From Context to Leads: Metrics and ROI of Content Marketing

How to measure content marketing ROI? Here is one approach

The content marketing ROI question comes up frequently when I speak at conferences.  Here is my step-by-step answer:

Content is like a piece of furniture. It’s very hard to measure the overall value of furniture all by itself.


But, if you put the furniture in a partially decorated room…


Or better yet, put it in a fully decorated room… Voila! The piece of furniture suddenly has more value as part of the overall set!


Content is the same way. It’s hard to measure the content in the absence of context. See below, that’s just a blog in a Word file.  It doesn’t mean much, if your content is only in a Word file. Nobody is going to see it.


It needs to be on your website or part of an e-mail, etc.  It needs to be incorporated into your marketing channels.

To unleash the value of content, it has to be part of your outbound channels.

Ok, the next question: “what metrics should we use measure content marketing ROI?”  Well, I’d rephrase the question: “what metrics should we use to report out to senior management?” There are two approaches to track these metrics. You can track metrics from the sources, which are your syndication channels (number of views, number of likes, number of shares..).  Or you can track from the destinations to where your content leads. I call that the end-point.

Guess which metrics management cares about the most? The sources or the end points?  I’d say they are more concerned with the end-results.  Therefore, your content metrics should focus on the end-points.  Don’t take me wrong, the syndication channel metrics have their place. You should certainly review them when you work with your marketing peers to optimize your content copy and creative. These metrics are not something your senior management focuses on. At end of the day, they want to know if the dollar spent on content helps the company’s business.

Let’s take one blog post as an example.

All the outbound marketing channels drive traffic to this blog post.

And this specific blog post is part of the blog site.

So, what is the main goal of this blog site?  Well, it’s about sharing relevant and useful information with the target audience. At the same time, it is also intended to increase the number of subscribers.


Hopefully, compelling content will attract “NEW” subscribers who show interest in your products. If they show interest, you have opportunities to engage and convert them to qualified or paid leads. There, that’s the main goal of this blog site. That’s also the main goal of the content you create.


So a quick summary, here is why we track from content to lead.


Now, let’s work back to see how content links to the end-point.  In the following example, we can say that 10 blog posts per month help to get 100 leads per month. If you make that claim, your marketing peers will argue with you that it’s not true.  They also contribute to making that happen.

The best way is to work with your marketing peers to agree a ratio on how content contributes to leads or the business goals.

You can also do AB testing.  For 2-4 months, you do 15 blog posts per month.  For another 2-4 months, you do only 5 blog posts. Or you can try different content to see if one generates more leads than the others. You will see if the number of leads correlates with the number of posts.  I understand the findings are not absolute, given that the promotion channels may change and other factors may play into it. But you can get the gist of it. That should also give management a sense of the importance of content contribution.

The reality is that it’s hard to measure the ROI of content. To get started, here are the key elements to consider:

  • Understand content promotional channels in your company
  • Create “From Content to Lead” or “From Content to Sales” mapping
  • Initiate a discussion with your marketing peers to help them understand the benefits of content
  • Offer to co-own their marketing metrics
  • Help them to do their jobs better with your expertise

The best way to show content is in the context of marketing channels utilized.

To unleash the value of content, you need to co-own outbound marketing metrics with your marketing peers. Therefore, as a content marketer, it’s time to have a discussion with your marketing peers.  Make that your 2017 goal!


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Save the date! Content and Social Media Marketing Workshop in Geneva October 28, 2016

Are you In Switzerland? Are you an entrepreneur, small business owner, or a marketer – looking for ways to maximize your content marketing efforts, and create a successful synergy with social media? If you answer with YES, than this 2-part workshop is for you.

Kelly Hungerford and I teamed up to do a workshop in Lausanne in May.  It was well-received!  We decided to do it again, this time is in Geneva! Yeah!

And that is not all! Before I share the Workshop details there are two more introductory events you should know about.

Kelly is a VP of Women in Switzerland an excellent Swiss community of women working in digital. Together we arranged a content marketing meetup on October 25th: The New Rules of Content Marketing It will be a great opportunity to learn more about the Workshop, and to meet some fantastic people, including expert panelists who will share tips on content marketing topics.

In case you can’t make it to Geneva, on Wednesday 26th we’ll be in Lausanne: How to Use New Rules of Content Marketing to Your Advantage It’s a unique opportunity to discuss how to use content marketing effectively to market your business. Also, I will share tips and tricks from strategy through implementation.


Based on the learning we captured during the Lausanne, Kelly and I decided to offer two 3.5-hour workshop this time. The morning workshop focuses more on strategy setting and campaign integration of earned, owned and paid media, while the afternoon workshop focuses on maximizing content and social media marketing. Both sessions will be packed with case studies and best practices.  There will be some overlap between the two sessions, but the two presentations are different.

