’re doing a social media campaign to promote the book that includes pictures of people who have helped you and encouraging readers to do the same. It’s a really interesting social campaign.
Can you take a minute to tell our listeners about that please?
John: Sure, yeah, that’s going to start next week, but I’m really excited about it.
But, one of my chapters is about helping others and you can read books like Give and Take and there’s a lot of books on helping others. Specifically, what I wanted to hit on in this book is how you can scale helping others and how you need to recognize and identify where there are opportunities. Where just in everyday life you can just make some slight tweaks and you might be able to send a message that you wouldn’t have thought about doing before.
You might, for example, one of the best, easiest ways, is recognizing people. So for example, anytime I get excellent service, I just did this at the bank the other day, I sent a quick note to the bank president about my dealings with one of the loan officers. And I said, “Hey, just so you know, really quick, great guy. I’ve stuck with you guys because of this treatment. Just wanted to give you feedback.” I wasn’t doing that to get something out of somebody, I was doing that to actually help them because they earned it. And that guy ended up in their large meeting that week, got recognized and talked about. And he came to me and goes, “That meant so much to me. Thank you so much.” And ever since then, even when he should have charged me for something, he goes, “Nope, this guy is taken care of.”
So there’s all these moments that happen there where you can identify how to help someone, or at least recognize people who are being helpful to you.
So this social campaign, what we’re going to run is, it’s going to be something where we’re going to encourage people to thank others around them that have been helpful towards them recently. And we want them to take either a picture of them or a picture of the book and copy them. And what we’re going to do is we’re going to have different prizes and different things for people that have been helpful to people in our network, because we care about them. If someone helps you Jay, then they’re a friend of mine and I’m happy to help them out.
We want to acknowledge those people. And so, for an example, one of the things that I’m going to do is that the best story that somebody tells me about someone who’s been helpful to them recently, I’m going to write it and I’m going to go out and get it pitched out there. Or write it myself if it makes sense, and get it really good media coverage.
And from that standpoint, those types of things, like to draw attention to people who are being helpful towards people in your network, that’s something we want to encourage. And it’s a big part of the book. I think it will go over well, at the very least even if it doesn’t do crazy things for the book, I think it helps people acknowledge and be a little more appreciative of people who do help them out. I think it’ll go over well, but we’ll start that in the next week, I’ll let you know how it goes.
Adam: John I love that campaign around how you’re going to market the Top of Mind book and I think it really does distill some of the key messages that you have in the book. Around trust, around cadence and I think especially around relationships. One of the things you speak about, one of the things you bring up in the Top of Mind book is this idea that business is really never just about business. It’s about the relationships that you have. So my question for you, is I’m sure as you work with executives and leaders and founders of their respective company, you come across business leaders who are sincerely passionate about their product or their service and they have a really big focus on that, but they don’t understand the importance of relationships and my question is do you have any examples of companies that you think do a really good job with that fact? Or that maybe do one thing, they’re really focused on the passion around the product, but maybe not necessarily that passion around using content and using stories and using kind of that relationship piece to build their business?
John: Yeah, absolutely. You’re right, I’m huge on relationships. Not just for business, but also your personal happiness. So it’s like you should be focused on building relationships, no matter what business you’re in.
There’s a Harvard study out that’s the longest Harvard study in the history of Harvard, about how relationships is what drives happiness. I think relationships isn’t just what drives happiness, I think it drives an attraction of people to you, which can provide not just happiness, but opportunity. And so it’s really important that we’re all focused on how we’re building and treating relationships.
I’ll give you a couple of examples of people who have done this. The reason why I want to give two is one, I want to give one that’s not content related and one that is content related because of the fact is that the book is half about things that are not necessarily content, but the other half is very big on content.
So for the first example, is Southwest. Now, Southwest is been phenomenal with what I call moments of vulnerability, where when you are in a moment of vulnerability with Southwest, now they’re not perfect on it, but they find opportunities to help you and to be there for you at the right time.
