Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi considers himself the poster boy for content marketing. Founder of the Content Marketing Institute , Joe evangelizes content marketing around the world through keynotes, articles, tweets and his books, including best-selling Epic Content Marketing (McGraw-Hill) and the new book, Content Inc. Check out Joe's two podcasts. If you want to get on his good side, send him something orange. For more on Joe, check out his personal site or follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

By joepulizzi published March 8, 2009

Dangers of Social Media in the Workplace – A Real Life Example

Big thanks to Heather Rast (@heatherrast) for sharing her real-life story of how social media involvement affected her corporate career. This is a very important topic that affects nearly all businesses today.  In Heather’s case, you’ll see that her social media activity led to some significant problems with her former employer. You’ll also hear from Heather that she’d do it all over again, despite what happened to her.

When I heard about Heather’s situation, I was anxious to get this story out. We can all learn from this issue – as owners, employees and personal brandkeepers.Would love to get everyone’s thoughts on this.  Thanks!

By the way, Heather and I first met via Twitter. Heather put a ton of detail into this, and I truly appreciate her time. – Joe Pulizzi

What types of social media/social are you involved in?

I’m actively involved in: my blog, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Delicious, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, FriendFeed, and Flickr. I had active presences on each of these before the incident and remain active today at those sites.

Can you give us an overview of what happened, as it relates to your social media involvement?

I was employed by a software development company, and my role was director-level. My role included leading a team of ten Web interface designers and content strategists.  My focus was entirely on the best ways to present and market our client brands on the Web.

After being involved in social media, I learned that my mindset toward it was not shared by all. Others may be more circumspect, calculating, methodical, and generally more reserved in their approach to growing and learning. By comparison, I prefer to do research, consult with experienced persons, and leverage my intuition to make first steps, closely evaluating results but persisting in moving ahead.

Our company did not have a freelance or social media policy. Because of my level of responsibility, I thought it within my purview to choose methods for generating interest among outside parties about what my team did, and what we had to offer.  I used Twitter to share ideas like “Just had a great client meeting.  I think they’re understanding what a SEM campaign can do for their short-term search goals.”

One of the persons who didn’t agree with my approach/style decided to selectively cull certain Tweets from my stream, and present them to executive management. They asserted that I was sharing confidential client information and using poor judgment. My personal Facebook account (the daily status updates) was also called into question, as was my blog in the topics I wrote about. But the impetus for the sudden focus on me, I believe, was primarily Twitter.  Interestingly, I wasn’t the first person to use Twitter and refer to work-type topics.

The reality is, I never mentioned a client by name, and I never detailed any client project. But the suggestion by my accuser was that if a client found my Tweets and used the time stamp, they could deduce that I was talking about them.

In the end, my saving grace, I believe, was that my boss lacked the bandwidth to easily assume my duties. There were some additional punishments, and the sum total effect sufficiently caused a lot of reflection about earning a livelihood, while also being confused about what the company really thought I could and should offer.

What would be your advice to others in your situation?

Certainly, I learned the hard way that Tweets can be parsed, and meaning can be applied to my words without benefit of context. That those actions intentionally distort facts is immaterial. I find that very ironic—that some “well meaning steward of the company” can twist my words to suggest I’m a poor representative of the company.

To others that feel a compelling need to share, exchange ideas, and grow via Twitter, I’d say this:  if you don’t own the company (and therefore don’t have autonomy), ask what the corporate social media policy is. If you find it flexible enough for your needs, then great—advise your boss in writing that you’re an active in blogs/social media and that you will adhere to rule 4.2 section A or whatever. Be up front and intentional about your after-hours involvement in communities.

If a policy doesn’t exist, go on record providing samples (IBM and Dell are readily available and often referenced [jp-here’s Edelman’s]) to Human Resources, and state that in absence of a policy, you will adhere to these best practice recommendations; when such time as the company develops their own you’ll be happy to comply.

Would you do it again, and why?

I’m no longer with the company, although I still believe in their product and believe a great many talented people work there. But my disappointment in their inability to channel my talents effectively for the good and growth of the company is tremendous.  I had previously been heralded for my contributions. One dissenter was all it took to turn the heads of critical decision makers. I didn’t have a chance to have a rational discussion about the issue. But to be fair, maybe I should have seen trouble coming.