Here are the details of the two sessions:

  • Date: 10/28/2016
  • Time: 9:00 – 12:00 and 1:30 – 4:30
  • Location: Voisins Coworking Space, Place du Grenus 4, 1201, Geneva
  • Pricing: CHF 159 per session or CHF 258 for both sessions (with CHF 60 discount)


Morning Session:



Session Description:

The modern marketing landscape has changed dramatically. It’s more and more challenging to create an integrated campaign with fragmented marketing channels. How can we better leverage content across various marketing channels? Can we use the same content or should we customize them? Pam will share the practices of evaluating your content and determining the content to share for different channels.  Packed with practical examples, case studies and how-tos.

After the session, you will be able to:

  • Comprehend the relationship among the owned, paid and
    earned media
  • Understand the content needs in each media
  • Grasp ideas and practices to scale content across different media

Afternoon Session:



Session Description:

Effective and useful content is key to social media, yet marketing isn’t all about social media. Are there better ways to search and curate content for your social media? What are the content types? How best to plan your editorial plan? Pam Didner will discuss the delicate intricacies of building synergy between your social media and content marketing efforts. Plenty of tips and case studies to help you do your job better!

  • Leverage different content for social media success
  • Shape content editorial planning by providing social media insights
  • Connect the dots between social media and content

When Kelly and I met the first time, she worked at a start-up, while I was at a big corporation. With our different roles and experience on two continents, we learned by doing and experimenting with different tactics of modern marketing, especially in social media and digital marketing. We love to share our mistakes, success and industry best practices. Come join us!!  We’d love to meet you!

You can check out all the details and register for the Workshop here

In the meantime feel free to download my FREE course: How To Build Global Content Marketing Team

It is set up to quickly and easily help you design the organizational structure of your company’s content marketing team. It’s a presentation I had this year at #CMWorld, that utilizes clear, concise, easily-digestible slides to help you create a plan to move forward! (picture will be also included)




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My Favorite Takeaways /Tweets /Articles From Content Marketing World 2016

photo: courtesy of @Ekaterina Walter

Does attending the same conference for 6 years straight begin to get old?  The answer is NO. I had the rare privilege of speaking at the Content Marketing World (@CMWorld) every year since its inception. Fun concerts, mingling with old friends and new, awesome keynotes and 150 know-how sessions… What’s not to like?

Whenever I attend the conference, I hear unique insights and I always think about how they will apply to B2B, enterprises or business marketers who do content marketing across regions.

So, here are my 3 favorite takeaways from this year’s conference. 

1. My favorite Content Marketing World keynotes

“In content marketing, you are either all in or all out.” 

This is Joe Pulizzi’s opening keynote message. I agree with it all-heartedly, but how do you go all in when you need to work with multiple teams across regions who may not be all in? The best way to go all-in is to have senior executives commit budget and resources. The financial backing will kick off the momentum.  Once the momentum starts, you need to keep the buzz going by meeting with the teams on a regular basis.

Let me re-phrase Joe’s quote for B2B corporate content marketers: “In content marketing, B2B companies can only go all in with senior executive financial support and regular communications within the team.”  Of course, this applies to small businesses as well.

“We look for organic amplification before we look for paid media spend.”

I enjoyed Lars Silberbauer’s Lego speech very much. Lars, based in London, is responsible for Lego’s global social media and search. With its large user-base (FB with 11.6M fans and Youtube channel with 1B views per year), Lego will run several different campaigns on social media channels, then closely monitor their traction and buzz. If it does well, they will strategically place paid budget to further propel its reach.

Again, I agree with that when your user-base is big and you can see significant differences between different campaigns. When your user-base is small, you may not be able to see the statistically significant difference among the campaigns you run. In that case, you need to work hard to increase your user-base through continuous organic outreach with solid content marketing efforts and coupled with paid efforts.

For Lego, it makes sense that organic is the primary channel and paid is secondary. However, it doesn’t apply to all companies. When your user-base is small or your organic engagement is not working well, paid may be your primary channel. Here is the truth: most companies won’t talk about how much money they spend on paid to build up their user-base. Please be cognizant that paid trumps organic in some cases. Let me re-phrase the quote for B2B corporate content marketers: “We look for paid media spend and organic amplification.” The re-phrase also applies to small businesses, since their paid efforts usually are AdWord and FB ad buys.

“If you don’t have people in your blog posts, you aren’t optimized for social.” 

This is the biggest take-away from Andy Crestodina who received the highest speaking score last year and was invited to do a keynote this year. His keynote presentation was fantastic!  He discussed how content marketing couples with SEO to drive traffic and conversions. I walked away from his keynote feeling that I need to be an SEO expert in order to be a great content marketer.

