I asked Mel to come on the show because she was a guest on another show I host, The Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s podcast, and in my research, I was struck by how much content marketing Mel creates around her business and figured she would have some great insights to share with us.
Mel describes her work as “helping people be better at doing business with people by strengthening relationships”. Mel says she helps people identify who they need to have relationships with, who their stakeholders are, what the messages are they need to get out to those stakeholders, and then craft and deliver those messages.
In a past life, Mel worked in a government department but was frustrated by the work and not enjoying it; in some part due to the highly political environment. Mel figured a move to part-time would help but her request was rejected – the head of HR couldn’t understand why a woman with no children would want to work part-time!
That was in 2006 and, so, she resigned and she hasn’t looked back.
Mel largely delivers strategy facilitation, workshops, and does lots of speaking. Mel works with CEO’s, and other senior leaders, and leadership teams, mostly in large non-profit and member-based organisations as well as organisations in the financial sector.
As part of the service, I have had this episode transcribed. Transcribing, proofing, and editing a podcast episode is A LOT of work. That’s why I use a service called REV who provide professional freelance transcriptionists who are vetted for quality. While they offer a 99% accuracy guarantee, I do not proof-read their work extensively. Instead, I simply copy and paste below and, as such, please note that this is not be a verbatim transcript of the episode and I have trimmed things like the intro, close, and mid-show ad.
Daniel: I started out my chat with Mel by noting that she’s active across multiple content types, including blogging, white papers, social media, podcasts, videos. She’s been on the radio and in the newspaper and she’s written books. And then, I asked her why she thinks that creating content is important for her business.
Mel: Mainly, it helps position me as an expert in my field and it helps people to get to know me as an expert. So the more I can demonstrate my ideas and my thought leadership through content, the more people understand who I am and what I stand for. But also the more content I create that is relevant to them, then the more competent they are that I can help them solve their problems.
Daniel: Your business focuses heavily on social media and how businesses can use it. And on your website, there’s links to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google Plus. Now, a lot of businesses run around trying to be on all the social channels and you are certainly someone that has profiles on a lot of them.
Daniel: But in the middle of this year, you posted on Facebook that, and I quote, “you may have noticed I’m not spending a lot of time or even any on Facebook recently. I’ve consolidated my social media use and am now mainly on LinkedIn and Twitter, where you’re very welcome to connect with me. You’ll find me on LinkedIn here and on Twitter here,” and you provide the links. What prompted, I’m curious, the consolidation there with your social media?
Mel: A couple of things. When you sent me this question and said, there’s links on your website to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google Plus, I thought, no, there’s not. And I have to go and check. And went, Oh crap. There are, so I need to remove a few of those because I have consolidated. The main reason I’ve consolidated… My target market is on LinkedIn. My target market is not on Facebook. And I’ve chosen LinkedIn and Twitter.
Mel: I’ve been really active on Twitter for about 10 or 11 years and I love Twitter. It’s given me so many amazing opportunities. It’s helped me create incredible friendships, both online and offline and, for a couple of years, a few years ago, every single business referral I got came from somebody who knew me through Twitter.
Mel: LinkedIn has taken over a lot of that now and I find it’s a great way of showcasing my expertise through creating content that I share on LinkedIn. And because primarily I work with senior leader, they buy me to work with their people. They’re on LinkedIn and that’s just a great platform for me.
Mel: In terms of Facebook, I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Facebook. The algorithm has changed so much that unless you buy advertising Facebook ads with Facebook, it’s very rare that your Facebook pages will have organic reach of any relevance. And given that my market’s not there, I just went I’ve had enough.
Mel: I do post a few things to Facebook, but it’s pretty rare that I do anything there. And the same with Pinterest. Pinterest isn’t for me. Instagram, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with as well. And I’ll occasionally share personal social things there. But from a business perspective, it’s LinkedIn and Twitter.
Daniel: You’ve got two white papers available on your website. The first is the Social CEO: From invisible to influencer, and the second is called Using social media to recruit, retain and engage members. Now, you gate those white papers. In other words, they sit behind a form that must be filled out before people can access them. Tell us about the process that happens once somebody fills out that form.
Mel: It’s very ad hoc. One of the things that’s been on my to-do list for a really long time has been to automate a better process. I do often send an email saying, thanks so much for downloading my white paper. Sometimes, I follow up with a phone call or another email to say, I’d love to know what you thought about it.
Mel: Those people will go onto my email list, and so that they’ll get my newsletter, which comes out every week or two weeks or three weeks depending on what else is going on. But yeah, it’s a process that I’m not particularly great at doing the followup with and that I’ve recognized that as a weakness.
Daniel: So at the time of recording, your podcast is 17 episodes old. You’ve been in business a while. What made you decide to start a podcast? Because you’re fairly active in the content space already, even though it’s early days, how has the experience been and how has it impacted your business so far?
Mel: This is actually my third podcast that I’ve hosted. About five years ago, I co-hosted a podcast on productivity and accountability, and I really wish we’d kept that one going because that went gangbusters compared to others. And then a couple of years ago, I hosted a podcast called A great recipe for life, which was just something that I was talking to people who I wanted to know more and this current podcast is called Disconnected Life.
Mel: And I started it because I love the medium of podcasting. I love that when you have a guest, podcasting gives you a reason to call somebody you might not otherwise have a reason to call to invite them to be a guest on your show. It’s a great way of asking questions and expressing my curiosity. And I’ve always been a very curious person. And I love that it’s allowing me to have conversations with really fascinating people and to learn a lot.
Mel: The other reason I started podcasting is because I wanted to be more consistent with creating content. And I thought if I commit to a weekly podcast, then I’ll at least have one thing that comes out every week and the model for my podcast is every second week I’ll have guests, and every other week, it will be made talking about something for about 10 minutes, something to do with communication and connection.
Mel: And then, I repurpose all of that content, particularly the episodes where it’s just me, that will become an article for LinkedIn. It might become a few tweets. It’ll go onto my website as, not so much as… I guess it’s a blog post promoting the podcast through show notes, and a lot of that is going into my next book as well. So I’m trying to be a lot more clever with my time and create content once and use it in lots of different formats as often as I can.
Daniel: I asked about consolidating your social media activities earlier, and looking at your site might not be the right phrase, but it would appear that you’ve stopped blogging and, instead, the podcast is that main continuous content that you produce? Is that really a time decision because blogging can take a little bit more time to get it right, get the words exactly right? Where a podcast, you can repurpose it lots of different ways? Or was it a decision that I think podcasting is going to serve me better than purely blogging?
Mel: I wasn’t blogging. So I pretty much stopped blogging because of time and that’s where I’m mean about the lack of consistency and regularity. And I thought, I know that if I podcast, I’ll be far more consistent with that and then I can turn that into a blog. You’ll notice, anybody who looks at my website will notice that every second episode where it’s a solo episode, that’s more of a traditional blog post where I talk about that.
Mel: I just also, as well as the post with my thoughts, I’ll also have a link to the podcast where they can listen to it if they’d rather listen to it instead of read it, and they’ll have an opportunity to provide comments. But I also think blogging has changed. I’ve been blogging for 10 years and, even five years ago, every blog post I wrote would get a lot of comments. And then, the comments just [inaudible 00:09:38] out as there were other places for people to read and engage.
Mel: So I find I can put the same thing on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and on my blog, and I’ll get loads of engagement on LinkedIn, and almost nothing anywhere else. And I look at my blog numbers and my website stats and they’ve just plummeted in the last few years because I know, and my readers and the people who follow me know, that there’s other places they can get that information from.
Mel: So I think that blogging is, I don’t want to say it’s stopping relevant, because I don’t believe it is. I think he should be hosting your content on a site that you own as opposed to on LinkedIn or Facebook where other people have control over that.
Mel: But I just think that people have so many options now as to where they go to consume content that a blog in its traditional format is often not the first place they choose to go. Whereas, when I started blogging, it was the first place they chose to go because it was often the only place they could go. There wasn’t Facebook and there wasn’t LinkedIn, and there wasn’t medium, and there wasn’t podcasting in a way that there is today. And so, if you wanted to learn something about someone, you’d go to their blog.
Daniel: So you’re not blogging in the traditional sense as heavily anymore? But you are still writing a lot. And I know you’re onto writing your second book, which will be out early next year. But your first book, “The Social Association: Five key skills not for profits need to increase member engagement, generate ROI, and create a thriving online community,” how long did it take to write it and how has it impacted your business, including how do you use it in your marketing?
Mel: Probably it took me six weeks to write it, but having said that, I incorporated content that I’d been writing for years and years and years. So even though the actual writing time was short, I used a lot of content articles that I’d written, transcripts of webinars I’d done to feed into what the final book is.
Mel: How has it impacted on my business? It’s generated a lot of business for me. I wrote it so that it would, again, demonstrate my expertise in that space. At the time I wrote it, I was doing a lot of work with member associations and nonprofits, and nobody ever writes anything for them. I was looking for resources to refer to them around social media and communication and I couldn’t find anything. And so I thought, okay, well, I’ll write something. And it’s been great from a positioning perspective.
Mel: How do I use it? Again, I repurpose it. I think I’ve got three or four keynote addresses that I give at conferences that have come directly from the book or that fed into the book. Some of them came first. Sometimes, the book came first for some, the keynote came first for others.
Mel: I’ve also attended that into half day and full day workshops. I’ve turned it into a six month and a 12 month program that I run in associations and nonprofits to help them improve their communication and particularly improve how they use social media. It’s been converted into a whole heap of different things.
Mel: So again, it comes back to think once and then turn that thinking into a number of different platforms that can be monetized or that can help my business in some way. Quite a few of my podcast episodes have come from sections of that book as well. The thinking’s already been done, so I just have to tweak it slightly.
Daniel: As we’ve heard, you’re very active in producing content for your business. And it might be hard to unpack it because I appreciate it all works together, but I’m still going to ask the question. What would you say is the best performing medium in terms of relationships and leads? Is it the podcast? Is it writing books? Is it one of those white papers? Is it the blog that might still be providing traffic or is it social media?
Mel: At the moment, it’s LinkedIn, and then it’s the book. LinkedIn and Twitter probably, Twitter to a slightly lesser extent these days than LinkedIn, because not only do I share content there, but I engage with other people’s content as well. So I’m quite active on LinkedIn when it comes to liking and commenting and sharing what other people have done.
Mel: So the way to have social media success is to don’t be selfish, don’t just share all your stuff and expect people to come to you. You need to be generous with your time and you need to be generous with your willingness to comment and to share and to like other people’s content as well. Because when you like other people’s work, they’re going to reciprocate and like yours back.
Mel: So for me, it’s LinkedIn, Twitter and the book. And the white papers, again, the white paper will form the first chapter of a book or part of a book. So again, it’s create once, use often.
Daniel: So you say there that you need to be generous with your time on social and interacting with other people, and you’re really active creating content obviously. It’s a key theme of what we’ve spoken about here. Tell us how much time you spend a week or maybe a month on your marketing and on that social interacting with people and giving back to those online communities.
Mel: Oh, look, sometimes it’s a lot and sometimes it’s not much. It depends on what else I’ve got going on. When I am traveling, if I’m on the train coming into town, or if I’m in the airport lounge waiting for a flight, then they’re good little pockets of time where I can spend some time either jotting down some ideas or on social media giving love to other people.
Mel: I probably spend… I don’t know. I really believe it’s so important to be creating content that has relevance and meaning. Dan Norris wrote a great book a few years ago that changed how I think about content. His book’s called Create or Hate. And he said, you should be creating more than you consume. So if you sit down and read a novel or read somebody else’s book for an hour, then you should do an hour and five minutes of creating your own content.
Mel: And he said, if you’re just going to sit down and watch Netflix for three hours a night, then you should spend three hours and five minutes a day creating your own video content or your own other content. So he’s a big believer in creating more than consuming. And that changed how I think about how I spend my time because I’m a big consumer of content, but I’m trying to be as big, if not bigger, creator of content that’s got meaning and relevance to the people who I want to do business with, which doesn’t answer your question because I don’t think there is.
Daniel: No, I think that’s fine. I think a lot of businesses and people listening, sometimes they’ll get really into their marketing and be really engaged on certain things and then drop back off, and it’s that ebb and flow. And so, even though some people might suggest that you need to be spending a certain amount of time or the same amount of time and really timebox it and have it in your calendars, other people ebb and flow and that’s how they work, and people can relate to that.
Mel: I do have some time time-boxed into my calendar for that. But to give you an example, I do a lot of speaking. So I’m speaking at an event tonight. I’m speaking at an event next week and two events the week after. And they’re all on similar but slightly different topics.
Mel: And so, I’m creating content to present at these four different things. So how do you measure that as well? Do you measure that as creating content or do you count that in the preparation for some delivery? And the same with the workshops that I run.
Mel: And to give you an example, the presentation I’m giving tonight, that’s going to be recorded. And so, then I’ll get a transcript of it and then I can use that. How can I then repurpose that into the book or into another white paper or into a LinkedIn post or something to put a medium?
Mel: So everything blurs. And I think it’s too difficult these days for most people to say, I spend this much time creating content. I spend this much time delivering content. I spend this much time on sales related stuff. I spend this much time on admin or whatever, when so much of what we do blurs into the other things.
Daniel: That’s a good point. I’m not sure I could answer that question if somebody asked it of me. So on that point, Mel Kettle, founder of Mel Kettle and Associates, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your business’ marketing experiences.
Mel: Absolute pleasure. Thanks so much for having me on.