After taking a year to explore the Boston tech community and figure out what I want to do next professionally, I learned a lot about myself and the ecosystem as a whole. One big hole in our ecosystem is pillar companies - companies big enough to make large acquisitions, create enough wealth to spur new angel investors and serve as training grounds for people to grow their careers and then spin off and start new companies. We have a couple companies on the verge of being like this, but we need more and I want to help build another one. That is what I plan to do as CMO at Cybereason (official press release).
Today Attend is announcing that I have been elected to their board of directors. There are a lot of reasons I’m very excited about this new role - in many ways it is the perfect company for me to dive into - so I thought I’d share how I think about the opportunity for the company.
tl;dr: I'm not sure what I am up to, but I am all in on Boston tech and am launching open office hours with a diversity component.
After a pretty crazy summer I have been doing a lot of reflecting on what I want to do with the next decade of my professional life.
So, what's next?
Boston Business Journal has a “most admired” companies list that they compile, sort of a “people’s choice awards” of the business world. I thought I would share who I voted for and some of the reasons why. (You can vote today if you want. Please do, and please consider HubSpot for your vote.)
I had a chance to get to know Eric during both HubSpot TV and sharing a panel with him a couple weeks ago talking about the ROI of social media. Eric is a super nice and sage guy who has a real grasp of how social technologies are changing the business world.
Today I am on a social media panel at the New England Small Business Xpo at 3pm EST in the Boston Convention Center. I summarized a few of the expected questions and thought I would post my notes/answers here for anyone who was curious. If you attend the panel today, come by and say hello!
What the importance of content in social media?
SEO and content are critical to success in social media. All three work together. Content (typical blog articles, but can be photos, videos, etc.) is what makes you interesting in social media. Promoting this content in social media helps attract more people to it, which in turn makes it more likely you will get links. Links are what power SEO, so more links will attract more people to your content, which can contribute more followers and friends in social media. If you do not leverage content and search, you are drastically reducing the ROI of your social media time.
How is video important to online communications?
I think it is critical, because people like different types of media, live video can be used to stimulate a community (HubSpot TV as example, with guests like MC Hammer, Biz Stone, etc.)
What's the difference between advertising in social media and engagement in social media for brands?
There is a huge difference. You can do both, but the engagement if done properly is a better long term strategy with better ROI. We use all forms of social media in terms of engagement, but also advertise on Facebook (better ROI than Google AdWords), but the best ROI is through inbound marketing - publishing content, promotion, optimization and engagement.
If companies are becoming publishers, how should they manage their editorial production process?
We publish one of the top marketing blogs (it took 2 years to get there) and have a former NYTimes.com editor as our editor. We review the stats for each blog post and optimize future content based on what we learn. Also, more content is always better. We doubled our subscription and traffic growth rate when we went from publishing 3 times a week to 5 times a week.
Twitter appears to growing very rapidly, what's the future for Twitter? Is Twitter a serious competitor to Facebook? Google?
Twitter might have a better pulse on what is happening NOW than Google, which could be interesting. Google might be called search for the "dead web" and Twitter (or Facebook) for the 'live web". It will be a test for Google to see if they can incorporate the social graph and real time events into their results.
I've known folks in and around Long's Jewelers for a while. They are a HubSpot customer, and I know a couple of people in marketing & management there. I have also purchased a bunch of things there, including our wedding bands and engagement ring. I was happy with the price and quality, and my wife loves the friendly service. She still stops by often to have her ring cleaned.
I recently got an email from a friend there asking if I might have any additional ideas for how to promote their once a year sale. I thought that maybe I could ask the community to offer up some ideas.
Here's the situation... Their industry is clearly more difficult today than in past years. With the economy in decline, fewer people are buying jewelry. There is not much we can do about that. So far this year, they have promoted the sale like in prior years:
- They have done some mass promotion through traditional outbound marketing (print, mostly).
- They have reached out to their community through inbound marketing - communicating with their base of loyal fans and customers through email, mail and phone (per the customer's preference).
Finally, not specific to the sale:
- They have been doing some SEO and have first page rankings for terms like "engagement rings Boston", "diamond expert", and "Antonini jewelry" as well as a long list of other medium tail terms.
- They have created a blog as well, so they are publishing come ongoing new content.
- They recently launched a Facebook page with some fans and a good amount of content.
Your Help - More Ideas to Promote a Jewelry Sale?
The real challenge here is that it has to be done on short notice... pretty much within the next 24 hours. But, bigger ideas will influence their planning for next year's sale, so you can share those too.