B2B corporate content marketers will write blogs or create content specifically about their products, services and industries. They don’t often include other “people” such as industry experts, customers or even their social media followers in their content. Andy stressed that it’s important to mention them and make them part of your content. Then, mention their names when you syndicate your content out to social media channels. It’s a win-win!  You showcase them, they help you amplify your content. His quote is perfect for B2B corporate content marketer. His quote also inspired me to include my favorite tweets from this event. He is right – I need to include more people in my blog posts.

2. Enjoy the following selection of awesome tweets and don’t stop there. I’ve made a selection of some great #CMWorld articles.


3. There’s so much great content out there, but these are my favorites, and hopefully this roundup of #CMWorld articles will keep you entertained and informed.

The Worst Lessons Marketing Ever Taught Content by @randfish

The Revolution Begins: Highlights from Content Marketing World 2016 via @Upwork

20 Tweetable Takeaways from Content Marketing World 2016 #cmworld by @MarilynECox via @HeinzMarketing

#CMWorld 2016: Nine things to know about the Content Marketing World conference in Cleveland this week  by @janetcho via @clevelanddotcom

The Road to Content Marketing Success by @amandatodo

20 Quotes That Defined Content Marketing World 2016 via @LinkedInMktg

Content Marketing Is Growing Up: 5 Takeaways from Content Marketing World via @LinkedInMktg

Conversation Starters With The Experts at Content Marketing World by @mitchellhall via @curata

In the end it’s obvious: content marketing is an imperative and it connects businesses, but it does so much more – it connects people.

Till next time and the next Content Marketing World.

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10 Extremely Important Content Marketing Questions – Answered

When I speak, I always encourage attendees to reach out and ask me questions. Daniel Benyo sent me a list of questions after listening to my presentation “New Rules of Marketing” in Hungary.

Q1: How can a cross-border marketer best understand segments that he never interacted before?  

A:  If you want to sell something to a different country, the best way is to travel to that country to see the market first hand. It’s also important to build your sales network by hiring local sales reps or local channel partners. Visit them and have them introduce you or meet some of the potential customers. That’s on the sales front.

Q2: How much analysis, research is needed before you start a content marketing campaign targeted at a foreign market compared to when you do it on your own?

A: On the marketing front, you can check if there are any customers from that county who have come to your website and downloaded any content. If you have their e-mail addresses or contact information, reach out to them and see if you can engage them in phone calls or focus groups.

Talk to your potential customers and get to know them. That’s the best way to learn.

 Here is the reality: the amount of analysis and research that you can do depends on your budget. Your budget will dictate your analysis and research efforts.  If you don’t have a budget, just start somewhere or anywhere. Start with your local contacts if you have any, gather information then refine as you go. You are bound to make mistakes.  We all do! Learn from them and move on!

Q3: If you are aiming at global content marketing, you have to do a lot more segmenting than if you target smaller markets – is this something that only large multinational corporations can do, or is it possible – in terms of resources – for smaller companies as well?

A: Smaller companies can do segmentation as well. My recommendation is to start with your products. Do you need to customize your products for another country? If the products are homogenous, maybe you don’t need to have multiple segments. If you need to customize and repackage your products completely, you very likely will need a different set of audience segmentation or different messaging to serve the local needs.  I’d start from the product first, then ask yourself what will users do with the products? How will they use them?  Maybe the usage models are different.  The product customization and usage model will dictate if you need a separate segmentation or not.

Q4: In your experience what are the results of not having a content calendar? Chaos, unrealistic goals, missed deadlines?

A: Well, it depends. If you are a one-person marketing team, you may not need a content calendar, especially if you are the content creator and promoter. If you are working with a team, it’s best to have a content calendar. It’s a way to guide the team and avoid duplication.

Please bear in mind that chaos still happens, even if you have a content calendar! Things just happen in the real world, such as customer complaints, real-time PR crises, early product launches. Your editorial needs to be agile and adjust to changes which may impact your company’s brands and image.

Chaos never goes away, but processes and tools will minimize it.

Q5: Do you think content marketing is for everyone? For one-man businesses to the largest enterprises? How can small companies with very limited budget, time and energy on their hands compete with complete in-house content marketing departments?

A: I think everyone is doing content marketing. If you are a small company with a website and a blog, you are, in a way, doing content marketing. If you create a white paper and share it with your customers or use it as part of an e-mail campaign, you are doing content marketing. The question is not if content marketing is for everyone. The question is whether you have time and resources to do content marketing continuously and do it right.

You are not necessarily competing with other companies in terms of content marketing, but rather you need to understand what you are trying to accomplish and match that to your budget and resources.

Q6: How can any business maintain a content strategy long term? How can they find new and new topics, new stories to tell?

A: Like everything else, long-term efforts require budget and resources. Management buy-in is super-critical. Although there is nothing new under the sun, you can always find something new to say about something old. The best way to find something new is to talk to your subject matter experts, your sales people, your customers, your management team…  Things happen every day in your company. There is always something to share and something to say. You need to pay attention.

