Welcome to show number 36 of the Content Champion podcast, thank you for listening. This time round I'm delighted to be speaking with experienced social media marketing professional, Bernie Borges.
If you've been struggling with your social media strategy, then this podcast is required listening.
Not only does Bernie shed light on what many organisations are doing wrong with social media marketing, but he also shares what it means to be a truly ‘social business' – in line with his popular TV show and podcast of the same name.
The CEO of Find and Convert, plus a talented author, blogger and multimedia broadcaster, Bernie has worked with some of the biggest brands in North America, and knows what it takes to see success when selling through social media channels.
In this half hour show, he imparts some incredible advice on how to fit all the pieces together to create a social media strategy that works.
On top of being an expert in his field, Bernie is an all-round nice guy – which counts for a great deal in my book, so I was delighted he agreed to be my guest on the show.
In this fascinating 30-minute episode, we discuss:
Plus! The PS Question! Bernie shares a social media marketing strategy that will help change the culture of your company for the better!
Resources mentioned in this show:
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Announcer: Welcome to the official podcast at contentchampion.com. Join our heroic quest to discover truly epic content marketing. Introducing your host, the Content Champion himself, Loz James.
Loz James: Hi guys. Welcome to episode 36 of the Content Champion Podcast. Thanks so much for listening. I genuinely appreciate it. On the show this time, I'm delighted to be speaking with a multitalented Bernie Borges, experienced inbound and content marketer, social media marketing expert, and Founder and CEO of Find and Convert.
To add to an incredible CV, Bernie is also an author, popular blogger, and host of the Social Business Engine Podcast and TV Show.
With someone of Bernie’s caliber on the show, I thought it would be a great idea to assess the state of social media marketing going into 2015, and see what’s working now and what will continue to work throughout the year. Let’s dive in. Thanks for coming on, Bernie.
Bernie Borges: Great to be here, Loz. Thanks for having me.
Loz James: Now, you’re a highly experienced inbound marketer and social media marketing expert, and Founder and CEO of Find and Convert, the leading digital marketing agency in Florida. On top of all these accomplishments, you’re also an author, blogger, podcaster, and host of your own digital TV show.
There’s no better authority than you to discuss the state of social media marketing going into 2015. I would dive into this shortly but first, could you tell us about how you got started in the industry please?
Bernie Borges: Sure. It’s been a journey. I appreciate your introduction but it’s a journey, Loz. I have a corporate career that’s spins a few decades. I don’t think I want to divulge exactly how many decades but suffice to say that I spent several years in sales in the software industry.
Then, I made a little bit of a ruckus toward the end of my sales career by raising my hand to the marketing people and saying, “You should be doing this and you should be doing that,” in terms of how they can help the sales team be more effective.
They invited me to come in to the marketing team and actually embraced it. That was my transition from being in a sales role and actually, by then, I was in sales management and I transitioned into marketing. This was out in California, in the Silicon Valley area.
That led to another roughly ten years in marketing. I had this corporate career, Loz, that was sales, carrying a bag, if you will, as well as managing a sales staff in technology sales, specifically software.
Then, going over to the marketing side for product, and corporate marketing, and branding, and lead generation, and all of that. Then, eventually, that led me to joining a fairly sizeable digital agency located here in Florida. This was about maybe 13 years ago.
Then, the bubble burst, the dot com bubble burst, and so there’s a lot of downsizing, rightsizing that took place.
Then, shortly after that, I started my own agency which is Find and Convert, and really started focusing on the midsized B2B market and really focused on lead generation for B2B companies.
I really came out from that corporate experience from both sales and marketing, and then the transition into the agency world.
Loz James: Just as an aside here, tell me about Florida because as a boy, I was absolutely transfixed by…is it Cape Canaveral where the shuttle launches used to take place?
Bernie Borges: That is correct. Florida is a very large state. We actually just moved from the number four position to the third largest state in the US from a population standpoint.
It’s a very diverse state. It’s a long state. At the north end, it’s cold and can be even snowy. Then, way at the south end, it’s bummy and tropical. I’m in the middle. I’m in the Tampa Bay area on the west coast of Florida.