Several months have passed since this went down. Yes, I’d do it all again. Why? Because I’ve met some tremendous people on Twitter. People who share and encourage, people who help me grow. These groups expand my reach and make me feel part of something bigger. Long term, I’d be unhappy and dissatisfied abstaining from social media. And in the end, I believe the very pieces of me that are attractive to employers would be eroded if I didn’t Tweet, blog, or otherwise connect.

The beautiful ending to my story is that I’m now with a company who has full disclosure of my blogging and Twittering—they very much support my writing and sharing and frankly hope to leverage my connections for the benefit of the company—something I’m totally okay with because it’ll make me smarter and showcase skills that will ultimately add to my marketability as a MarCom professional.

Yes, in this economy it’s risky to fly right if everyone else is flying left.  But it was the right (no pun) move for me, even if it was painful for awhile. I learned some lessons that will stay with me forever.

Lessons Learned:

  • Be very intentional about what I write anywhere. Have awareness about if the first and the fourth (example) sentences were stripped away, could my idea be misinterpreted, or used against me?
  • Have a healthy respect for dissenters. Threatened people will resort to surprising behaviors. Take actions to preempt their plans by being as transparent as possible.
  • You are replaceable, and your achievements are only as noteworthy as your weaknesses are few. Bad things can happen to good people.
  • Isolate what is really important to your career/professional happiness. Then make sure you’re working at a place that truly allows you do those things. Life’s too short to just work somewhere; find that career that offers fulfillment.

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By joepulizzi published March 4, 2009

A Recession Content Strategy that Works – Look at Monster.com

Times are tough, and the folks at Monster.com are responding.

I was forwarded this updated career advice section from Monster (thanks @jimkozak) and from the looks of it, they are responding directly to the informational needs of their customers.

Let’s take a look at challenges faced by those people looking for or trying to keep their job:

  • What jobs will be readily available with the passage of the stimulus bill?
  • If I’m downsized, what do I need to do now to protect my career?
  • How much am I worth in a downturn?
  • How do I protect my job in a tough economy?
  • Can I still get a raise in a recession?

Those five questions that employees are struggling with are actually the first five articles on the Monster.com site.

The Payoff: Monster.com positions themselves as a trusted solutions provider for the jobs market. If someone relies on Monster to get information related to their career, do you think they will use Monster.com when the time comes? I say yes.

What can you learn from Monster.com?

  • Can you create information specific to your website that focuses on recession-related buying patterns?
  • What objections are your sales reps finding because of the economy?  How can you take those questions and turn them into answers on your website?
  • What is that one piece of information that your customers cannot live without during tough financial times?  Why can’t you create it?
  • Can you deliver ongoing, valuable information to your customers and prospects without actively selling your product or service?

If you as a company aren’t providing this kind of information in this manor, I can pretty much guarantee you that your competitor probably is. They will become the trusted provider of information relevant to their lives.

It’s too risky NOT to publish valuable content marketing information to your customers and prospects. It’s a cost of doing business today. Like it or not, you are a publisher.

What will you publish today?

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By joepulizzi published March 2, 2009

Scouting for Content – Girl Scouts Head to the Social Web


The following is a guest post courtesy of Jackie Ross.

Content marketing just received a healthy dose of girl power.

The beloved spreader of good deeds and great cookies, the Girl Scouts, has expanded the conversation beyond the community center and campfire and into new arenas like chat rooms and blogs. It’s all part of a recent brand makeover that uses content to reach the hearts and minds of American girls.

Old-school pastimes like cookouts and sing-alongs haven’t disappeared from the Girl Scout lexicon, but the association has wisely refocused on how to best achieve its mission to “build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.” And “the how” is through communications.

Blogs, chat rooms, videoconferencing, and student-penned books give girls a voice and a platform where they can connect to each other and the causes they care about. A Go Girls Only section of the Girl Scouts website gives girls a forum to “Sound off and be heard” and read “What’s up?,” the latest news from the association.

“Now we’re talking the language they’re used to,” the Girl Scouts’ multicultural marketing manager told The Washington Post.

So the value of the Girl Scouts, as it turns out, is not Thin Mints and Macaroons. But instead the messages – the content – that empowers the association’s members to connect and engage.