Q7: Last year Joe Pulizzi told me that the main reason of content campaign fails is that companies don’t set realistic goals and don’t realize that the first 6-12 months are all about building your audience. Do you agree with this?

A: Yes. You can’t build Rome in one day. You can’t write 15 blog posts and expect your website traffic to increase 10X. I have written over 200 blog posts in the past three years. Well, these blog posts really didn’t bring me much revenue per se, but it established me as a thought leader in the field of global content marketing. The recognition of being a thought leader brings opportunities.  You need to understand what you want to accomplish with content marketing and, most importantly, get your management to support it.  Content marketing is like a long purchase cycle, it can take 12-months to see the impact…  Unfortunately, there is no short cut.  Management likes short-term results but you need to set clear expectations upfront.

Q8: What should the goals of a content strategy be – and what KPIs to watch?

A: At a tactical level, it depends on what your company’s marketing promotion channels are. Your content needs to closely tie with your promotion and syndication channels.  For example: if a white paper is used for e-mail campaign and event collateral, you need to know the number of downloads as well as the number of business cards collected at the event.

Q9: How do you think modern technology will change content marketing in the coming years? For example, do you think content creation and distribution can be completely automized?

A: In my opinion, the company’s content marketing efforts will be closely tied to online and offline user experience and augmented reality moving forward. For example: In the near future, you can stand in front of a mirror in your house and virtually try on clothes which may then be tailor made to your order. Content will pop up on a virtual screen to share with you the latest fashion tips and trends and recommendations for similar outfits (the virtual service will show you with accessories that others who tried similar clothing bought.) In addition, your online experience needs to be optimized for whatever device are used by customers, from desktop, laptops, tablets, mobile devices to wearables and whatever comes next. But it is unlikely that the creation of content can be automated in the foreseeable future.

Q10: One of your earlier interviews brought the term “hero product” to my attention. Can you explain what makes a hero product?

A: In simple terms, the hero product of your company is the product that brings in the most revenue. You can also define a hero product as the one that the company wants to focus on and therefore allocates the most marketing budget for.

Do you have questions you want to ask? Send them my way!  I am ready!


Photo: <a href=’‘>pixelsaway / 123RF Stock Photo</a> Marek Uliasz

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How to Build Consistent Brand Voice with Content Marketing

Reading current news usually depresses me: global warming, terrorist attacks, even the pre-Olympic debacles. Sometimes, I feel like the apocalypse is coming. Then, there is “The Skimm”, which takes the news and explains it in a light, funny, witty and millennial voice. “We read. You Skimm” is their tagline. Here are two great examples (I added the boxes to highlight their witty writing):

content marketing example

content marketing example 2

I get my news scoops without feeling the stress. Their voice is so unique that I know a clip is from the Skimm when I read one.

Like the Skimm, each business has its own voice and writing style. The challenge is to make it unique and consistent. Uniqueness is much harder to achieve than consistency.


The unique voice of a small business is usually defined by its founder. The marketing teams take direction from their founders, therefore, the owner’s voice will indirectly be reflected in outbound marketing communications. The typical examples are your local car dealers, real estate brokers or doctors.

small business brand example

small business brand example 2

In Portland, Oregon, where I live, Emily and Molly Fisher have been doing their dad’s car dealership radio commercials, Jim Fisher Volvo, for more than 15 years. They always end with “you’ll love the way we treat you.”

One more example that comes to mind is George Foreman’s Grill Infomercial. George Forman sold millions of lean machine grill in the 90’s and 2000’s. He talks to his customers like he talks to next-door neighbors, blending a touch of southern hospitality and charm. His voice is distinctive along with his products. Here is the George’s 1996 infomercial.

The unique voice can be a specific persona (think of Flo of the Progressive Insurance or The most interesting man in the word of Dos Equis Beer) and/or a unique communication style. It’s what differentiates the business. When I hear Emily and Molly’s voice on radio, I know the ad is for Jim Fisher Volvo. When I hear George Foreman, I know it’s something related to his Grill.

The unique voice comes from how you want to present yourself and your products in front of your customers. It’s about knowing who you are and how far you are willing to go to show that. Your outlandishness can also be your uniqueness (e.g. the current GOP presidential nominee).


The consistency of your voice across various channels is a different story. Emily and Molly Fisher’s voice is only applicable to Jim Fischer’s radio commercials, not to their Facebook page, print ads, or local TV commercials. George Forman’s distinctive voice in his infomercials doesn’t apply to There are lot of reasons to not pursue inconsistency in some cases. For Jim Fisher, it’s probably about protecting his daughters’ privacy and not exposing their pictures in every medium. For George Forman, his company has simply become too big. The persona voice has grown to be more of an enterprise tone-and-manner. Personally, I’d love to see George Forman’s voice and style throughout his cooking site. I think it would add a nice and nostalgic personal touch. Maybe they should create two different landing pages, one that has more of a Forman presence, and do A/B testing to see which works best (Maybe they did that already).

If you have a team managing various marketing channels, the consistency comes from established processes and documentation. Write down “who are you” and “what is the voice” in a proper document, aka brand/style guide or communications guidance. In your guidebook, you need to address:

  • Our mission, our story (Who are you? Why do you exist?)
  • Brand persona (What are your 3-5 brand personality?)
  • Product messaging (What are the benefits of our products/services?)
  • Logo, color, typography usage
  • Image selection criteria
  • Print ad guidance
  • Video production guidance
  • Writing communications do’s and don’ts (what words resonates with the brands? Show writing examples)
  • Social media communications don’s and don’ts

Most of the brand guides cover the first five bullets above. With the rise of social media, it’s also important to address writing, image and video rules.

Once you create the guide, the next step is communication, communication and communication. At a minimal level, make sure that PR, marketing and sales have been briefed. If you have a team of brand ambassadors or employee bloggers, they should also receive the training. The more they understand the rules, the more they are likely to follow the rules.


Your voice continues to evolve as your business grows and changes. Finding your unique voice and making it consistent is a journey. My own voice has evolved extensively since I left the corporate world two years ago. The Skimm is only 4 years-old. I am curious how they will evolve their voice as they grow with their millennial audiences. As a subscriber, I am looking forward to being part of their journey.


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5 elements to maximize the synergy Between Social Media and Content Marketing


I had the pleasure of speaking at the Mashable Social Media Day hosted by Slice Communications in Philadelphia.

Since most of the attendees are social media managers, I customized my presentation and discussed how to maximize the synergy between social media and content marketing.
Here is the reality: whenever I discuss content and social media marketing with my clients, they immediately dive into what content we should produce for social media channels or how to creatively repurpose content for various channels. This is good and all, but I always ask my client to sit back (physically) and elevate themselves (mentally). I ask them to take a moment look past the trees (their daily tasks) and focus on viewing the forest (social media, from content planning’s perspective).
Let's elevate ourselves

The types of content we should produce or the creative ways of repurposing content will come naturally when we take care of “4 + 1” at a strategic level.

So, what is 4 + 1?

4+1 is about honing and aligning 4 elements with the central marketing team through 1 collaboration process.


4 elements 1 collaboration process

Once you are able to align these 4 elements through a regular communications process, everything related to execution and copy writing will come naturally.

4 Elements for Alignment

1: Objectives

Social media managers tend to focus of the numbers of retweets, shares or likes. We should certainly pay attention to those metrics, however, the key from the start is to make sure that social media objectives are aligned with the overall business objectives.

Here is the good example of converting business objective to the social media level:


Increase <x>% of <Product> revenue <$xM> by

expanding to <Segment>.


Establish <Product> as the preferred choice

for <Whom> in the <Segment> by building

awareness & driving demand.

Content Marketing: 

Build awareness and drive demand for <Product> as the preferred choice for <Whom> in the <Segment> by creating and promoting relevant content to relevant channels.

Social Media Marketing: 

Build awareness and drive demand for <Product> as the preferred choice for <Whom> in the <Segment> by creating and promoting content to relevant social media channels

Action for social media manager: Can you identify your company’s business objectives and translate them to your team’s objective?

2: Personas

We create our products or services either to solve certain problems or entertain our customers. As a marketer, it’s important to clearly identify who they are and understand as much about them as we can. In order to rally the internal team and external agencies, it’s essential to create a fictional representation of our ideal customers. That’s called the Buyer’s Persona. They are based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.

The benefits of buyer’s personas:

  • Make your audience real
  • Rally the internal and external teams
  • Share a common understanding
  • Drive messaging development
  • Guide content creation

Below is what a persona typically looks like:

 Lois Lane Persona

Social media marketing manager needs to determine if they would like to use the corporate team developed personas or create their own. This should only be done if the specialized personas also support the overall business objectives and are approved by the corporate team. Either way, social media managers should evaluate the company’s buyers’ personas and customize them for social media outreach.

Below is the example of customizing the corporate persona for social media communications.


Lois Lane customized

Action for social media manager: Does your company have buyer personas? If it does, do you need to customize the personas for social media marketing? If it doesn’t, can you create one for your social media outreach and rally your internal stakeholders and agencies?

3: Value propositions and messaging

In most companies, value propositions and messaging are product-specific. That’s not enough for daily and hourly social media outreach.  For social media marketing, messaging and value propositions need to come in the following categories:

Value Propositions

For each category, ask yourself the following questions or fill in the blanks. To write solid social media copy, you need at least 3 benefits.


