Influencer Interview with The Best Social Media Strategist: Ted Rubin

Influencer Interview with The Best Social Media Strategist: Ted Rubin

Interview with ted rubin

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear about Social Media Marketing? Social Media isn’t new anymore, but it has become one of the most valuable ways to connect with your audience, build your brand, increase sales, and drive website traffic.

One of the thought-leaders in the space, Social Marketing Strategist, Author, Speaker, Provocateur… and Photofy CMO, TED RUBIN, shares some of his valuable insights.


Ted Rubin, How Did You Become Passionate About Social Media Marketing? What Made You Choose This Profession?

I like to say I got started in social media when I got involved in this thing, we call the internet. It was 1997 when I joined Seth Godin’s start-up, Yoyodyne. It was the first internet-based direct marketer.
Seth was quoted in an article saying that even though Yoyodyne did not have any official openings, he was looking for smart, driven people. He would find them a place. I thought … I’m smart, I’m driven. He found me a job.

It was early days and they desperately needed people who could sell. So, I sold more than anyone else there and was quickly given the mandate to build out a sales team.

Sales is such a great place to start a marketing career because you learn to understand the product and the needs of those who buy. And if you are taught well, you very quickly learn the value of truly listening.

Everything digital-enabled sharing in ways never imagined before … so, for me, that is where it all began.

In 2008, when I joined elf. Cosmetics, social marketing became the core of what I did every day. Social platforms were starting to dramatically scale and I was fortunate to be at a brand where making it the heart of what we did seemed the natural way to go.

I quickly learned the incredible value and power of Twitter, the ability to aggressively grow followers, interact with them at any time and have your ideas and message spread so quickly.


So, How Did That Lead to Your Specialization in Social Marketing?

Think about it this way — what do you do when you are on a date? You get to know someone. You try various “tactics” and see which ones delight your date. And then you keep going with what works — you don’t stop interacting and you try to stay interesting and relevant. You keep communicating and you keep building the relationship by asking questions and sharing information about yourself to build trust, all while making yourself available and easy to reach. (By the way, don’t forget our smart phones can actually make and receive PHONE CALLS!).

More than ever, marketing is about connecting to people… and that is what is most important to me. Social media is simply a platform that facilitates the connection. The different platforms will come and go, but the need to connect and build relationships with our audience members will only grow stronger. The more skilled we can become with building relationships, the greater chance that our brand will stand out in a crowd, both now and in the future. And that is why this is where I want to be… where I need to be.


You Are the Author of ‘The Age of Influence: Selling to the Digitally Connected Customer.’ Tell Us About Your Book.

Welcome to the ‘Age of Influence,’ where anyone can build an audience and effect change, advocate brands, build relationships and make a difference.

Whether you’re a parent, an employee, a manager or an executive, you have the power to build and maintain personal and business influence with an ever-widening audience of people. This has many ramifications for the future of sales in the digital age, because the mechanisms by which we expand our personal influence are being created at an exponential rate, giving people the ability to have an effect from anywhere, anytime for any reason.

This book explores that power, and how businesses can take advantage of it by helping their employees become more influential and working with outside influencers. It also explores the roadblocks to building influence, takes a look at some of the companies that are leading the charge, and gives us a peek into the future–explaining how businesses can flip the marketing funnel to leverage this new-found power of influence to attract more digitally connected customers.


As a Marketing Expert, What Are Some of the Challenges for You When it Comes to Lead Generation?

I believe Lead generation, without the relationship building aspect, always focus on truly adding value and be sure to do whatever you can to form a human connection—people do not want to be treated as a number. Yes, you can measure and track numbers, and bang people relentlessly over the head… and make sales. BUT… Your Brand/Business is what you do; your Reputation is what people Remember and Share. If you take the relentless route you will most probably being doing long-term damage to your brand that will not necessarily be evident in the short-term numbers, but most definitely will be evident over time. Be genuine! Be consistent! Be human.

Old marketing was dictation… new marketing is communication. Change from Convince & Convert to Converse & Convert! #NoLetUp!


What’s Your Philosophy for Lead Generation?

Social media is the handshake of our generation, but it can also be a splendid vehicle for giving warm business referrals (lead gen), or just introducing two people you know have something in common.

Introductions are an important part of our society. In fact, there have been entire books written on the etiquette of introductions and how to formally introduce one person to another. However, the digital age has made the art of making introductions much easier (thank God!).

“Be a people curator.” It’s perfect because it describes exactly what we should be doing in real life, and what social allows us to do at scale: be human by sharing connections and building community.

