How did You Do it?


I am always happy to answer questions submitted by readers. The question corporate professionals ask me most frequently is how did you do it?

For example, in a recent interview at Explore B2B, Erin Nelson asked it this way:

Your blog, Conversation Agent, is among the Top 50 blogs on AdAge Power150. How were you able to achieve this level of social media visibility?

My response: It may sound simplistic, but: it’s an outcome of doing the work.  Putting some thought, research, and commitment behind publishing completes the sentence with “leadership.”

Simple is not the same as easy, though. The blog was always the last thing I did in the day, or I should say night, after delivering at my corporate job, and the first place where I tried new ideas in digital marketing, studying the results for potential implementation at work. It’s the place where I took all the risks, every day. Being consistent and persistent helps.

Writing on the blog was only part of the equation. Commenting on other blogs, extending discussions, helping others with research and content via interviews and writing for other sites with higher visibility like Fast Company, Marketing Profs Daily Fix, The Blog Herald, Marketing 2.0 made it all work.

Then, of course, we had Twitter (where I founded and moderated a weekly chat on business and shared content daily), the Facebook page (where we talked 'possibility' with a “what if” series), and now Google+. For more about how I use social networks.

All together, I figure I published upward of 2 million words. Staggering digital and social inventory, and most of it on this site, which has a large archive of useful tips, case studies, research, links, and answers to readers' questions and thus enjoys a nice long tail in search.


In an interview at AWeber about relationships, value, and confidence, Hunter Boyle asks:

What does it take for brands to get beyond tactics and, as you suggest, create a truly authentic, human voice for their business? Why is it so hard for many companies to overcome?

My take in the context of the interview: The idea that the solution is the opposite of the problem is a common misconception. The solution lies in creating the conditions upon which clients/customers can buy and keep buying in confidence.

Confidence comes from making the best possible promises, delivering on them, exchanging value in return and then making better promises. Promises made in confidence and not hope is what leads to strong, resilient, and enduring organizations. Social technology helps directly with that.

Brands benefit more from confidence than trust. One way to measure the value of a brand is to measure the gap between what was promised and what was delivered. This is the brand delta. The smaller the gap, the larger the premium. But as the gap grows, the brand’s value diminishes until goods and services need to be discounted. This is valid for any size business.


Every year, on the anniversary of this blog, I ask someone whose work I admire to write a guest post here. Last year, Jonathan Fields wrote about beyond content, what it really takes to succeed. In it, he said:

You cannot build anything worth building without butting up against adversity. Against challenge, fear, denial, frustration. Mass uncertainty. These things, they’re not fun. They kill most people and disembowel their creations. They lead to a lot of suffering.

But, they don’t have to.

The circumstances that give rise to them must be there. You must act when you don’t know how it’ll all end. You must lean in when you most want to split. And you must step into fog and trust the next step will be there.

Nothing great was ever created by taking action only in response to perfect information.

You must act when you don't know how it will all end. How I execute my strategy doesn't just draw on existing strengths — love of learning, ability to articulate complex concepts in writing, and so on. Through coherence of design and commitment to action, it also creates strengths — editing skills, creativity in putting topics together, etc. Just as it would in a business.

Over time, I developed a fuller appreciation of what it takes to manage content and interaction in a digital publication in the moment, and for the long haul. The external environment is not the only thing that changes, you also go through shifts in point of view as you gain experience and identify new opportunities with your subject matter and the tools.

So you end up managing this tension between being focused and delivering on your strategy and being responsive to the feedback and challenges that come your way. They are all choices you can make.


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