  • Product-specific: what 3 benefits will the reader receive if they use _______________?
  • Event-specific: 3 reasons they need to attend ________?
  • Discount-specific: Save ______ if you act quickly.
  • Editorial-topic specific: They want to learn or be educated about __________ so they can ____________, _______, _________, ________.
  • Solution specific: Help them solve _________ so they can _______________, _________, _________


Action for social media managers: Can you create value propositions and messaging for the categories?

Alignment 4: Editorial plan

Social media managers usually have hourly, daily and weekly social media editorial. In order to see the forest, you need to have a good understanding of your company’s content. Understand what content is available now and is planned in the near horizon. Know who the subject matter experts are that can create content. Determine if there are editorial themes to guide content creation.

Action for social media manager: Can you identify existing and future content pieces?  Can you determine how to leverage content for different social media channels?  Can you take the content pieces you want to use and create a monthly and quarterly editorial plan?

A communication process

Over-communication is better than under-communication. Do you have a timely social media meeting with key internal stakeholders? The purpose of the meeting is to provide them updates and ask for their help.  In my book, Global Content Marketing, I discussed the possible agenda items for collaboration meetings.  You can refer to this blog post: How to build a collaborative relationship between headquarters and geographies.

Action for social media managers: Do you have a regular meeting to keep your stakeholders close and management closer?

In summary…

Before I do any tactical deep-dive, I work with my clients to complete the 4 elements with standard templates I’ve developed. Some clients already have all the information, it’s a matter of finding and refining it for social media communications. For some clients, we need to create everything from scratch. It’s usually a fun and frustrating journey. There is also an aspect of self-reflection and self-discovery which leads to re-evaluate overall social media objectives, messaging framework or even budget allocation.

Do you have these 4 elements in-place for your social media and content marketing efforts?  If not, it’s time to sit back and take in the forest.

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How to Be a One Person Social Media Team

How to Master Being a One Person Social Media Team

Being a one person social media team can be overwhelming. As a one person social media team, you need to wear multiple hats ranging from editorial planning as an editor, content collaboration as a program manager, social media outreach as a marcom person to analytics as a data analyst. Is it possible to do it all?

I spotted him right away at the Social Media Strategies Summit. Daniel certainly stood out in the crowd with his green hair. I was wondering what the dude with the green hair was all about. We happened to sit at the same table in one of the sessions. After a brief introduction, he told me he is the social media manager for an antivirus and security software company. I discovered that he was a one person social media team.

How is he effective at being a one person social media team? According to Daniel, it’s hard to be a one person social media team (of course, he wants to have more headcount and budget. Who doesn’t?); the trick is to leverage others’ skills, expertise, and resources whenever you can.

Here are some tips he shared with me:

  • Continuously educate other teams on what social media marketing can offer

In big enterprises, not every marketer or stakeholder fully understands the value of social media and the way to do it right and efficiently. Continuous education is still necessary. Cyber security is a technical and popular topic; blogging is an ideal way to communicate the potential threats and proposed solutions.

Most companies have their blog site as part of their main sites; this company created a separate blog site to address antivirus and cyber security topics.  11 technical experts regularly blog on various security-related topics. According to Daniel, their main website focuses on making it easy for customers to “buy” products and customer support. A separate site with security as part of domain name not only solely showcases their technical experts, but also serves well for the organic search purposes.


  • Integrate yourself into various marketing functions

Daniel is part of the PR team. The PR team understands how fast news (especially bad news) spread across social media channels. PR and social media go hand-in-hand. Daniel is also fully integrated with other marketing functions such as media, event, marcom etc., The event team invites Daniel to their planning forums, so Daniel is the amplifier for their events prior to, during and after the event. The content creators invite Daniel to their meetings so Daniel can provide feedback on the ideal formats for outbound social media communications before content formats are finalized.

The social media team can’t function as an island; social media marketing works the best when it’s fully integrated into other marketing efforts. Tweet This


  • Editorial planning is key When You’re a One Person Social Media Team

You can’t do social media without editorial planning. This company has offices in the US, Canada, Singapore, Brazil and London. Daniel manages social media for the US, but he works closely with the corporate team. A centralized editorial calendar (yes, it’s in Excel. He is looking for other tools.) is established; everyone who is interested in social media communications, content creation, and promotion can access and update the editorial calendar. A regular meeting is also set up to ensure close communications between the headquarters and regions.

Daniel also works with technical experts to put out timely posts to reflect real-time events. When the customer data from Anthem, the 2nd largest health insurer in the US, was breached, their subject matter expert immediately crafted a post with information about the breach and 5 defensive tips everyone can take.

Editorial serves as a catalyst to engage or converse with your audience. Editorial plans also need to be fluid, to “hijack” real-time events to provide timely and informative content to your audience. Tweet This


  • One format of content doesn’t fit all

Daniel stresses that it’s important to put content in the right context. Copywriting for Twitter, Facebook or even LinkedIn is slightly different, that’s why social media marketing is time-consuming and hard to do right. Promotion-centric may work well on Twitter, but it does not necessary work well on LinkedIn. Thought leadership content may work better on LinkedIn, while humorous posts or infographics work better on Facebook. Even though you have buyers personas, the same buyer persons use each social media channel differently. Same copy, same content or even the same image may not work across all channels. You need to tweak based on what you want to communicate and how your audiences use the respective channels.