I can’t tell you the number of people who have been connected to me through a social media referral from a friend—it must be hundreds by now (at least). These are people I never would have met otherwise, many of whom have joined my social tribe and become friends, and often business partners. And I work hard to pay it forward, introducing people to others when I feel it would be mutually beneficial. I know that many of those introductions have resulted in a business transaction and/or an ongoing friendship, which makes me feel really good, and cements the bond I have with both parties. (My friend Raj Setty, a successful entrepreneur and amazing connector of people, evangelizes the following in his article, “How I Learned to Make 300+ Introductions Per Year.”)

To me, this is the unsung power of social media—paying the connection forward. Not only does it increase your ability to build a community, but it also adds very real human value to both your life and the lives of your connections. That’s also the reason I believe that individuals need to come out from behind their company brands and practice being more human on social channels. It opens up all kinds of opportunities to not only connect, but to be a relationship builder for others. Introducing people on social channels isn’t just being nice—there’s a benefit to you as well, and that’s building your reputation as a person to trust. So spread the love! Introduce some folks to each other on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. Look for people you can connect via Pinterest or Instagram, and don’t forget to help facilitate other connections. Follow up with them to see how it went.

We all know that real-life, face-to-face networking is a powerful tool for good, so expand it to your social channels and build community as well. Spend a little time actively looking for a few people you can connect, and make that introduction. You never know what fruit these referrals will bear down the road. Some will go nowhere while others will result in life-changing relationships, but I promise that the social karma you receive from these efforts will lead to a positive Return on Relationship.

Your brand/business is what you do; your reputation is what people remember and share. Be a People Curator.


What Are Some Basic Steps Every Owner Can Take to Bump Up Sales?

“Like them before they like you.” Do for others without expectation of anything directly in return.

I am confused. Every day brands and marketers are spending millions trying to get you to use, keep using, and share that you love their brands. But why aren’t they doing everything they can, and using some of those millions to do it (probably way less that they are spending on those marketing campaigns), making experiences with their brand remarkable. Opportunities to do this are given to brands each and every day and they simply, turn their heads, rave about their latest and great “campaign’ as if it were a military conquest, and pass up ways to really create customers for life.

In my opinion, the best example of these missed opportunities are Hotels. People leave things in their rooms all the time. The hotels know everything there is to know about most of us, especially those of us who travel frequently and are their potential best customers. Also we are business people who have influence upon where others stay when they travel either as influencers with our companies as executives, or since we come in to contact with so many and can so easily share great experiences, not only via our now easy to access social networks, but face-to-face each and every day.

Why do they rarely, if ever, reach out and tell us we left something, and then even better, send it to us free of charge. Hotels wait for you to call, then leave you on hold forever while they look, then most often they tell you they have it and you can come get it next time you are in town. If you are lucky, they will take your FedEx # and ship to you. When I recently asked the GM of a major International Hotel about this, while discussing with him how to build advocacy, he said this is an old legacy policy from when hotels were afraid to call the homes of male traveler’s who’s wives may or may not have known they were at the hotel. This has to be a policy that became irrelevant at least over 20 years ago. Every hotel now has direct email addresses, loyalty program info, mobile phones, etc. This is absolutely the BEST way to create loyalty, sharing, good-will and advocacy I can imagine. How happy would any traveler be getting this call and the hotel then shipping it at their cost? Talk about a shareable moment, talk about the utter joy of getting that message, talk about empowering their social graph to whoop it up. And it is SO easy. I have suggested this to any number of hotels and I still do not know one major Hotel chain that has acted on it… not even Ritz Carlton.

There are opportunities like this for most major brands to be “remarkable” every day, and create the Return on Relationship that enhances ROI.

Brands need to attract customers, but breaking through the clutter is challenging. Standout by “Liking” them before they “Like” you.


What Sales Techniques Do You Think Have Gone by The Wayside Today?

Churn and burn is most certainly a chase to the bottom today. Too much sharing and way too transparent for that to be a reliable strategy. So, what’s a traditionally trained sales professional to do?

“Research has shown that sales professionals who use social media to network and build relationships outsell their peers who don’t. And let’s face it: Sales is all about building relationships.”

It all comes down to trust. The trust that others put in you goes beyond any form of measurement. Trust is closely tied to integrity, and brings with it boundless opportunities and possibilities, and it’s contagious! Every person who trusts you will spread the word of that trust to at least a few others. And remember:

“A Brand is what a Business does, but a Reputation is what People Remember and Share.”

So instead of thinking in terms of quotas, sales figures and bottom line when you’re talking to people, think in terms of how you can weave integrity and value into how you connect and converse with them. In the end, the great customer experience that comes from a “Relationship First” approach, will win the day.

“Relationships are like muscle tissue… the more they are engaged, the stronger and more valuable they become.”


So, What is Next for You?

Who doesn’t remember the old Beatles classic “With a Little Help from My Friends?” I can hear that tune and Ringo Star singing the lyrics in my head, can’t you?

“Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends.

Mmm, I get high with a little help from my friends.

Gonna try with a little help from my friends.”

While “getting high” doesn’t necessarily correlate to good business practices (guess it depends how you interpret), the other two lines certainly do—getting a little help from your friends. And there is a group of people in any organization who could be considered friends of your business, right? Those who know your business almost as well as you do. Your employees, of course! That’s why it’s very important to cultivate a business culture that encourages your employees to feel connected with your brand. They should feel so connected, in fact, that they want to, or easily be encouraged to, share about you to their friends and family. And not just in face-to-face conversations, but with online content. But how do we accomplish that?

In today’s digital environment, we already know that customer experience often turns into content, which can be a double-edged sword if that experience is less than exemplary. Because online customer-generated content is something we cannot control, it can be a bit scary. Sometimes so scary that we want to reign in what we CAN control—what our employees say about us online.

It’s All About Relationships

For years I’ve been talking about building advocacy with customers through better customer service, because it’s a natural thing to want to share our experiences. Why not make them great experiences? I’ve also talked about building employee advocacy by Empowering your Employees to Power your Brand. Forward thinking brands help their staff create safe, valuable, online profiles, help them build their own brands on social media, and don’t shut them out of social platforms on the job, but clarify their online policies so employees know what they should or shouldn’t share about their company. Whether we’re talking about customers or employees generating online content, the underpinnings are the same—build loyal, trusting relationships, right? However, it’s also important to share good tools for building that content.

Make it Easy for Them

You might have some employees who are good writers, and you can encourage them to contribute content to your blog (or their own). You might have some that are Twitter or Facebook or Instagram power-users (or even just casual users), and you can definitely encourage them to post interesting things about your company. For instance, you can have your marketing team craft informative or fun-fact posts about your brand, share your charity work or upcoming news items, etc., and encourage your employees to share those posts on their personal profiles if they like. Pre-creating content is a way to make social sharing easy. However, I think one of the BEST ways to empower your employees is to give them tools to be creative themselves.

Empower Creativity with Images

Just about anyone with a social profile likes to share images or videos they take on their phone, and people love to view them. Why not empower your employees to share this kind of content? One way to make it easy is to give them a tool like Photofy to create fun, interesting content from their phones that can be shared on any social profile. Another way to make it easy is to encourage creativity and reward it.

How about announcing a weekly themed image contest? Let’s say you have a new line coming up that will be released soon. Why not encourage employees to take photos or use stock images to come up with a social meme or a poster that exemplifies a word associated with that line? An app like Photofy can make it possible to create stunning images with text overlays, brand approved logos, etc., and makes it super-easy to do it on the fly (when inspiration comes) … Easy to create beautiful Branded Content in under 30 seconds… @PhotofyApp #Photofy

Have Fun Rewarding Participants

Encouragement can come in the form of a reward for employees who participate with something fun (do a survey of your staff to think up a list of appropriate rewards). Re-sharing the images they post on their social profiles, and/or creating an employee creativity gallery can also encourage involvement. Who doesn’t like to be recognized? Even something as simple as “crowning” a person as creative King or Queen for a day could be a fun way to develop an encouraging environment.

The Benefits Can be Exponential

The benefits of developing an employee advocacy program that encourages image content development and sharing can be far reaching. You know the benefits of consumer advocacy online—just think of how many more people you can reach with a little help from your employee friends. They know your company, they know your product, and they have social audiences that can extend your reach exponentially.

The power of image sharing is growing by leaps and bounds and is an easy way for employees to help you grow your brand. Give them a little help to get going, and they will help you back by creating content at scale, growing your brand’s perceived value and heightening SEO, all without breaking the bank! Building employee relationships that help you grow as a brand AND helps your employees feel connected and appreciated… that’s a win-win in my book. All you need is a little help from your friends!

Empower your Employees and THEY will Power your Brand… ROE, Return on Employees. I am now all in, and an equity partner, with Photofy. Employee Created Content (#ECC) extends brand messaging by over 500%. QED… brands using Photofy, Inc., #Photofy, will extend brand messaging by over 500% #RonR… #NoLetUp! 🏻

About Author

Shawn Hadden is a digital marketing strategist. He provides innovative and results-driven internet marketing solutions so that business owners become even more successful in their chosen fields of endeavor.

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