Cape Canaveral is on the east coast of Florida because really, the whole state is a peninsula. It just sticks out from the bottom of the United States of America. It’s one very long peninsula. It would take about nine hours to drive from one end to the other.
Loz James: Wow, it’s like really the length of Britain almost but shorter, but it’s a massive state.
Bernie Borges: Yeah, it’s about pushing 20 million people.
Loz James: Wow, okay.
Bernie Borges: Yeah, yeah.
Loz James: Now, the reason I wanted to have you as a guest on the show today is because your approach to social media from marketing intrigues me and radio saying that companies should stop using tactics and focus on strategy when it comes to this. What do you mean by this approach?
Bernie Borges: Yes. Loz, I wrote a book that published in 2009 called Marketing 2.0. Even though that book is going on six years old, it’s still very relevant because what I spoke about even back then was the whole concept of engaging with people and building relationships online.
What I still see even now in 2015, I still see a lot of brands and a lot of individuals that use social as a broadcasting channel only. It’s okay to do some of that. We all do that.
I broadcast content and that sort of thing but from a brand standpoint, it’s so important to really approach social from the standpoint of not doing social but being social.
Do you know how when you go to an event, a physical event, let’s call it the proverbial cocktail party, we’re social unless you’re going to sit in a corner and not talk to anyone in which case you’re not social but you don’t walk up to a group of people and just start broadcasting things about you and selling and promoting. Intuitively, we know not to do that but yet, even in 2015, a lot of brands do that.
That’s why I’ve even tried to use the shock factor by saying, I don’t even like the phrase social media marketing. I would rather say, let’s approach it as social business because every one of us, you, me and anyone listening is either running a business or works at a business, and that business has a product or a service, even if it’s a nonprofit has a product or service for which there’s an exchange of money. Again, even in nonprofits.
We really should be approaching it with, what are the business goals? Let’s define those business goals, and then let’s create a marketing plan – notice how I’m using a broad phrase there – a marketing plan that includes social, it includes content, it’s integrated, it brings together all the elements that need to be brought together for us to find our target customer, engage with them in a relevant and a human way, and add value to their life, be useful to them.
Then, along the way, you can certainly offer opportunities to learn more about your product or service. The traditional calls to action, that sort of thing, build your list, nurture them, continue to build your relationships with them and along the way, have those calls to actions that can in fact contribute to sales which is what most of us in the end are out to accomplish, but approach it from a business standpoint and not from, “I want to grow my Twitter following. I want to grow my Facebook following,” and there’s so much of those vanity metrics that have been the focus for too many years in my opinion.
Loz James: Really, what comes out of that is that businesses who are just doing a bit of social media for the sake of it could be doing more harm than good.
Bernie Borges: In some cases, they can be doing more harm than good, as well as they can get limited or no results. How many times have you heard somebody in the company say, “We tried social media, and it didn’t work,” because what they tried was the wrong approach or maybe they delegated it to somebody that frankly doesn’t even know what they’re doing, and they took this approach to it, and they just started broadcasting.
Too many brands overlook the words social and social media. The concept of being social and instead of looking at social media as a way to be social as one of the elements in their marketing strategy, they instead look at social media as broadcast channels, just to broadcast their messages. Even here in 2015, we’re still seeing a lot of that.
What you’ve seen me really talk about as you’ve consumed any of my content, Loz, is let’s operate as a business. Let’s run our businesses and use social in a context of our business. That’s why I’ve embraced the phrase, social business. That’s my podcast that I know you know about is called the Social Business Engine because we talk about social in the context of business.
Loz James: Okay. I’m a small to medium-sized enterprise owner and I’m sitting there with my team. We’ve been doing some social media work. How do I put this back and say, “Okay, it hasn’t been working for us. What are the steps that I now need to take to get this back on course?”
Bernie Borges: First of all, it’s really important to know who your customer is and it’s really important to do what the industry has come to call a persona analysis, and I know you’re familiar with this, Loz.
Doing that persona analysis and segmenting your customer into different personas, and understanding exactly what their wants and needs are, and I like to put some emphasis on the emotional needs of the customer because in most cases, customers make an emotional decision and that even stands true to B2B.
Knowing who your customer is and putting a plan in place, a game plan, that allows you to reach the customer where they are, engage with them at a human level, not just through your logo. That’s hugely important. Then, through that engagement, finding ways and opportunities to take that engagement to different levels and produce business outcomes from that.
Loz James: This does require, doesn’t it though, if you like, a change of mindset because it occurs to me that a lot of what people are now calling the C-suite, the senior managers, the top tier in companies, and also the people on the ground at the coal face, if they need to be doing something in a certain way, the sales team, the marketing team, it might be quite difficult to get their head around all this, mightn’t it?
Bernie Borges: It’s interesting that you say that, Loz, because I actually wrote about that in my book way back in 2009. It absolutely requires a mindset shift. It’s not just a mindset shift. It’s also a behavior shift.
If the C-suite in a business can understand that social is not about broadcasting but can understand that it’s truly about making human connections. Then, in those connections, driving toward business outcomes that have been defined, then it’s not just the mindset shift but how are we going to change our behavior?
Simple example is let’s start migrating from just the brand doing social to the people in the company being social. Yes, that’s both a mindset shift and a behavioral shift because for some people, that’s a very uncomfortable transition. We’re actually asking them, suggesting that the people become active on social.
Depending on the size of the organization, this can be an easy thing or it can be an extremely difficult thing depending on the size of the organization and other factors starting with culture, the culture of the company.
If you can really create a culture or already have a culture where you can really empower employees to be social, allow them to be themselves and arm them with content, arm them with dos and donts.
This is where we get into the G word, governance. One of my own discoveries, Loz, is that governance, I used to think of governance as something very legal, and also something negative like here’s all the things you can’t do, is what I used to think governance was in a business as it relates to using social.
In fact, the companies that are very successful with a governance policy, what they actually accomplished, Loz, is they give their employees confidence because instead of governance being viewed as negative, and here’s all the things you can’t do, it’s a plain English, well-written, non-legal document.
It’s only a few pages, not 50 pages but 2, 3, 4 ,5 pages that explains the strategy how we want to reach our customer, how we want to engage our customer and guidelines on how to do it effectively so that the end result is not something as perceived negatively but something that’s actually perceived very positively, and really gives employees confidence as opposed to fearing that they’re going to get fired by using social media on behalf of their company.
Loz James: The one thing that comes out of that is perhaps social is as social does, and what I mean by that is many organizations with perhaps even the layout, the physical layout of their office and the culture that extends from that, by definition quite empty social places perhaps to be in existing and working.
Extending that on to a corporate culture and how you present your brand to the wider world is perhaps just more than training which I’m going to get on to next, but like you say, it’s something that companies are going to struggle with if they just set in their ways and perhaps stuck in a rock with how they traditionally do things.
Bernie Borges: You make an excellent point because culture is not something that you just build overnight and it’s not something that just applies to using social media. Culture is something that either exists or doesn’t exists.
Some companies have no culture or some companies have a very close culture. Like you said, if the office layout is set up so that it’s really not inspirational to be social, then it’s difficult for an organization like that to say, “Okay, let’s be social on social media,” when the physical setting of the company doesn’t contribute to a culture that is social. That’s a really excellent point.
See, that’s why I like the phrase social business. It’s about the business. It’s not about social media. It’s about how we’re operating the business. I heard someone say recently and I really love this, and that is, social business is really just about doing business the way that we live our lives today.
The way that we live our lives today is we have smartphones, and we have laptops, and we have tablets, and we have internet access at our fingertips all day long, and we have social media tools and platforms available to us all day long.
I realize at different industries like in healthcare for example, doctors, nurses, lab technicians, they’re not in a position to use social media throughout the day while they’re doing their work because they’re busy treating patients.
I understand that from one industry to the next, the dynamics can be very different but the point is that we have a technology of social at our fingertips. Now, every company needs to consider how does their culture fit into the world that we live in today which is a digitally-connected world?
