20 Feb 2013
Jeff Bullas is a thought leader on social media and online marketing. I met with him last week and was struck at how focused he is on working with companies and executives to optimize their online personal and company presence through the use of social media and other web and mobile technologies. The thing with Jeff is he truly walks his talk:
- Jeff’s blog is ranked #14 in the Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers by Forbes.com.
- His blog is rated by the Huffington Post as one of the “Top 100 Business, Leadership and Technology Twitter Accounts You Must Follow“
- He is the author of the best selling – “Blogging the Smart Way – How to Create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media” on Amazon.
- His blog receives over 4 million page views per year and is read in 190 countries
- He has 130,000 Twitter followers
- His presentations have been viewed on Slideshare over 200,000 times
- He has a Klout Score of 81.
I asked him how he got there and what tips he had for aspiring thought leaders.
Jeff over a period of 3-4 years you have positioned yourself as a thought leader in optimising content online and social media marketing strategies. How did you do it and what tips can you give to other aspiring thought leaders out there?
It started with a passion for social media when I saw its impact on people and on the web. I then decided to create a blog which I could write and create content about my observations of the potential, growth and my experiences of the social media revolution.
The next stage involved building followers on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and sharing that content with them.
So those are my 3 tips.
- Build a presence online (blog) that is based on your passion
- Create focused content that adds value to your readers
- Build online tribes on social networks
If you persist with these and are consistent then the magic happens.
While we have a plethora of online platforms such as blogs, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, etc you have a very strategic approach to these platforms and how content should be used online – what are some of the golden rules?
The model I use is to own and build a personal brand with a blog that is self-hosted and has my own domain. I use WordPress as the platform for that. It is my online portal that I control. You operate it under your own terms and conditions and not Facebook’s or any other social network oligarch. I call it the “hub and outpost” model. The blog is the hub and the outposts are the social networks. Create and publish content at the hub and distribute it at the outposts.
The social networks are just the ambassadors that crowd source the distribution and marketing of that content. In terms of what social networks to play on the answer is simple; focus on the social media platforms where your target audience hangs out.
By the way I am on all of those platforms you mentioned as publishing to them doesn’t take much time.
Many people focus on Facebook but I have found that a deliberate approach to Twitter will pay bigger dividends to get your message and content onto the web.
What’s the best online thought leadership or content marketing campaign you’ve seen and why?
The problem with social media and content marketing is that it is sometimes seen the same way as traditional marketing, which is very campaign driven. You move from one campaign to the next. Social media and content marketing should be viewed as “continuous” marketing. One piece of content and one tweet at a time. You build an online personal and thought leadership brand by the consistent creation of multi-media content.
One great example of this is Gary Vaynerchuk who built a thought leadership brand around his knowledge of wine. He did this by creating a video blog 5 days a week on Wine and took the revenue from $3 million a year to $50 million.
You consult and speak to companies around the world; what are the biggest barriers to corporations becoming great content generators or even thought leaders? What would your advice be to overcome these?
The problem is that most companies are run by baby boomers who are still stuck in the paradigm of traditional marketing. They do not want to give away their ideas (content) as they see that as their “Intellectual property” or “IP”. That is a hard habit to overcome.
You need to give away your content till it hurts.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to an aspirant content generator or someone who wants to become a thought leader in their space?
You need to learn the how to write and create content that is easy to consume and read for the web. This includes writing great headlines, use plain and simple language (no acronyms please) and use subtitles and bullet points.
From your personal experience what are some of the key benefits of a thought leadership position for an individual or a company?
What I have experienced is that it opens up business opportunities globally. It also creates deeper ties and personal relationships that increase revenue.
Oh yes, it also makes business much more fun.
What’s the next big thing in the online world?
The biggest change and next big thing is that the web is becoming more mobile as high speed wireless data networks spread and smart phones and tablets proliferate. Creating content that can be viewed anytime and anywhere that is easy to read or view is vital.
Craig Badings is a director at Sydney-based, Cannings Corporate Communications. He has consulted to companies small and large, listed and unlisted across Australia and South Africa about their communication strategies, corporate reputation and thought leadership. He is the co-author of #THOUGHT LEADERSHIP Tweet: 140 Prompts for Designing and Executing an Effective Thought Leadership Campaign. He published his first book in 2009: “Brand Stand: seven steps to thought leadership”
31 Jan 2011
If you’re interested about how we will all get around in the future put these dates in your diaries – February 1st, 8th , 15th, and the 22nd. On each of these days BMW will release one part of its four part documentary series on future technology, culture, cities, etc and how it relates to the future of mobility.
This is a great example of thought leadership from one of the world’s leading car brands. Fellow PR practitioner, Trevor Young alerted me to it in his blog and it was too good an opportunity not to follow up and analyse in more detail.
The BMW microsite dedicated to this thought leadership piece describes the project as follows:
“Wherever You Want To Go” is the first release under BMW Documentaries—a new franchise dedicated to crafting original, thought-provoking and entertaining content. The film aims to take audiences to a place they’ve truly never been: the future. From the minds of some of the most influential scientists, academics, pioneers, and entrepreneurs of our time, this four-part documentary paints a unique picture of technology, culture, cities, our past, present and how it all relates to the future of mobility.
“Wherever You Want To Go” is not meant to provide definitive answers, but rather, to ask the right questions from the right people in an attempt to generate discussion, provoke thought and stir the imagination. As part of the Activate the Future website, viewers are also encouraged to click and comment on various points throughout the documentary.
BMWActivatetheFuture.com was created to get users actively involved in the ever-evolving conversation on the future of mobility. Over the coming months, this site will continue to explore new ways to shape the future of mobility and will encourage users’ opinions and participation along the way.
Hitting the thought leadership button on its head
In every way the intentions of BMWActivatetheFuture.com hits the right thought leadership buttons – time will tell whether this truly is a thought leadership platform or just a great PR gimmick. My instincts tell me that this campaign goes to the very culture of the organisation and is one that will grow to become a great thought leadership piece.
One only need examine the explanation above to realise in principle, it ticks all the right thought leadership boxes i.e.
· it is not overtly product focused
· it aims to generate discussion
· it maximises the use of third party experts
· it proactively promotes discussion and interaction with the brand through multiple channels
· it is a conversation and encourages debate
· it is clearly of interest to most of us who drive cars
· it will provide a great platform for BMW experts and leaders to talk about the future of mobility.
But there are some key thought leadership questions that need to be asked
As the campaign progresses, there are some key questions that will need to answered in order to measure its efficacy:
1. Does it/has it met its objectives and what were these? Have these been clearly set out?
2. Are these objectives measurable? If so what measurement criteria have been put in place?
3. Will it directly impact sales or brand awareness over time and how is this being measured?
4. Is it going to become part of the culture of the entire organisation right down to the sales guy on the floor of BMW dealership and how is this being achieved?
5. How is the content being stretched and leveraged across multiple audiences and channels?
6. What commitment (time and resources) are the BMW executives giving to this campaign?
These are for starters, I’m sure you probably have a whole lot more and I would love to hear them if you do. These six questions will drive rigorous focus and, I believe, greater success for the campaign in the long-term.
Well done BMW, I can’t wait for the first documentary tomorrow. FYI, it is entitled “The new city” and according to the website, it is about the way we live and how it will impact the way we move.