So for example, one of my examples with them is I was going to switch from Southwest. I had had a different experience with them and I’d been using them and AA, and I was going to go to Delta. I ended up meeting a woman named Julie, she’s decently high up on their culture side of things, but she was very friendly and she just said, “hey try and give us another shot, we’ll always be there for you and you’ll see it.” And I was like okay. So she talked me into it, I hung in there.
Now the next week I went to the wrong airport. Not joking. I was supposed to be in the St. Louis Airport, showed up at the Kansas City Airport 30 minutes before the flight, go up to security guard and I go, “Hey.” And he goes, “Hey, man you’re not going to make this flight.” I go, “Oh, man, you just got to let me through, I got 30 minutes.” He goes, “No, you’re in the wrong city brother.” And I go, “Oh, no.”
Jay: I wonder how many times he’s seen that. That can’t be a real common scenario.
John: Have you ever done that, Jay?
Adam: I get my JFK, LaGuardia mixed up.
Jay: Yeah, JFK and LaGuardia, I’m sure happens a fair bit. I’ve nearly done that a bunch of times. I have gone to the wrong hotel several times in the same city, but never the wrong airport.
John: So that’s, once again got to be transparent here.
So when that happened, they didn’t say hey okay, here call in this number, here’s going to be this fees, here’s going to be this. That person, the Southwest person that was by me that saw what was going on walked me up, she said, “I understand that you’re speaking at an event tonight. People are counting on you and we want those people to be able count on you.” So she rushed me up and said, “hey, we need get this person into LA as soon as possible, don’t worry about fees, don’t worry about this, we just need to do everything we can to do that.”
And so they did, they went above and beyond and they helped me. I wasn’t an A-list there right now. They just saw a moment of vulnerability, they saw that I was freaked out because people were counting on me. In that moment they just said, “We’re not worried about profits, what we’re worried about is you. And we want to get you there, and we’re worried about these people, these 500 people that are waiting for you to speak.” So they did that, and from that moment they got me there on time. It ended up going really well. I was like, you know what that was a moment of vulnerability where I’m absolutely going to remember and they went from my short-term to long-term memory as a trusted person that was there for me.
So that’s an example of something they’ve done and as I’ve kept my eyes open they’ve done that several times. They held a plane 10 minutes three weeks ago when somebody who was in our party traveling, the dad was running through security, and they held the plane up, which I’ve never seen Delta, I’ve never seen anyone hold a plane up for one person and they waited for that dad to get on the plane.
So there’s moments that I’m like wow, they cared about the people rather than other factors that should influence that. So Southwest has been one that I’ve seen do that time after time and they have my complete loyalty. I advocate for them and they don’t pay me or anything. So that’s an example.
Now the other example, is I’m going to use is Zapier. I want to use Zapier because they’re not Southwest, they’re a smaller, 30, 40 person company, but they are very focused. If you read their content, everything on their blog is very very valuable. Not just around the product, but the other things that Zapier does, it basically connects APIs and makes it simple for people to do it who aren’t really advanced in technology, like let’s say me. For them, I read their content and I’m like man, these guys really really care about educating this audience. You could tell their content’s good, people pay attention to it. It’s kind of in the same field as like Buffer. Everybody was like, wow Buffer’s content is really good. You can tell they not only just put content on there, they actually care about it and they put resources towards it because they really believe as a company that they should be educating the people who buy their product.
Jay: Quick plug there, John. Next weeks podcast here on Social Pros is with Brian Peters, who runs Buffers blog and their podcast. So great unintentional segue, thank you.
John: I didn’t know that. This is how we start off before the call, hey who can I magically plug. No, that was actually unplanned. Buffer deserves the credit there.
With those examples, I mean I could keep going on and on, but you can tell that the companies that I mentioned they’re extremely successful. You can tell that they really do care and it makes people connect with the company, the people behind it, so much more. And I think if you’re going to build a long-term brand, because products are going to change, pricing is going to change, industries are going to change, but if people trust and like your brand, they’re going to go with you and that’s why its so important to invest in this stuff.
