Last Friday I made a guest appearance on Hubspot TV. The weekly show, streamed live from Hubspot’s Cambridge offices, offers a perfect example of how to market in the age of social media. It’s useful, simple, cheap and fun. And it offers a recipe that any brand or marketer could learn from if not copy outright.
The 20-minute show, hosted by Karen Rubin and Mike Volpe, and performed in front of a live studio audience of friends, employees and customers, typically addresses topical news and social media subjects. Episode 70 covered Seth Godin’s alternative approach to launching his new book, Google’s announcement of real time search, and the absurd topic (presumably serious to some) of certification for social media practitioners.
But that’s actually beside the point. Here’s what matters.
In social media your product is your content
Hubspot sells inbound marketing software that helps companies get found on the web. But online, Hubspot’s product is its content. Its blog offers all kinds of useful advice, its tools help individuals and brands measure their online effectiveness, its white papers and training kits introduce prospects to the potential of its services.
What Hubspot TV does is put a human face at the front of the company in age when more and more online customers prefer to connect with a real person. It offers access to its employees – people who know what they’re talking about — and it provides a bit of levity at the end of the work week. This is how all brands should conduct public relations; not by issuing press releases, but by sharing ideas and information that might actually be helpful.
Create new content on a regular basis
Even if you’re not an SEO expert you’re aware that consumers find most services and products via search and social media. If you want Google to deliver you on the first page you need an awful lot of inbound links. How do you get all those links? Good content and lots of it. Producing a new video every week is a great way to do that. Your content could live on Youtube or Vimeo or Live Stream, on your site, on iTunes and as embedded content on numerous blogs. It takes nothing more than a folding table, a couple of chairs and a $400 high-def video camera on a tri-pod. Yes it might also take time, but if you incorporate it into your weekly routine, it’s easy. For Hubspot, it’s a Friday afternoon event. Everyone gathers in the “rec room,” grabs a beer, plays some ping pong, watches the taping and has a great time.
Understand we’re in the midst of the “Good Enough Revolution”
If you’re having a hard time coming to grips with productions that aren’t beautiful, polished and professionally edited, get over it. We’re not talking SuperBowl spot here. It’s just a video, as common these days as an email. And guess what? Most consumers and online viewers don’t care. New trends abound. We’re in the midst of “The Good Enough Revolution,” as Wired so aptly labeled the new preference for fast, easy, portable and accessible. Which means you don’t have to spend a fortune on everything you produce. Sometimes it’s more important to just be there.
Your community is a distribution channel
It goes without saying that if anyone knows the ideal time to be on Twitter it would be the company where social media scientist Dan Zarrella works. So we can assume that Friday afternoon at 4:00 pm is a good time for tweeting and RT-ing, but even if it isn’t the absolutely best Twitter hour of the week, the show practices a simple tactic that helps make the Hubspot brand more visible.It invites participation from its many Twitter followers, encouraging conversation, taking questions and benefitting from the short posts and messages that followers share on Twitter, essentially turning them into an unpaid media channel. And given Google’s new real-time search feature discussed on this show, there’s the added advantage of better search results.
Give stuff away for free before you sell stuff for money
Now here’s the kicker. Hubspot isn’t simply doing this out of altruism. It’s selling its products and services. In fact for every subject discussed on the show, for every insight shared, for every opinion offered, there’s a conclusion. And it’s a sales pitch.
Seth Godin’s plan to market his book by targeting influencers? Hubspot wants you to use its tools including Twitter Grader and Blog Grader to find influencers that matter to you. Regarding Google’s real-time search? You need Hubspot’s services to help you elevate your own organic search. And finally, why would you ever pay for social media certification when these guys offer their own free version of training. No doubt yet another tactic to get you in the door as a paying customer.
Damn, now that I’ve written this post it just dawned on me that they probably only invited me on the show in hopes that I might write a piece with their name in it 10 times. Guess it worked. What do you say? Any other ideas this easy, obvious and inexpensive to help marketers become more visible?