Announcer: You’re listening to the Content Champion Podcast showcasing the best content marketing strategies across the web.
Loz James: We’re back with Bernie Borges. If social media is just a tool, how do you train your team in practical social business techniques?
Bernie Borges: You probably experienced some training in your own career. I know I have. Training is good but it’s a double-edged sword too because training sometimes can have a limited effect. You’ve heard the phrase, one and done? Where a trainer comes in and they deliver.
They’re a hired trainer, you take your employees out of their day-to-day job, you put them into a one-day workshop, maybe even a multiple day workshop. I’ve been through workshops that are multiple days.
That’s an expensive endeavor for a company, not only from the standpoint of what they’re paying. That’s actually a small part of it but the opportunity cost, if you will, of pulling 5, 10, 20, 30 employees out of their job into a training environment. It’s a big investment.
The reality is when people walk away from that training, if there isn’t behavior change and there isn’t a plan to follow through on that behavior change, then most of that investment in training doesn’t really pay dividends. While training is important, it should be viewed as a journey and not a one-and-done event.
It’s not to say that it’s a bad thing to bring somebody in to do a two-hour or half-day, one-day session. I am not saying that that’s a bad thing. What I’m saying is it should be part of a bigger plan. There should be a more sustained strategy to provide training as a journey.
Then, the other piece to that, as I mentioned, is to also provide governance because if you provide training and then, you also provide valuable, and tangible, and clear guidelines on how employees can be social, then you have a greater chance of actually getting some measurable results from that.
As long as it’s a sustained program that’s part of a strategy and not just a one-and-done or bringing in a trainer, onetime event, and then here she is gone, and then there’s little follow through after that. It’s all about behavior change, putting governance in place after that.
Then also providing the tools because social is technology. Giving employees the tools and there’s all kinds of tools that are out there. I’m not here to endorse or promote any one tool. There’s lots of different tools and businesses should make the investment in providing tools to their employees to make it as easy, and as efficient, and as measurable as possible.
Loz James: I’m glad you said that because if we’ve got the prices in place, you’ve just outlined how do we know that it’s working? How do you measure this? What sort of analytics are you using? What sort of metrics are you using to show that this culture change is having a positive effect?
Bernie Borges: Yeah, there’s a lot of different metrics that you can measure. There’s a couple that I’ll talk about here. One is adaption. How many people within an organization are adapting this strategy of being social? If you’ve got a tool that gives you that visibility into which employees are actually participating, then measure the adaption rate.
Then, part B of the adaption rate is measure their activity. What are they doing? Are they engaging? Are they sharing content? Are they commenting on blog posts? Are they commenting on different activities, different engagement points on social? Their adaption rate and their actual activities.
Then, another one, it’s a little bit less clear in some cases and I know that a lot of businesses struggle with metrics. We’ve got lots of tools and lots of things that we can measure but one that is not so black and white to measure but I think it’s one that needs to be really watched for is relationship building because at the end of the day, Loz, businesses are made up of people, people do business with other people.
And whether it’s a B2B or B2C, we’ve all heard the proverbial, we live in really a P2P, person-to-person, or H2H, pick your acronym, human-to-human, are the employees building relationships and is social part of that relationship building process that can point to measurable business outcomes.
Some of that is going to be anecdotal and some of that is going to be measurable within tools and technologies but the point is, put the lens on, put the glasses on looking for those relationships that can be attributed to being a social business, and then the outcomes that come from those relationships.
Loz James: Where does personal branding fit in to social media strategy? Is it the bedrock that successful strategies are built upon?
Bernie Borges: Personal branding at the individual level is really an interesting thing. It’s something that people like you and I embrace that because of the business that we’re in but there’s a lot of businesses that are in highly competitive industries where the talent that works for them is in very short supply and in very high demand.
Generally speaking, Loz, those organizations are very resonant to encourage their employees to build a personal brand because they have the obvious fear that those employees are going to increase their value in the marketplace, and either get recruited or just leave on their own. That’s a very real fear for a lot of businesses in certain industries.