Adam: Well I think that’s a really important point, John, is that the tenets of what you’re talking about, irrespective of the technology of content marketing and the technology of relationships, is very very traditional, it’s very old.
In fact, one of the interesting reviews of your book I read over the past couple days was on Amazon. And one of the voracious readers of your book had compared your book, and actually called it a sister publication of a book that’s been around for generations, and that’s Dale Carnegie’s famous, How to Win Friends and Influence People, which I’ve always considered a must read and I know, most every successful business leader has said that.
My question for you is do you like that association? And also kind of to that point, do you think that Mr. Carnegie’s suggestions are still relevant here in 2017? Does the concept that he shares hold up? And how is your advice in your new book, Top of Mind: Use Content to Unleash Influence and Engage Others Who Matter To You, different?
John: That’s a great question and I love that question because there’s this misconception that originality and creativity always has to be something that nobodies ever seen before. When to be honest, everything goes back to Roman or Greek times in some way.
There’s the being compared or talked about in the same sentence, I’m honored because I’ve read that book several times and that stuff still plays to this day. And there’s so many great books out there that don’t change. We’re always going to need to engage people, relationships are always going to matter a ton.
So for me, I look at that as yes, that’s absolutely what I love to do. I love to look at other information now, I wasn’t keeping that in mind when I was writing it, but at the same time is that that book had to influence my writing in some way because I’ve read it in the past. Same as Jay’s book, Hug Your Haters, influences my thoughts on different things too. And so for me, what I would say is that mine was kind of newer to this generation because the way you scale a lot of those, the things that Carnegie talks about, is through content these days.
So what my book is it’s at the beginning it talks about relationships and the importance of how you influence people. Then it goes into how you scale that. I would say that I absolutely love it, and I always want to give people that credit, who wrote great pieces that do last and I think they will continue to last.
I think it’s people like my job is to look at those great core elements that everybody should read like that book and say hey, how does it apply today? How can people look at it slightly different and help them succeed more than that original book could’ve because it was in a different time?
The short answer is, absolutely yes, I love the idea when they say hey this is kind of a sister book to something like that, that I think is a great core book that everyone should read, which I agree with you on that.
Then I think there is a responsibility for people like me to look at pieces like that and to not try and go far away from them. So we say we want to be completely different, but embrace them and say, hey these are great pieces where we can include and we can advocate for them, in addition to getting new content out there that can really help people in this time. Really get ahead of the curve, or at least have some more success.
But, yeah I love the book and I think it’s a great thing to be associated with for me.
Jay: John, one of the things that kind of is scaffolding for your company, Influence and Co., and the fantastic new book as well, Top of Mind, is this notion that you can connect with people in lots and lots of different places, not just one place.
Obviously in some ways it’s easier today to do the things that Dale Carnegie recommends because we have the ability connect online, not just face-to-face. That’s one of the topics of the new eBook that I just wrote with our friend Jeff Rohrs from Yext. It’s called, Become an Everywhere Brand. And when we say the everywhere brand, what we’re describing is all the different places that your brand shows up online. It’s actually hundreds and hundreds of places, probably more than anybody really recognizes.
Customer attention as we all know is a finite resource and you’ve got to capture that attention in all the places that you can possibly do so.
We’re really excited about this new eBook, it’s one of the best things that I’ve worked on this year and love working with Jeff at Yext. Take a look at it if you would please, go to That’s Thanks as always to Yext for sponsoring Social Pros.
Also, this week the show is brought to you by our friends at Salesforce Marketing Cloud. They have a terrific new eBook as well that you can download for free and it’s all about best practices for social media marketers. It’s 50 Best Practices for Social Media Marketers in 2017 based on a lot of research that Salesforce, Adam and his team have put together, as well as of course their experiences with thousands of clients all over world. You can get it now at That’s
And of course all the links, all the archives, all the history, everything about the show is at All 270 episodes are right there for you at
Adam, back to you.
