I recently got a chance to speak with Jeff Bullas, one of social media's most prominent players. The Australian thought leader had a world of insight to share with me on everything from personal branding, to Snapchat, to blogging to business growth - let's hear what he had to say.
LE: You've spoken a lot about the importance of content marketing for business growth and how essential it is to build relationships with your audience. Is it possible to build authentic and long-lasting relationships with your customers while also aiming for fast growth? This is something that a lot of startups struggle with navigating.
JB: I think that we need to be careful when it comes to the "shiny new toy syndrome", which is when we only aim for traffic and engagement. The last piece of the puzzle is to actually convert that content engagement into leads and sales. You don't want to get addicted to likes and shares because eventually you need to generate money. So make sure that you are doing both, but that you're keeping your end goals in mind.
LE: You've recently put out a lot of content on blogging and its importance in developing your brand. For those who aren't naturally inclined to write or create content themselves, where do you recommend they go to get inspiration or ideas? Where can you go to learn more about what others are talking about in your industry?
JB: The best way is to identify relevant content is by looking at the influencers in your industry and seeing what they're already writing about. So, go search for the 10 top influencers for whatever you're working on. It's as simple as that. For example, if you're working in digital marketing, some great tools are Hubspot, Social Media Examiner, and CopyBlogger. You don't need to reinvent the wheel; just learn about the conversations that are already taking place and go from there.
LE: As we know, Snapchat is no longer exclusively being used by teenage girls - almost every major brand in the world has jumped on Snapchat as a key marketing tool. However, a lot of smaller brands, especially startups, aren't aware of its value if they don't already have an established audience. What would do you say to this? Is Snapchat just as relevant to smaller businesses as it is to major ones, and if so, how can they best utilize it?
JB: Honestly, I don't use Snapchat a lot. I think it actually goes along with the "shiny new tool syndrome" that I spoke about earlier. Don't get me wrong - you should still use it to create a buzz about your brand and promote your product, and it's even better if the demographic is suitable.
Typically, I try to stick with the tools that I already know so that I can make sure I can convert that attention into sales. With Snapchat and other new tools, you can get trapped into just playing instead of focusing on scaling your sales and growing your business.Snapchat and other new tools, you can get trapped into just playing instead of focusing on scaling your sales and growing your business.
LE: How can you tell if a new social platform or tool has potential? What's the one thing that you see in a tool that makes you feel like it will change the way you approach your marketing strategy?
JB: I really believe that you shouldn't keep chasing these little tools. It's okay to use them and try them out but never make one the center of your marketing strategy. If you're using too many platforms then you're just going to get distracted all the time. Digital marketing ultimately has to produce a return; it's not just about playing.
LE: When it comes to creating an effective content marketing strategy, what are some tips for measuring the age-old question, "Am I doing this right?" Startups especially seem to struggle with navigating what works and what doesn't.
JB: I suggest using a digital marketing automation tool that gives a dashboard with insights and analytics. You need to see shares, engagement, click-throughs, opt-ins, all of that. For early stage startups, it can be hard to tell if what you're doing is effective, and it can require a lot of trial and error.
LE: You've previously spoken about Gary Vaynerchuk and his huge success with social media. Who are your other social media and content marketing "idols", and what do you love about them?
JB: I really like the Founder of Social Media Examiner Michael Stelzner, Ian Cleary, Kim Garst, and Ryan Deiss. These are all people who have been able to take social media and turn it into full-scale business success.
LE: A lot of entrepreneurs are scared to use social media for personal branding since they're worried about coming off as egocentric. What do you say to this? How would you best recommend using social media as an early-stage entrepreneur?
JB: Us Australians don't like talking about ourselves. It's very different from the American philosophy, which promotes the idea of proudly sharing your accomplishments. In Australia, if you talk about yourself too much, you're a bit of a wanker. It's very culture-driven. Ultimately, though, you have to market yourself and put out that social proof, but in a classy way. For example, I understand the importance of spreading my name but I did it in other ways than just showing off. For example, my caricature is a big way that I defined my brand. Ultimately, there's a fine line between doing it too much and not enough, and success comes when you find that balance.
Thanks Jeff, you're the coolest.