In just over two years, Ian Cleary has become one of the top influencers in social media and content marketing. He is proof that quality content shared consistently with a target audience can effectively grow a community, relationships with influencers, and the bottom line. Ian runs a successful agency, RazorSocial, in Ireland. His blog is a go-to resource for social media and content marketing tools, ranking on Social Media Examiner’s Top 10 blogs list for both 2013 and 2014. I sat down with Ian to get his take on the past two years, where he believes the industry is today, and what’s coming in the not-so-distant future.
What’s new, what’s now, what’s next
Search engine optimization has evolved greatly over the past few years. As a consistent content creator as well as a data analyst, Ian has paid close attention to how his content is searched, found, and converted. The old practice of placing keywords in titles and multiple areas within your content is becoming a thing of the past. Today’s content writers really need to think about quality while balancing an element of consistency.
Ian has published two blog posts per week since he launched RazorSocial in 2011. Though an impressive publishing record, Ian’s own analysis reveals that long-form, more researched, and in-depth articles often perform better than his shorter, easy-to-digest posts. He now is considering cutting back to one post per week with more detailed, quality content.
A current challenge facing all content marketing professionals is how to manage multiple tasks within a short time. Ian looks to marketing automation to help him and his agency. He recommends these two tools to assist in leveraging time and resources:
- Zapier software allows you to connect web applications to make it easier to automate many of the tedious daily tasks.
- InboundWriter provides predictive analysis for content creation. By using a data-driven approach, this service can help you better understand your content performance.
Ian believes the next iteration of content will be a higher level of interaction with the audience. As consumers become less patient with the online purchasing process, more integration tools will be developed that enable them to purchase products directly from social media sites.
He also thinks that list building will evolve into a much more interactive and experiential process. He cites a recent presentation by Ion Interactive’s Scott Brinker who spoke about approaching content as an educational opportunity. Instead of the typical give-an-email, get-a-download exchange, brands will gain more when readers can engage in an interactive experience such as a short series of questions that reveals a result. The readers learn something from the brief experience and can be asked if they want to learn more by subscribing to the full report. If they opt for more information, you have a more qualified prospect. If they choose not to subscribe, they still had a more positive and engaging experience with your brand.
Blast the buzzword
Ian’s buzzword: Social media
Ian asks for somebody to explain what social media really is – when are we not being social? What we are actually doing is interacting and having conversations with our audience. It’s the internet; no need for the word “social” anymore. The term is so broad that it actually covers all the ways we interact with people on the web. If you remove the social media bucket, perhaps we will have fewer silos in our marketing departments.
In the hot seat
Here’s a recap of Ian’s hot-seat Q&A:
Q1: What innovation in the last five years has made your life as a content marketer better?
Marketing automation. There are so many ways behind the scenes to set up automation yet still provide a personal experience. It has allowed his staff to do more people-centric tasks, such as interacting with the audience, customer service, and networking.
Q2: What is the most valuable advice you have been given personally or professionally?
A venture capitalist in Ireland and someone Ian admires once reminded him of the importance of listening. Too often, we tend to be ready to speak our part of the conversation when we should be listening to what the other person is saying and responding accordingly. Be present with those with whom you interact and work on improving your listening skills.
Q3: What book have you read that still stays with you today?
Launch by Michael Stelzner. This book is a blueprint for the success of Stelzner’s Social Media Examiner and has been a great educational primer for Ian. He credits much of his own success in business to following the book’s main points.
Listen to my full interview with Ian Cleary here:
How do I subscribe?
Cover image courtesy of Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute