The Marketing Companion

ello govna The advent of Ello has been one of the most interesting developments of the year. The new social network promises a simple, ad-free platform to connect and share. Wait. Ad-free you say? In fact, the platform's founder, Paul Budnitz, has been making the media rounds proclaiming he "doesn't care about money." While there is probably more to this network than pure virtue, Ello is undeniably HOT, signing up 30,000 new users every HOUR. Many bloggers are trumpeting this little start-up as the Facebook killer but is that realistic? Is it possible? And when the stripped-down application offers significantly less functionality than the ad-free Google+, why is this even catching on? Is this something important, or simply a reaction to failures of other networks? Tom Webster and I could not resist exploring this topic on our latest podcast which is sure to get you thinking about social media platforms in a new way. This is a jam-packed 30 minutes and just a few of the nuggets include ...

The advent of Ello has been one of the most interesting developments of the year. The new social network promises a simple, ad-free platform to connect and share. Wait. Ad-free you say? In fact, the platform's founder, Paul Budnitz, has been making the media rounds proclaiming he "doesn't care about money." While there is probably more to this network than pure virtue, Ello is undeniably HOT, signing up 30,000 new users every HOUR. Many bloggers are trumpeting this little start-up as the Facebook killer but is that realistic? Is it possible? And when the stripped-down application offers significantly less functionality than the ad-free Google+, why is this even catching on? Is this something important, or simply a reaction to failures of other networks? Tom Webster and I could not resist exploring this topic on our latest podcast which is sure to get you thinking about social media platforms in a new way. This is a jam-packed 30 minutes and just a few of the nuggets include ...

  • Social media and the advertising "bargain"
  • Ello and the implications for brands
  • The economics of privacy -- Why don't Americans care?
  • The biggest problem facing Ello -- it's not what you think!
  • Dynamics of Ello may force better content
  • Economic models that are under-utilized on the web
  • Opt-in advertising for brands -- the future or a privacy nightmare?

Ready to roll? Here we go:

Resources mentioned in this podcast


Scott Monty

The questions that aren't being asked about Ello, a blog post by Douglas Karr

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Direct download: TMC.34.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 4:29pm EST

authenticity My friend Justin Levy just had brain surgery. He went into the operation not quite knowing what would be on the other side. Despite this personal nightmare, Justin's social media presence was extraordinarily brave, honest, and revealing. Through his timely and detailed posts, his friends and followers could get a daily peek into every aspect of his trial. His successful operation was finally trumpeted with a triumphant "thumbs up photo" on Facebook. Thousands of people felt relief.


This very public, courageous journal of his trials made a big impact on me and my podcasting mate Tom Webster. In fact, it became the seed for our newest Marketing Companion podcast. Under the same circumstances, what would you do? And let's take the conversation a step further. What is the professional expectation of the much-discussed "authenticity?" Is anybody really authentic? Can you be strategically authentic? The result is a fascinating discussion and I think you are really going to enjoy this episode. Here are some of the topics we cover:

  • How important is establishing your personal social media "character?"
  • The difference between transparency and authenticity
  • The burden, privilege, and complexities of representing your brand online
  • The tightrope between personal and professional revelations on the web
  • Drawing the line -- over-sharing and personal authenticity in service of the business
  • Social Accounts: The Resume of Your Life
  • Social media ambassadorship -- The new professional skill?

Are you ready for this? Of course you are!  

Resources mentioned in this podcast

Content Marketing World

Kevin Spacey speech at CMW

Tom Webster Share of Ear for podcasting presentation

Justin Levy and his new Unstoppable Blog

Scott Monty


top Illustration "Shadow Selfies" taken by Mark Schaefer in Wales 2014

Our podcast is brought to you by Voices Heard Media. Please check out this tremendous resource for scaling social media engagement. 

Direct download: TMC.33.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 2:00pm EST

boundaries of inbound marketing One of the most interesting aspects about being an observer in this particular time and place in the history of marketing is watching the continuous cycle of innovation, experimentation, and maturity. The dynamics of our age are unprecedented and exciting. For example, let's say we were in the 1970s. In that entire decade, what innovation caused us to re-think marketing strategy? There was probably one in the entire ten-year-period: the emergence of cable TV. If you compare it to what we face today, it really re-defines what marketing is all about, doesn't it? We need a core competency in the ability to effectively assess the relevancy of a technological innovation and rapidly reject it or deploy it. Another advantage we have today as marketers is the wave upon wave of data coming at us to help us make these decisions. One interesting data point emerged last week that was the catalyst for a much-needed conversation -- what are the boundaries of inbound marketing? The data point was a public filing revealing that HubSpot -- which defined the term "inbound marketing" -- is still hemorrhaging money after eight years and its sales and marketing costs are arguably higher than what would be expected from a "traditional" approach. On the surface, this would seem to break the inbound promise. Or does it?

The boundaries of inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is a concept that certainly should be reaching some level of maturity by now. The strategy works, in most cases. But the revelation from Hubspot provokes the question ... does it work everywhere, and for how long? In our latest Marketing Companion podcast Tom Webster and I dissect this issue, starting with the fact that inbound marketing might mean different things to different companies based on industry structure and size. Let's hold this trend up to a strong light and take a look at the possible boundaries of inbound marketing.

  • Does content marketing work in a highly-competitive space?
  • Is content marketing as efficient as we think?
  • Should the goal of inbound be leads, relationships, or both? Is that possible?
  • Hubspot shows that you also need traditional sales and advertising tactics. What is the balance? What can we learn from this?
  • Do quarterly sales goals and the financial responsibilities to shareholders inhibit the potential of content marketing?
  • Is there an eventual diminishing return to content marketing and how do we anticipate that?

Ready to learn more? Here we go:

Resources mentioned in this podcast

Tom's blog on the Hubspot earnings announcement Is Inbound Marketing Profitable or Simply a Slogan?

Z.E.R.O.: Zero Paid Media as the New Marketing Model by Joseph Jaffe

Marcus Sheridan's idea about Content Saturation Index

Direct download: TMC.32.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 5:53pm EST

facebook reach Is there any greater source of emotional debate and mis-information on the web today than Facebook reach? I recently had a little debate on this subject with a person who wrote a glowing article on the promise of Facebook reach -- despite what appears to be pretty bad news in this corner of the web. I challenged him -- Why write an article that seems to be so counter to the facts? "I'm tired of so much negativity about Facebook," he said. "I wanted spin the facts in a more positive way." With so much at stake and so much mythology out there, it is certainly difficult to know who to believe or what to believe any more .... and we certainly do not need to be "spinning the facts." Part of the reason for so much confusion is that the truth is hard to come by. The real numbers are hidden behind company administrative accounts. There are only a few companies in the world with access to enough of these Facebook pages to make a meaningful statement about the true nature of Facebook reach.

The truth about Facebook reach

One of these rare companies is AgoraPulse, and my friend Emeric Ernoult The company's founder) was kind enough to share his raw data with Tom Webster and I to dissect on our latest episode of The Marketing Companion podcast. We were able to dive into the numbers behind 8,000 Facebook pages over the past 12 months and we found some surprising facts:

  • More than 70 percent of all companies across 104 industry designations had a decline in organic reach of 30 percent or more in the past year. I think it is accurate to say the decline in Facebook reach has been incredibly steep and rapid.
  • While Facebook brand pages reach an average of 6 percent of their fans, there is wide variation by company and industry. The declines ranged as low as 1 percent to as high as 65 percent
  • Only 6 percent of the industry categories have seen Facebook organic reach grow or remain steady in the past 12 months.
  • There is definitely a "hierarchy of conversation" among brands that leads to higher Facebook reach. Certain types of companies are just more conversational, leading to better reach. For example, nearly 550 pages consistently still have organic reach of 40 percent or more. Media companies and sports-related brands top the list.

This last point was especially interesting to Tom and I and one of the things we discussed on the podcast was the concept of using the data as a predictive model -- Could you guide a Facebook strategy based on a number that indicates potential engagement level?  Let's look at some of the numbers: high facebook reach   low facebook reach The decline in organic reach was steeper and more rapid than I expected. No wonder marketing strategies are in turmoil if organic reach has declined 30 percent or more for some companies in such a short period of time: facebook reach 3

What's the recipe for higher organic reach?

AgoraPulse gets to see more Facebook success stories than almost any company out there. So what is the key to success? The company's founder Emeric Ernoult shared these tips: "As with everything in the online world, there's no one-size-fits-all recipe. But to help focus on some success themes, I've hand-picked four Facebook pages that are doing extremely well and enjoying an average post reach above 50 percent of their fan base. Let's learn from them." Animals Australia OK, granted, this non-profit is about protecting animals and people love visuals of animals (and love their pets!). But they don't only post good looking puppies, they also post a lot of very interesting content relating to their cause. You're in the animals business? Facebook will make you happy. The Daily Muse Career advice? Yes, the Muse is a real business with a real business model (selling job postings to employers) but they also have so much content (very helpful and insightful content!) that their fans are engaged way above average. Super Chevy Mag Car lovers love to share their passion. And they usually love to read magazines that focus on that passion. Having a Facebook page for such a magazine cannot be a bad idea. Maxxess Maxxess is a French e-commerce site selling motorbike accessories. There is no doubt that motorbike owners are very passionate about their bike and the biking lifestyle. If you sell stuff to people who have a passion, Facebook is a must.Episode 31 What do these 4 pages have in common:

  • They target an audience with a strong passion
  • They publish very good content (at least, very good for their target audience)
  • They publish very consistently (at least once a day, often more)
  • They get a LOT of shares (thanks to the 3 points above), and shares are what offers the highest level of "viral" visibility for a page's content.

I'm sure you'll agree this is pretty interesting stuff but to get the inside scoop, you'll want to check out our new podcast, which also covers a hilarious new social media app called "Get a Room!" 

Direct download: TMC.31.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 6:27pm EST

time for twitter   Are you using Twitter for your business? Maybe the time for Twitter is now if you consider some of the trends on this popular social media platform:

  • Twitter has momentum. Revenue jumped 124 percent in the latest quarter, and it "beat the Street" estimates for user growth.
  • Twitter shined during the World Cup, owning the online conversation for the planet's biggest sporting event.
  • It appears that Twitter is preparing a "buy now" button.

In our new Marketing Companion podcast, Tom Webster and I dissect the economics of Twitter for business and demonstrate why this might be the best time to integrate Twitter into your marketing plans. Some of the podcast highlights:

  • How Twitter is giving a free advertising bonus most businesses don't know about.
  • How to use Lead Generation Cards as a free business-building tool.
  • Twitter has become the de facto "second screen" for television -- what does this mean to the value of Twitter for business?
  • Although only 16 percent of adult Americans have active accounts, more than three times that number actively see tweets or watch a Twitter stream without logging in -- a "ghost audience" for businesses that does not show up in the numbers.
  • Why analysts should not keep lumping Twitter in with Facebook and LinkedIn
  • Businesses are overlooking powerful free research capabilities -- we provide a real example and look at the three levels of free Twitter search
  • The meaning of Twitter for personal networking

Both Tom and I agree on this one -- this is an excellent time for businesses to look at Twitter as a research, advertising, and networking platform, Ready to check out the podcast?

Resources mentioned in this podcast

The book The Tao of Twitter, Revised and Expanded New Edition: Changing Your Life and Business 140 Characters at a Time Songza, a curated music channel Christel Quek of Twitter Jay Baer's book Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is about Help Not Hype

Direct download: TMC.30.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

the right to be forgotten Have you tried The Marketing Companion podcast yet? People seem to love the humor and intelligence of our audio marketing adventures. If you have not listened in yet, this would be a great edition to begin with. In this show, Tom Webster and I were far too caffeinated to stick to one subject so we decided to go through a grab bag of current topics including: Erasing yourself from Google. New European Union legislation on "the right to be forgotten" allows people to remove themselves from search results. Why hasn't this been an issue in the U.S,?  And what happens when you have the ability to remove yourself from history? There are also some profound implications for marketers and content creators. Buyer personas -- Tom and I open up a "mental can of worms" when we discuss the use and perhaps over-use of buyer personas and the difference between "audience" and "buyers." Are you sure you know who your buyers are? Are personas always necessary? Do personas kill great content? LinkedIn blogging -- An important source of business content or more Content Shock? Tom and I disagree on this topic. Content inspiration -- Tom and I share key tips for finding new topic ideas for our blogs. My goodness. It is a veritable cornucopia of marketing delight! No time to waste now, click here to dive in:

Note August 18, 2014: Since we did this podcast, Shel Holtz added this comment for clarification which I wanted to add to the show notes: "I just listened to the latest Marketing Companion (which I enjoy tremendously). I'm sure you've heard this by now, but Google does not ask anyone to remove content based on the European Right to be Forgotten. They're sending notices to people whose content is affected, but all Google does is remove the link -- and only in Europe. The metaphor: They're not asking the library to remove any books, but they ARE removing the card from the card catalog so the book can't be found. For really good, eloquent rants on this, listen to Jeff Jarvis on recent episodes of This Week in Google." 

Direct download: TMC.29.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

king of facebook Complaining about Facebook has become one of the web's favorite spectator sports. But if you were the king of Facebook, what would you do to fix it? Well, Tom Webster and I decided to do something about it. We appointed ourselves the potentate and caliph of Facebook for a day and solved all of the company's problems in 30 minutes. Impossible you say? Well, we can cover a heck of a lot of ground in just one podcast, like ...

  • Can Facebook be a profitable company without pissing people off?
  • How much personal information is too much?
  • Is Facebook lacking data or insight?
  • Why is Facebook advertising no better than TV?
  • The dynamics that will drive Facebook's content quality down.
  • Facebook Deluxe -- a new revenue model?
  • The ethical house is not in order -- Why this is bad business and what to do about it.
  • Data reserves as a strategic weapon and how Facebook can create competitive advantage by leading on the data protection issues.
  • Why doesn't Facebook pay us for our content?
  • Should Facebook take the comapny private?

Like I said -- A lot of food for thought here. What's that you say?

You can't wait another minute?

Well, let's get to it!

Resources mentioned in the podcast

Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination (Vintage)

Hershey: Milton S. Hershey's Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire, and Utopian Dreams

Mark's post about the Facebook experiment

Tom's post about the Facebook experiment

Content Shock blog post

Why Facebook will be the most dangerous company on earth

Direct download: TMC.28.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

disruptive strategy It seems everywhere you go these days people are talking about Disruption as the next big business "thing." There are packed disruption conferences, disruption books, disruption consultants. But here is the nagging question I've had tumbling through my mind. Is it really possible to be strategic around disruption?  Is it possible for disruption to be a plan ... or is disruption the explanation of what happened after the fact? I've been conflicted on this because it runs counter to what I've learned and experienced. In graduate school I had the amazing experience of classes from Peter Drucker just as he completed his book Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In my mind this is the finest book on innovation ever written! Some of main points of the book include:

  • Effective innovation is continuous, not disruptive
  • Almost all innovation aimed at disruption fails. Let others fail and then pick up their pieces (Apple has been brilliant at this)
  • The most effective entrepreneurs manage innovation in a way to minimize exposure and risk.

Obviously these lessons from the master have had a big impact on me. They formed my key approach to innovation for more than a decade. This is why it has been difficult for me to jump on the disruption and Cult of Failure bandwagon. Of course disruption happens. But can you really MAKE it happen any more than you can MAKE "viral" happen? So it was timely when my friend Billy Mitchell of MLT Creative turned me on to an article in The New Yorker called The Disruption Machine by Jill Lepore. In this brilliant piece Lepore dissects the famous The Innovator's Dilemma (an argument against continuous improvement) and makes a compelling case against Disruption as a strategy. This article became the cernterpiece of the latest Marketing Companion podcast between myself and Tom Webster. The synaptic connections were really humming on this one as we debate the idea of Disruption Strategy. I think you'll love it:

Other resources mentioned in this podcast:

The Strategy Paradox: Why Committing to Success Leads to Failure (And What to do About It)

Podcast on 3D printing as a disruptive technology

Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance by Michael Porter

Book links are affiliate links.

MLT Creative is an occasional business partner and an advertiser on {grow}.

Direct download: TMC.27.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 2:24pm EST

disruption There are so many shifting sands on the marketing landscape that it might seem overwhelming. But there are two trends that deserve to be on your radar screen and that is the topic of the latest scintillating edition of The Marketing Companion. After Tom and I enjoy a non-traditional gift exchange for the one-year anniversary of the podcast, we dissect what we believe to be important trends to consider moving forward:

1) The use of "big data" to actually predict mega-trends and market outcomes

2) 3D Printing.

The second one might seem a little strange to list as a marketing trend but if you listen to the logic on the podcast I think you'll agree that this could have a huge impact on cost and price, delivery, availability, sourcing, distribution models ... well, just about everything marketers should care about. What's that you say? You want to get to the freaking podcast and fast? Well here it is, with no further delay!

Direct download: TMC.26.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 4:08pm EST

invisible blogger By Mark Schaefer My friend and podcast co-host Tom Webster recently penned a really honest and thought-provoking post called "Authorship." In the post, Tom laments that the more he guest posts and syndicates his writing, the less relevant he may become. I know that sounds counter-intuitive but he makes some good points. The web cares about CONTENT, not necessarily authors, and Tom postulates that in our frenzy to write and distibrute content, we may be creating more and more work only to become less and less visible. Are you getting lost in the ether of the blogosphere? Are we writing content that benefits others while our own authorship gets buried? It is a very different conversation from what you usually see on the web and we thought this topic would make an extraordinary podcast ... which it did. We cover a lot of ground, including:

  • Should you find your audience, or let your audience find you?
  • What is the benefit of syndicating your content? Statistically, it may not make sense!
  • Is the age of the independent blogger over? Has the paradigm shifted?
  • Where are the new voices in the field? Are there any?
  • Can a solo blogger compete with corporate sites?
  • What is the true ROI of "exposure?" What is the risk of over-exposure?

You're probably half-crazed by now waiting to hear this podcast so let's have no further delay: Resources mentioned in this podcast:

Resources mentioned in this podcast:

Gini Dietrich's post on the end of the independent blogger

70 Rising Social Media Stars

Blogging platform Medium

Twister (analog version)

Direct download: TMC.25.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 11:56am EST