  • It takes time to get management buy-in

When I was talking to Daniel, he told me that management is finally considering hiring more social media managers. He won’t be a lone ranger for long. His close alliance with various marketing functions, the sales team, and technical experts helps management see the value of social media communications. He lets other employees talk about the value of social media. Besides, it helps that Twitter and Facebook also serve as a customer service channel.

The essence of social media marketing is to help your customers first. Marketing comes after being helpful to them. Tweet This

  • Data and analytics are your BFF’s

He uses various analytics to monitor qualitative and quantitative data. A lot of social media management or syndication tools have embedded analytics. He emphasizes: “Know your tools and their features!” Numbers of views, likes and shares are important, but he focused on comments and the persons who made comments.  He made an effort to correlate the names with his company’s CRM database and share comments and other intelligence with the sales team.

Be a One Person Social Media Team

Daniel can’t do it all; he relies on a virtual team and tools to bring the company’s social media efforts to live. By talking to my industry peers, I also realized that most companies’ social media teams are small with limited budgets and lack of processes and tools. The trick is to build alliances with other stakeholders, create value for them and leverage their resources to help them to help you steadily build a one person social media team.


one person social media team

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Kelly Hungerford’s Advice on How to Prepare a Successful Twitter Chat

Kelly Hungerford’s ability to repurpose and repackage content inspired me to write the blog post, how to turn a one-hour Twitter Chat into one-week’s worth of tweets. I was not surprised that this blog post was my most shared article in December. Several readers asked me how to prepare for a successful Twitter chat and how do these tactics fit into the overall marketing objectives or purchase journey. I reached out to Kelly again and asked her the following five + bonus questions. Her responses are insightful and AWESOME!


Q: Kelly, how long have you been doing’s Twitter Chat? How many have you facilitated so far?

#BizHeroes is still just a baby in the world of Twitter chats. I started the chat back in February, 2014. So far we’ve held 42 chats this year and, although it’s a weekly chat, we won’t hit 52 because, like real people, I take vacations! (Pam: Amen, sister!)

If you can’t take time off from social media without worrying about follower counts or impressions, your brand has a bigger problem! (Pam: Kelly, I couldn’t agree with you more!)


Q: Why Twitter Chat? What are the inherent or immediate benefits? Can you quantify the success of’s Twitter Chat?

When I began researching best practices and social networks for developing brand communities, I was evenly torn between using Twitter or G+ and Google Hangouts.

Because this was a non-service oriented community, I didn’t feel obligated to use Twitter only because our largest user base was on active there or because that’s how the majority of people looking for us, find us. (Pam: you go where your users are. Very wise.)

In fact, if had not sponsored Mack Collier’s #BlogChat back in December 2012, I might have moved forward with GooglePlus as the platform. I wrote this post summarizing my thoughts on brand chats after our sponsorship.

I think we could have done something amazing on GooglePlus as a community, but in hindsight, it probably wouldn’t have been the perfect fit. (Pam: I think you made the right decision.)

I created #BizHeroes with two goals in mind:

  1. Say ‘thank you’ to the people who support us by shining the social media spotlight on them
  2. Create non product based brand awareness for

I set the goal for impressions per chat by end of 2014 at 10 million per chat. We hit that in the first couple of months. We’ve seen the #BizHeroes community rally up to 35 million impressions in sixty minutes.

During our chat with Brian Kolb on Personal Branding we were trending alongside #AlexFromTarget and the #WebSummit. We were all so excited! (Pam: you go, girl!)

How to Prepare a Successful Twitter Chat

So if we take numbers as an indicator alone, yes, it’s a success. We’re using the @Paper_li account to help put the #BizHeroes community and their insights in the spotlight. The #BizHeroes community in return helps spread awareness of the service through non-product oriented messaging. It’s a win for everyone.

Another indicator to me that we’re on the right track is the awesome write-ups from industry leaders such as yourself, Brian Fanzo, Ian Cleary to name a few. There are a heck of a lot of chats out there. It is truly an honor for the #BizHeroes community to be recognized as an up-and-coming chat.


Q: We all know about the purchase journey: awareness, consideration, purchase and post-sales. How does Twitter Chat fit into the purchase journey? (e.g. Is Twitter Chat a great top-of-the-funnel communication vehicle? Or is it good for consideration? Or is it all over the journey?)

