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Inbound Marketing Age

Eric Swain

Eric Swain
With a background in marketing strategy, social media and mobile technologies, Eric helps our clients make meaningful sense of the brave new world where the customer controls the business ecosystem like never before.

Recent Posts

Why you need to be writing online content like a journalist

Written by Eric Swain  |  9, May, 2019  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Editor's note: This blog post was originally published in June 2014.

A few years back, I spoke to Anna Lawlor, who at the time was the writer and director of Social i Media, who offered some fascinating insights into why writing and thinking like a journalist can give content creators a real edge. Anna is now co-founder and Head of Content & PR at Luminescence Communications Ltd, a company specialising in creating high quality communications for professional services.

What Anna had to say back in 2014 still rings true today, and she offers some interesting thoughts on how content marketers should be thinking like journalists.


What qualities do thought leaders bring to their business blogs?

Written by Eric Swain  |  5, August, 2014  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Anna Lawlor, journalist and co-founder of Social i Media, gives her interpretation of the term "thought leadership" and what it takes to become a proponent in your field.

Thought leadership is a term that is often bandied around in the content marketing field so Anna, what do you define as thought leadership and how do you deal with clients who are interested in becoming a "thought leader", out of the blue?

Quite a lot of people either think they are thought leaders (often self-determined) or would like to be. I’m a bit uncomfortable with the term "thought leadership" because there’s a danger of it just being another mindless piece of business jargon. What does thought leader actually mean?


If you haven't anything useful to say... don't! A John Lee interview

Written by Eric Swain  |  6, March, 2014  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

John Lee talks about the power of visual content in social marketing, the importance of quality content rather than quantity, and why - just occasionally - it's alright to opt for social silence!

So John, you've given us (in part 1) two clear messages about encouraging people to interact with your social content, around planning and integration into your marketing mix and also, very much about your "social" tone.  What's next - what else should we be thinking about?

So once you’ve established what social means for your organisation and have understood that it’s not about you, and your tone’s set up, I think the next thing you need to look at is how you present your content.


Social must be integrated into your marketing mix: John Lee interview

Written by Eric Swain  |  13, February, 2014  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Do you share links to your website or blog and wonder why no-body clicks on them?

John Lee, Head of Social Marketing at Webtrends (update: John is now a Brand Strategist at Twitter), offers some great insights for B2B marketers on how to you get your content noticed in amongst the 500 million tweets a day.

John, regarding your blog post on this subject, did it come about as a result of some research that you’d done or just observations you’ve made over the years?

It’s a little bit of both – we’ve done a lot of research in terms of looking closely at our own social channels and finding out what really leads people to engage and repeatedly engage – so not just that “first click” but what makes that click more meaningful in the long term. And also, we’ve been able to look at other industry leaders, particularly in B2B digital marketing, and to look at what kind of patterns they’re seeing; it seems to be a trend that’s pretty consistent across the industry.


Social marketing for law firms: an interview with Paul Hutchinson

Written by Eric Swain  |  20, January, 2014  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Paul Hutchinson discusses how marketing for law firms, using social marketing to communicate with clients transparently and authentically, have found a winning marketing mix.

So Paul, can you start by explaining a little bit about your background?

I work for Black Letter PR, helping legal professionals develop their current communication methods. As the legal sector is becoming more and more consumer focused, we are finding increasingly that law firms want to engage with their clients via modern channels such as social media.


Social media management and the law

Written by Eric Swain  |  2, January, 2014  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Consultant employment solicitor Michael Sissons at Cubism Law talks here about how to avoid legal and HR nightmares around employees use of social media for business, by getting your procedures right before you hire people.

Michael, we have been looking recently the growing importance of social media skills in the workplace, and wanted to talk to you about some of the issues arising as social media comes more to the fore, and get your take on some of the legal or contractual requirements that are popping up in your world.

When you say legal requirements, one has to break that down a little bit, and it depends what area we are talking about.


