I had the pleasure of interviewing Marc Landsberg, CEO of Social Deviant, on Friday, January 24, 2014. See Marc’s blog and see his company online, Social Deviant. We were originally planning a Google Hangout, hosted by Open Communications, Mark’s marketing team—but it refused to work for us. Yes, maddening! Especially because we had our video cameras all ready! But, we were still able to meet in a recorded phone conference, and had a great interview together.
What Marc Thought of Express Writers!
I started by introducing my company and asking Marc about Social Deviant. In return, Marc first started off by talking about how he appreciated, and saw the need and value for, the specific and large amounts of content Express Writers publishes. Marc is a 25+ year marketing veteran with a global exposure to CMOs, CEOs, for a long time, having built and sold his own businesses across the years. He saw a frustration in this world among agency owners where people did not create real-world content, which he saw as fundamental for their success—not an afterthought. Smart marketing of the future is smart content marketing, and they are synonymous. He saw the value in what Express Writers does from noticing a lack of the type of content we deliver. For instance, in one blog we talked about how to optimize your Pinterest posts. Marc saw that this offered real-world value to our followers. Too many agencies, Marc said, saw things from a 30,000 foot view—and the content topics we are delivering are spot on in today’s Internet.
Marc then talked about the value his brand, Social Deviant, brings to clients. “A toddler in a man’s body,” his less-than-two-year-old company focuses on helping their clients build smart social media strategies, identifying target audiences, thinking about business objectives and marketing goals, defining the content mixed model, and putting this into social platforms, including specific management, development, and optimization. SD links a strategic approach with a conceptual, creative approach instead of a programmatic idea of reposting, etc. It’s a different approach, top-down rather than bottom-up. He outlined how he’s been targeting key metrics and building a content strategy for several clients. Just two years old, Social Deviant has already built out an entire strategy plan for amplify and publicize a new airline route across social media, and a specific retainer project for a big brand for Miller Coors Kraft Beer.
I asked Marc about his reasoning behind the company name Social Deviant. He believes in deviating from the typical and wants to revolutionize, in several ways, the field he works in. It’s also just as much as important, how you do it as what you do. Great reasoning, Marc!
Next up were my questions for Marc. Since he has probably seen it all when it comes to social media, I asked him what he thought of the role that content played in social media, specifically for example: how do blogs work for social media?
Marc said this is one of his favorite questions. What Social Deviant has done is equate social media with content. Social Deviant has basically made social media and content synonymous. Social media is content, Marc said. He said Express Writers’ content is great—because everything they do for clients is about content. Strategic issues arise, for example, how to measure and manage over time; how staffing can deliver smart content marketing; with POV on lots of this. Social Deviant has done a little “sleight-of-hand” to equate social media marketing to content marketing and include things like business metrics and content types, formats, frequency and volume, the social platforms, syndication and optimization strategies. He’s developed a 7-or-8 point list of content strategizing for all of his clients, making social media = content marketing synonymous.
I asked Marc if he has noticed less of a need for teaching, with more and more people realizing they need content. He said clients choose Social Deviant because they embrace the fact they need to be better content marketers. SD only pursues like-minded clients. Marc says: if you stink at advertising we’re probably not your guys, and I don’t have the time or energy to convince you that that’s the wrong approach! Instead, he is looking for clients who know they need to be smarter. The question isn’t just about social media, it’s about how to be a better content marketer, when clients approach SD.
SD also looks at all aspects and pieces of content marketing as content, and put a calendar together based on all aspects. They are re-defining what the marketing calendar looks like, driven by content. Put the word social aside, replace it with content. If you have a 12-month calendar, X budget, Y business objectives, what do you need to do to deliver on your marketing objectives? That could be a billboard, a long-form video, a Vine, infographic, images, all of the above. All of this is content. Which of these units make the most impact? Marc admitted it could be cheating—but he has put everything around content, which puts his company in a central role with all his clients. He’s taken the specific word social and replaced it with content.
At the ANA Social Summit in San Francisco, Social Deviant presented their new content calendar, driven by content formats that includes all online and offline content types. Interesting—at a social media summit, they presented an integrated content calendar! Incidentally, it’s now being used by big names like Farmer’s Insurance and was a hit when it was presented.
Marc said that what Express Writers does is very specific, very fantastic, and a great compliment to work that he’s doing. I told him we should hook this together! He said that we absolutely should, and offered to strategize together on a Join.me meeting with terrific opportunities to collaborate.
I then asked Marc how he saw other content products fitting into the realm of social media and content marketing: infographics, whitepapers, e-books. He said that Social Deviant has basically construed a taxonomy, built across categories and tags, across social platforms. He specifically mentioned that SD loves “long-form blog content.” Google, Marc said, over-indexes it, and it’s even more powerful if you’re smart about the way you blog and you use tags, etc., which is overlooked by clients but yet enormously relevant.
Marc then listed some of the tools that he loves for content curation and discovery: content discovery for hashtags, VideoDeck. He still saw the value of Hootsuite; but there is growing competition there, with bigger clients looking at specific curation, syndication, analytical, or all-of-the-above needs. Adobe Social integrations have been growing.
We ended the call with Marc saying: there should be less hand-waving agency guys and more of you! Very excited to get Marc’s feedback, and it was an honor to talk to him.