I thought about it for a while and I think my best idea is to reach out to people using social media with a special offer. So, while it might not be the most creative thing in the world, Long's is running a new experiment this year - if you become a fan of their Facebook page and mention "Facebook" at the sale you'll receive an EXTRA 10% off the once-a-year sale prices. This gives you an even more special deal, and it allows Long's to track how effective social media can be to promote their only sale.
Do you have any other creative ideas for this year or future years? Or what about ideas on getting more people to become a fan on Facebook and spread the special discount this year?
Recently someone who works at a PR firm in Boston asked me "Can you recommend an SEO firm for one of our clients?" I thought my answer would be interesting to others, so here it is:
I want to clarify that SEO alone is not the best strategy for inbound markeitng and trying to generate more qualified traffic and leads. SEO alone does not leverage publishing new content (blogging, podcasting, etc.) and does not leverage social media to promote your content and attract more links and people to your company. The best way to grow your business using the internet is through inbound marketing, and most SEO firms only address part of the solution.
That being said, let's say you have the in-house expertise to start blogging and using social media, and you just want to do some SEO. There are three options when looking to improve your SEO:
- "Do it yourself." - This is where you use a bunch of different online resources and learn how to do everything yourself. This is the most difficult and time consuming, but if you know what you are doing and have a lot of experience, it can be the most cost-effective since it will only take your time.
- "Do it with assistance." - This is where you do much of the work yourself, but with assistance from trained experts and software to make it easy for you, even if you are not an expert or have any experience. The cost is a few hundred dollars per month (HubSpot is $500/month or less) plus some of your time, but the good part about this is that you get directly involved in your inbound marketing and learn a few things that will help your other marketing programs be more effective.
- "Do it for me." - This is the easiest option because it takes little of your time. It is also the most expensive, because a good consultant will typically charge $2500-5000 per month, and you need to do a 6 month or longer engagement. The other issue here is that there is no knowledge transfer to your internal marketing team, so when you stop paying the consultant, you stop getting any of the benefits.
Overall, I'm a huge fan of "Do It With Assistance"since it build in house-expertise, gets you the results you want, improves other marketing programs besides SEO and just generally gets your company on the path to inbound marketing. But of course I am biased since I work at HubSpot. But you can't argue with our inbound marketing results, either...
This morning I attended a breakfast meeting for the marketing VPs at the portfolio companies of General Catalyst (they led the HubSpot A round investment). The major topic of discussion was what was on our minds. The GC folks were trying to get a feeling for what speakers and panels would be good to include in a marketing event aimed at helping their portfolio companies.
The general consensus around the table was the following top topics:
- Getting more with less - What are best practices on using viral marketing and internet marketing to generate more inbound leads at a low cost?
- Getting more out of your database - How can you use lead nurturing and other practices to convert more leads into opportunities?
- Finding good vendors - How can you easily get honest reviews and pricing information on services companies for web design, PR, advertising agencies, etc.?
- Product management for web 2.0 and Saas - How do you find good people and what are the best practices for product management for software as a service and web 2.0 products?
What's on your mind? Leave a comment below.
I feel like I have been attending social media events non-stop lately... is it becoming too much? Not yet. :)
This was a very fun Tweetup event held at Jillians on Friday organized by @pprlisa (thank you!!!). I have some photos on Flickr of BosUp08 (or see below). It was great to connect with so many people I have talked to on Twitter, but previously had never met.
This morning I attended and live streamed the Social Media Breakfast panel discussion for SMB10 at Ryles in Cambridge. It was a great discussion hosted by Bob Collins and featuring Brian Halligan, Andrew McAfee, and Matt Cutler, and HubSpot also sponsored the event. There will be a video in the next couple days on the HubSpot Blog and in iTunes on HubSpot TV.
Much better coverage of the event than I could write is here:
For those of you in Boston there is a Tweetup tonight organized by Shel Holtz and John Wall as a "Pre-SNCR (Society of New Communication Research) tweetup". 7pm, Thursday, November 13, 2008 - Vox Populi - Map- Shel's blog has more info.
[Apologies to the blog readers not located in Boston. This is one of those 0.1% of my posts that are personal / local.]
Four years ago I co-founded the Boston Scholars Program which provides educational support to Boston high school students. Our first class of scholars just graduated from high school, and 100% of the graduates started at a 4 year college this fall. That makes me happy.
Here are some photos from past events: