Whenever I think of exceptional content, First Round Review is always first to come to mind.
Whether I’m learning hiring strategies from Mike Curtis, VP of Engineering at Airbnb, or gaining insight into product management from Jack Krawczyk, Pandora’s VP of Product, reading the Review is an essential part of my week.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Kelsey Meyer, the Co-founder and President of Influence & Co. Minutes into our conversation, it became clear that First Round’s work producing and sharing the Review is the core of developing a loyal readership: Deliver exceptional value. Ask for nothing in return.
Based in Missouri, Influence & Co. helps brands deliver on that promise by partnering with companies to help them create personal and engaging content.
It’s content coming from an expert with the sole purpose of educating an audience… Giving people information they can use in their everyday lives.
Today, every company is a media company. However, according to Kelsey, having a blog and posting on Twitter and LinkedIn isn’t enough to retain an audience.
While partnering with a content marketing agency is often confused with ghostwriting, Influence & Co. exercises an extremely personal approach to helping their clients become thought leaders.
Echoing Brooke Hammerling’s insight that companies should opt to be partners not service providers, the Influence & Co. team works side by side with their clients to ensure a cohesive voice across all channels. Kelsey discusses the process in detail in Part I of her 33founders episode. You can also gain deeper insight into how the team works on their Services page.
Two of the most important ways Influence & Co. partners with their clients is producing authentic, personalized content and establishing an execution strategy.
Whether you’re partnering with an agency or heading up your own efforts, it’s vital to have a content strategy to measure how, when, and where you’re reaching your audience. This is essential to build an active community.
70% of people prefer to learn about a company through an article rather than an ad. Thus, your guiding principle for your content efforts should be: Think about your reader before thinking about yourself.
The objective is to educate readers to become primed as great potential customers so that they will self-identify with your brand.
Self-identification is the turning point when your reader thinks: “I want to learn more and engage with this company.”
Here are some questions and strategies to help you get them there:
Where are your readers? To answer this question, you’ll want to explore both publications and social platforms.
Don’t be jaded by big name magazines if your audience isn’t reading them. For example, Influence & Co. has the most engagement when they post on Hubspot’s blog. Hubspot is a marketing automation software, and their readers are eager to learn about content marketing.
The best social platform for your audience is dependent on where they spend the most time. Explore Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn, and Quora to determine where you have the highest response rate. It’s also beneficial to repost articles on other publishing platforms like LinkedIn and Medium. LinkedIn is particularly helpful because your followers will receive a notification each time you publish a new post.
Create a schedule. Consistency is critical to developing a loyal readership. Choose the days and times you plan to post and stick to them. First Round Review is a great example as I specifically check my inbox on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.
Always be experimenting. While your content strategy represents your long-term goal, it’s important to establish smaller milestones. For example, Influence & Co. tested for length (writing about the same topic in 500 words and 1,000 words) and tried different colors for their download button. Kelsey elaborates on how the team saw a 474% positive ROI for their content strategy in her interview.
Produce in-depth content for your super fans. Try creating white papers – detailed guides on a specific topic – to support readers who are eager to learn more about a unique subject. You can take a look at some examples from Influence & Co. here.
White papers have proved highly valuable for lead generation garnering 1,000 leads for the company each month. Influence & Co. even has a full-time staff member who reaches out to individuals who download the free resources.
Do you have a video strategy? In 2017, video is going to account for 70% of online consumption. This is an especially ripe opportunity for B2B brands as 50% of executives currently watch one video a week.
Videos enable you to connect with your audience on a more personal level and explain complex topics. Remember: Educate. Don’t promote.
Leverage your team. Content should be produced by everyone on your team, not just the CEO. Each post should come from the individual with the most expertise on that topic. For example, if your head of engineering is hiring it’s a great opportunity to share insight on how to identify A+ programmers. You can apply this approach to each team member who’s interested in sharing his or her work.
Be YOU. Personalization is critical to the success of your content. Human connection is the primary reason people take action.
“People relate to people…When someone reads your article, they should feel like they are talking to you,” Kelsey shared.
Implement a follow-up strategy. In addition to producing the content, it’s equally important to engage with your readers. Be sure that the author of the post is thanking someone for sharing, and asking if there is something else that they can help with.