The rising need for social media skills: an interview with Steve Ward

Written by Eric Swain  |  4, December, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Seemingly no aspect of business these days is untouched by social media; Steve Ward of Cloud Nine Recruitment, who specialises in placing social media and digital talent, talks here about the growing demand for social media skills in all areas of business.

Can we talk about the changing roles and responsibilities in today’s workplace and focus on some of the skills that are increasingly being required by employers. Have you seen a rise in the requirement for social media skills?

Yes, definitely. Three and a half years ago, when I first looked into this area, it was still a very specialised skill set, a niche within marketing and communications - that “weird bloke or weird girl in the corner” on Twitter and Facebook. Increasingly now, generic marketing, creative and PR roles are incorporating these skills. I would take that even further into the areas of HR and recruitment. So many more customer-facing roles have social media skills as a requirement these days.


What a Social Media Agency Shouldn't Do: Mark Jennings Interviewed

Written by Eric Swain  |  18, November, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

In part two of his interview (see part one), Mark Jennings tells us to watch out for clueless agencies masquerading as social media specialists, that campaigns work best in social media when you involve your community before and afterwards, and how the best agencies help their clients learn to do things for themselves.

Mark, do you have a view on traditional marketing or advertising agencies calling themselves social business agencies?

I think that as an agency one of the key things you’re looking for is to standout. Everybody is creative, everybody is perhaps integrated, everybody has great people, everybody is all of these great things. Agencies that spend a lot of time thinking about positioning for clients are often terrible at positioning themselves.

It doesn’t surprise me people want to call themselves “social business” or “social consulting.” I don’t like the word social media any more than anybody else, but from a cold hearted business perspective, social media is a line on a balance sheet as far as I’m concerned. If somebody wants to call it that or call it social business or social consulting, or whatever else, I don’t mind as long as we’re having a realistic and frank conversation about things that can actually be achieved. The nomenclature for it doesn’t bother me.


Your Content Should Hit Home Runs: An Interview with Doug Kessler

Written by Eric Swain  |  29, October, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe
Doug Kessler tells us that in order to rise above the content marketing floodwaters we should aim to create outstanding pieces of content and to tap into emotion (yes, even in B2B marketing!). And he explains why marketers should be the most important people in the company!

So, Doug, you started off (in part one) by saying that so much content is created these days that it’s hard to stand out. Have you got a view on what’s coming next? Are we just going to get more and more inundated or will somebody find a way to cut through this or filter it to get to the stuff we’re interested in?

I feel that very soon content marketing is going to become a “home run” game. I know that’s an American metaphor but what I mean is it will be about the big hits, the pieces that actually move markets as opposed to the background stuff that keeps you in the game. I think people are going to start learning that a few of those in any programme changes everything, changes the dynamics of everything. It can make even a mediocre strategy look utterly brilliant if you just get a few winners in there. So people hopefully will be aiming higher.


How To Not Write Crap Content: An Interview With Doug Kessler

Written by Eric Swain  |  28, October, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe
Doug Kessler of Velocity Partners wrote an ebook earlier this year that hit home for many of us. In it he alerts us to the tidal wave of content that is drowning our audience and make our marketing irrelevant.

Doug, your ebook, Crap. The Content Marketing Deluge, addressed the flood of marketing content that is threatening to overwhelm us. Is this a problem?

It really is a problem. It’s also an opportunity. When digital-age content marketing was a fairly new trick, the early people had an advantage by being involved in it. So for our clients to do an e-book back then was a special thing; it was like, “Wow, they’ve published something about an issue that their prospects care about, without even pushing their products. And people came to them for it, and wasn’t that great?”


Should Your CEO Be Tweeting?: An Interview with Neville Hobson

Written by Eric Swain  |  17, October, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Our own Eric Swain is the co-host (with Ann Hawkins) of a weekly podcast called The Social Media Show. We are providing transcripts of select shows.