I’m not here to say that every business in every industry should embrace personal branding. I do think that every organization should look at their situation and if they’re in a position, if they’re in a situation where allowing their employees to participate, encouraging their employees to participate is not a huge risk for them, then I encourage that but let’s face it.
If 30% of the employee population adapts this social business mindset, then it doesn’t mean that 30% of your employee population is going to actually do personal branding really, really well. Really, a small percentage of them are going to do it really, really well.
Those are the ones, the small percentage of them, those are the ones that the organization should in fact embrace and actually encourage them to build their personal brand, again, where it’s not a high risk situation for them because when they do that, then those employees have the potential to create what I call the halo effect where they’re creating content.
And they’re getting speaking engagements, and they’re writing articles for third party publications, as well as for the brand, and they’re building a brand for themselves that reflects well, the halo effect, on the corporate brand.
It can be hugely valuable and there’s lots of industries where that can be very, very valuable but again, I know I’m going to be a little redundant here but there’s also some industries where it can be risky for them. They have to find a middle ground and in some cases, it’s less about the employee if that’s a high risk and more about building the company brand and building equity in their content at an aggregate level.
That’s where they can perhaps take an approach where they build some kind of a media channel and employees contribute to that media channel but aren’t necessarily identified by name.
It’s just this almost like a university style or library style media channel where the brand is putting out really useful content but not necessarily by the employee. It just depends on the organization and the industry that they’re in.
Loz James: Broadening things out a bit, do we all have to become publishers as we move into 2015? Where is this all heading?
Bernie Borges: I think and you are there with me, Loz, you are the content marketing champion, I think we’ve been there already.
We’ve been content publishers for a few years now. I think any brand that isn’t participating in this content publishing mindset, then they’re either in an industry where there’s not a lot of competition and they’re enjoying good times because there’s not a lot of completion, and I can’t think of too many industries that fit that description, or they’re spending a lot in paid. Meaning they’re doing a lot of advertising. Their marketing budget is aggressive from a paid standpoint to produce awareness and leads.
Absence of either of those two, then in modern marketing terms, Loz, as you know, we really do need to be producing content because there’s data that I saw recently that shows that 84% of us meeting people trust what other people recommend online but only 15% of us trust what brands say online.
Again, this comes back to we’ve got to be producing content and if people can be producing that content, and sharing their knowledge and insights, then that brand has a much stronger potential to reach and engage their potential customer.
Loz James: That’s fascinating. Let’s start finishing up by talking about your brand. Can you remind us where we can find you online please? Your fantastic website, your blog, and podcast, and TV show.
Bernie Borges: Thank you, Loz. My site is findandconvert.com. You mentioned that I’m in Florida. We serve clients across the US and we even served some clients in Canada over the years.
My podcast is socialbusinessengine.com and there’s both a video element as you know and then, there’s an audio podcast. I interview brands and we talk about their social business journey and share their worst stories and their lessons learned and really look to give some specific examples to the things that we’ve been discussing here today.
Announcer: Wait for our listeners, here comes the PS question.
Loz James: Could you please share one advance content marketing strategy that we can use right off to this call?
Bernie Borges: I would have to say, Loz, that it would be what I spoke of earlier about being social. Instead of thinking about how you do social, think about how you can be social as an organization and part and partial to that is governance.
Don’t be afraid of the G word, the governance word, in your organization. If you don’t have a governance policy, if you don’t have something that’s written in very plain language that’s easy to read, it’s just a few pages for your employees that actually explains to them how to be social, then think about creating that governance policy.
I did a podcast episode on that. I would encourage listeners to gain some insight into that by looking at episode 42 on the Social Business Engine podcast. That would be my actionable advice. It’s to embrace governance and do that in 2015.
Loz James: That’s fantastic strategy advice. Everyone, you got to listen to Bernie’s podcast and consume all the rest of his content. Bernie, thanks so much for being my guest today. I really appreciate it. I wish you all the best of luck in the future.
Bernie Borges: Thank you, Loz. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.
Announcer: You’ve been listening to the Content Champion Podcast available at contentchampion.com, Stitcher, Zune, the Blackberry Network, and on iTunes. Until next time, thanks for listening.
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