Adam: Jay, thank you and John thanks so much for being on Social Pros today.
I want to go back to a term that you used when you were talking to Jay earlier. The term was expert content. My question for you is what is an expert? In your opinion, kind of what’s the secret sauce that makes someone as you work to create or cultivate content on behalf of one of your clients or customers? And do you think kind of what an expert is and kind of the attributes that he or she may have has changed or is changing as we see the transformation kind of of content marketing?
John: Yeah, it’s completely changing.
In the past experts were kind of limited to people who had channels to share their expertise, which were very limited. So there was very few experts in different industries. Now with social and the different channels that have opened up, it allows more people to share knowledge, experience, expertise, things like that.
I think the world we’re in right now, is that there’s less barriers to share expertise, which my definition of experts is pretty loose to be honest because of the fact is that everybody has knowledge and experiences in different ways that can benefit others.
So I’ve seen someone who’s the smartest in their industry communicate to someone, like let’s just say Jim, who’s the biggest expert in technology and let’s say marketing software, seen him explain something to somebody in the crowd who we were speaking to and the person was like, “uh, okay?” And it really wasn’t that helpful. It was either too advanced or the way he communicated was off. And then Jim’s manager, let’s say marketing director, was talking to this same person later on and they said, “hey honestly” and the person in the crowd said “I was confused by Jim’s answer.” And the guy goes, “well here, here’s the deal.” And he explained it in such a way that was, you could tell that that director of marketing had done more work on that kind of topic and could explain like, “hey, this is what I would keep an eye out for, this is what you can do better.” And so, who is the expert there? Is it Jim who’s the more well known that people look at as the leading industry or was it that direct of marketing, who actually helped and got him the right information?
So for me, is that both of them were experts. Honestly the one who was in the director of marketing position was more helpful as an expert.
So for me, I look at the definition as that if you have knowledge, experience, expertise, any form of information that is valuable to another person or an audience, and you’re willing to share that to them to help them be better or understand something to make their lives better or their company better, that’s expertise.
And, I think that the shift that I’ve seen, just honestly between, with our company we used to only work with CEOs, executives, and let’s say maybe some other CMOs, chief strategy officers. Now, it’s so frequent that people are coming to us and saying, “hey we’re wanting and we believe in expertise marketing, thought leadership marketing, that’s how we’re going to gain this trust.” And they’ll say, “we want you to deal with eight of our employees.” And that’s one of the reasons why we’ve been able to grow a lot is because for some of our companies who we started off with one person, now we’re working with eight or ten people in the company.
And that wasn’t me saying, “hey lets go make more money.” I wish I could have come up with the brilliant thought of, “hey lets do that and I think that we can expand the scope here.” It was them actually saying, “hey we see true thought leadership as we have experts across the company and we need to embrace these people and support them and get the content to the customers that we value so much.”
So that’s where I would say that the world is changed where there’s more experts than there were before. Now, the importance is to make sure that you are doing things to differentiate yourself, to distribute properly so that as you expand that content, it doesn’t just get lost. You want to make sure that you still keep the right attention and the right eyes so that you’re targeted, you’re engaging the right people. If you’re not strategic about it, then all you’re going to be doing is making noise, which a lot of people claim and is content shock and too much noise. When in reality is that I think that’s BS. If you get the right watering hole, the right people to pay attention to you and you keep focused on that, you’re absolutely fine and you can even reach them more or in a better way as you go across the company, not just from one person.
Adam: And it sounds like John, what your organization, Influence and Co., does, is not only kind of helps find that content, curate that content and help the subject matter experts be able to share it appropriately. But, also kind of find that sweet spot between deep and wide. As you said, going from maybe just the C-suite to diversify. I know in traditional parlance, this would be when a company has an executive speech writer that maybe writes for the CEO or the CFO and now they have a speaker’s bureau, who’s writing content for maybe people at the VP or director level. Where and how do you kind of find that sweet spot, where you say okay, do you want to have as many people out there sharing the message? Which some people call kind of surround sound, lets get as many people out there and as long as they’re armed with the right content that’ll be helpful. But, that signal-to-noise ratio thing that you mentioned is that become a dilemma? Where is that sweet spot or is it different for different companies and organizations and personalities?