Jackie Ross is Director of Corporate Development for the World 50, where she builds and manages small, private networks of C-level executives.

By joepulizzi published

Two Presentations Worthy of the Digital Content Marketing Revolution

Found this video via @robertcollins on Twitter regarding SHIFT’s new digital content marketing practice. Worth the few minutes.

The New Digital Content Marketing from Bob Collins on Vimeo.

Prepare yourself for more of this to come. PR firms, agencies, publishers, direct marketers and SEO firms are all after the gold rush we call content. They are all starting to realize that none of the traditional marketing will work without content creation that people want to engage in.

There isn’t one company out there that is not trying to figure out how they can help their customers tell better stories. This is the world we live in now…and he who has the most engaging content will win.

Below is another presentation that I really liked from Bud Caddell (via Imagination) on how fan creation is the lifeblood for tomorrow’s businesses.  How do you create fans?  Create and share something remarkable. Most of the time…it’s content that does the trick.

By joepulizzi published February 24, 2009

Junta42 Releases New Top Blogs List – “Marketing with Meaning” Leads the Way

We’re excited to announce the fifth installment of the Junta42 Top 42 Content Marketing blogs. Congratulations this month goes to Bob Gilbreath and the team from Bridge Worldwide, whose Marketing with Meaning blog just squeaked by Brian Solis and PR 2.0.

This quarter’s update included a record 224 blogs, up from 187 last
quarter. In addition, the Junta42 Top 42 are now featured as part of
the content marketing category at Alltop.com (which will be updated soon with the new 42).Continue Reading

By joepulizzi published

A Strategic Approach to Content and SEO

Thanks to Lee Odden (website, Twitter) from TopRank Online Marketing for putting together one of the best overviews of online content, SEO and content strategy I’ve seen in a while.

For this article, Lee brought together Jon Wuebben President/CEO of Custom Copywriting and author of “Content Rich”, Heidi Cohen, President of Riverside Marketing Strategies, Adjunct Professor at NYU and Columnist at ClickZ, Heather Lloyd-Martin, President/CEO of SuccessWorks and Sally Falkow, President of Expansion Plus, Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research (as well as myself).

Here’s an interesting snippet that sums up the SEO versus content strategy issue:

It’s hard to think about creating an effective SEO strategy without
first developing the content marketing strategy.  Getting people to
your web pages is one thing, getting customers to feel and think a
certain way about your content, and then creating a behavior change is
another all together.  The two go hand in hand, but without a content
strategy that makes sense for your business and your customers, the SEO
strategy …won’t accomplish the
organizational goals and tactics of the business.

Check out the complete article here. It’s worth the time.

Great job Lee!

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By joepulizzi published February 16, 2009

Writing SEO Content for Two Audiences: Humans and Search Engines

Web content and SEO often go hand-in-hand, but the techniques that help develop great web content and efficient SEO strategies are often very different. To discuss this important topic, I asked Bernie Borges (@berniebay) of Find and Convert to tackle the issue. Thanks Bernie!

Website content needs to be written for two audiences: humans and search engines.

Of course, humans are the target audience that respond to marketer’s call to actions and ultimately convert into a customer. But, we must not ignore the search engines when writing website content.

Just how do you balance writing for humans and search engines? For that matter how do you write for search engines.Continue Reading

By joepulizzi published February 9, 2009

Web Content Strategy – The Official Presentation

This is the presentation that Kristina Halvorson (CEO of Brain Traffic) and I gave at Online Marketing Summit last week.  Gretel Going provided a great overview of this presentation on the OMS Blog if you want to see more of the copy.

Just a couple of my own personal comments from talking with marketers after the presentation:

  • Most marketers did not understand that they need a content strategy (but did after the presentation).
  • All marketers we talked to are hungry to find out how to develop a web content strategy, and learn how to sell their executives on the need to have one.
  • The concept of creating a web content strategy, or a more encompassing content strategy as part of their entire marketing organization, is a new concept for most of the marketers we talked to.
  • Content within an organization is still incredibly political (Who owns the content?).
  • Most marketing executives think that developing content should be the easy part (“Let’s go get the content”), while in fact, it’s one of the most challenging.
  • Journalists, freelance writers, and PR professionals who are looking for job opportunities should be looking at how to become content strategists.  In Kristina’s and my opinion, this area is the next great discipline.