Neville Hobson joined Ann and me on the 5th episode to discuss the role an executive should play in social media and content creation. Neville is a consultant, blogger and podcaster.


Ann Hawkins: Neville, in the second show that we did of this series, we had Euan Semple talking about the authenticity of content writing. He was talking about CEOs veering between, on one hand, where you admire them for having a go, but, on the other hand, where they’re as embarrassing as your dad having a dance at a disco and you just want them to stop.


Why Social Business Matters Today: An Interview with Alan Moore

Written by Eric Swain  |  9, October, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe
Our own Eric Swain is the co-host (with Ann Hawkins) of a weekly podcast called The Social Media Show. We are providing transcripts.

Alan Moore joined Eric and Ann on the 4th episode to discuss how organisations are creating social businesses by putting social technologies and practices at the heart of their operations and business models. Alan is the author of the book No Straight Lines: Making Sense of Our Non-Linear World and an international speaker and consultant.


Eric Swain: I think the hypothesis that you have put forward in your book, Alan, is that society, which has been set up around, and for, an industrial world, no longer functions properly. So we are in a post-industrial world and we need to behave differently, is that what you’re saying?


B2B Social Media Is Like Account Management

Written by Eric Swain  |  7, June, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe
I'm sure, like me, many of you have encountered executives who say, " social media isn't for B2B!" They understand how social media can benefit a large consumer brand that seeks publicity and mass appeal but don't see how it can help a B2B business like theirs.

Historically, I would have launched into a discussion about multiple touch points, shortening sales cycles, supporting information frameworks, etc, and perhaps lost them somewhere around point 23.

Now, however, I am likely to start by saying, "think of social media performing like account management." I find this sets their minds in the right frame for our discussion. Here's where it usually goes from there.


You should co-source (not outsource!) your social media management

Written by Eric Swain  |  11, April, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

In the first part of this post, I explained why you should never outsource your social media management to a third party agency but, if you need assistance, you should look at co-sourcing. Co-sourcing is where you use an agency alongside of you, to support, teach, and take up the effort where you can’t. 

Agency versus Consultancy

Firstly, and this may be a rather fine point, you should look at your relationship with any potential third party as a consulting relationship rather than as a typical agency one. What I mean by this is that the central part of any co-sourcing should involve the third party getting very close to you, like a good consultant should. They should spend time getting to really understand you and your business.


Never ever outsource your social media. Ever.

Written by Eric Swain  |  21, March, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe
A recent episode of The Social Media Show dealt with the question of whether organisations should outsource their social media to a third party agency.

This topic always sparks a healthy debate. I’m going to tell you why you should never do it. Never, never, never... Ever!

Ok. Hands up. I admit it. This headline is a bit of a sensationalistic attention-grabber. But in my defence, it is a reaction to seeing yet another agency offering to handle all of their clients social media for them (including tweeting daily jokes and proverbs!).

I’m sure you’ve come across that before - agencies saying they will “do” social media for organisations, completely manage their social efforts on their behalf.


Social Media is for People (Not Just Customers)

Written by Eric Swain  |  15, February, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe
We’ve heard it before:  
  • Don’t focus on the tools in social media

  • The social web is about people connecting

Because of their size it is easy to focus on platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, when thinking about the importance of social media. But the real power is in the behaviour of people using those platforms to create and participate in communities around common interests. The value of social media is in people, relationships, and the meaningful actions between them.  


3 Reasons Why Marketing IS Everything in the Social Era

Written by Eric Swain  |  17, December, 2012  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

When Regis McKenna wrote “Marketing is Everything” back in 1991, he was describing a situation where technology had advanced to a point that businesses were able to utilise it to serve customers in more ways than had ever been imagined before. 

This “Marketing is Everything” concept has developed over the years to refer to marketing in its fullest, proper sense as the intersection between the organisation and customer; all of the potential touch points the organisation can have with its customers or, indeed, entire ecosystem.