#BizHeroes was created with the top of the funnel in mind: awareness and curiosity or interest. I quickly saw that the chat was also addressing consideration (and re-consideration) so we added a 30 day free trial that we can track and we’re seeing people take us up on it. (Pam: my gut tells me that Twitter Chat is the top of the funnel tactic. Free trial is certainly a great call-to-action to usher potential users to the next stage of purchase journey.)

A Tweet Chat can be used to address any part of the funnel but the success factor is going to be the commitment of the brand to the longevity of the chat and patience. Trust needs to be gained before you can venture from the top down. If you looking at a chat as a campaign or one of many tactics to try out, it will fail and you’ll burn your social bridges, so to speak.

Moving beyond Marketing, brands can benefit an entire company, not just marketing and sales. Product Managers can solicit product feedback, test ideas or ask the community to give input on product features. HR can look for potential hires. The sky’s the limit if the intent is authentic, caring and a win-win for both the brand and the community. (Pam: agree!)


Q: What is the process that you follow to prepare pre-chat, during-chat and post-chat?

Pre-chat prep takes the most amount of time. We set up a Google doc for each chat to capture

  • topic questions
  • introduction tweets for the topic and guest
  • promotional/teaser tweets
  • tweets, links and images that we’ll share during the chat
  • invitation/reminder tweets for the community

I shoot to have this in place Monday mornings so Magda, my co-moderator, can plan the scheduling of necessary tweets into her routine.

During the chat Magda runs the Twitter account and I come in around the side with my personal account. My job is to greet everyone at the virtual door, take their coats and make them feel welcome. Magda’s job is to send out questions and shine the spotlight on our guests from the @paper_li account.

We communicate via Skype during the chat to make sure everything is going smoothly. We’ll point out new members, tweets to highlight and so forth. It’s a real team effort. I also Skype (either voice or messaging) with the guest host. The chat moves really fast so I like to let them know when the next question has gone out. Plus, it’s fun and it is a social event so… why not be social!

Post-chat we immediately send out a Hashtracking summary to the community, thank yous and create a Storify so we can create post-chat content like Slideshares, blog posts or a Listly.

How to Prepare a Successful Twitter Chat


Q: What are three pieces of advice that you would share with brands or agencies who are interested in starting or optimizing their Twitter Chat?

  1. Plan

An hour of anyone’s time is a gift, so use that time wisely. I’m a chat newbie so I still set aside 10 hours a week for the chat.

At a minimum, it needs about 10 hours for one Chat:

  • 8 hours planning and preparation
  • 1 hour moderation
  • 1 hour follow up

I find I usually spend up to 15 hours. Hosting a chat is like hosting a party and you never know who’s going to show up. Do your best to make a good first impression every time the door opens.

Also, don’t leave anything to the last minute. Test your tools before, don’t rely on only one service to monitor your chat, have a few sorted out and tested, have a hard wire on hand in the case your wi-fi chokes and sync with your co-moderator and guest before hand.

  1. Ask the community what they want

No doubt you have goals to reach, but reaching them may involve more collaboration that you realize. Ask your community what type of topics interest them and what type of guests they would like to hear from.

Be ready to accept harsh feedback as well. If someone tells you your topics or guests are lame, inquire why and take it as a compliment. People usually give negative feedback because they truly want things to change, not because they have nothing better to do.

3 Hire a professional:

If you aren’t an experienced community builder or Tweet Chat moderator, bring someone on board to guide you.

My long-term goal was to build a community as strong and thriving as the #BlogChat community, but short-term I had internal KPIs to meet. I went straight to the source and asked Mack Collier if he would come on board as an advisor.

Much of this chat’s success is related directly to Mack’s experience in designing marketing initiatives and ambassador programs that build brand loyalty.

With or without outside help, you’re bound to make mistakes along the way. It’s worth investing in expertise though so you can avoid the basic ones and leave room for the truly unexpected.


Bonus question: What is the most chaotic (or most memorable) Twitter Chat that you facilitated and why?

It’s going to sound cheesy, but every chat has taught me a lesson to make the chat in general better. Both Magda and I incorporate lessons learned back into the chat to improve the quality and satisfaction of participants and guests.

There are a few moments that truly stand out though, like our chat with Cendrine Marrouat and the feedback she gave me afterwards. She said to me “thanks for having me as a guest, but I don’t felt anyone knew I was the guest. You didn’t make it clear”.

Her words stopped me in my tracks and I felt really bad. I reviewed our introduction and she was right. In fact, there was no formal introduction. Now each guest gets a well-deserved and proper intro, as they should. (Pam: Thanks for your great intro. for my Twitter Chat and thanks for Cendrine’s feedback.)

About Kelly Hungerford: Kelly’s a customer-centric marketer with over 25 years of experience helping special project teams and startups bootstrap operations.  She’s a specialist in connecting the dots between content, communications and customer service to grow thriving communities that turn foes into friends and users into loyal, loving brand fans. Follow her @KDHungerford.

how to prepare a successful twitter chat campaign

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