Any thoughts?  I’d like to hear them…

By joepulizzi published February 4, 2009

I Want to Give You $4200 Toward Your Content Marketing Project!

We here at Junta42 are pretty excited to announce this, and I thought it would be best to do it with a two-minute video.

Here’s the deal.  Starting today (2/4) and running for 42 business days (ending on 4/2), any company that submits a content project to our free and no risk custom publisher matching service will be eligible to receive $4200 toward their content project. We’re calling this “$4200 in 42 Days“.

You may ask, what can $4200 buy these days?

Well, quite a bit we think. $4200 may cover the web content you need to keep your customers engaged in your products and services. It may cover the postage on your quarterly custom magazine project. It may cover one issue of your outsourced opt-in enewsletter. It may be just enough to keep you believing in the power of valuable, relevant and compelling content.

So why are we doing this?

First, we wanted to celebrate our first 100 content vendor matches through our Match service (the 100th match happened in early January). Our little idea to solve the marketer challenge for finding their perfect content provider has turned out to be a very helpful solution for companies like Research in Motion (makers of BlackBerry smartphones), First Midwest Bank, United Methodist Communications and more.

Some are calling us the eHarmony for custom publishing.  I can live with that.

And second, we’re hoping it’s just the incentive you need to get your content project off the sidelines during this economic climate (or possibly, the incentive you need to outsource your project that is just not working with internal resources, or maybe to get rid of that content provider that’s just not delivering the goods).

Hey, we know times are tough out there…but now is more important than ever for you to deliver valuable, relevant and compelling content to your customers and prospects. That’s what creates engagement. That’s what helps you become part of the customer conversation.

Developing and distributing great content for your customers is not easy, which is why we have over 90% of the top custom publishers/content agencies in North America ready and waiting to help you create something of real value delivered to your customers.

We also thought this would be a lot of fun. Who doesn’t like getting money anyway?

Here are all the details on the “$4200 in 42 Days” program.  Take a read…I think you’ll find it worth two minutes of your time.

And here’s our promise to you…if we can’t find a content provider that matches your needs, we’ll keep working with you to help you find a solution that makes sense (although, we’re pretty confident we have the expert content publishers to help you get the job done).

Thanks, and on with the content marketing revolution!

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By joepulizzi published February 3, 2009

The Custom Content Conference You Can’t Afford to Miss

For you regular reader of the Junta42 blog, you’ll know I don’t promote many conferences.  Well, here is the exception.

The 2009 Custom Content Conference is one you can’t afford to miss if you are trying to figure out how to leverage custom content as part of your overall marketing or publishing strategy.

This year’s conference (March 22 – 24) revolves around the theme “The Future of Branded Content” – and the Custom Publishing Council (who is organizing the event) has the speakers to prove it.

Here are the reasons why this is a must attend event:

  1. The Speakers: Best-selling author and marketing guru David Meerman Scott is frankly a must see. Sam Sebastian of Google will give you the insights as to how Google sees the role of custom content for both marketers and publishers. Add to that Chris Overholt of the Miami Dolphins and Kate Thorp, CEO of Real Girls Network (among many others), and you won’t be disappointed.
  2. The Venue: South Beach (Trump International) in March sounds good to me, especially as Cleveland is buried in 50 inches of snow.
  3. The Price: $695 for an event like this is a steal (even in a recession). Be sure to register before February 20th to get this price.
  4. The Networking: Talk with some of the leading marketing and publishing minds in North America (by the way, I’ll be there as well).
  5. The Learning: Take home clear tactics and strategies you can use now to transform your marketing or publishing operation.

Disclaimer – I am a Custom Publishing Council board member, and Junta42 is a sponsor for this event, but don’t let that fool you. I’d be going to this conference anyway (in a heartbeat).

One final important note – Don’t be fooled, this event is for both marketers and publishers. If the new marketing reality has taught us anything, we are all media companies. We all need to understand how to create and distribute valuable, relevant and compelling content. If you aren’t sure, contact me personally and I’ll talk you into it.

Register Today!