John: Completely different for each company, depends on the goals of what you’re trying to accomplish.
So let’s say for example, company A is saying, hey our goal is to reach CFOs because those are the people who really are our barrier from getting people to sign up. Then you have to say, okay, who is going to engage that CFO audience the best from the company. Is it going to be our CEO? Maybe not, it might be the CFO, actually writing from personal experience. It might be somebody who has the subject matter expertise that’s needed to communicate to CFO too.
Or you might say, we have two goals, one is to reach these people, another one is to truly lead the industry with industry trends and strategy. Okay, well that might make sense coming from a CEO.
In some cases, we just had a company that’s like, hey they’re trying to increase the recruiting because they have a large tech team that they’re losing people to Google and Facebook. And they’re like, how do we keep those people? And we said, okay, well it makes sense that yes, you want some content from the CEOs and those people, but also you want some people who’s leading that team. The head of product there should be writing content in addition to some of the people that are on that team because then the people you’re recruiting, you can go and distribute that content to them and target them. And it’s coming from people they’re going to be potentially working with, that are on that team, that are inspiring. So it depends, you got to actually dive in and be thoughtful about why you’re doing something and how it’s attached to business goals.
So yeah, I mean that’s what I would say, it’s different. No matter what, you’ve got to be focused on distribution and that will drive content creation, that will drive a lot of things because you’ll say okay, if we’re going to reach this audience, what type of content is going to truly engage them?
I gave an example in a recent keynote about distribution is that people say South by Southwest is a complete cluster. A lot of people don’t want to go there anymore because it’s just so crowded. Now, me, I say no, it’s fine. When I go there I go to two or three events that are very targeted, all the people I want to see there are there. Or that I want to talk to are typically at those three events and it’s valuable.
Now, it’s the same thing with content is that, even though there’s let’s say 100,000 pieces out that people could be consuming, similar to the 100,000 people at South by Southwest, I’m hyper-targeting a certain group of people. Similar to what you can do with content.
And so with each one of these goals that I was just talking about, if you truly think about what you’re trying to accomplish and then you hyper-target the specific audience, you can really really get some great benefit and connect with them in different ways.
The short answer is it depends on the goals and you have to look at it, not let ego, not let pride and you have to look at what is the best way, from who, what type of content and how we’re leveraging it. You got to look at those things as how is that going to drive the business goal that we’re going after.
Adam: One last question, John, for you before I hand it back over to Jay. You talked about kind of getting away from ego and pride of content. I know one topic that pretty much segues into content marketing and what we’re talking about here is ambassador programs. Where, instead of empowering maybe one of your employees or one of your executives with the content, you’re empowering a third party, a customer. Someone who’s passionate about your brand with that same content. How did you see kind of ambassador programs maturing? And what is that intersection between and decision point between giving content to an outside person versus really being able to control that message with someone who’s on inside of the company?
John: Oh I like them, but I think people set them up so terribly that it’s almost embarrassing; it’s not thought through. For example, I know one brand basically just started that, even before they were successful with their own content. And so with me, I’m going to be like, my first question is that, so you’re wanting the ambassadors to be content leaders for you, when in reality your content’s terrible or not where it needs to be?
I’m not going to say their name, but I did before and one of my friends called me and was like, hey come on, can you be a little nicer to us. So I’ll give them a break this time.
But, one of the largest financial companies in the world did an ambassador program and the ambassador was actually sharing out content from one of their biggest competitors who’s actually really good with content. The companies name on it was like, oh I’m an ambassador, but when they actually sourced some content or was quoting some content, it was coming from their competitor because their competitor actually really does well at getting the right content, industry leading content out there.
And so what I would tell you with those, is that there’s steps and there’s ways to do those right. The first thing is that create your own influence first. Do everything you can to do that. If you talk to Jay or other people that have influential channels, one of the things that they will tell you is that there’s one thing that influencers and brand ambassadors love more than money, and that’s influence. If you can help them get more influence and that you actually have channels yourself, then it makes the ambassadorships and all that so much easier.
So what I would say is that, focus first on setting the goals for yourself as that how are we truly going to be one of the industry leaders when it comes to education and connecting and engaging this specific audience?
Now, as a part of that the second phase as we’re doing this is this ambassador or influencer marketing or something where it’s kind of third party stamp. Which it could go on at the same time, the problem is that there’s a lot of brands that rely on those ambassadors and only those ambassadors and it can set things up for failure and it can hurt things.
I’ve seen the best brands, what they do is they say, okay we want to own this space. And a part of this is one, getting our content and owning and being a trusted source for information. Two, is getting influencers and ambassadors and advocates to get content from them as well and have them refer to the content, because you want to strategically align everything. And that’s what we’ve seen is that as we’ve engaged ambassadors and influencers for us, it makes their life so much easier when they can refer to our content a lot. They can say, oh great, hey read this blog post from Influence and Co. Oh hey, John their CEO just wrote this article would love … And it’s so much more natural than just pimping out the product all the time.
And so, I would say that I love them. Ambassador programs are extremely valuable because people are big on trust and if they trust that ambassador and they can connect with the ambassador, then that passes trust onto your product. However, it needs to be set up the right way and you can’t just rely on that and think your world is going to change. It could in the short-term sometimes, but in the long-term, typically the brands that get the most or how I set it up is the way that I kind of explained it.
Jay: John Hall, author of the new book Top of Mind. Go out and get yourself a copy on Amazon or a local bookstore, any place that you can procure books. Going to ask you the two questions that we’ve asked every one of our guests here in the Social Pros Podcast, across now six seasons. First, what one tip would you give somebody who’s looking to become a social pro?
John: So what one tip professionally, personally or just one tip to be a social? You’re breaking up a little bit at the end.
Jay: I think anyway, what one tip to people who want to become a social pro? What one tip would you give them?
John: I mean for me, the biggest factor is to start thinking about others and how you can help and engage with them.
Some of the best people on social are people that have massive advocates and the best way to get advocates is to find out what’s valuable for people and help them out.
And so if you’re wanting to become that kind of social pro person, I think that there’s different ways to do it. You can get lucky and you have the Gary Vaynerchuks, that were early on Twitter and timing was great or first couple influencers on LinkedIn’s contributor program. You have these moments of luck that happen that are combined with hard work, but ultimately don’t rely on those. You got to build an audience and connect with people consistently and it’s got to be compounding on each other.
And the fastest way that I’ve seen my, I guess you could say, tribe grow and truly amplify my message, which I think is a big part of being a social pro, is by keeping in mind, what can I do for them? How can I keep an eye out for their bests interest?
One thing that I have notes down is that there’s some white papers that I think Jay talked about with Yext and there’s a white paper with Salesforce that I’m going to be sharing out after this. One, because I trust Jay, if he’s saying that something is good then, I’ll check it out and do my best to share it. But that’s a way where, when Jay and Salesforce and Yext they seeing me sharing those out and being advocates, I mean I think it naturally connects with people and they think about you.
So yeah, just really think and say to yourself, how can I have this mentality where I’m truly looking out as what’s valuable to others around me? Whether they be an influencer like Jay or a big company like Salesforce or just to be honest, somebody who’s just an entry level employee or mid-level manager. Those things over time add up and you get these supporters that make you, it’s almost like you have these mini microphones all around you.
I think the winners in social or in any form of influence are going to be the people with the most authentic microphones around them. That’s what I’m going to encourage you to do, is that have that mentality so you can keep gathering those amplifiers or those mics. And you’ll have success, no matter what company you’re working with because you’ll have these people that want to help and want to be an advocate for you.
Jay: Yeah, I like that metaphor of the microphones, that’s really interesting. I haven’t heard that one before, I like it a lots. It’s really strong. It’s very evocative.
Last question for you John Hall, co-founder Influence and Co., author of Top of Mind, if you could do a Skype call with any living person who would it be and why?
John: Any living person, man that is a tough one. Anywhere in the world.
Jay: Yeah, it could be somebody who decides the airport codes, maybe for you, that would be a good one.
John: I know, that is true. I do need to talk to someone like that.
You know what, there is probably more, this is just the first person that come to mind and you can make fun of me, but probably Oprah. And the reason why, I used her in the book as an example, I never met her and I met a lot of the other people that I mentioned in the book. But one of the parts of the book is on likeability and relatability, and I look at likeability as this spectrum, is that there’s the people like Paul Rudds out there that are just goofy, fun, that people are like I want to have a beer with that person. And then there’s the people that can be pretty serious and can truly help and make people better and sometimes they’re not the most likable people. In the book I used my english professor in high school, Matt Clark, who made me read like 100 books in a semester, I didn’t like him at all, but he made me better.
Oprah’s one of those people that I’ve seen that’s kind of balanced that and that’s kind of one of my goals in the next five, ten years of my life is that how do I balance this likability where I’m fun to be around, but at the same time I always keep in mind it’s not always the goofy part of me that’s truly going to help someone. And she seems like someone who does that well.
Cuban was that person for me, we’ve done some work with some of his companies and I met him in Vegas a couple years ago and we talked about this and he even said he really struggles with this. So I’ve tried to find these really well known people that have really nailed that balance down and had a conversation with them about it.
She’s just somebody I think, I don’t know, I could get on the phone and be like, oh shit, I don’t have it figured out. But, I’m pretty impressed when people can balance that.
Jay: Well if anybody can get Oprah on the show it’s probably you because you’re the ultimate connector. So my challenge to you John Hall is Oprah on Social Pros in the next 18 months. I know you’re good for it. We’ll let you come, you can be a guest host for the week and we’ll all do it together.
John: I’ll work on it. I’ve got one connection in there, so we’ll see. I’ll reach out.
Jay: I have no doubt. I have no doubt.
Congratulations on the book, super happy for you. Thanks for all the great work you do for me and everybody else out there with Influence and Co. Terrific to have you on the show.
Adam, next week, Brian from Buffer. Going to be a bang up show.
And then the week after, Aaron Grote, who is a super smart guy who runs all of digital for Great Clips. And did you know this, I did a little research for the show, Great Clips has 3,700 locations.
Adam: That is incredible. That’s a lot of hair cuts.
Jay: I want to ask him how much hair they cut everyday across 3,700 locations. It’s got to be like tractor trailer loads of hair. It’s crazy.
John: I was at Great Clips three days ago.
Jay: See there you go, you got a customer.
Adam: You’re like Kevin Bacon of this program. Sister separation from John Hall.
Jay: Six degrees of John Hall, I love it. Well maybe we should get Great Clips as a sponsor and for all of our show guests you get a free Great Clips once you come on the podcast, and we can see if we can extend that to our listeners as well.
John Hall: I ended up there because my old hairstylist ended up moving there. And yeah, I’ve enjoyed it. So I’ve had a good experience with them. So tell them that your guest two weeks before was just saying how I’d just been in there and had a good experience.
Jay: Going to do it. I think we’re actually recording soon because I’m going on vacation this week, so we’re trying to get a few done so we can have our weeks covered while I’m gone. So it will be top of mind to let Aaron know.
Ladies and gentlemen, that’s it for this episode of the big Social Pros podcast. I am as always Jay Baer. He is Adam Brown from Salesforce Marketing Cloud. And this my friends, this has been Social Pros.

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